The Internet and Theories of Fantasy

The Internet and Theories of Fantasy

Length: 2154 words (6.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓

The Internet and Theories of Fantasy

[Summary. This paper analyzes the work of Bertolt Brecht in relation to fantasy and reality. Theatre and the Internet today, reach several parallels this paper attempts to uncover; and also to answer the question is it ever really there at all? In conclusion this paper will make not that the internet is really just a space of play.]

Brecht used epic theatre to bring forth an idea or meaning for the audience to consider while entertaining the audience. Epic theatre involves the use of alienation techniques to distance the viewer from the story but still concentrate on the overall meaning. The person who just views the story would likely take it as fantasy and not reach the true depth of the play. Brecht shocks the viewer by making the events and actions in the play "strange and abstract" this contrasts with dramatic plays where the audience sympathises and relates to the characters of the play.
Brecht believed that "To think, or write, or produce a play also means to transform society, to transform the state, to subject ideologies to close scrutiny." Having established this doctrine for himself, Brecht instigated the use of epic theatre in an attempt to break from the Aristotelian definition. Although he did not approve of the Aristotelian version, he redefined the nature of catharsis to suit his needs. (Brecht 71-90)
Quick to criticism the role of the audience in traditional theatre, Brecht placed particular emphasis on the eventual let down created by fantasy.
"For many, the theatre is the abode where dreams are created. You, players, sellers of drugs, in your darkened houses people are changed into kings and perform heroic deeds of safety. In rapture over themselves, or seized with pity they sit in happy distraction, forgetting the toils of daily life. Runaways. .. Of course, should someone come in, his ears still full of the roar of the city, himself still sober, he would scarcely recognize there, up on stage, the world he has just left. And leaving your house, he would scarcely know the world-- now no longer king, but lowly man-- he'd scarcely find himself at home in real life." (Brecht 54)
Brecht's reference to actors as "sellers of drugs" is particularly apt imagery. The actors sell a package of fabricated grandeur to the audience, which experiences a rush of feeling leading to an emotional high. However, at the end of the performance, the audience has already experienced the highest emotional climax, the memory of which is strung along by the inevitable plot resolution.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Internet and Theories of Fantasy." 17 Aug 2018

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about Jenna Evans and her Fake Story on the Internet

- The Internet is a place where one may pretend to be anyone or anything anyone wanted to- even if that means lying to thousands of innocent mothers who had experienced the loss of a child. Jenna Evans decided to post online about the death of her child, Bentley, who had passed away due to a brain disorder. Many mothers who had felt this same heartbreak befriended her. Evans posted later that her oldest child, Hailey, had come down with flu-like symptoms in which she was then admitted into the hospital with meningitis....   [tags: internet, virtual world, identity]

Research Papers
815 words (2.3 pages)

Anxiety in Post Open-Heart Patients Essay

- Concept analysis of Anxiety For many decades nursing has been developing tools to assist with development of theoretical and conceptual bases. Concept analysis has been identified by Walker and Avant (2005) as encouraging communication within the discipline it is being research in. Walker and Avant (2005) also point out that “the results of the concept analysis, the operational definition, the antecedents, and the defining attributes can provide scientists with an excellent beginning for a new tool or an excellent way to evaluate an old one” (p.64)....   [tags: Health, Diseases, Theories of Anxiety]

Research Papers
1912 words (5.5 pages)

In Search of King Arthur Essay

- In Search of King Arthur Ever since I was a little girl, I was fascinated by stories of courageous knights and virtuous ladies, who populate the covers and pages of books and screens of the movie theaters. Their splendid attire, glamour of the courts and impeccable manners attracted and conquered the imagination of the little girl. Robin Hood was one of my favorite characters, however there was one hero, who troubled my imagination most of all. I have heard and read numerous stories of a magnificent, just and most generous king of all, King Arthur....   [tags: Internet Literature Essays]

Free Essays
826 words (2.4 pages)

