Updated: Dec 2, 2020
Language is the set of symbols we use to represent reality in our process of languaging. This creates our thinking as virtualization. The "as-if" nature of our thinking is a result of this process of "languaging" by which we construct meaning. It is manufactured from our use of words as symbols for thought itself. It exists in its own nature as an abstraction. With thinking, we can manipulate reality with mere words. The way we do this is largely to perceive, define, and talk about the world.
When we manufacture meaning in this way, we treat our words as being equivalent to what they represent for us. In this way, we begin to occupy a world that is created by a mental process, which describes some real phenomenon. In this way, we begin to relate to a “Virtual” representation of it, rather than the actual phenomena that exist. This is virtualization at its root in language.
Our culture is founded upon words as symbols for a physically real world. Look closely at domains of religion and of law, we see that the very structure of society in the last few millennia has been built from concepts and shaped by mental formations of them. In effect, we discover that the history of modern man is a history of Virtualization through a narrative of history.
Language as technology has moved from cuneiform and hieroglyphics to the alphabetically derived words that we use today, and our capacity to virtualize reality has grown as well. The use of numbers in language as expressions of quantity has given us the ability to invent complex systems of exchange based on money. Today all fiat currency is merely a representation of value, without any connection to the tangible world. Money is complete virtualization of wealth.
Upon examination, we see that much of our lives occur in virtual reality which exists largely by a shared consensus of everyone in the world about how it actually is. As technology has advanced this process of virtualization has proliferated throughout the entire world. For example, I remember when I was young using a typewriter, but today’s young people, and in fact everyone use the software of computers to write. We don't even teach cursive writing in schools anymore.
First television and then later the internet have taken virtualization to the point where one can seem to know the entire world without any direct experience of it. What is really remarkable is that these technologies have changed the psychological structure of people more in the last 50 years than has occurred in almost all of human history. We now mistake representation for reality in almost every sphere of life. Consider for example:
The implications of there being no need for face to face interaction in society.
The mind has become all-important while the body has become diminished in importance because people can survive entirely through mental work?
People no longer need to think objectively and reason, because everything they learn is prepared for them. This process is largely indistinguishable from propaganda. Consequently, most people do not need to arrive at their conclusions from their own thinking anymore?
People are not learning skills that have existed for thousands of years because machines do those things now. For example, today we have streaming media instead of theater; factory-made art and craftwork, instead of hand-made objects; or synthesized music instead of the performance of music by living people.
Virtualization is replacing actualization in every dimension of our lives. There is less possibility with each passing year of human beings living as free expressions of their own human creativity and intelligence. Instead, we are seeing the world become even more machine-like than it has ever been before, and we are accepting machines in place of people in our commercial life. The robots are not just coming, they are already here.
And yet, there are some people who wish to wake up to their own life from this virtualized world. These are people who have a sense of what is being lost. They feel the deadening effect of machine technologies in day-to-day life, even as they have no choice but to use them. There are still people, even in this virtualized and mechanical world, who wish to be Human. For them, there is a desire for awakened presence in life. For them, their very purpose in life may be to safely conserve what remains of humanity so that our human nature will not become lost from the world.
There is hope in the face of a virtual-reality machine-like world. There are those presume to know, who have the will to persist, who dare to act accordingly, and who are willing to suffer in being in silence, and thus speak only with discrimination in the face of it. For them, there is a great need for real connections and relationships with other people like them. In this community, the emerging virtualized world is recognized for what it actually is; a world populated by people whose lives have degenerated into a solely economic existence as biological machines in the service of an automated and mechanized world.
But the conservation of everything that is, and always has been human depends on those who desire to wake up, rather than to be virtualized and conditioned by artificial networks and virtual bits of intelligence. It is necessary to be one who “remembers one’s Self” and their finds the seeds of “awakened presence” in their being, at the very roots of their self-identity. These people are the one’s who have the possibility of being the fertile ground in which the seed of “Awakened Presence” can grow, without being crowed-out by the ever-increasing “virtual world” that is pressing down upon all human beings.
It is very important for those who wish for this to find help in their relationship to others, and also to help others to find it as well. The only answer is in small communities of people who live together and work on the cultivation of presence, care, and attention in loving community. Awakened Presence cannot exist for people otherwise. We must be the containers that create the very place for its existence in opposition to the domination of virtualization, and simulations of the real-world through our technologies.
It is interesting to see those young people who have been born after 1980 are very different from the generations that produced them, or preceded them. They have always lived in a virtualized world, with computers and later internet networks. But even among them, there are some who have some affinity for what has always been considered the development of human potentials. The great majority of this generation though will likely not understand or appreciate this statement. The virtual has become so ingrained in them, that they will presume their humanity but they will fail to see that they are conditioned by the technology in their thought and tastes in a post-human way. However, some will see this and be troubled by it. For those born earlier, there is simply nostalgia for a simpler time.
In listening to people who teach the next generation, or employ them, I hear about differences in values, perceptions and also difficulties in communicating. This I suspect is not merely a “generation gap”, but rather is the natural outcome of this sea of change caused by technology in modern people. What is emerges for me at least is a question. “ Is there is anything from past or traditional civilization that should be preserved in its original form without being virtualized and rendered into a simulation of itself?
Certainly, this cultural inheritance must include the arts, music, and literature of the past, as well as the real method of scientific thinking, and the philosophy, ethics, and virtues from the past. This is what a classical education in the liberals arts would contain. But also, people need to conserve something much more personal and subtle. Because without a real sense of being alive, a human being is little more than a biological machine living an economic life for the benefit of his economic masters or benefactors, rather than for ones one benefit, or the benefit of one's community.
What really is needed is the realization and power of Awakened Presence and the possibility of being a conscious and self-generating human being. This can never be virtualized, and it only occurs in the experience of someone that allows themselves to see that the world that they live in is a real living world and not a virtualized ersatz reality. To live within a real living world requires that people share both an individual and community-based existence. Now that is a reason to conserve our living that cannot be reduced to symbols and simulations, but that can only be in life.
© Copyright 2006 Robert Fertman, All Rights Reserved