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Virtual Reality: The Last Human Narrative?

Brill-Rodopi 2015

225 pages






Prelude: Narrated Realities or Why We Are All Dreaming of the Japanese Clock


Feature Scene I: Cloned Realities: Eat Your Cake and Dream it 


1. Eighteenth-Century Rationalism and the Search for the Absolutely Real: When Friedrich Bouterwek Invented Virtual Reality 


2. Posthumanism: The “Autistic Condition?” 


Feature Scene II: Your Face is a Scape: An Exercise in Facial Geomorphology

3. From Civilization to Culture: About the Dreamlike Character of Global Civilization 


Feature Scene III: Liquid Grammar, Liquid Style: On the East-Asian Way of Using English or the Phenomenon of “Linguistic Air-Guitars” 


4. Genes and Pixels: Bio-Genetics’ Posthuman Aesthetics of the Virtual         


Feature Scene IV: The New Surrealism: Loft-Stories, Reality Television, and Amateur Dream-Censors   


5. Posthumanism and “Multi-Realism”: Comparing The Matrix with Tarkovsky’s Stalker and Solaris 


Feature Scene V: Car Design and Genetics: The New Mini and Japanese Pottery (followed by an interview with Raku Kichizaemon)


6. The Aesthetics of Frozen Dreams: Jeff Koons and Mariko Mori 


Feature Scene VI: Overcoming the Logos – Overcoming Lego: From Imagined Space to the Spatial Imagination of the Cyborgs


7. From Perspective to All-Unity or the Narrative of Virtual Cosmology


Feature Scene VII: In Praise of Blandness: Some Thoughts on Japanese Television


8. What Would Nietzsche have thought about Virtual Reality? Nietzsche and Cyberpunk




Japanese Clock (Hisashige Tanaka's Man-nen dokei. 1851).

Mariko Mori, Yumedono

Toyota's Moribo robot

The Matrix


Narrated Time and Non-Narrated Time

or Why We Are All Dreaming of the Japanese Clock


Who knows the Japanese clock? This mechanical clock (wadokei 和時計) existed until the end of the Edo period and was engineered to measure what was called “seasonal time” or “uneven time”. From a technological point of view, this clock was entirely “European”. Still, its concept of time was unusual because it was based on a traditional Japanese method of measuring time. It can, as I will explain, serve as a point of departure for reflections on Virtual Reality.

Save yourself

Jeff Koons, Luxury and Degradation, 1986

When Friedrich Bouterwek invented Virtual Reality

The term “Absolute Virtualism” was coined by the German Kantian philosopher Friedrich Bouterwek (1766-1828), a professor of philosophy at the University of Göttingen and a contem­porary of Hegel. “Absolute Virtualism” suggested a kind of absolute intensification of the Kantian rationalist critique of idealism. Though it never existed in the form of an established philosophical school or branch, it left traces in Schopenhauer’s philosophy as well as in the French tradition of “spiritu­alist positivism” that would pave the way for Bergson.

Friedrich Bouterwek

Book Abstract:

Is virtual reality the latest grand narrative that humanity has produced? Our civilization is determined by a shift from an “original event” to a virtual “narrative.” This concerns not only virtual reality but also psychoanalysis, gene-technology, and globalization. Psychoanalysis transforms the dream into a narrative and is able to spell out the dream’s symbols. Gene-technology narrates dynamic, self-evolving evolution as a “gene code”. Discourses on “globalization” let the globe appear as once more globalized because reproduced through narrative. Finally, reality itself has come to be narrated in the form of a second reality that is called “virtual”. This book attempts to disentangle the characteristics of human reality and posthuman virtual reality and asks whether it is possible to reconcile both.

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