…or are they? From the perspective of a quantum universe, everything is real – or at least everything has the capacity to be real, depending on one’s own perception of reality. What even is reality?
Since I was a young child, I’ve questioned the very nature of reality. Part of it was my upbringing. My dad practiced chiropractic while loving UFOs and aliens on the side, and my mom understood the power of the human body along with the mechanics of magic and energy.
I remember a story my mom would relay to me about a niece of mine on my dad’s side who when she was young, was completely unfazed watching horror/thriller. It was always an interesting contrast for me, since I was a very sensitive child and my mom was very conscious of what I read and watched at certain ages. My mom told me that my niece would simply say to her (and I’m sure I’m paraphrasing), “It’s okay, they’re just costumes and makeup. It isn’t real.”
Yet I remember thinking when I first heard this story…how can it not be real? Everything had always felt so real to me. Whether it was a film at the theater, a show on TV, or a novel I would read, a story in a fictional universe would be as real to me as one in the so-called “real” universe in which we live. For years, I chalked up these experiences to be a reflection of my sensitivities.
Because society tells you a movie can’t be real.
A TV show can’t be real.
A book of fiction can’t be real.
So to function in society, I told myself I was just a sensitive child with a big imagination, and that the stories I thought were real were nothing but that – stories.
Except the many-worlds interpretation in quantum mechanics will tell us otherwise. That a multitude of entire universes exist outside of our own. If there is potential for the existence of multiple universes, who are we to say what is and is not real?
Now we might pose the argument that stories and universes portrayed in television, film, and novels were created by people and are not multiverses existing on various planes. There is truth in that statement. Fictional stories in our world are created and brought to life by people.
But from where do these stories come, and what makes each individual person or group of people the necessary one(s) to tell the story? The answer to that question is unique in every experience.
Most everyone is familiar with the story of how J.K. Rowling conceived the initial inspiration for Harry Potter while riding the train. Harry Potter is an excellent example if only to demonstrate how a fictional world can be integrated with our own physical reality in the form of candies and theme parks. What’s interesting is we can’t verify from where the story of Harry Potter came – only that J.K. Rowling received the story.
Even if we were to dismiss the idea of real fictional multiverses, at the least aren’t fictional characters and universes inspired by our own real-life stories? Anyone who’s ever spitballed ideas in a writer’s room can vouch for this. Even the formulaic romantic comedy illustrates a core truth in the human experience.
Having grown into adulthood, I’ve started to wonder if weaving and entering the fabric of fictional realities isn’t a form of modern shamanism. Does art mirror life…or is it the other way around?