Sunday, May 13, 2012

Real & Fake

The jacket is of the finest materials, and the workmanship, with hand stitching, inside locking buttons, also of the finest, and the label identifying it as manufactured by Louis Vuitton reads "Made in Italy", and "Fine Cloths". Sizing, model number, material origin labels, are absent. The single label present is fake, the jacket real.

In the factory, wherever it is, jackets that acquire the full complement of labels go to the recognized distributors and end up in authorized stores. This jacket went out the back door, somewhere acquired the single, fake label, and one day, many days, months, or even years later arrived at a Budapest outdoor market, still unworn, and sells to me for 3 dollars.

I am wearing a watch with a like history. A standard Swiss made chronograph, but with an illegible brand name printed on the face, sold by a 2nd hand telephone dealer at a subway station stall as a worthless Chinese product. Again, real sold as fake.

I myself, I realize, have been for much of my life real marketed as fake. When I quit film school I was worked as a proof-reader for a woman's fashion magazine in L.os Angeles. In those days printing was still a mechanical process, and since I was in the midst of it I decided to write and arrange the printing of my own book. A little detective story was the result. Within a month the book was written, printed, and 500 copies sold by me personally at a table on the street in Los Angeles.

I don't myself have a copy of this book, and a few years ago I wondered if I could find one for sale on the internet. I was surprised to find many copies for sale, from 60 dollars to 200. It only took a minute to discover the reason for the high price: used book dealers had decided that my story was the unknown first novel published by the fairly well known writer of violent crimes stories who had taken as his pen name my real name.

My real book was being marketed as a fake.

I knew about this writer already because several years before I had typed my name into Google and discovered an article written by someone with my name about travelling in Europe buying and selling old watches between dealers. There were only maybe a couple dozen people doing this very specialized job, myself one of them, so this was a practical joke, played by a man I learned from his biography famous for playing practical jokes. Again, true story sold as a fake.

Brands are identifiers. They are short cuts, lessening the work of deciding what is before your eyes. When people are in a hurry, the real thing, unbranded, will be the last discovered. A fake has a much better chance of getting out into the world and having a destiny.

Like the jacket, the watch, my little detective story, you can see my life, and your own life too, as the destiny of the real marketed as fake and passing as real, getting through life by means that are deliberate falsification. And that is if you are lucky, because marketed as fake and passing as real is better than not getting anywhere at all.