Monday, June 22, 2009

Fabricating Realities

How much reality can we fabricate? Let's take a graphic example. There are people who work the Renaissance Faire circuit, traveling from one show to another year round. For them, this world of period clothing, music, art and entertainment is their reality. Customers may see it as a temporary amusement park that pops up every year, but those who work it get familiar with the other workers, shopkeepers and entertainers. For them, getting dressed in those clothes and talking in those accents is as real as some other person going to a corporate office every day. That is the way they make their living and they think in terms of creating products and entertainments that would reflect those periods. The difference is that instead of sitting in a cube farm tethered to a computer and a phone, they make a living jousting, swordfighting, juggling, or singing to the accompaniment of a lute, flute, guitar, harp or hand drum. Beyond a doubt, those who have created that reality enjoy working in it and living that life.

Take a look at the other example cited here. Is being tethered in a cube farm what most people dreamed of doing when they were going to school? Probably not. But the reality of a workplace where you are anchored in one spot all day taking calls from customers, typing notes into a computer as they speak, changing passwords and flipping switches so that some magic will happen to allow the customer to get their world back in order without the cube dweller ever seeing a customer live and in person. Every call is timed and recorded and every break is scheduled to the minute. Somebody created a very strange reality in those places.

Fans of Star Trek have had conventions for years where they get dressed up and spend long weekends in costumes posing as visitors from other planets. They have even created languages for the characters to speak. Fans of the Greateful Dead have spent 40 years following the band around, going to shows, camping out and creating temporary communities that are focused around going to hear their favorite band play, dancing to the music, making their own recordings of them, and otherwise living in a self contained world where they make and sell tie dyed clothing and other things of interest to them.

How about organic farmers and gardeners? Their idea of planting, cultivating and harvesting food are quite different than large scale commercial farms. Their ways of working are different and their ways of seeing the world are different.

Reading is another way of entering an altered state. People who are big fans of mysteries, romances, science fiction and fantasy find that reading allows them to immerse their senses in those worlds created by the authors even better than movies or TV because their mind has to make the pictures that the author suggests with words.

Are there others you can think of? Is one of these realities more real than another? What is the criteria?

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