This may be presumptuous of me, but may I touch your hand? You see, I’m investigating reality and they say that it’s something to do with sensory impressions.
When I say they, I mean the people who write the internet. They say that reality is ‘the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined’ (OED) and when I question them more closely, they seem to suggest that it’s all about material, and that I can jolly well trot-off and investigate it myself with my own senses.
There’s other stuff too, but I can only pretend to understand half of none of it.
Anyway – senses. This is where your hand comes in.
I know from experience that hands take on the taste and smell of the things they touch, but I’m not sure if they have a taste of their own. Or maybe they do. When I sweat or bleed, they taste of salt. Are my insides made of salt? Hands also look rather like oddly-shaped spiders. Beyond that, what?
Eating nuts and reading about reality on the internet takes me away from the reality that I am sat in an office in a pool of light wondering why it matters so much to me that I impress you with a particular combination of words. In reality, it matters not one jot.
Soon, computer programmes will be so sophisticated that software will be able to produce this prose at the touch of a … I was going to say ‘button’, but actually, there will be as much need for a button as there will be for my hand to touch it. That is to say none at all.
And as for your hand – when it comes down to it, there’s no need for that neither. Not that it exists anyway. I can’t touch or smell that odd spider you may or may not have. You might as well be on the other side of the sky for all that you are real.
So I pick my teeth, glance around this pool of light, think about the future, feel those nuts sat somewhere just behind and above my belly button, and life goes on, unconcerned about whether reality is real or not.
And ultimately, I don’t know whether that high-pitched sound, the one I can hear when it goes quiet, is inside my head or outside it. And I have no idea whether the streaks of light around headlights in the dark are within me or without.
Actually, it’s best not to ask. If we knew, it would probably quite dampen the experience.