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The Messenger - Immersion #3: I Contain Multitudes

The Messenger
The Messenger - Immersion #3: I Contain Multitudes
By Socratus • Issue #47 • View online
I contain multitudes’ sang a famous poet. Hypernarad agrees. He’s always ferrying messages from one corner of the cosmic self to another. These days he’s an emissary for the Divine Octopus, each one whose infinite tentacles has its own complete view of the universe.

Am I one or am I many? Turing asks these difficult questions for which we humans don’t have good answers. There’s also the person I am and the person I want to be, and sadly, there’s a gap between the two.
In his prescient essay that prefigured much of the modern internet, Vannevar Bush wrote:
Consider a future device …  in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.
That machine is the Memex (the memory expansion device) and it offers a vision of technology that enhances human intellectual capacity. What is a vision of technology that expands not only our intellectual capacity, but also our emotional and imaginative capacities and genuinely helps us bond with all the beings on the planet?
Are We on the Verge of Chatting with Whales? | Hakai Magazine
The Buddha is famous for declaring there’s no self. We are born, we grow into adulthood and then we pass away. Some think we restart that process in the next life. The Buddha says: one life or many, there’s no rock to tether the ship of existence.
Having accounted for the impermanence of time, the Buddha went silent. Space plays no part in his calculations. Sure, there’s no single self over time, but what about having the same self in space? Are we the same person in every direction?
Perhaps not.
Every one of us experiences ourselves from the inside-out. We refer to ourselves as “I.” It’s commonly believed that we have unique access to that Me-self, an experience of being me that no one else has, that there’s an inner door to a secret chamber that can only be opened by one key. Who else can tell me that I am in pain besides me?
But there’s another self (or many selves) of which I am only partially aware. One of them is the You-self. That’s the self others see and experience. Why do we assume these two selves to be the same? When my friend asks me not to be upset with them, and I reply that I am not upset at all, is it possible that both are right? Is it possible there’s a MeMe that’s fully transparent to the me-self and a YouMe that’s fully transparent to others and the two aren’t the same selves?
Immersive technologies will definitely help us expand our sense of self - if I switch bodies with another person and live their life for a day, the muscle memory of that day will live inside me and make me a bit different. I might even be able to immerse myself in alternate futures for myself: what if I had been born in Guntur instead of Jodhpur? We aren’t there yet, but we will soon.
Here’s a show that taking on these very questions through immersive media. Maybe it will come to Bangalore one day, or even better, we should create such experiences ourselves.
Dreamachine | A new, one-of-a-kind immersive experience
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