I am in the process of reading a book by Jaron Lanier, one of the inventors of Virtual Reality in the 80s. He certainly challenges the reader, although I have to wonder if at times he would rather we just accept his genius. Which he certainly is. But that does not mean I always agree with him without caveats. Or agree at all. But then virtual reality never was something that I really got all that excited about. There is a difference, to me that is, between virtual reality and a good book. I can never quite separate the actions of Virtual Reality from the hardware that is causing the actions or reactions. As opposed to a good book, which I can totally bury myself in.
Back to the book. “You are not a gadget”. Mr Lanier is proposing that there are a number of inherent dangers in the modern usage of computers. There are, although I sometimes see his dangers as nonexistent and wonder why he has not mentioned other dangers. But then I have not finished the book yet.
Right now, as I am reading it, he is discussing Time. In the background an episode of Sapphire and Steel is playing, a late 70s ITV challenger to Dr Who in which a group of entities battle Time. I digress. he says “You force yourself to say that time itself travels through reality. This is an absurd, circular thought.” This brought me up short because I found it an extravagance of arrogance. There are cultures who believe exactly that.
On the other hand,I think there is a possibility that we view time differently than say, 100 years ago. It is complicated. On the one hand we know much more about the past than any generation ever has. Our concept of the Present has expanded thanks to the internet. We have discussions that our always in our time…to us. And to the other people in the discussion, even though their concept of the Present is different. Letters seem to have been written with the knowledge that the reader was in a different time sense. But we do not carry that same feel, or at least so it appears. I am writing this in a totally different Now than yours. But it is still Now.
Which leads to the Future. Which seems to be fading. When I was young we almost always seemed to be thinking about the Future, often at the expense of the other tenses. Perhaps because the Present scared us, with the Cold War there and the Warm War getting hotter. But we were going to the moon, and there would be robots and flying cars. Now everyone seems to carrying on about NOW…how to make now better regardless of how it affects the Past or the Future.
I myself feel that we have responsibilities to both our ancestors and our children’s children. But that is me. I also think it would be a grey world if we all thought the same thing,eh? But when I hear that people want to tear apart sacred sites or want to abuse the planet and limit the time when we have resources available it makes me sad.
So tell me. When are you?