Fantasy Sports on the Internet Essay

- Fantasy Sports on the Internet The Internet is something that is common in today’s society. The internet’s uses vary from talking online to getting information on just about anything one wants. This new phenomenon was an instant hit and in the mid 90’s the internet was being found in more and more households. The internet opened up opportunities for many things such as easy access to any information, online shopping, being able to talk to people on the other side of the world with no cost, and it set up the whole fantasy world in sports....   [tags: Expository Essays Research Papers]

Research Papers
841 words (2.4 pages)

Fantasy Orientation in Children Essay

- ... Half the children were told a story about a fantasy world involving an evil robot and astronauts, while the rest were told a story about two body dodging a babysitter. The basic story line was the same, retrieving an object without the villain noticing it. After the session the children were questioned to ensure whether they understood it fully. Then they were given a real life scenario to solve which required the use of same tactics as used in the story. The children who heard realistic stories were able to solve the issue much better than the ones who heard the fantasy stories....   [tags: distinguisihing reality from fantasy]

Research Papers
2008 words (5.7 pages)

What Fuels Conspiracy Theories? Essay

- Conspiracy Theories Conspiracy theories, are they a bunch of made up old wives tales or are they reality as we know it. Well, first of all, let’s take a look at the definition of a “theory”. A “theory” or “theories” are analytical tools for understanding and explaining a given subject manner however, they aren’t always true, but they are generally expected to follow principles of rational thought or logic. Most conspiracy theories cause paranoia in certain people; it gives you the reality of this actually being true because they are published in books, written in large serious segments in websites etc....   [tags: Conspiracy Theories]

Research Papers
1055 words (3 pages)

Essay about The Internet

- It all started in 1962, ahead of the discussion ‘Internet’. The globe’s many data processing machines are ancient and original, even though many people price scores concerning currency. People enjoy singular, or hardly any chiliad dispute of attractive gist consciousness, and supplying instructions are a great distance outside of simple. Furthermore, information in visible form ideas accomplished the telephone mark as something held and or owned exclusively. Although histrionical quadruple age elderly Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) denoting equivalence the U.S....   [tags: ARPANET, Internet, MIT]

Research Papers
1350 words (3.9 pages)

Fantasy in Theatre Essay

- Fantasy in Theatre In preperation for our performance on the above subject, we firstly listened to several pieces of fantasy music as a guided visualisation in which we were asked to imagine going through different doors and to visualise what was behind them. This then inspired us to experiment with diferent stylistic devices to include in our performance. We were given two pieces of text that was goin to be the scope for our piece of Drama, they were: A Midsummer Night's Dream - A play by William Shakespeare....   [tags: Fantasy Shakespeare Theatre Drama Essays]

Free Essays
1115 words (3.2 pages)

The Internet Essays

- Whether you’re an average teenager wanting to keep in touch with friends after school, or a business person needing a low cost but effective way to keep work related material local and secret, chances are you use E-Mail or Instant Messaging services. For communication purposes in this high tech lifestyle that exists today, these systems are used only with the basic understanding needed to run these devices. You are about to learn how these systems came to be and the in depth understanding needed to make them work....   [tags: The Internet]

Research Papers
1529 words (4.4 pages)

Internet2 Essay example

- Internet2 Internet2 was formed in 1006 with an original 34 institutions participating. With Internet2, the Clinton Administration was trying to advance technologies for many people. Their first step was to connect 100 institutions at 100 times the speed of the current internet. The applications generated by this research have already had a positive affect on fields such as health care, national security, distance learning, energy research, environmental monitoring, and manufacturing. Internet2 is an extremely interesting subject....   [tags: Internet Computers Technology Essays]

Research Papers
1512 words (4.3 pages)

