Friday, February 18, 2011

Reality or Virtual Reality?

"Virtual reality" refers to our ability to use computer-mediated telepresence, either in real life or in fiction.

In real life, for example, virtual reality helps pilots train in flight simulators, and it's what makes it possible for pilots on the ground to monitor the flight of drones.
In fiction, virtual reality goes further, usually blurring the user's ability to tell where they really are and what they are really doing. In the Matrix, for example, the people immersed in virtual reality (VR) believe themselves to be living ordinary lives much like our own, when in reality they are lying in cocoons and dreaming electronically-stimulated, immaterial lives.
In Avatar, VR users have manufactured meat-bodies that they operate through computer-mediated telepresence, like drones. These 3-D meat avatars go about in the material world while the operator's actual body sleeps.
In the Star Trek universe, the VR holodeck provides a closed stage upon which the user's 3-D presence is "clothed" in VR. In that form of VR, the user is awake and present, but they cannot believe their eyes.
I'm sure I'm not the first person to notice that these VR stories are metaphors of the ancient puzzle concerning material vs. immaterial existence. If we, as the ancients say, are nothing more than units of consciousness truly existing on the immaterial plane, and these lives of ours are nothing more than projections of maya with no inherent existence outside of pure consciousness, then this "material" plane of ours is virtual reality.

To carry this metaphor further, our minds are the computers that mediate our pure consciousness and project them onto the virtually real stage of the world.

Small wonder writers all over the planet are now turning out VR stories--VR is a spiritual uber-meme. Yours truly is one of those authors. My novel, Reality Crash, written with my friend, Lou Grantt, is a fast-paced, near-future tale of a man awakening to the virtual reality nature of his world. I'd like to encourage you to buy and read my novel. You can buy it at any online bookstore, but Lou and I make the most money if you buy it at our lulu.com storefront. It comes in paperback or pdf. Reality Crash is also available for only 99 cents on Kindle.