Saturday, August 29, 2009

What is Reality? And Why Can't Ghosts Apply?

Warning: Mind stimulating activity on the weekend might be against your ethics, therefore, do not read this post if you want to zone out.

Reality: “Something that constitutes a real or actual thing, as distinguished from something that is merely apparent

A chair is reality; a hard device taking up space that might otherwise be occupied by air. That the chair is used as a seat is interpretation. The chair could be used as a doorstop, a table, or any other uses, but John Doe has decided to use it to sit upon. That is his interpretation.

Some of our greatest artists, by the way, realized that interpretation was more important than reality and were able to give us new and unusual ways of looking at our world by not following the typical line of thinking, i.e. “this is a chair, I must sit upon it.”

One of my favorite bloggers, Devin at My Favorite Monsters got me thinking with his latest mind-stimulating post about “Daimonic Reality: A Field Guide to the Otherworld.” We live in two worlds; the one in our minds that assigns meaning to everything and the other one; reality, where things are fixed and present and must be worked around like gravity, objects, oxygen, weather...

Take for instance, humans can sit for hours in front of a computer and TV and be entertained. In the reality world, we are sitting in front of a box staring at it for hours. In interpretation, we are stimulating our brains with entertainment, creativity, emotions, and communications; all of these things mind-created and not reality, only the mind’s firings and chemically resultant pleasures are occurring. The reality is: Man sitting still. Man staring at box. Hours on end. The only time the reality of what we just did dawns us is when our asses get fat and we wonder why. Suddenly, the reality world just infringed on our interpretive world as a nasty reminder that we must live with both.

From concepts such as love and hate, religion and politics, good and bad; none of it is actual, it’s all interpretation by the minds of humans. The right marriage of interpretation and reality; however, can create a new reality. When Brad Pitt decides the Ninth Ward needs rebuilding he moves from interpretation “these people have no homes four years after a catastrophe and that’s wrong” to reality—building new homes. Wars are fought on interpretation, creating a new reality of deaths and destruction. People are rescued from a burning building, “If it were my children in there, I’d rush in, so I just rushed into the building. No children should ever die.” Thus, children are pulled from the fire. Interpretation (children being hurt is wrong): Reality (physically pulling children from a building). The right interpretation, a new better reality, i.e. Bono helping AIDS victims in Africa. The wrong interpretation, a new living hell, i.e. Hitler.

As a ghost hunter, I run up against this all the time. Even with the very best of proof and inability to debunk an event, everyone still walks away shaking their heads thinking perhaps we missed some explanation, perhaps we were duped, perhaps we’ll look like fools when later on it’s discovered the owners rigged something in their attic to make sounds. Something as nebulous as ghost phenomenon cannot ever be considered part of reality.

We aren’t going to any time soon capture a ghost, interview it, find out what it consists of, and then have it be part of our new “reality.” It will always be thought of, experienced, and treated in the real of interpretation.

Next time you're online and the world there seems so real, just remember, you're melding your mind with other minds to make a pseudo-reality. The actual reality is when you use those interpretive skills to help promote someone's new online business so they can feed their kids, you send someone a book who's down and feeling sad, you offer support to a follower who's having a bad day. Our interpretive world changes reality all the time.

Perhaps the really enlightening thing from all of this "mind world" we live in 99% of the time is that it makes reality more fluid.


  1. I love the subject of "reality". It's such a difficult thing to describe. I realized a long time ago that our interpretation of reality is really all in our minds. Our eyes don't see...they transmit light signals to the brain. Our ears don't hear, they transmit sound waves to the brain. Our brain then proceeds to interpret those waves and signals into something we can recognize.

    This of course doesn't mean the reality around us doesn't exist, it just means that we experience the reality around us as our mind interprets it. As for that chair, one could question if it is really solid. It's actually comprised of atoms packed and held together tightly, so is it really solid? Different solid objects are made up of varying levels of atoms packed together...some packed together more tightly than others. When you consider the forces holding the atoms of that chair together, what is it that you really have? That chair was once part of a some point, it may become sawdust. So what is that chair? Is it an object...or an event?

