Do We Live In An Illusion?

I began thinking about the subject of illusion after re-visiting some literature I read years ago to see how the authors treated the conflict between illusion and reality in their writing. We humans are caught between illusion and reality.

I re-visited: The Great Gatsby, The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Gatsby lived in an illusion. He created a false reality. He pretended to come from high social class and wealth. In reality he changed his name and he came from a poor background. He made his fortune from bootlegging. He pretended he went to Oxford to impress the elite. He held the illusion that Daisy loved him, when she only loved money and the easy life.

She uses money to escape reality. Daisy and Gatsby turned their illusions into their own reality.

Gatsby’s illusion destroyed him in the end.

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The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams: The characters failed to adjust to the real world so they constructed their make-believe worlds around them in the form of illusions.

Laura lives in a world populated by glass animals. She is crippled and fragile.

Her illusion of getting together with her boyfriend is destroyed when he tells her he has a fiancé. He breaks the horn off of her unicorn and it becomes a regular horse, the illusion is broken.

Tom, Laura’s brother, works in a shoe warehouse to support his mother and sister. He is an aspiring poet and immerses himself in movies.

Amanda, Tom and Laura’s mother, tells her children of the many men that pursued her but her husband ran off! She lives in a dream world. She lives her illusion through Laura. She hopes she will find a man to marry her.

Their illusions all break down.

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A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams: The main character, Blanche Dubois lives in her delusion of luxury, grandeur and high social class. She lost the family home and her job. She became a prostitute. She goes to her sister’s house only to find her illusions broken. She ends up in a mental institution.

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People find it hard to accept reality, so they live in an illusion.

Reality—The state of things as they actually are, not an idealized version.

Illusion—A false belief, a misinterpreted perception of things, what we want to believe.

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The Reality Gap leads people into illusion.

The Reality Gap is the SPACE between the reality that is and the reality you would like.

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During a human’s limited existence, the individual has to ADAPT to the outside world and it’s HARD! So, they retreat into illusions which are perceived as reality. The tendency is to distort reality to make it more endurable.

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The human mind steers itself toward illusions that are adaptable to one’s needs and desires.

Is everything a figment of your imagination?

What’s in your imagination is probably very different from reality. We live our lives in a narrow patch of circumstances, time, geography, culture, etc. We never see the whole picture!

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Another way of putting it is that we live in a world of our “Thoughts”. This is a different world from the one that IS. We perceive the world in a limited way. We see a limited spectrum of light. Our hearing and smell is limited. Our perceptions are limited and then we interpret those perceptions through limited thoughts.

This limited perception is an ILLUSION.

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Life exists on many levels, Real and Illusion.

Here are some examples:

Take a stone, you feel it and see it, it seems solid and very real. But it’s appearance is an illusion. It is actually made of countless individual atoms, none touching but all are tightly bonded. So, it’s solidity is an illusion.

How about sound? On one level your brain tells you it’s sound but it’s really vibrating particles of air that the ear detects.

We all want love, when we experience it, love feels real and it impacts on our feelings. But really it’s a biochemical process taking place in our brain. A trick of evolution to make us feel good. It feels good, most of the time, and it feels real whether it is or not.

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We need our illusions because we cannot bear too much reality!

Maybe reality is NOT an illusion but OUR version of reality is an illusion!

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What we experience and perceive is a reflection of what we allow into our consciousness based on our thoughts. So, we live in a THOUGHT WORLD.

We see what we allow ourselves to see!

We are always thinking and we embrace our thoughts and feelings as something separate from everyone and the world. A delusion of our mind restricting us to our desires.

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The question arises: How are illusions created?

Some are built to hide our weaknesses and build ourselves up. When the illusion emerges, the person no longer talks and acts as themselves, but as a fabricated image.

Ex—Jay Gatsby, in The Great Gatsby, pretended to be someone he wasn’t.

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People create an illusion when they don’t understand or accept the facts and replace them with their opinions. Then you fabricate thoughts or concepts that you think explain the facts.

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A person’s self-centered viewpoints create an illusion. When they look at events from self-interest, they cannot see the whole picture.

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Illusions are created when people try to appear like something which they are not. Ex—Blanche Dubois in Streetcar.

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Illusions are created when a person distorts or lies about a fact.

I will leave you with this thought:

Imagination was given to humans to compensate for what they are NOT, and a sense of humor to console them for what they ARE.


Also published on Medium.

2 thoughts on “Do We Live In An Illusion?

  1. As an actor I escape from reality each time I walk on a stage as a different person. It is a cleansing experience. Every morning when I wake up I have to decide who and what I am going to be in reality. Luckily, I have gotten to know me pretty well over the years. My faults have become less and facing reality has become easier. I react softer now to what upsets me. I react slower now to what used to anger me. I try to think before I speak. That is by far the most difficult thing for me to do. Being the person I want to be has been a lifelong project and I may never achieve it. But as long as I keep trying, I will get a little closer each day. I wish for you as I wish for me. HAVE A BETTER TODAY, IT WILL LEAD TO A BETTER TOMORROW!

  2. We all live with our illusions or ones created by other people. even our clothes are used to make the illusion of us that we want the world to think of us.
    Your usual interesting piece Dave

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