In 2017, our lives are dominated by cell phones, computers, information, and many other things that did not even exist just 20 years ago. In the 1990s, virtual reality sex seemed like it would only be possible in some far flung future like that found in Demolition Man. Yet, here we are in 2017 having virtual reality sex with our Oculus Rifts, Google Cardboards, and HTC Vives. Because technology obsession seems to function at a societal level, anti-technology groups often argue that we, as a society, have gone too far, while leaving the natural behind and losing our passions.
Shooting down the arguments of hippies, new agers, Christians, Muslims, Jews, and traditionalists everywhere, the most controversial philosopher in the world has argued otherwise. Slavoj Zizek has just recently proclaimed “sex was always virtual!” This is great news for VR-pornheads everywhere!
To tell you how and why this is good for VR porn enthusiasts, I will begin by discussing a conversation that I had with one such traditionalist (my brother), and then explain what Zizek’s philosophical understanding of the notion of virtual. I will end by discussing his perspectives on virtual reality, sex, and virtual sex while adding my own two-cents for what his perspective means for us.
Traditional Perspectives on Natural Sex
My brother is a vegan and a new-ager. He is always telling me that humanity has lost its way and that the natural gifts of the earth–plants, animals, and our bodies–are sacred. He believes that we should revert back to a simpler way of living to regain and reignite our passions as earth children. Asking him his opinion on VR sex, he argued that “VR sex was a symptom of the decline of western society, a sign of lost passion, and a masturbatory perversion.” After thinking about the philosopher Slavoj Zizek’s stance on virtual reality, the Virtual and Virtual Sex, I replied, “What if sex was always Virtual?”
Of course, my brother thought this was impossible, however, by explaining Slavoj Zizek’s unique perspective on reality, he considered the possibility that sex was indeed always Virtual and that VR sex perhaps was not the techno-perversion that he had initially thought.
(V)irtual versus (v)irtual
First of all, to understand Zizek’s claim that “sex was always virtual,” it is necessary to understand his philosophical perspective about reality itself. Zizek, being a philosopher, thinks about reality in a way that is deeper and more organized than most people. Following the earlier philosopher, Gilles Deleuze, Zizek argues that reality is split between two planes of existence that shape each other. One of such planes is the Actual. This is the plane where things actually happen. If you meet a beautiful man or woman at a party, Zizek would say a real actual event occurred where a beautiful man or woman met in a party.
On the other hand, if you think about the possibility of meeting a beautiful man or woman at a party, you are thinking about the virtual plane of existence. If meeting such a man or woman was a real possibility, then we can say that the virtual plane has real consequences. An example of the real consequences of the virtual follows; I had a friend in college that would only go to parties if he knew there was a chance that he could meet a beautiful woman.
He stayed away from stagfests. In this case, it is clear that the virtual realm of possibility affected his decisions and thereby affected the actual plane of events that occurred. This notion of the Virtual which focuses on how possibilities shape the world is very different from the common notion of virtual reality but there are some important implications for the term that I will get to later.
Tomorrow with this new definition of Virtual, I will discuss Zizek’s arguments concerning sex, virtual reality, VR sex, and more!