Beneath the Veil

To what do we owe the thrill of this unmasking?

To the satisfaction of knowing that, sometimes, even the Queen farts?  To the fascination of finally accessing the real?  Or to an obsession with phantasmagoria that delights in finding yet another trick?  The 19th century panorama craze left behind a residue of cross-section and cutaway illustrations that heighten the enjoyment of illusion by revealing it as such.  Unmasking and Phantasmagoria, then, are fundamentally ambiguous: the veil is the condition of possibility for any debunking–conversely, phantasmagoria can be enjoyed qua phantasmagoria only through an unmasking that makes good on the promise of illusion.  Otherwise, we could as easily be tricked into settling for the real thing.

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