What is real?

This world is but canvas to our imaginations.

--Henry David Thoreau

What is real?

Reality is an invisible state of affairs beyond all description and thought but it has been striped black and white so as to be seen. And this is life and death, up and down, sound and silence, the whole vibratory character of being. And the game the fundamental game that the universe is playing is to forget that this is so.

--Alan Watts

What is real?

hallucination: uncontrolled perception
perception: controlled hallucination

We all are hallucinating all the time. It's just when we agree about our hallucinations we call that reality.

--Anil Seth

What is real?

The system eats up the kind of material I produce. So as the manufactured storm I created played itself out in the press, real people started believing it, and it became true.

I was lost in the same unreality I’d forced on other people. I found that not only did I not know what was real anymore, but that I no longer cared.

By “real” I mean that people believe it and act on it. I am saying that the infrastructure of the Internet can be used against itself to turn a manufactured piece of nonsense into widespread outrage and then action.

We seek out interviews in order to advance certain “facts,” and then we make them doubly real by citing them on Wikipedia.

To paraphrase Charles Horton Cooley, the products of our imagination become the solid facts of society. It’s a process that happens not horizontally but vertically, moving each time to a more reputable site and seeming more real at each level.

In other words, corrections not only don’t fix the error—they backfire and make misperception worse.

It turns out that the more unbelievable headlines and articles readers are exposed to, the more it warps their compass—making the real seem fake and the fake seem real. The more extreme a headline, the longer participants spend processing it, and the more likely they are to believe it.

Create a pseudo-event, trade it up the chain, elicit real responses and action, and you have altered reality itself.

The problem with unreality and pseudo-events is not simply that they are unreal; it is that they don’t stay unreal. While they may themselves exist in some netherworld between real and fake, the domain in which they are consumed and acted on is undoubtedly real.

Surrounded by illusions, we lash out at our fellow man for his very humanness, congratulate ourselves as a cover for apathy, and confuse advertising with art. Reality. Our lives. Knowing what is important. Information. These have been the causalities.

--Ryan Holiday

What is real?

In an age of images and entertainment, in an age of instant emotional gratification, we neither seek nor want honesty or reality. Reality is complicated. Reality is boring. We are incapable or unwilling to handle its confusion.

--Chris Hedges

What is real?

Our illusions are the house in which we live; they are our news, our heroes, our adventure, our forms of art, our very experience.

--Daniel Boorstin