Reality As A Construct

Exploit The Simulacrum!

2 January 2001

Welcome to the theater of the real. While ‘theater’ implies illusion, it still exists in its own right. And like a theatrical performance, there may be different interpretations of the story line. With this concept, consider the possibilities for yourself.

Just what are simulacra? What is real? And where do science and religion meet?

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Think of a city park. There is usually a fountain of some sort, possibly with water cascading from various tiers.

But this fountain, this waterfall is a simulation of what occurs naturally in the mountains.

Hike up a mountain and see the spring for yourself. Follow the trickle until it becomes a stream. Follow that until it’s a river. Find a point where water flows over rocks or off a cliff. That is a natural waterfall.

While the urban fountain is a copy of something else, it’s still real and valid itself. It’s something reinterpreted. Ornamentation comes from the sweat of stone workers.

In the mountains, the spring shooting water straight up six inches is less dramatic. Our reconstructed expression of this has been exaggerated.

The city fountain with its concrete or brick construction is an approximation of the stones creating the waterfall in nature.

At the very least, accept that the copy– the simulation– has been changed but is still something in and of itself.

This is a simulacrum. The copy is genuinely something in its own right.

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People prefer simulacra. Copies seem cleaner and somehow purer– more distilled– than the original. For some, it takes the form of nostalgia; others, it’s pretense or fantasy. Most, however, use it for avoidance, ignorance or manipulative control. And for a few, it is a longing for that which they know is unattainable. Sometimes the control factor leads to annihilation. It’s all just shades of gray.

We are fascinated by films, fashion, television, virtual reality, games and driving our own cars. These each are a microcosm we use to mask that the so-called real world is just an illusion.

The brief version of the philosophy behind buddhism (as opposed to its religious dogma) is closer to being correct about an ultimate reality than its complex counterpart. Specifically: reality is– period. The essence of what is us, this is also real, a reality.

All this is too much for most people to grasp or they just want to remain simple. Simplicity is the fundamental Real, so those individuals are free from fault.

The microcosm gives the rational mind immediate simplicity. All the rest takes too much work to uncover. Masking this via the “real world” is what most prefer.

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People comprehend three dimensions, 3D. You know that an office on the thirteenth floor means up; traveling northeast in a city probably involves both a right then a left turn.

Psychologists, however, claim we only perceive two and a half dimensions. M.C. Escher’s drawings would be less amusing otherwise.

Contemporary physicists tell us that there are between eleven and thirteen dimensions to the universe. This is the contribution of string theory.

Some researchers go as far as to tell us that time and space are absent from that list of a dozen dimensions. This is significant.

As strange as this seems, you already understand it subconsciously.

When you dream, the places you experience seem to exist in a world of their own. While there might be a correlation between the dream world and your surroundings, you know them to be separate. Objects within that realm take up no physical space.

For example, a box appears that only exists in your dream. Outside your dream, others are unable to see it. Why?

You understand the location occupies space only within your dream.

It’s a simple proposition, then, to hear that space of the so-call real world might be a similar mental construct.

There are similar explanations involving time. (Time passes at different rates in dreams than while awake.)

Space and time are elements within the simulacra of a true reality.

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So from one’s own experiences, many can relate to the previous examples that space and time might be mere constructs of the mind.

You might ask, why then does it hurt when you trip and smack your face on the ground?

Another seemingly unrelated example: go to a pond or even a decent sized puddle. Toss a couple of stones into it at the same time or in rapid succession. (You’ve probably done this as a child and might recall.)

Notice how there are concentric circles expanding out from where each stone penetrated the water. Observe the interference patterns where the sets of waves collide. What else is there? Some waves are canceled out, some are altered, and there are new ones created. But the new ones set off into a whole new direction than from where the others started.

Consider the notion of String Theory in physics again. If everything really is just a wave (to oversimplify), then the pain you feel when you injure yourself may be explained by those waves created by interference.

That is, we perceive those interference patterns and label it pain. Rather, pain is the sensation of experiencing those waves created by interference just as we identify sound by the ear and brain registering waves within a certain range.

The other waves– the ones that cancel each other out and such– are what permit you to walk on the second floor without falling through. Other materials are represented by different waves, and thus the average person can walk on stone but not water.

There are stories of people apparently defying the laws of physics from various cultures around the world. Fictional versions may be found in The Mists of Avalon [*] (an English language novel by Marion Zimmer Bradley, 1982) and the “Red Lotus Society” (a Taiwanese language film, Feixia Ahda, by Stan Lai, 1994).

So then, if our perceptions stem from interactions of waves, reality is just a construct.

What we understand to be reality then is genuine to us but a simulacrum nonetheless.

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Physics uses waveforms to represent behaviors such as particle motion and energy transfer.

Most people comprehend waves as the two dimensional drawings used in secondary school mathematics and science classes. A smaller percentage might understand the three dimensional version.

Fortunately, large numbers within society have experienced ocean waves, watched the wake of a boat on a lake or perhaps carefully observed the effects of stomping in a puddle.

Those are all waves within water. Electronic musicians probably have worked with waveforms with respect to synthesizers.

Yet physicists use waves to describe energy and to some extent matter.

But the significance is that these are all representations. These are simulacra.

We must be open to the possibility that something might just be lost in the translation.

As such, science is unable to answer all questions for us. Likewise, religion dismisses ambiguity through references to mysteries or fables.

You might just find, however, an answer for yourself through your self.

Understanding the simulacra of the so-called real world is like feeling the difference between vinyl and leather, like thinking you can jump versus the exhilaration of actually performing a standing back-flip correctly, like seeing a beautiful sunset in the cinema as opposed to standing on the west coast at the moment the sun’s rays no longer reach you.

We sense the world around us through tools made with the stuff of the universe. That is, our corporeal being is rooted in this reality. Furthermore, science has unsuccessfully attempted to prove that we exist strictly within this realm.

Perhaps– just perhaps– this entire existence is merely a representation, a construct.

We’re surrounded by simulacra. It should be straight-forward, then, to comprehend reality to be yet another creation. Being a simulacrum, there is value in this realm. This might just be only a slice or rendition of something else.

*   *   *

Forget post-modernism; this is now and forever. Welcome to metarealist territory.

Exploit the simulacra. Consider yourself free to invent new possibilities. Introduce interpretive dance into office politics– because you can. Discover a subtle melody within industrial music and from thrash bands– because it’s there.

See yourself as healthy– because it really doesn’t matter. See this. Know this. Feel this. And tell yourself this as your daily mantra.

Understand you really can fly.

Copyright © 2001 Daniel Joseph Pezely
May be licensed via Creative Commons Attribution.