By Heather Sylvawood
Authors/writers deal in illusion. Readers accept that they are being drawn into the illusion and for a time enter the unreal world the author has created. Even non-fiction is an illusion because the writer offers the reader ONLY the filtered version of their observation.
So when this image (below) came through Facebook from UniverseLetters.com (artist is J R Slattum) I was jolted into a mind-blowing vision of illusions within illusions within illusions.
‘Your future self is watching you right now through your memories’
My translation of experience today becomes my memory, and influences how I look at things in the future – thereby, at the moment of the experience, I am shaped inevitably into my future-self. (This is my filter – not necessarily yours. If you see it differently, whose illusion is the ‘truth’?)
As a writer, I know also that my memories shape the characters I will write into my novels and short stories, and in the writing of them and their imaginary experiences they become another layer of memory. Then, in reading my stories, the reader (perhaps you) absorb the memory of my character and what happens to them, and your filtered memory shapes your future self, your beliefs and even your intentions.
Like a bolt from the blue
The thought made me realise that authors and writers have a huge advantage. We can influence future generations through memory and illusion.
My second thought was – ‘Duh! People have known this for centuries when relating the stories, propaganda, and the half-truths they have told.’
All religions have passed on and added to the stories that influence their believers. Even the ‘truth’ that has been written down is recalled through the reader’s filters. For instance, the stories in the Christian Bible from the apostles, while based on the same experiences as the others, will have been filtered by the previous experiences of the apostle who is relating what happened.
Who is doing the telling matters
Think about the real-life dramas that are being played out in Court rooms throughout the World. Witness 1’s recall contradicts Witness 2 and 3 and … We talk about reliable witness statements – but these come from the illusion that people who haven’t had a conviction, or attend church, or run community groups, or public figures, or are talented entertainers are somehow more reliable than the general hoi polloi. We can all point to examples where people in these groups are far from reliable.
The only way that these illusions are accepted as ‘truth’ is by having them committed to memory. And most of our memories are based on frequently repeated stories that become ‘beliefs’.
Writers capture readers by beliefs
A book or story that captures reader imagination must be based on some accepted belief or disbelief. So the writer or author needs to understand the common illusions accepted by most people in their culture.
If an author tried to base a story on the belief that the World is flat they would have an uphill battle convincing readers. The best they could hope is that the reader would keep on reading through sheer disbelief. Even fantasy novels are based on some commonly accepted beliefs, e.g. mountains are high and made of rock, or water runs downhill. (Think about it!)
The trick for writers is that they must pick the beliefs/illusions they tamper with. They have to decide how far the reader will go without putting their novel or short story down in disgust. I also think they need to decide what they are putting into the memories of their readers – violence, cruelty, experience of death, love, kindness or courage.
Reality doesn’t exist unless you see it
If you consider that memory is based only on filtered illusions, news that Australian scientists have discovered that reality is an illusion comes as no surprise.
“According to a well-known theory in quantum physics, a particle’s behaviour changes depending on whether there is an observer or not. It basically suggests that reality is a kind of illusion and exists only when we are looking at it. Numerous quantum experiments were conducted in the past and showed that this indeed might be the case.
“Now, physicists at the Australian National University have found further evidence for the illusory nature of reality. They recreated the John Wheeler’s delayed-choice experiment and confirmed that reality doesn’t exist until it is measured, at least on the atomic scale.”
If you don’t believe me (and why would you?) take a look at this article on the Mind Unleashed website.
Accepted illusions of life
Many of the great novels of the last two centuries have been based on illusions –
- That good always triumphs over evil
- That the underdog always succeeds by using tenacity
- That the pursuit of money is a worthy goal
- That the rich and powerful are involved in a conspiracy against world populations
Or are they illusions?