Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, October 22, 1999


To infinity and beyond

The very nature of reality underwent a profound reappraisal in the 20th Century. Philosophical what-if Signs of Everyday Life in the 20th Centurydialectics moved out of the dormitory bull session and into the mainstream. Science helped, with the notion of unseen worlds coexisting in the infrared and the ultraviolet, and science fiction pushed reality even further in the blender, inventing whole new universes thanks to space-time warps in the continuum. Whew.

In the past, you either went up to heaven, or down to hell. These days, you can also go left and right and back and forth.

The real push, though, came from psychoactive drugs that altered consciousness. Ingesting a hallucinagin was called "taking a trip" for good reason. The otherworldliness of these altered states became part and parcel of what we consider the "real" world. These states are best expressed in the dreamlike unfolding and reality-bending of modern television commercials, which are invariably art-directed by former acid casualties. The push to explore new worlds within our imaginations has also led to the invention of "virtual reality," something considered a vital step today that would have been shrugged at in the past.

Burl Burlingame, Star-Bulletin

"Everyday Life" is a photo feature that examines
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