Reality Issue Logo

You are now

By Andrew Schneider

Illustrations and video by Nick Gregg

Are you living in reality?  Or are you in someone else’s dream?  Does any of this matter? Find out in this article. Or not.


Let’s assume some things. Let’s assume that you understand how to read. Let’s assume that you speak the language of the words in which this is written down. And let’s assume that your comprehension allows you to repeat the words–word by word inside your head–where your language center is, and interpret the words as meaning–english meaning–if you are reading this in English (or perhaps translated into a second language (or from this second language, rather). This one-word-after-another-English gets concatenated back into syllabic content as you read, or hear, or listen. And at some point or another meaning happens for better or for worse. And at the very end of the chain (some might say)…feeling. And let’s not get in to what feeling is, but let’s assume that words can create it. Feelings of understanding. Feelings of empathy. Feelings of difference, of disinterest, of disapproval. You will feel closer to knowing who I am. Or you will feel further from knowing who I am. Or you will have no interest whatsoever in knowing who I am. We go through our lives–you and I–never knowing of each other until this moment. We get closer to people. We get further from people. Births, loves, wars, grief, rage. Death.

person reaching through a screen

Let’s assume that we want to be here together. You and I.. I mean. You have no way of knowing if I am. Unless I am here too. Reading this to you, in which case, I might actually be someone else. But what is certain is that you are. You are alive. You are living. You are here and now. And now. And now. Aaaaaaaaaaand-a-whole-different-now-than-when-the-sentence-started! You are living. And you are now.

Are you living in reality?

Are you someone’s dream?

Are you someone’s hallucination?

Are you living in a computer simulation?

Have you ever been misunderstood?

Have you ever been misjudged?

Have you ever been underestimated?

Have you ever failed to meet someone’s expectations?

Did you miss a deadline?

Did you miss a memo?

Did you misunderstand?

Have you seen your loved ones lately?

Have you seen the sun?

Have you seen behind you lately?

When is the last time you were another person

When is the last time you you thought without language

When is the last time you knew you were an animal

Does any of this matter

What happens in the minds of all truly happens

What happens in your mind truly happens

What happens in my mind truly happens

We accept the reality that is presented to us–at nearly every single instance of our beings. And why wouldn’t we? To question every, or even any instant, is perhaps to not live it. And we are nothing if we are not good at living. Or wait. No. That’s not quite right. There is a reason the phrase is not “living time.” There is a reason the phrase is “killing time.” When we are not satisfied with reality we turn to synthetic realities. We turn to simulacra. We turn to other human beings who will tell stories about ourselves to each other. This is sometimes called entertainment.

Much of our distraction comes from movies / television–us telling stories to each other about ourselves. Which gives rise to the concept of celebrity. The state of being well-known for being well-known–for being the most well-attuned to success at the distraction machine. But distraction from what exactly?

two people in a pointillist style in a youtube frame

Reality is made up not of content but of form. Truths coming into being through belief and the hallucinating brain operating everywhere and all the time. It is what we consider reality. Someone else might remember it, which makes it all the more sticky. I’ve read, heard, talked, and pretended about Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality, IRL Reality. I have never not experienced it as myself. And I have never not experienced it through my senses. I have been me in pain, joy, love, boredom, sleep, dream, lsd, and alcoholic blackout.

If a tree falls in the forest… no… wait.

If you are looking at a tree and I am hallucinating a tree, our brains experience the same things. The only difference between our experiences is that in your case the tree just happens to actually be there. We’ve internalized the same event.

Adult children who discover they were adopted. Dementia patients who are told their long-dead spouses are at work when they ask every fifteen minutes. People who believe in God. People who speak in tongues. People who believe they are right. People who read “A Million Little Pieces” by James Frey. Oprah Winfrey. Oprah Winfrey’s book club. Michael Douglas in “The Game,” racists, Republicans, flat-earthers, Holocaust deniers, Democrats, your daughter. Aristotle, Ptolemy, Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Galilei, Newton, Einstein. We are all right. All right until we were all wrong. Yes-ed until no-ed . Truth until un. Reality until fiction. Them. Me. Us. You. You. Reading this. You. These words. Being deciphered out of view in your cerebral cortex and language center. Belief causes objective falsehoods to be true. Inside you. Whatever happens in the minds of all, truly happens.

Andrew Schneider is an OBIE award-winning, Drama Desk nominated performer, writer, and interactive-electronics artist creating original works for theater, video, and installation since 2003. Based in Brooklyn, New York, Schneider creates and performs original performance works, builds interactive electronic art works and installations, and was a Wooster Group company member (video/performer) from 2007-2014.

Table of Contents

You are now

By Andrew Schneider

Consider Your Ears

By Robert Krulwich

The Shape of Reality

By Kathryn Zazenski

the rite of computing

By lengua partida