What is Reality?

What is Reality? It seems like such a simple question? But it is related to a myriad of other questions. What makes up reality? Are we here for a reason? Is there such thing as fate? Is there a grand design to the universe? Is there a supreme being that sees over everything? What composes the building blocks of everything that we see and do?

These are questions that humanity has struggled with since the beginning of time. (Did time even have a beginning?)

Religion has had a lot to say about these important questions and I think they provide us with some answers. Science also can provide us with some answers. But both of these disciplines fall short of the whole story. And that is the entire problem with religion and science.

I think that the humanities have a lot to say about the nature of reality. Poets and writers have given us some brilliant answers, but most of the time, these just get written off (sorry for the pun).

The interesting thing is that religion and science both offer good stories about the nature of reality. But if authors and poets are doing the same thing, then it isn’t that much of a stretch to say that everything seems to be story.

Joseph Gold writes about how each and every one of us uses story in our everyday lives.
“We are all storymakers. We use story to organize and control. . . . Human beings strive for order, control and peace but we can never be static. We must change, age, learn more, grow and adapt. So we are always in a cycle of creative struggle, changing and striving to manage our changing and to integrate what we learn into our own story. If during our growing up, for instance, we have suffered trauma . . .To escape the feeling of helplessness and confusion that we carry with us we need to organize, package, index our experience, do what we mean when we say “get a handle on it,” so that we can carry the baggage of our experience comfortably and not have bits and pieces falling all over the place. This is what we do when we “story” it.” (taken from Read For Your Life: Literature as a Life Support System. Fitzhenry and Whiteside: Markham, 1990. pg 51-52)

Story is everywhere. And if we believe Marshall McLuhan when he says, “the medium is the message,” then I think it is safe to say that the medium is story and therefore the message must also be story. To put it simply, story is the nature of reality.

More to come – Storied Thursdays are now a feature on both Silent Cacophony and Thoughtful Cacophony.

7 responses to “What is Reality?”

  1. Thanks for this thoughtful post. I don’t think I agree that story is the nature of reality, but I think it is the means by which our minds try to make sense of reality. As you say, even science is really all about story: it does not deal in reality, but in models (theories) which make up a story about reality. It may be that our stories get in the way of us perceiving what is real. Try looking at a tree without labeling it. You may see something you didn’t know was there.

  2. I know that it sounds weird Secret Simon. But it came to me years ago in sort of an epiphany. I’m not sure I can explain it all fully but I will try. That is why I starting this series on both blogs.

  3. Whenever I feel confused about the world being real and what’s just a product of my mind, I like to kick a wall as hard as I can. It does wonders.

  4. Yeah but, our minds work in mysterious ways. Our brains can’t actually tell the difference between an imagined experience and a real one.

  5. That’s only because you haven’t kicked it hard enough.

    I think we could arguably combine two of your posts: the best way of promoting human welfare is making everyone take classes and learn how to think happy thoughts.

    (I’ll go kick on my wall now, and possibly slam a door on someone’s face, but with a smile on my face :P)