What we call reality is literally made up. Each of our brains actually simulates the external world. It runs a little time-delayed simulation of reality that we can act upon. We each live in our own personal video game, all designed to keep the old meat computer alive.
For a sense of how unreal reality is, you actually see everything upside down. Your brain rotates the image, runs filters on it, and even fills in details. We think Instagram is distorting reality, but reality itself is a distortion.
As social animals, this video game is also massively multi-player. Together we construct a social reality which is as life or death as the natural world. Traffic signs, money, borders, this shit is all made up and yet regularly kills us in real life.
We live most of our lives inside of these social games. Inside cultures, religions, ideologies, laws. Saying that they’re not real is as true as saying that the candle you’re looking at is really upside down. Technically yes, but touch either wrong and you’ll really get burnt.
The fact that reality is constructed doesn’t make it any less solid. It doesn’t make it any less dangerous when it falls down.
I won’t talk about how your personal reality isn’t real, but if you’re interested just sit down, shut your eyes, and think about nothing for a while. I won’t even talk about how ordinary social reality is constructed. That’s all true, but it’s not what’s breaking down right now.
What’s breaking down now is the superstructure, reality at the ideological level. The artificial video game we call Capitalism is now overheating and melting the natural world.
Capitalism was a game we played, complete with artificial beings (corporations) and certain rules, and for a while it really worked. It produced massive abundance in the span of just a few hundred years, but at the cost of millions of years of genetic and environmental diversity.
As a way of simulating and manipulating the world, it obviously doesn’t work anymore. It’s making the world as we know it disappear.
My point is not that ‘capitalism isn’t real’ like that’s some big coup. As I’ve mentioned, nothing is real, so who cares? Even capitalism being evil is largely irrelevant. My point is that it doesn’t work. That is has become unhinged from the point of running a simulation at all, which was simulate and control reality more to our benefit. We’ve obviously lost control.
We’re Not Alone
The good news is that we can always unreal reality, or at least create a fork. We’ve (sorta) unrealed feudalism and many other realities before. The bad news is that this time we’re not alone.
Starting with colonialism, we populated the video game with artificial intelligences called corporations. We made them legally equivalent to natural persons. And over hundreds of years, corporations have gone from a convenient legal fiction to an inconvenient truth.
Hence even if human even wanted to wake up we couldn’t. We’re no longer dreaming alone.
Breaking Down/Building Up
Thus we live at a time when our reality as animals is breaking down, and their reality as artificials is just building up. When one door closes, another one opens, and it’s hitting us on the way out.
Ergo, in these upending times, you get stuff like crypto. Crypto produces no actual output besides the heat-death of the planet. It’s terrible for humanity. However, it makes a lot of sense as a rapidly evolving form of artificial intelligence, which is doing quite well for itself.
Reality is certainly forking, but this time it’s not really about us.
So the simulation warps and devours reality with the heat of its desire. Our desire partly, but also the desire of these new lifeforms to spread and grow. Much of what we call natural reality has already been destroyed. Even more is simply fated to disappear.
As Gramsci said, “The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters.” What he did not say is that the monsters usually win. We were monsters once. Just ask the wooly mammoth. Now our own nightmares have woken up, to become very real monsters to us.