puncturing our reality…

It occurs to me that the recent eruption of (the delightfully difficult to pronounce) Eyjafjallajökul volcano was one of those rare events where the virtual reality that is human culture – and in which most of us live almost all of the time – was punctured. For a moment we broke the surface of virtuality and, coming up into ‘reality’, we all looked at each other puzzled, and confused – not really believing that this far away – almost mythical – event, could possibly be causing ‘real’ effects on our lives… Of course, almost immediately we sank back under, the surface closing over our heads, as we focused on close ups of people stranded, queueing, being cheated by hotels, turning ‘disaster’ into triumph by suddenly finding we could get joy out of helping each other out – or in taking the opportunity of unexpectedly extending our holidays… You’ve got to love us, human beings – at least, we can love ourselves – I’m not sure that the other inhabitants of this planet are likely to love us much…

Everything is back to business as usual. No lessons learned. Let’s hope that the next time our virtuality is punctured, it’s by something that we can as easily forget…

4 thoughts on “puncturing our reality…

  1. Oh the other interesting thing is how people can be frightened of news. By that I mean, it’s a piece of news in Asia that has had real effects of cancelled flights etc., but maybe I’m so in my bubble I don’t see the need to feel outright fear. I was joking about running off to Europe for a few days, and people would give me looks and remind me there’s an erupting volcano. It’s a most bizzare thing – yes, it does cause chaos in our human bubble, but this general fear of chaos is so ominous that it would actually make it seem as though Europe has been shut down. And the reality is that a lot of people in the end got by every day just the same anyway. Oh, and the only piece of news I did happen to glance at in HK was that Europe was estimated to have lost 1.6 billion or something. This virtual number somehow is more interesting, and a bigger deal, than the people whose lives were affected. The 1.6 billion is a collective loss, but on the other hand, its a collective loss attached to no-one, just looming up there with the numbers on stock exchanges.

  2. What struck was that several European heads of state, because of the volcano, dit not see any way to attend the funeral of the Polish president: Apparently, for some people the trains were also affected by the ashes in the stratosphere. It rather shows how much Poland really is part of the EU (or, as a barber who complained about ‘those immigrants’ amended recently: “Of course, you’re from Holland – that’s different. It’s the EASTERN Europeans!”). I think they’re still being seen as ‘them’, part of the old Sovjet empire.

    1. while this may be true, I do wonder if ‘time’ may have been at least part of the issue. It seems to me that our obsession with time is one of the most insidious aspects of the human virtual reality… the obsession with not wasting it that is, it appears to me, a direct consequence of capitalism, or the time and motion studies that led to the subjection of workers to the clock…

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