Pygmalion’s Spectacles: Using Berkeley’s Immaterialism to Understand the Potential for Telepresence in Virtual Reality

Musings of a Mario Minion

What follows is a short essay I produced earlier this year concerning the nature of virtual reality when faced with the assertions of Weinbaum’s 1935 short story Pygmalion’s Spectacles which, in effect, introduces the notion of the virtual reality headset way back in the 30s!

“You are in the story, you speak to the shadows and they reply, and instead of being on a screen, the story is all about you, and you are in it”, this enticing line could easily be part of a virtual reality marketing scheme in 2017, and yet it instead resides in a 1935 short story by American science fiction writer Stanley G. Weinbaum. The story describes one skeptic’s journey into Berkeley’s theory of immaterialism via a mystical set of goggles created by an eccentric inventor. When wearing the goggles, Dan is fully immersed in an interactive environment created by the professor. Pygmalion’s Spectacles clearly…

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