Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Punched tape reality

"…I once wrote a story about a man who was injured and taken to a hospital. When they began surgery on him, they discovered that he was an android, not a human, but that he did not know it. They had to break the news to him. Almost at once, Mr. Garson Poole discovered that his reality consisted of punched tape passing from reel to reel in his chest. Fascinated, he began to fill in some of the punched holes and add new ones. Immediately, his world changed. A flock of ducks flew through the room when he punched one new hole in the tape. Finally he cut the tape entirely, whereupon the world disappeared. However, it also disappeared for the other characters in the story... which makes no sense, if you think about it. Unless the other characters were figments of his punched-tape fantasy. Which I guess is what they were…"

From Philip K. Dick's 1978 speech entitled "How to Build a Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later"

Maybe our world is a series of little holes. Punched holes on a tape that passes from reel to reel in our chests. And we shall probably never know the truth. For everything feels real. Sometimes we even get the chance to punch in a hole ourselves. This world ends when we run out of tape. Most of us run out of holes long before the end of the tape. Some others take the decision to cut the tape themselves or cut the tape of someone else. It's only when we dream that we become human.

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