I visited Euro Disney last year.
I found it funny for all the wrong reasons. Irony: it’s sometimes a curse, sometimes a blessing.
Each nationality would sit in their Mickyesque ghettos and laugh like drains at the habits of the others. The French Disney interpretation of breakfast was the furthest from full English you could imagine. Our hotel was the cowboy one and felt much like that sinister sci-fi-, Westworld. They played Muzak relentlessly, a foreunner, perhaps to Orwell’s telescreen.
It felt for all the world like The Village from that classic sixties programme, The Prisoner. I’m not a number, Walt, I grinned. I’m a free man.
So imagine my mirth, then, when Disney laid on Rovers as part of the amusement regime.
The Village in the television programme was a place where you went when you stopped spying. Or so it’s implied in the series. And you were kept there with drugs and other mind games and intimidation and numbers and, incredibly, these huge white balls called Rovers.
They would chase you. It would be funny if it wasn’t so acutely nightmarish. There was no escape. They would intercept you and swamp you, and bring you back to the village to be a number and not a free man all over again.
And there they were at Disney. 10 Euros for 12 minutes.
It was all too rich. these giant hamsterballs were the recreation of choice for the numbers that thronged Euro Disney.
Preposterous. The very idea of walking around in bubbles of our own reality.
Although, of course, that is precisely what we do.
Our bubble is not physically restrictive: it is called perception.Management theorist Tom Peters once wrote:”Perception is all there is. There is no reality. There is only perceived reality.”
We view the world through our own glass. With our senses we gather information, but our brain is unique and it interprets the information in its own sweet way.
We walk around with a secure idea of how the world is. We are certain, even, sometimes, a little smug about our world and how it is. We hear things and see things and draw conclusions and build on those conclusions without questioning whether our assumptions are rocky: whether the reality we are building is sound.
But questioning what’s inside the bubble is what makes you not a number, but a free man.
Yesterday I watched an incredible science documentary. Our BBC Horizon documentaries are superlative and award-winning. This one was called “What happened before the Big Bang?”
All these years, we have lionised Edwin Hubble. He noticed that things were getting further away with time. and he watched the retreat of heavenly bodies outwards and thought, what would happen if I used mathematics to reverse their path, and followed them back to where they came from?
He arrived at the Bg Bang theory. He tracked those bodies back to a fraction of a second before the universe started. Where matter began from nothing.
And this has become our reality. This is how the universe began, period.
But there’s a nagging question at the bottom of this:agow can something emerge out of absolutely nothing?
We built our perceptions on a rocky assumption.
Now scientists all over the world question Big Bang theory.
In Sandusky, Ohio, Plum Brook Station exists so that NASA could fabricate Nothing.
It has eight foot thick solid aluminium walls; it takes two days to pump out the air and another week to freeze out remaining molecules. And then, you have the best approximation to Nothing possible in this day and age.
Or do you?
For this Nothing has dimensions. Three of them. And light can travel through it.
It isn’t really Nothing at all.
We walk around with our perception bubble, and sometimes it never occurs to us to question what we are told. But even the basic ideas we all share can be questioned.
That ability: it is what makes us stand out as not numbers, but human beings.
Written in response to Side View’s theme: the illusion of reality
Picture source here