Friday, June 22, 2012

Information is a very limited part of the real

I believe we live in a world with way too little reality, or means of accessing reality — if by ‘reality’ we mean a place where your accountability for actions is not virtual. I am not the only one to think much of the tragic violence being perpetrated by soldiers, for example, is caused by the violence perpetrated on them by making them feel the ‘game’ is virtual — even the people their tanks fire upon are converted to resemble outlines in video games on their monitors. Put people in front of virtual people and they will come to feel, themselves, both immune and virtual. 487,000 US soldiers are suicidal and have acute Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Now obviously war’s hell has done this to generations — just thinking of World War I is enough. But something extra has been added here — and that is the video-game thinness of the reality of the other. One has to wonder how much not even feeling your so-called enemy to be “real” makes you even more broken and divorced from your soul. At any rate, I believe in, and deeply trust the apprenticeship to the non-virtual aspect of experience (the part not ‘just in your head’) as a form of life-teaching. And I believe in attending to it, as an actual practice. It is hard, as we say in the US, to ‘show up’ for life. It is far easier, and most of our technology encourages it, to go around experience, rather than through it. Thus the necessity of being physically present with one’s senses in lived experience in order to even have emotions. The virtual experience might feel like an actual one — it imitates it, but it invites one to bypass the body and go straight to the ‘information-gathering’ part of one’s person. Information is a very limited part of the real. 

-- Jorie Graham, interview in The Spectator ; see John Gallaher's response here.