The audience has no choice but to leave with the rapidly fading memory of their dramatic stimulation and return to the underwhelming reality that awaits them outside of the theatre. This is Brecht's unflattering version of Aristotle's catharsis.
Brecht also wanted the audience to see the characters as part of a larger problem instead of focusing on the plight of the individual. His theory of verfremdung was conceived to prevent the audience from empathizing with the characters on stage so that his goal could be achieved. As Brecht said,
"Estrangement (verfremdung) means to historicize, that is, consider people and incidents as historically conditioned and transitory... The spectator will no longer see the characters on stage as unalterable, uninfluencable, helplessly delivered over to their fate. He will see that his man is such and such, because circumstances are such. And circumstances are such, because man is such. But he in turn is conceivable not only as he is now, but also as he might be-- that is, otherwise-- and the same holds true for circumstances. Hence, the spectator obtains a new attitude in the theatre... He will be received in the theatre as the great 'transformer,' who can intervene in the natural processes and the social processes, and who no longer accepts the world but masters it." (Brecht 88)
Aristotelian theatre emphasized the well-made play, suspension of disbelief, and progressive character development. To replace these facets of Aristotelian theatre, Brecht created epic theatre, in which the plot is episodic, there is little cause and effect between scenes, and character development is cumulative. Verfremdung emphasizes reason and objectivity and bypasses emotion. Brecht tried to achieve distancing in numerous ways. He made the action stark, harsh, and realistic, the action is linear without the climax and denouement, each scene is complete within itself, and theatricality is emphasized to prevent illusion.
Therefore, in Brecht's version of epic theatre, he not only aspired to provoke the audience into reforming society by rethinking common ideology, he wanted the audience to see the characters in the play as part of a larger, more important whole. He employed his theory of verfremdung to that affect. For Brecht, the distinction between life and theatre as well as between onlooker and performer is compressed and blurred so that the end of the play-- the conclusion-- is in the hands of each audience member. In Brecht's version of catharsis, at the end of the play the audience is left in a state of emotional elevation. In order to complete the emotional cleansing, the audience must take action against the social problem that was presented to them. (Kapor 59)
"Cyberspace" no longer strictly refers to the fictional "matrix" in William Gibson's novel, Neuromancer; it has now entered into common speech on and off the 'net as a shorthand for this conception of computer networks as a cybernetic space. This figuration of Internet as a kind of cybernetic terrain works to undermine the symbolic distance between the metaphoric and the real. It abandons "the real" for the hyperreal by presenting an increasingly real simulation of a comprehensive and comprehendible world.
The shift from the real to the hyperreal occurs when representation gives way to simulation. One could argue that we are standing at the brink of such a moment, marked primarily by the emerging presence of a virtual world. Just as the highways once transformed our country, the “Information Superhighway" offers an image of dramatic change in American lives through a change in virtual landscape. Although this expression originated in the White House as a catchy term for the proposed National Information Infrastructure (NII), the expression quickly entered into popular parlance as a pseudonym for the already- existing worldwide network of Internet. The overused expression does little to represent the actual network architecture which connects these machines, yet the metaphor of the highway persists as a media image, functioning as a conceptual model for the world created by this technology. One doesn't "go" somewhere when picking up the telephone. But when the computer couples with these same telephone lines, suddenly spatial and kinetic metaphors begin to proliferate. The "Information Superhighway" depends upon a more subtle metaphorical figuration--a virtual topography in which speed, motion, and direction become possible. Internet becomes a simulated territory we traverse via computer/modem roadster in which the computer screen replaces the windscreen. The scene/screen of simulation is a "depthless surface" which allows for no play of images between metaphor and the world it (re)presents. No longer a metaphor for change, the simulated highway of Internet becomes a form of virtual reality. (Kamper, Wulff 106-119)
In its "real" material presence, the Internet consists of a complex redundant network of host machines which communicate over phone lines. As opposed to the elaborate system of bridges, jumps, and links that occur across real space, the geographical figurations of host "sites" and user "addresses" creates a simpler virtual terrain for the user--one in which travel amounts to a tracing of connections from site to site. The metaphor of cyberspace presents Internet as a globe to its own world; virtual territory only exists once it has been traced onto a pre-existing code of connectivity. Jameson connects the development of the first navigational "globe" in 1490 to an emerging conceptual model of "the world" as totality, as well as the realization that "there can be no true maps," only "dialectical advance in the various historical moments of mapmaking" (52).
