So Disney merely has to stoop down to pick up reality as it is. 'Built-in spectacle', as Guy Debord would say. But we are no longer in the society of the spectacle, which has itself become a spectacular concept. It is no longer the contagion of spectacle which alters reality, it is the contagion of the virtual which obliterates the spectacle. With its diverting, distancing effects, Disneyland still represented spectacle and folklore, but with Disneyworld and its tentacular extension, we are dealing with a generalized metastasis, with a cloning of the world and of our mental universe, not in the imaginary register, but in the viral and the virtual. We are becoming not alienated, passive spectators, but interactive extras, the meek, freeze-dried extras in this immense reality show. This is no longer the spectacular logic of alienation, but a spectral logic of disembodiment; not a fantastic logic of diversion, but a corpuscular logic of transfusion, transubstantiation of each of our cells. An undertaking of radical deterrence of the world, then, but from the inside this time, not from outside, as we saw in what is now the almost nostalgic world of capitalist reality. In virtual reality the extra is no longer either an actor or a spectator; he is off-stage, he is a transparent operator.
And Disney wins on yet another level. Not content with obliterating the real by turning it into a 3-D, but depthless, virtual image, it obliterates time by synchronizing all periods, all cultures in the same tracking shot, by setting them alongside each other in the same scenario. In this way, it inaugurates real time — time as a single point, one-dimensional time, a thing which is also without depth: neither present, past nor future, but the immediate synchrony of all places and all times in the same timeless virtuality. The lapsing or collapsing of time: this is the real fourth dimension . The dimension of the virtual, of real time, the dimension which, far from superadding itself to the three dimensions of real space, obliterates them all. So it has been suggested that in a century or a millennium, the old 'swords and sandals' epics will be seen as actual Roman films, dating from the Roman period, as true documentaries on Antiquity; that the Paul Getty Museum at Malibu, a pastiche of a villa from Pompeii, will be confused anachronistically with a villa from the third century B.C. (as will the works inside: Rembrandt and Fra Angelico will all be jumbled together in the same flattening of time); and that the commemoration of the French Revolution at Los Angeles in 1989 will be confused retrospectively with the real event. Disney achieves the de facto realization of this timeless Utopia by producing all events, past or future, on simultaneous screens, remorselessly mixing all the sequences as they would — or will — appear to a civilization other than our own. But this is already our civilization. It is already increasingly difficult for us to imagine the real, to imagine History, the depth of time, three-dimensional space - just as difficult as it once was, starting out from the real world, to imagine the virtual one or the fourth dimension.