    I sometimes write about "reality" on my blog. Here are some of my writings on reality:

  2. Jeff;
    I totally agree about the chair. It could be taken to a more quantam physics level, but for purposes of our simple concepts of reality and interpretation, it does exist and can be tripped over, so I figure that's reality enough. It's an object, therefore I have to work around it. It has long intrigued me how a person can sit in a chair and stare at a box for hours on end. My dog used to look at me like I was crazy, "I wanna go out and play catch" he'd be probably thinking, "but my stupid owner wants to sit still and she mentally feeble?" Hee hee. I think it's entertaining when people begin to take their interpretations and call them reality. When my son was little, I tried to retrain him from this cause/effect mentality. We'd see someone out in public cut into a line in the grocery store and I'd say, "real quick, give me 10 reasons why he might have done that." He'd be rattling off "he's late for work, he didn't realize there were people in line, he thinks his chore is more important..." My whole goal was to help him to realize that there are many interpretations for why someone does something and to never take things personally when you can never know what the other person's "reality" is. I can't wait to read your posts!

  3. Very interesting point and perspective on this. A real good thinnking post. Love those!

  4. Autumnforest -first of all thanks so very much for your nice comments about me and MFM! I want you to know right off the bat that you are also one of my favorite bloggers also -and I so wish that people who don't believe in 'ghosts' spirits and other paranormal phenomena would check out your blog to see that some people are looking into this from a many faceted level -science philosophy and everything like you are!!! I have this feeling that many folks look at people like myself (especially with some of my conspiracy theories:) as sitting in a darkened room with my cat and a tinfoil hat on!! You have done a great service to all bloggers who want to "know" reality as much as we can -me myself -I dont think we will ever get to the bottom layer-but what the hell?? the fun is in the TRYING!!

    Your comment relating to the Harpur book was fabulous as always and I am so glad you saw that entry-I always enjoy the comments on your blog so much also and will check out Jeff's blog when I have the time -Hopefully tonight or monday as i plan to be offline tomorrow for my planned 3 days online and one off "Deboxing Day" I will call it in honor of you!!
    I am way behind my shout outs at MFM and you and alex robinson are up next when i get to them -I had no idea the KAL 007 stuff would take so long -not even done with it believe it or not!
    I loved what you said about our greatest artists and the interpretation being more important than reality-beautiful sentence and thought!! I get so mad at myself when i am reading a great and artistic novel -and my effin left brain takes over and says "would these people really have said those words like that?" and "would this incident really have happened like that?"
    What does it matter if the book is great great art and you loved reading it!!!
    cant thank you enough once again for your thoughts and hard work here!! it is so funny how people's thoughts "synch" sometime in blogland-discussion forums and the like -uncanny at times -and you "got" the Harpur post as I knew you would-best to you as always and i hope u are having a beautiful weekend and thanks again for the shout out-please be thinking of a favorite article u have done here because two of my favorite women in blogland -you and Alex R at "Too Long In This Place" are up next for my shout out section-it may take a bit to do it but i am really trying to get the Kal story done-not that it doesnt interest me -I just have so many things I want to touch on involving the paranormal reality etcetera-all the best!! ps i am going to work on kal now but have to read your "how do you know when autumn is coming to phoenix?" article first-with a title like that who that lives here could resist:)?

  5. Devin;
    You always make me smile--what a gift. I talk about people being real, but in deference to my article about reality and interpretation, I'll have to say, I interpret you as a very real-like person. Hee hee. I know what you mean about the left brain. It's like watching musicals. I had years of watching them and saying "no one would break into song," but eventually I got it--they were simply expressing what was happening in their head and heart--it wasn't literal. What a relief--I thought maybe it was an alternate universe. hee hee