March 14, 2012

Imagination vs. Reality

It strikes me that one of the great problems facing the modern world is the inability of many people to distinguish between reality and fantasy. I am in the midst of reading a book that proposes ways to make reality more like an online game. Unfortunately, that's impossible. Any game, and especially a computer game, represents a static, unchanging environment with precise rules written into its operation. If you play City of Heroes, for example, it does not matter how unskilled you are, how overweight you are, or how clumsy you are, for the time that you are playing your ingame persona is heroic, villainous, or something in between. Anyone who sees you sees the computer generated image you assemble from pieces created by professional artists. You couldn't make your City of Heroes avatar look like you even if you tried. You could make it look similar, but it would never be more than a beautiful and imaginary representation of your reality.

Online games are not reality and reality will never function like an online game. Efforts to combine the two are doomed to fail because the game is controlled and reality is uncontrolled. Nothing can change that.

Here's another example. A couple of videos. This first one is one I found on YouTube. This is how most people believe Japan to be, including most Japanese people who live here!

This video is one I took myself. I was at Koenji Station last fall waiting for my wife to come home from work. She appears right at the end, by the way. Sadly, she very nearly walked right by me without noticing me standing there hiding behind my camera.

Fantasy versus reality. I'm sorry, but they are two separate things and they will always be two separate things. This is why utopianism is always delusional. Utopian thinkers honestly believe that the world they imagine inside their minds is possible to realize in the world around them if only they can convince the rest of us how wonderful it would be. When utopian thinkers become politicians, or convince politicians to help them, the rest of us inevitably suffer. Any effort made to create a utopia here on Earth can only bring about some version of dystopia because in order to realize your utopian vision you must force me to conform to your vision of an imagined ideal citizen and the only way to do that is through violent oppression.

Many people believe we can realize heaven on earth. They are delusional. Life has beautiful moments, but life itself is not pretty and that's just the way it is.