“… First, in the deserts and Veldts arose oral culture, the culture with their temples and bazaars came the pictographs, and later, symbols that produced sounds as if by magic, and what followed was written culture. Then, in the universities and under the steeples of young nations, print culture. These–oral culture, written culture, the culture of print — these have always been considered the great epochs of man.
But we have entered a new age. We are a new people. It is now the age of oneiric culture, the culture of dreams…” (Anderson 149)
This passage from Feed by M.T Anderson really stood out to me because we had just talked in class about the different stages our culture has been through. What I found the most interesting was the thought of our next stage being one of dreams. This passage continues on to say that we can literally do anything we want to do, be anyone we want to be! Isn’t that what dreams are made of? The possibility to do things we never imagined we could do in real life? That seems so… perfect!
But why did M.T. Anderson call this new culture “the culture of dreams”? The print culture remediated the written culture and the written culture remediated the oral culture. We’re headed into a new digital age so shouldn’t the next stage be called “the digital culture” or “the virtual culture”? Logically, that’s the next step. So why dreams?
The interface, the parts we see of the Feed promises you that all of your dreams will come true. You can watch your favorite shows anytime you want. You can be constantly up-to-date with the latest fashion and trends. You can see anything in the world and it be like you are actually there. You can chat people hundreds, thousands of miles away by just thinking it. It’s a dream come true… especially for lazy people like myself.
The problem with dreams, however, is that they’re fake. I think that’s why M.T. Anderson calls this “the culture of dreams”. All this technology seems like a dream come true, but it really isn’t. In the novel, the Feed turned the world virtual and just like a dream it doesn’t really exist.
We talked about augmented reality recently, which is adding digital aspects into the real world, but I think the Feed takes it a step further. The characters are more digital than they are anything else. It’s a virtual reality or really a fake reality. The characters don’t think, feel, or speak for themselves because they are constantly being told what is “cool” and what isn’t. No one really interacts with each other outside of the Feed. They are products being controlled by the tech companies. Their ambitions and dreams of the future are fake because they don’t really think for themselves. The real world to them is uninteresting now that they’ve had the Feed. This is why when he was disconnected from the Feed in the beginning of the book, Titus was bored and couldn’t find anything interesting about the real world.
They’ve lived in a dream for so long, they didn’t know what to do when they got out. The culture of dreams is really the culture of imitations. You can look at the ocean through the Feed all day long, but you aren’t looking at the ocean. It looks real, but it’s really just a fake.