Writing and Reading (and visual art) as Technology (9): Virtual Realities

Seven year-old Onfim slays his enemies; Onfim is a wild beast.

Onfim (hat tip: Alex Tabarrok and Owen) reminds us that reading and writing (and art) do more enable us to augment reality: they are tools of imagination that take us beyond it.

It doesn’t take high-resolution goggles to open our eyes to virtual worlds. In How Many Bits Will Make You Happy? Mad Ned points out that a single pixel – one bit of information – can carry huge emotional weight, given sufficient context.

Words create their own context: something about the way we’re wired for language means that through stories we can see things that have never existed, and not just while we’re immersed in them: fictional events and characters haunt us, for good and evil. They inspire us – or terrify us – or woo us – in ways that should lead us to question whether we should describe them as “virtual” at all.

We read and write our worlds.

In the beginning was the word.

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