If a tree falls on Google Maps and nobody sees it fall, did it fall in the real world?
An interesting conundrum explored in this short video by low-end production team The Vacationeers, whereby fictional users of a virtual world, by the click of a mouse, cause change in this world, a post-modern, Web 2.0 allegory if you will to the ageless Indian philosophy of Advaita Non-Dualism, a system of belief and practice which resolves existence and non-existence, self and others, this world and the one beyond to a single, undifferentiated reality. It’s kind of like imagining the entire universe as never ending menu of pizza toppings, baked upon a single, infinitely sized pizza.
“If a man considers that he is born, he cannot avoid the fear of death. Let him find out if he has been born or if the Self has any birth. He will discover that the Self always exists, that the body that is born resolves itself into thought and that the emergence of thought is the root of all mischief. Find from where thoughts emerge. Then you will be able to abide in the ever-present inmost Self and be free from the idea of birth or the fear of death.”
“The world is illusory, Only Brahman is real, Brahman is the world.”
“There is nothing wrong with God’s creation. Mystery and Suffering only exist in the mind…”
“That which is not present in deep dreamless state is not real.”
—Quotes by Ramana Maharshi on Non-Dualism
Heady stuff, and hyper-intellectual mind-candy explored in better detail on film by The Matrix and A Scanner Darkly, which coincidentally both feature the exceedingly cosmic Keanu Reeves—although even this fan of serendipity defies drawing a bow long enough to find cosmic parallels in that.
Yes, the idea that an action in Google Maps can cause change in the real world may be completely non-sensical, but like most science fiction you can not deny that it is hyper-fascinating. And, as in the philosophy of non-dualism, what could be more fascinating than the idea that thought alone can change reality…