Interesting Happiness discussions yesterday, addressing our text’s assertion that “illusory happiness does not interest us.” Frederic Lenoir’s point is that philosophers are truth-seekers, unwilling to swap “lucidity” for happiness, uninterested in becoming Voltaire’s “happy idiots.”
Yes, we agreed, but… what do you mean, “we”? We are knee-deep in the age of virtual reality, entertainment/ “reality” programming, sports fanaticism, and just generally the fuzzing-up of any boldly-drawn line between what’s real and what’s fabricated.
For that matter, ever since our “idiot” ancestors started scratching images on cave walls we’ve been telling stories. That’s virtual reality too.
I found myself invoking old Captain Pike (didn’t even have to mention the Next Generation’s holodeck): “You have reality, he has his illusion. We’ll see who has the better fate.” (That’s how I’m remembering it, it’s been awhile. I’ll see if I can fact-check that one.) [UPDATE: “Captain Pike has an illusion and you have reality. May you find your way as pleasant.”]
Then there’s the Matrix, the Experience Machine… and as one of us pointed out, you don’t even have to invoke sci-fi to see how rapidly we’re running up on non-fictional forms of VR. Ocular something-or-other (What exactly did you call it, Damon?) has already arrived in the brave new world of illusion-for-sale.
[UPDATE: “Oculus Rift,” “next-gen VR,” “the magic of presence”…
“There’s no evidence that this is causing damage to your health.” But what might it do to your “lucidity,” let alone your curb appeal?]
I’ll look into details. There are more than a couple of happy illusions I’d pay for right now. For one thing, I’d like to awaken from the nightmare of the GOP political campaign. Or sleep it off.
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