“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
That which is in accordance with fact or reality, must be truth, or so they say. But what happens when the “truth” of our reality in its entirety, comes under scrutiny? When even the variations of interpretation are no longer merely arbitrary (or misinterpreted, deluded) on an individual level alone, but if the same event was recorded by multiple devices. Each capturing a very different variation of the same event, each a seemingly different reality than the last. What would happen if logic, causality were no longer universally interpreted? The same message could be played, but individuals hear entirely different words spoken. A coloured shape could be displayed, but observers witness 1 of 5 different colour variations. What if these interpretational anomalies were going on all over the world, increasing in number exponentially as time progresses?
Eerily, many of these “what if’s” are all part of the reality we currently exist(?) within. Even purely among our own species, we are all interpreting this reality very differently to one another. Our brains are making sense of things (often on a minuscule level) different to one another, but these variations add up, often culminating into very different interpretations. Concepts like this, mass erroneous memory, have given rise to popular theories like the “Mandela effect”. It was named so because a large vocal group of people, believed to possess the memory that Nelson Mandela died in prison during the 1980s. When in actuality(?), he died on December 5th, 2013. Believers in the Mandela effect are so adamant the memory of his death in the 80s is genuine, that multiple theories have arisen to explain the alleged phenomenon. The most popular being a merge of two very similar dimensions/realities. Another somewhat popular theory, being that Mandela’s alleged death in the 80s was somehow a glitch or error in the representation of this reality. An event that was altered, possibly one of many, but was brought to light due to the popularity of the globally shared erroneous memory. As the Mandela effect has become well known across the global masses, more and more shared erroneous memories have been discovered. Large groups of people learning that their similar common shared memory of very specific past events, are false.
These occurrences, deviations in memory, some false, some accurate, don’t necessarily prove anything. It even makes sense (to me) that if a misinterpretation was made by one person, chances are they wouldn’t be alone. Perhaps a very popular news headline was shared around the world that was mistakenly interpreted by many English speaking people to indicate the death of Nelson Mandela in the 1980s. That misinformation, like the exchange of accurate information was spread and nested in the memories of people all around the world, waiting to be re-assessed, in the year 2013 when the prior false information would be confronted with new conflicting data.
After the Mandela effect, similar concepts have grown in popularity over the years since. A rise in sharing photographs capturing seemingly anomalous coincidences. For instance, several people in a line who look eerily similar. Footage of the alleged naturally occurring loops of activity in humans, traffic, animals. Many will outright claim these photographs, videos, topics of conversation are merely staged to amuse people. That is most likely how they come about, falsely produced to generate attention. But the point is, the popularity and the intrigue behind the doubt, the questioning of the legitimacy of this reality, is growing. The idea that the nature of our reality is somehow synthetic, disingenuous is spreading like a plague. It’s difficult to predict how such a train of thought could implicate the human race, but generally a growing belief that all things are the product of deception could not bode well for the stability of this reality. Legitimate or otherwise.
But on a singular, individual, personal level, what would it take for YOU to question the legitimacy of YOUR reality? To witness the seemingly impossible, the unthinkable? What if you lived the exact same day twice, accurately predicting each moment as they come and go? What if I were to randomly type numbers, that were identical to those appearing on your credit card? 5253 6053 4980 8658. The odds are so incredibly stacked against those numbers being your numbers, that if they were… you might think something very unusual was going on. Then again, perhaps deep down you know that you could quite easily rationalize a great many unusual things. After all, strange things happen all the time, that doesn’t necessarily suggest that reality in its entirety is somehow false. The unique thing about discussing the concept of the validity of reality, is that we have no other point of reference for comparison. To detect an imitation product, we use our knowledge of the genuine original and identify the differences. So why then if this reality is all any human has ever known does the concept of a ‘false reality’ continue to arise throughout history?
Heavily popularized during the age of enlightenment, philosophers have long pondered the nature of this reality. Cogito ergo sum (quote by René Descartes), I think therefore I am, the only thing we can be sure of, is the existence of our conscious mind on an individual level. Aside from that, nothing else is certain. Throughout religious beliefs, mythos and cosmogenic/creation stories from cultures around the world, many toy with our world being disconnected from a reality of some specific group of supreme beings or deity. Even one of the oldest human beliefs passed verbally among groups of Australian Aboriginals, speak of a ‘Dreamtime’. Something seemingly independent from time and space, considered as both the furthest distant past, but also the furthest conceivable future in which existence as we know it was formed.
“Life is but a dream, within a dream.”
The word ‘dream’ is one of the most frequently used words by Shakespeare throughout all of his works. Shakespeare often mused with the notion of dreams and reality, “To die,—to sleep;—To sleep: perchance to dream:—ay, there’s the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come. When we have shuffled off this mortal coil” (Hamlet, Act III).
The belief that the “truth” will be revealed in death, is by no means unique. In fact almost every religion, across every culture insinuates toward (possibly the greatest) element of death being the final lifting of some all encompassing metaphorical veil. The curtain that sheathes the truth, the meaning of all things, conceivable and/or otherwise.
Maybe our instinctual drive, our lust for there to be “more than meets the eye”, is merely the result of our longing for meaning, for purpose. Seek and you shall find, but where there are no answers, no light to properly illuminate the darkness, our minds make forms from shadows. We create a story, behind the story.
Contrarily however, maybe there’s a reason those of antiquity, possibly even the earliest of mankind, just as many of us today hold an unusual thought at the back of our minds. A thought that niggles, scratches in the furthest depths of human contemplation. A voice that for whatever reason, for as long as our species has been capable of thought, instinctually whispers, “there is more beyond this.”
Perhaps, you’re reading this, in a reality where only you have ever existed and your own doubts, or a clue from the very system that deceives you are taking shape in the form of this verbose blog post. How could I ever prove otherwise to you? Perhaps you’ve spent your entire life, living in a world that simply never was.