The screen within the screen

Written By Grégoire Langouet

PhD. student at UCLouvain (Belgium), co-directing Vues de l'esprit publishing house, translator from Tibetan.

Blog | What about me?

In this article, Gregoire, a philosopher to the core, questions the reality of our reality via screens.

During the Covid epidemic many of us experienced online meetings. Spending hours in front of our screens to work, but not only! Also having fun, with family or friends.

Despite all the criticisms to be made towards the digitization of our lives through these tools, they give us the opportunity to experience a strange form of reality. But even more, they provide us in return with the possibility to see our reality the ordinary one, the only true and authentic one: physical, tangible and quite solid – from a totally different angle, under a bright new light, unsuspected until now…

In front of our screens, we may feel stressed, happy or sad: having to make such or such presentation for work, meeting our children, our family or partner, not to mention online funerals, or more joyfully, falling in love! In a word, there are a lot of emotions that go on through there, as “IRL”, as “in-person”. But are all these emotions, thoughts and even sensations less real than those coming from a “physical” interaction?

“Thus aren’t we also immersed, off-screen, into a gigantic projection, a perfect crafted illusion, a kind of ongoing vivid dream?”

How can we be so captivated by our emotions in front of simple pixels on a screen, by this reality created from scratch? Let’s take a look at ourselves in the subway! What a successful simulation! One communicates there almost as ”in real”. And yet, it is indeed an enchantment, a magical display appearing but not really existing. Through our eyes, we are running towards a reality that, in a sense, is not. We are completely caught up in the excitement that it arouses. A real magic trick!

An ancient Greek tradition already spoke of a dark cave in which humans would be immersed, looking at the shadows projected on the walls we take for reality.

But more than this, in return, these analogies lead us to question the very status of our really-real-reality, of what we take for the one-and-only authentic reality!

My husband on screen and my husband ”in real”; how can I be sure they are so completely different? Not in the sense of being both really-real, but the other way around… That they both might be a simulation, a trick, a magical illusion!

Thus aren’t we also immersed, off-screen, into a gigantic projection, a perfect crafted illusion, a kind of ongoing vivid dream? Is not reality the biggest screen ever, the total simulation? Undoubtedly real because appearing, and yet, perhaps, illusory…

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