exposed: a journal of our blurring culture.  
  about exposed.

To be perfectly honest, I have no idea what this journal is about. I have a vague idea, a feeling, a general direction that I'm pointing in, but beyond that, nothing.

I know why I created it, though: Reading Umberto Eco's 1975 essay "Travels in Hyperreality," I was captivated and inspired. In great detail and with sharp wit Eco examines what he calls "the Absolute Fake" -- examples throughout the United States of our distinct brand of fake reality. In it, he writes, "There is another, more secret America´┐Żand it creates somehow a network of references and influences that finally spread also to the products of high culture and the entertainment industry. It has to be discovered."

That "has" seems so emphatic, so necessary to me.

Certainly, essayists and scholars and even journalists have continued to examine our hyperreality, as Eco calls it. But there seems to still be a lack of serious, honest, intelligent yet straightforward critique of our culture and blurring edges and effects.

And that's why reality blurred's exposed exists.

Las Vegas, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, themed restaurants, reality TV: these are the easy examples of hyperreality. This site will probably talk about them from time to time, for sure. But I'm even more interested in the subtler examples. Television, film, advertising, music -- nearly everything that is included under the label of "culture" or "popular culture" has examples of hyperreality, with previously existing barriers increasingly crumbling. In the 22 years since Eco wrote, our hyperreality has become hyperreal, with even more blurring of the lines between what is and is not real.

But even though I just wrote that sentence, I don't really believe that there's such a thing as the "not real." Because even if something is, say, a reproduction or a fake or hyperreal, it is still a real thing. Those real things, despite being reproductions or fakes or whatever -- they have become our reality.

The essays and features here will explore these themes, celebrating the pleasures of our new hyperreality while examining it and asking questions about its effects.

I don't have all the answers, or maybe even any of them. But I do have questions, and asking them is what exposed is all about. | 21 April 2002

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A few words about the structure of this publication and submissions to it. First, five months after publishing the first issue, the second finally went live. Clearly, this is not a weekly or even a monthly publication. A new issue -- "issue" refers to a single essay, satisfying definitions 2b, 4a, 4b, 4c, and 4d of the term -- will be published not on an arbitrary schedule, but when there's something worthwhile to publish. That could be twice a year, or twice a week. Which brings me to the next and most important point: exposed needs contributions.

Anyone on earth is welcome to submit an essay to exposed, as long as it fits under the general topic of dissecting some part of our culture that is experiencing a blurring of its particular reality. What does that really mean? The paragraphs above give the best explanation I can come up with right now, but here are a few ideas to give you an idea of the range of topics that can be explored in this space:

Maybe you're in high school and you're annoyed that your parents always act fake around other relatives at holidays, and you want to take your blog entry about that phenomenon and expand upon it in an essay. Maybe an infomercial convinces you emotionally of a claim that you intellectually know can't possibly be true, and you want to discover why that is. Maybe you just visited EPCOT Center at Walt Disney World and want to write about how you liked the park's version of France better than the real country.

Don't let those ideas limit your thinking, though. Write and submit what you think fits best; convince me with your writing. As far as rules, there are no real rules. Essays should be written in your voice and your style, and should be as long as the need to be to explore the topic. Essays should be intellectually stimulating but not obtusely academic, informed but not full of citations and references, witty but not stupid. Most of all, they should be provocative and original, challenging unchallenged ideas and asking unasked questions. Just write.

Ready? Along with a brief note describing yourself and the essay you're submitting, send your work in the body of an e.mail message. I'll try to get back to you as soon as possible to let you know whether or not your work is right for exposed. If it is, we'll work out the details. Speaking of details, since this journal makes no money, I can't offer payment. But you will retain the copyright and rights to your words, and your essay will be published and archived indefinitely on this site, exposing both your ideas and you to the world. | 29 September 2002

Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and editor of exposed.