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The Essay
Show #428
What is Hyperreality?
David Gunn

The one question that is traditionally put to philosophers is "what is reality?" While Hegel, Sartre, Wittgenstein and Pauline Esther Friedman vociferously disagreed on many related topics--such as "what is realty?," with the Century 21 supporters firmly at odds with the Coldwell Banker camp--they did reach consensus on this one. However they also agreed not to tell anyone else. Hyperphilosophers are most often asked "what is hyperreality?" Since a hyperphilosopher is a high-strung sophist prone to bouts of attention deficit disorder, it stands to reason that hyperreality is reality that is easily excitable. (Century 21 supporters, however, maintain that it is overpriced single family dwellings typically listed by Coldwell Banker that help to paint the industry as being overly greedy. Coldwell Banker had no immediate comment.) Ultrareality, quasireality, micro- and macro-, extra- and intra-, super- and hypo-, mini and Mickey--all are specific gradations of reality that philosophers and hyperphilosophers alike spend hours debating when they could be accomplishing truly important work, such as laundry. (Interestingly, British philosopher Bertrand Russell early in his career equated laundry with reality.)

Mother Bumpkins is a hyperrealist. She exists in a heightened state of reality that borders on metareality--she is more real than real. To get there, though, she first had to progress through the evolutionary stages of parareality, transreality and suprareality. To most people, this is simply way too much reality. Mother Bumpkins, too, had reached her satiation point and was winding up her arm to throw in the proverbial towel when by chance she discovered "hooting."

By hooting, we do not mean the hunting call of the Harry Potter brand night owl, nor the linguistic treatise of the same name for which Russell secured his Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950. No, the type of hooting that Mother Bumpkins encountered was the sound of traditional concert music that somehow exceeded--indeed, transcended--the limitations of its normal human interpreters.

It was July. The year is unimportant, as are, in the Overall Scheme of Things, most years that end in ones and twos. She was on Hatteras Island, attending a Music in the Lighthouse Series concert. Musicians from the Outer Banks Festival Chamber Orchestra had arranged themselves on the lighthouse's steeply spiral staircase, one instrumental desk to a step. The conductor was at the foot of the staircase, gesticulating upward. The audience, which totaled twenty, crowded around the catwalk that surrounded the light. Every half minute, each spectator, including Mother Bumpkins, had to shield her eyes from the blinding beacon as it sequenced through its rotation. Previous concerts had been prone to debacle. Once, the concertina section couldn't see the conductor at all, and played accordioningly; another time the first violinist at the top of the stair dropped his music, which created a domino effect as it grazed nearly every other music stand on its way down to the bottom of the lighthouse; then there was the time that one poor audient experienced an attack of acute diarrhea, and tried to make her way to the lavatory which, regrettably, was located in a kiosk next to the conductor ... and was already occupied. Still, the concert promoters adapted and persevered, confident that a need for these performances existed. At this July concert, a palpable tension pervaded the air. The entire string department was as jittery as a gang of bats in an anechoic chamber. The windwoods, too, had taken their seats in various states of para-anxiety, moved through the throes of trans-anxiety, and were now exhibiting signs of supra-anxiety. When the conductor at last descended to the podium and gave the initial downbeat, the orchestra responded with a fervor usually reserved for eleventh hour American Federation of Musicians Local No. 92 bargaining sessions. Music virtually exploded from their instruments, obliterating their music and leaving little craters where the stairway support beams used to be. The music tore holes in the masonry of the building through which light, to this day, leaks out in thirty-second intervals. For a few chilling moments, the force of the music flattened the audients against the lighthouse chimney. Fortunately, the glass held, and no one had a perfectly satisfactory concert experience ruined by descending 208 feet without the benefit of stairs. When attendees later attempted to describe the music, each one, without prompting, used the word "hooting."

"The music hooted, it really did," exclaimed one. "I felt a tremendous hooting resonance in my latissimus dorsi," declared another. Said a third, clearly enthralled, "It was no less than the Holy Hootchy-Kootchy, that's what it was!" "Hoot hoot hoot," remarked a passing saw-whet owl. To Mother Bumpkins, the musical hooting was all that, and more. It was the key that unlocked the door to the closet in which the para, trans, supra and hyper phases of reality were stored, along with the videotaped pilot for a hyperreality television show.

Ever since that day, Mother Bumpkins' senses had become hyper-responsive, sensitized to a degree well beyond the melting point of normal reality. Ever since that day, she knew what Hegel, Sartre, Wittgenstein, Friedman and Century 21 didn't - that reality wasn't a "what"--it was ...

Well, for starters, it is this 428th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, whose hooting aggregate will likely increase elevenfold coincident with the appearance of today's guest, who is to ultrareality what macro-laundry is to Kalvos.