We have been lulled to sleep. We as in “the western, liberal, democratic, multicultural, inclusive, capitalist, globalized, service-economy” world has been lulled to sleep. Nobody says it best as the stand-up commentator George Carlin.
This leitmotiff of the sleepless dream, the non aspirational world that is, according to Francis Fukuyama, “finished”, is nothing less than a lie. Francis Fukuyama, himself at one time an outspoken “neoconservative” states that change is undesirable, and the greatest exponent of that change – “transhumanism” – is one of the most dangerous aspirational ideals on the planet.
Many people have bought in to the idea the world is pretty much finished, and how things are now are pretty much how things will forever more be. This is a silly notion, considering how unstable all of the world’s infrastructures have become. By any measure we live in truly precarious times. The people of the world have bought in to that illusion, and they have surrendered wholesale to rejection of dreams, of utopia, of aspiration and of ideals. Many people respond with fervent hostility towards the future itself, as if we have collectively consigned ourselves to an eternity of this reality.
The best metaphor for this was depicted in the movie the Matrix – the neverneverland movie which depicted an existential prison for a far future humanity, forever balanced (as the movie said it) on the precipice of “the best era humanity has ever known”, back when Clinton still governed in the White House, well before 9/11, well before the global war on terror, well before any major crisis – the year 1999. The matrix exemplified a cinematic wonder of a population whose very core freedoms have been dispelled and their entire world replaced by a gossamer veneer of deceit.
It’s 2014 now, and we are starting to understand better and better what that means.
“The first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster.”
The suggestion made by the makers of the Matrix movie is clearly a storytelling argument. The Makers of the Matrix wanted to create a movie using scenes from 1999 physical reality and represent that reality as a completely deceptive emulation of 1999 urban reality. This is understandable for a movie maker and the Wachovsky brother and sister did a wonderful job at this project.
I do however think this statement the Matrix movie made was wrong.
I believe with all my heart humanity will not reject existential perfection. Humans may have rejected the idea of ‘perfection’. in the same way humans may have rejected the ideals of Utopia, Global Peace, Ïmmortality”. out of fear of disappointment. For most people being actually disappointed is far worse than just placidly accepting they don’t live in a good world. People rather exercise humble acceptance rather than aspire to something fundamentally better and end up disappointed.
Some people might argue that various forms of virtual reality, and in specific Second Life, did not experience mass adoption because their had a “difficult interface”, or “they didn’t have tangible storylines”, or “the graphics were underwhelming”.
I am not so sure. I believe that most people in the developed people aren’t up to the challenge of Dreaming unbridled of a utopian free reality, unshackled from scarcity or national or ethnic divides or aging or physical imperfection.
In specific Second Life was for me a groundbreaking revelation. I started exploring Second Life in 2005 and from day one the medium t showed me people who were universally young, extremely healthy, free from material scarcity. I found myself not able to reject it, even though in physical reality I was left wondering why so many people were outwardly hostile to this particular means at self-expression and existential freedom. For me Second Life what I’ve always wanted, and now I have actually spend the better part of eight years inside it, I want more.
Second Life allowed me opportunities I would have never had before 2005. In this medium I had quite deep philosophical and often intimate moments with people across the planet. I conversed with people on an Antarctica base or in Saudi Arabia. I created structures I could have scarcely ever envisioned in reality. It made me return to design school in physical reality and most importantly – it allowed me to build permanent and lasting friendships with the global technoprogressive and Transhumanist community. But best of all, Second Life has allowed me to finally have the courage to express myself more as the person I really am in physical reality – and precisely this week I have been formally accepted for a gender transition treatment by the VU of Amsterdam.
My life has been fundamentally impacted by Virtual Reality and Second Life and I want more. I tasted this and my mind and soul aches and hungers for more, better. I can best classify myself as Utopia deficient, and I feel just the opposite of what the Wachovsky twins described – My mind and soul rejects ordinary, prosaic reality. I hunger for utopia, progress, change, revolution, improvement, augmentation, enhancement, wonder, exploration, adventure.
The world is not a perfect place, and there are many in the world who benefit from the majority of humanity accepting this imperfection. To rock the boat is to maybe have the boat tip over, so all people do is sit quietly and accept it.
Some thirty years ago we all realized that news infrastructures of mass-communication allow for fast-paced political change. So in effect – more sophisticated and immersive means of visualization and mass communication will mean faster and more fundamental change.
That’s why I say with full revolutionary fervor, bring it on. Bring on better, more immersive, more compelling, more seductive means to communicate, visualize and play. Unleash these technologies on the world like a maelstrom of irresistible change.
Because we can only do better at this stage – and a lot of people need to be purposefully dragged from slumber kicking and screaming. Sleep is over and the Dream awaits.