ideation / Perception

Meandering Monday about Immersion in a Tenuous Reality

A couple of days ago, I got to experience an Oculus device (a virtual reality headset that from the outside looks like a fancy Oculusset of goggles turned into a blindfold – you can’t see the wearer’s eyes, and in almost all cases they can’t see you.) It’s an amazing device. Whereas sitting and playing a video game on a console or PC can be involving, you’re still aware of the real world around you, but wearing this device completely blocks out that real world, so that even if the graphics are childishly simplistic (think Minecraft), it so dominates your inputs that it feels like this is your new reality.

Total immersion.

In the late 70’s (I referring to the decade – I haven’t reached that age yet), I was an avid Dungeons and Dragons player. This was the original style role-playing game – no computers, just a group of people sitting around a table with dice, paper, and some skimpy rule books. One of the group would have created an imaginary world, and the rest of us would create fantasy characters (hobbits, dwarves, elves, wizards, etc.) and try to work ourselves through that world (making decisions and rolling dice to determine the outcomes.) Paper and dice around a table doesn’t seem terribly immersive, does it?

This was my preferred form of entertainment, and was the activity that took up the third-most portion of my time (after work and sleeping.) I finally knew I had spent too much time playing when, during a financially strapped month, I was trying to figure out why I was close to being behind on my bills, and I HEARD MYSELF SAY: “How can this be? Just yesterday I found 150 gold pieces.”

Time to spend some time in the REAL WORLD, Bill.

How could I so confuse my real life with the imaginary life I was living with a group of friends and dice? In a way, we were creating our own story as we played – a sort of improvised play with very definite rules about what could be done. There are studies that show that when we read (or hear or see) stories, false memories are actually created in our minds, as though WE actually experienced what we read.

Reality is a tenuous thing.

Bill’s Theory of Color™ makes the observation that there is no REAL color – only wavelengths and our interpretation of them. The fact is that much of our reality is colored by narrative – the stories we tell, and the stories that others tell build into a network of WHAT EVERYONE KNOWS that isn’t always true.

That’s why we have so many camps whose versions of the facts seem so at odds with each other, each think the other must be living in an ALTERNATE REALITY.

Various apps and devices allow us to experience a different kind of reality – AUGMENTED – in which you are provided information about things / places /people around you. This is not the same as VIRTUAL REALITY – it’s meant to improve your experience of ACTUAL REALITY. There was a time when I thought this was a great thing – what could be wrong with being extra informed? Except much information is. If you look at a restaurant and a “worst fritters” caption comes up, how do you know that’s really the case? You have to trust your sources.

The fact is, we already live in an augmented reality. There’s too much to know about, and too many different ways to find out. News, opinion shows, comedy routines, movies, music, advertising, etc. – you hear a particular narrative enough times and it becomes part of your reality.

It’s like losing yourself in the virtual world.

We are fed all sorts of inputs through all of our senses. Where does reality begin? Be careful where you decide to place your trust.

Just saying…


TheRightIdeaCoverThis week’s Smashwords coupon is for “The Right Idea”:

When Jimmy left the force and started his “Delaney’s Investigation Company”, he expected to be living the life of Riley. A few months later, and the dust still hasn’t had time to settle from the Preiss and Simms murders, but Jimmy’s ongoing divorce has swallowed his imagined riches. What would Jimmy do without the city’s thriving blackmail industry? That may go away, as candidate Mathews is promising to clean up Barnstow; but Jimmy isn’t sure Mathews has the right idea.

“The Right Idea” is a detective story with sci-fi elements, and follows “In a Flash” and “Mixed Signals” as my third Detective Jimmy Delaney story. Use coupon code BZ29W to get 72% off the cover price at Smashwords (that’s only 99-cents – such a deal!) – it’s good until May 28th. Here’s the link:

“The Right Idea” is also available in the collection – Broken Down: Detective Jimmy Delaney Collection #1.


Collection7eBookCoverThe preorder campaign continues (11 more days) for More, And Yet Still Even More Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND (short story collection #7.) It contains the stories:

  • Finding Sanctuary
  • #InWhoseReality?
  • Dredging Things Up
  • Behind the 8-Ball
  • Gladius
  • Saturday He Fed the Cat

Release date is June 3rd, but you can preorder now at a REDUCED PROMOTIONAL PRICE at all the usual places, including (but not limited to):




William Mangieri’s writing, including his latest ePub “Burial Details”, can be found in many places, including:




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