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Dr Mary Ann Ghaffurian. Virtual Reality—Digital Dreams, excerpt

Dr Mary Ann Ghaffurian. Virtual Reality—Digital Dreams, excerpt

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Consciousness is caught, ensnared, like a butterfly in a net or in a bottle, captivated there to fly within the ambit of its containment... "History's recollection becomes the re-gathering of images and sounds, Disney Worlds of Jimminy Cricket or Tinker Bell...Spaceship Earth...Exxon’s Universe of Energy...General Electric’s Carousel of Progress....as you hear majestic sounding movie themes coming from speakers hidden in the marigolds...A commercial from which there is no escape...History becomes a movie set that spatializes time...a full body suit...into virtual reality, for in electronic media there is no historical past, there is only an eternal present in which all time is going on now." Such illusions are not necessarily leading to consciousness awakening, but potentially to a deeper immersion, miring, into a cultural matrix and context which is already dualistic, divided, spreading mind ever-thinner over the cortex of the world-body. Dr MAG
Consciousness is caught, ensnared, like a butterfly in a net or in a bottle, captivated there to fly within the ambit of its containment... "History's recollection becomes the re-gathering of images and sounds, Disney Worlds of Jimminy Cricket or Tinker Bell...Spaceship Earth...Exxon’s Universe of Energy...General Electric’s Carousel of Progress....as you hear majestic sounding movie themes coming from speakers hidden in the marigolds...A commercial from which there is no escape...History becomes a movie set that spatializes time...a full body suit...into virtual reality, for in electronic media there is no historical past, there is only an eternal present in which all time is going on now." Such illusions are not necessarily leading to consciousness awakening, but potentially to a deeper immersion, miring, into a cultural matrix and context which is already dualistic, divided, spreading mind ever-thinner over the cortex of the world-body. Dr MAG

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Published by: The Return to Origin on Apr 02, 2011
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05/12/2014

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VIRTUAL REALITIES
© Mary Ann Purcell-Ghaffurian 2002
 
1
PPPPARTTTT1111
Chapter Two 
VirtualRealities 
Introduction
We live amid the media-world McLuhan was beginning the tracing of, and my inter-est is not forgetfulness in it, for I wish to be awake, not to be driven to ‘amnesia’(Said, 1998); or by ‘noise’ (Thompson, 1991:28) even though ‘noise’ is part and par-cel of the postmodern cultural (dare I say it, civilizational) fluids surrounding us:
Noise is the solvent of Renaissance individuality; it is the sound that does not grant 
Above Left: A ‘New World’ beckons.The journey of the human mind, imagination and creativity is led on theserpentine thread or ladder of a digital pathway. The ‘pearl’ of knowledge begins at certain venues (not asthe pineal gland); the destination, global network. Catalogue for ‘Software Express’, 1994Above Right: Blake’s ‘vision’ of a ladder from earth to the heavens, arrives at a central sun, 1790s. Alchem-ically, it could be the solar sovereign that rules the Western alchemic transformation being travelledtowards. Nonetheless, as a psyche-ic image, it is replaced in a new era, above, the perspective being fromthe heavens itself, cyberspace, looking back and tracing a pathway to the earth. The alchemic interpretationis that the sovereign perspective, that which can encapsulate the world in a single glance was achieved inthe western mind-space containment as it wends its way towards earth from ‘space’.
 
