Since I was kid, I’ve been fascinated by anything having to do with time travel and alternate realities. (Of course, as I’ve gotten older, and read more and traveled outside of this reality more, I’ve come to realize that what we term “time travel” isn’t very likely simply because of what time really is—but that’s another posting.)
But alternate realities, well…they’re all around us, everywhere. And we’re creating more of them every minute of every day. Every choice each of us makes, creates alternate realities, some that last lifetimes, and others are there and gone in a nanosecond. It all depends on how long it takes to complete the alternate choices—the choices we didn’t pick.
Virtual reality is also fascinating, but I must admit a virtual reality that allows you to do more than “fool the mind” into thinking you’re part of something intrigues me more.
The 13th Floor is a movie that combines virtual reality with alternate reality and creates an Escher painting for the mind. The title refers to the floor on which two tech nerds have devised a way for people to merge their consciousness with the virtual reality that they have created.
Using machines similar to those depicted in Avatar (although the movie The 13th Floor came out a decade earlier), your body remains in one reality while your mind moves to a different one and is housed in a different body (an avatar). However, as the two conduct their experiments, the realities begin to blend together, overlapping the realities even more.
Soon it becomes almost impossible for them to distinguish between what’s created (by them and the computer) and what’s real. After all, they can be hurt or even die in any of the worlds; they can feel and experience emotions; and they have form and can function. Aren’t those all markers for indicating what experiences are real and what experiences are merely “virtual” or “dreams”?
As the criteria for distinguishing between reality and non-reality becomes more muted and more untenable, so does their (and our) ability to distinguish between which character is the “real” one and which reality is the “One”.
To me, the 13th Floor is a great attempt to show how all our various realities flow into and around one another. It also shows that our consciousness, our awareness, that essence of us, can easily be in several realities at the same time.