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date: 12 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues for a less technologically driven notion of “virtual reality,” suggesting that our own on-board computers, our brains, are already engaged in a process of simulating the world around us, rather than being “naturally” immersed within it. Thus we are always at one remove from what Lacan calls the Real; hence the phrase “virtual reality” verges on the tautological. From a Lacanian perspective, humans are unique in their dislocation from the Real, taking up a position in the Symbolic, an order of signs. The rest of the chapter explores how works of art, and literature in particular, can easily be seen to function as “virtual” (immersive and interactive) worlds. The chapter concludes by noting that fantasy literature, in particular, despite its less than realistic appearance, often aspires to go beyond the “virtual,” to lay claim to accessing a world both “Real” and “virtuous.”

Keywords: Lacan, Real, Symbolic, realism, fantasy, literature, mimesis

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