From Possible Worlds to Virtual Reality
Introduction to a special issue of Style, "From Possible Worlds to Virtual reality: Approaches to Postmodernism," which I edited. Contributions by Ruth Ronen, Lubomir Dolezel, William Ashline, May Charles, Lance Olsen and Mark Nunes.
One of the dominant features of postmodern thought is its fascination for everything that offers alternatives to the concept of reality. The theory of possible worlds (PW) and the technological phenomenon of virtual reality (VR) fall into this category. But neither of these concepts supports a collapse of the distinction between reality and virtuality. PW theory is grounded in an opposition between the actual and merely possible worlds which conflicts with the postmodern ideal of a decentered ontology. As for VR, it does not challenge the opposition of the real and the virtual, but rather reconciles the two concepts by allowing the user to experience the virtual as if it were real. This reconciliation inverts the postmodern project to demonstrate the inherent virtuality of what passes as the real. The metaphorical use of the term "virtual" and of its electronic relative of "cyberspace" in contemporary culture indicates however that these concepts are being recuperated in the project of virtualizing reality.
Virtual reality and Art Appreciation
Allegories of Immersion: Virtual Narration in Postmodern Fiction.