 
VIRTUAL REALITIES
© Mary Ann Purcell-Ghaffurian 2002
 
2
the individual the space or solitude for wise or informed reflection... History is not a text, and so recollection becomes the re-gathering of images and sounds, [at Disney Worlds] of Jimminy Cricket or Tinker Bell ... Spaceship Earth ... Exxon’s Universeof Energy ... General Electric’s Carousel of Progress .... as you hear majestic, DavidLean-sounding movie themes coming from the speakers hidden in the marigolds ...a commercial from which there is no escape ... the prototype community in whichentertainment and not education molds the voter of tomorrow .... history becomesa movie set that spatializes time [followed by] immersion into cyberspace ... of a fullbody suit ... into virtual reality [for in] electronic media there is no historical past,there is only an eternal present in which all time is going on now... Television ...brings forth this new kind of public space, and calls into being this new world, not of educated citizenry in a republic, but of the electropeasantry in the state of Entertain-ment (Thompson, ibid. p.28-37).
The above quote refers to something of not only the difficulty to follow research inthe humanities traditionally, but of the cultural ambience. Such an ambience, while‘fun’ also mocks alternate histories, for as Thompson says, history is ‘the shallow present of an electronic-media society [as] substitute for a historical consciousness’(p.36). Entertainment spatializes time and substitutes itself for any other kind of experience other than it. This dense field of a media -sated atmosphere, thick withimages, sounds, and Imax large persuasions and projections is not irrelevant. Itsatmosphere surrounds and percolates into us and is one reason why we need to try toapprehend experience other than it; to not lose sight of ‘history’, even if the project seems bleak. The waters of this ambience or ‘noise’ is also ‘Entertainment’s’ expan-sive ‘field of dreams’ in our heads - one aspect of the motile content inside Westernmind-space containers, whether conceived of as individual units or as overarching structure and cultural content in which units of consciousness float. The effect is‘spacey’ and gives to the indulging mind a sense of the freedom of boundarylessness,yet it is a hyper-spatial medium or matrix crisis-crossed by invisible grids, the Eucli-dean frame ministered by a logic, numbers. (See Chapter Three also).Time and space, rather than being a free zone, something like ‘eternity’ which thepowers of ether connections seem to impart, along with omniscience and omnipres-ence, are captured into two metaphoric containers. The first is the perspectival coneand the second is the tunnel through which mind, light, consciousness and being travel to destinations never arrived at, but ever whispered, ever promised, for theambit in which they function is the irreal. What is more, the perspectival containercaptures attention and maroons it (without introspective reflection or a deeperenquiring mind) into the other facet of its imprisonment, a certain view of history which the encapsulation both moulds into consciousness, insinuates by its omnipres-
 
 
VIRTUAL REALITIES
© Mary Ann Purcell-Ghaffurian 2002
 
3
ence, and underlies by its repetition and magnification and amplification over many media.Consciousness is caught, ensnared, like a butterfly in a net or in a bottle, captivatedthere to fly within the ambit of its containment. In captivity, the mind, while being within the three dimensional containment of time, space and history, because of theseeming never-ending space of the virtual, senses freedom, open-endedness, space,as if it already tasting and existing in a time-space free zone of freedom, even a fourth-dimensional zone of absolute freedom in which itself is no longer trammelled. Suchare the seductive illusions of the virtual, which in a real world of manifold problems,seems to provide the panacea and escape.In terms of this thesis enquiry, such illusions are not necessarily leading to conscious-ness awakening, but potentially to a deeper immersion, miring, into a cultural matrixand context which is already dualistic, divided, spreading mind ever-thinner over thecortex of the world-body. At the same time, deeper associations that mind might seek or invite, of ‘wholeness’, healing, of mind and nature, spirit and flesh, body and soul,remain vacuous idealism evaporating on a drying shore (as hyper-space fills andswells the void where the world-body, and other histories, once was).This, it is contended is the dominant time, space and historic container in which thecultural context leaves mind and consciousness, to swim like a fish in the invisiblemedium it cannot see, it so much a part of its moment-to-moment immersed reality and being (Hill, 1988). Marie Antionette once said of the masses that they eat cake,our cake is hyper-real containment. If it were only ‘cake’ the negotiation of life’s
Left: Page from 'The Medium is theMassage', McLuhan, 1967. 'TheWisdom of Saint Marshall, the HolyFool', Gary Wolf,
Wired 
Jan.1996:122-127.

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