Virtual reality quote from the book on a desert background.

“Once, people memorized books’ worth of spoken words, songs, and sagas that contained all their history, traditions, stories, survival.”
“I’m not a storyteller.”
“Then go back to your library.”
Claire tossed the book on top of her bag in a huff. “You’re crude.”
“And you rely too much on those bits of paper.”

The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith

Wasn’t memory the original virtual reality?

Today, we digitize everything, creating a virtual reality alternative to the printed word. It’s all out there saved on the cloud, not just the consolidated and thought out written words of the educated, the trained artist’s pictures and paintings, but everything. Photographs of everyday life, random thoughts, opinions, jokes, off the cuff thoughts from everyone. All recorded on social media.

Like the librarian that laments the loss of the printed book, worried that the stories will be lost if the books are gone, we wonder if physical reality will be lost in the invention of the virtual.

But the unrecorded virtual reality existed first, didn’t it?

When we sat around a fire and listened to someone speak a story from their minds, all we had at the end was the memory the act created in us and then it was gone.

When we began writing the stories down, those that spoke them were concerned. If the stories are written, we’ll forget the ability to memorize and speak them. And in many ways, we have.

Today I can read the exact same story you read, even though we are worlds apart. The storyteller tells it once for all, with no changes, no reading the room and weaving more into and out of it.

And now here we are with the medium changing once again.

When I write a digital story, I can change it any time I want. You think you are reading the same version as someone else, but are you? I’m sure there is a way for computer savvy people to know, but most of us don’t. That article in the Times could be a completely different spin for you than for me. We both click the same link, but does it take us to the same version?

You don’t have that problem with the printed word. It’s there “in black and white” and, while it can be changed with another printing, there will be a physical copy of that change, something to compare it to.

In a way, it feels like we are going back to the old way of verbal story telling.


Want to read this book? You can find it at Amazon HERE.
Want to read more quotes from this book?
Anxiety: The Lies My Brain Tells Me
Would You Want to Come Back for a Day?
Do We Have the Ability to Change the Meaning of Our Life Story?