This metaphorical topography offered up by Internet presents the simulation of a vast, undiscovered country in which only our imaginations limit our abilities. From a Brecht perspective, the immanence of this realm--its very vastness and limitlessness--is nothing more than the simulation of these significations, simulacra that perform a strategy of deterrence, holding back the realization of the spaceless, limited world of the code. Distance disappears into immediacy, and presence becomes a state of simultaneity and transparency. The hypertelic moment of postmodern technology simulates presence "without even the faintest glimmer of a possible absence, in a state of radical disillusion; the state of pure presence." (Kamper, Wulff 106-119)
Currently, writing is the dominant means of communication on the 'net, and as such, it finds its place within a general history of writing as a material presence for communication (as opposed to the more "ephemeral" voice).
As communication becomes more immediate, absence/presence and writing/speech distinctions lose meaning; the game of emergence and disappearance begins to implode. The written word takes on a more immediate nature and begins to function as though it were speech. No longer a counterfeit or a reproduction, writing achieves its "transcendence" on Internet: as third-order simulation of speech. (Kamper 72)
For literally millions of "netters," cyberspace is a real place with real potentials--and it is precisely this blurring of the real and the unreal which marks Brecht's postmodern moment of the hyperreal. From this perspective, the compelling image of "Internet as world" pushes us beyond the world, beyond its containment, all the while pursuing the same Enlightenment goals which drove the world beyond its own ends and into hyperreality.
The challenge of Internet, one might argue, is in its potential to derail the very assumptions which have led to the postmodern moment. In other words, could be used to raise the stakes in that banal MOO question, "Where are you in real life?" Might cyberspace, rather than providing a simulated, hyperpotential world of hypertravel, provide for a "deterritorialization." (Kamper 61-71)
On the 'net, one will expect to find the banal at every turn. One would also hope to find objects of seduction and artifice, objects that turn us away from our intended goals. One might even find something resembling Lyotard's "passiblity." Lyotard refers to this resistance as an attempt to rewrite modernity, to displace determination and complexity by writing past the assumptions of its telos (Inhuman 28). He suggests a "working through" (Freud's durcharbeitung) in place of modernity's directed work; a free play in place of strategic play (Inhuman 54, 117). Lyotard and Bertolt Brecht, while worlds apart in many regards, merge on this point: the desirability of escaping the containment of a totalizing system driven toward (and beyond) its own assumptions. In Lyotard's words: "Being prepared to receive what thought is not prepared to think is what deserves the name of thinking" (Inhuman 73). The virtual utopian sees the immediate and immanent fulfillment of Enlightenment ideals in a world liberated from itself through virtuality. Perhaps, though, the very immanence of the model can challenge the assumptions which have led to its creation.
In this reversed image, then, Internet might offer a virtuality which resists our attempts to totalize it as a world, presenting instead loci for playing with the assumptions that we have taken for granted in modernity: community, information, liberation, self. In general, virtual communities pose more questions about how individuals construct connections than they answer concerning the ends of achieving an electronic democracy. Rather than working toward (re)producing a model community, cyberspace could just as easily keep us moving beyond our ends, toward new connections: new "chorographies" that would demand new discourses (Virilio, Aesthetics 110). Likewise, the virtual body sets us astray from our assumptions about what it means to have a "real" body. In the virtuality of Internet, our words are our bodies, an aporetic copula which forces a reexamination of "the body" as both physiological (noumenal) entity and phenomenological experience. In each instance, Internet provides the medium for disrupting models, rather than confirming them. Following this other heading, Internet might present a seduction rather than a subduction: a challenge to modernity's assumptions of self and body, of individual and community.
Internet, rather than presenting a simulation of totality, might provide a space of play. Rather than pursuing ends through this technology, one might instead turn oneself over to the drift and derive of "cyberspace."


1. "The Last Vehicle." Looking Back on the End of the World. Ed. Dietmar Kamper and Christoph Wulf. New York: Semiotext(e), 1989. 106-119.
2. Brecht, Bertolt. 1964. Brecht on Theatre, trans. John Willett. New York: Hill and Wang.
3. Fisher, Lawrence. "The Geographic Interface Puts the World on the Desktop." New York Times 5 Feb. 1995: F9.
4. Kapor, Mitch. "Where is the Digital Highway Really Heading?" Wired July-Aug. 1993: 53-59, 94.
5. Kroker, Arthur. The Possessed Individual. New York: St. Martin's, 1992.
6. Lyotard, Jean-Francois. The Inhuman. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1991.
Return to