During one of the last interviews that Philip K Dick granted a few months before his death, he recounted in detail the novel that he was planning to write. The title of this novel, which in the end he never wrote, was The Owl in Daylight. He had already been paid for this book and thus had to work overtime; he recalled during the same interview that he had written 16 novels in five years - The Owl in Daylight would have been the seventeenth. K Dick died of a haemorrhage leaving his collected words from the interview and numerous research notes. The idea for the novel was inspired partly by an entry in the Encyclopaedia Britannica where Beethoven is referred to as the most creative genius of all time, partly by traditional views of what constitutes the human heaven (visions of lights) and partly by the Faust story. But the entire plot really turned around one scientific piece of information that K Dick found about nanotechnology that constituted a breakthrough in information theory, something that had never happened before: the possibility to store on a chip one meter squared all the information contained in all the computers of the world, and more importantly all the fantastic possibilities for a fiction to be written.

The Owl in Daylight is about a planet where the atmosphere is not like ours. It is about mute and deaf aliens developing a culture based not on sound but on light. Without sound, they have to use colour for language.  Just as humans have audio frequencies, their world strictly employs vision and visual things. Our mystical vision of heaven is the light. Light is always associated with the other world. And the alien world is made of that, their world is made of heaven. So instead of the mystical vision of this civilisation being about vision of light, it is about the supernatural experience of sounds. K Dick says:  « what if their world is our heaven and our world their heaven. »

When this other species finds the human civilisation, which uses sound and has developed music, they cannot hear it because they are deaf so they build transduction equipment to transform phosphines or non-retinal images into sound, and sound into non-retinal images.

They are able to produce some kind of visual score. As we have known for a long time, sound does not occur in the atmosphere, it occurs within the body. So the aliens have to somehow create a symbiotic relationship with the human brain so they can use it to conceptualise the music. They can see the music. The assumption was that any civilisation that can build a rocket ship to come to Earth must have a knowledge of biochemestry and semiconductors on which biochips operate.
When the journalist Gwen Lee stops K Dick in his flux of words to ask him if this constitutes a real scientific fact, he responds in a panicked instant:
- I am assuming this is not a joke article, I just hope to God this guy’s not over there laughing about me writing a book on a non-existent thing. In fact I saw the friend of mine who gave me the article in a store and I said to him « I hope it‘s not a joke you gave me, I hope there wasn’t a thing at the beginning you didn’t Xerox which said  that this is something unbelievable, that might happen you know in a million years » but my friend said that no that this article was genuine «  I guarantee it » he said.

Why did Philip K Dick, one of the greatest world-makers of the last century, one of the greatest inventors and imaginers, need to justify his delirious worlds with reported concrete facts? Why did he even need to start from the real? Besides, is this really whats going there? Is it that the real is called upon to legitimize the imaginary?
Or is it that this overwelming heritage of cinema which is again prevading our thoughts. This definition of the cinema as an art form that reflects a gaze. Cinema as a recording tool of a world pre-existing us. A producer of History.
André Bazin, a French film critic in the 50s argued that cinema depicted what it saw as "objective reality" as in documentaries and films of the Italian neorealist school, but also in the work of directors who knew how to make themselves  "invisible". He advocated using the deep focus of Orson Welles, the wide shots of Renoir and the "shot-in-depth". He preferred what he referred to as "true continuity" through the mise-en-scène to experiments in editing and visual effects. He was the adversary of a film theory that chooses to emphasize how the cinema can manipulate reality. Bazin believed that the interpretation of a film or scene should be left to the spectator. Here was the idea that theatre was this unique architectural invention of a place built to see something that already happened. It was seen from the point of view of somebody else and was reported in order for you to judge it with your own eyes.

Are we confined to ways of describing whatever is described? Does our universe consist of these descriptions rather than of a world or of worlds? Does worldmaking as we know it always start from worlds already on hand? Is the making always a remaking? Worldmaking always starts with a world already in our hands.

Well I don’t know…

Reality and fiction are a pair of trees that grow together, interwoven, each sustaining and holding up the other. It suggests a kind of midair transfer of strength, contact across a void, like the tangling of cable and steel between two lonely bridge posts.  A derived sense of fruitful exchange, or reciprocal sustenance, of welcome offered, of grasp and interrelationship, of a slender envergure of bilateral attention along which things are given and received, still animating the world in its verb form.

We use metaphors that help to reveal things that are going on. We kind of live in a moment in time where we should be hysterical, but we aren't, because we are not imagining what is going on. I think we are just getting bits of data. We do have "CNN Moment," and in that moment we feel really in the present moment. But then we snap back in an instant into that position that we have always been in.

There are people. There are stories. The people think they shape the stories, but the reverse is often closer to the truth.

We can have words without a world but no world without words, all the stuff that our world is made from is made along with the worlds. So we are dealing with visions, with depictions rather than descriptions.

When I was a kid I always had this fantasy that I could open my mouth and a projector beam would come out; my imagination would just be easy and available, or I would have something on my skin like the cephalopod does.

The cuttlefish is an animal I am obsessed with and seems to be so close to the aliens of Philip K Dick’s unwritten novel. They don’t live on another planet but in our ocean. These animals can show images and animations on their skin, directly from their imagination. Their brains have a special image generating lobe. So when they imagine something, it immediately appears on the surface of their bodies. These creatures have evolved to use an animation language to communicate with one another. The reason why cephalopods aren’t running the planet instead of mammals is because they are born in eggs and just go off on their own. They don’t have any childhood and therefore don't have any culture.

We are now looking at an unremarkable rock covered in swaying algae. Suddenly, astonishingly, one-third of the rock and a tangled mass of algae morphs and reveals itself to be what it really is: the waving arms of a bright white octopus. Its cover blown, the creature squirts ink at the camera and shoots off into the distance.

The "pixels" in the skin of a cephalopod are organs called chromatophores. These can expand and contract quickly, and each is filled with a pigment of a particular colour. When a nerve signal causes a red chromatophore to expand, the "pixel" turns red. A pattern of nerve firings causes a shifting image, an animation, to appear on the cephalopod's skin. As for shapes, an octopus can quickly arrange its arms to form a wide variety of them, like a fish or a piece of coral, and can even raise welts on its skin to add texture.

As intelligent creatures go, cephalopods are perhaps the most "other" that we know; think of them as a dress rehearsal for the far-off day when we might encounter intelligent aliens.

In an immersive computer graphics environment, or in reading a great story you can "enter" and then morph yourself into various things. You can have a virtual body, or avatar, and do things like examine your hands or watch yourself in a virtual mirror. Some of the earliest experimental avatars in fact were aquatic, including one that allowed a person to inhabit a lobster's body.

Our vocal abilities are part of what enabled our species to develop spoken language. Likewise, our ability to draw pictures—along with the requisite brain structures—was pre-adaptive for written language. Suppose we had the ability to morph at will: what sort of language might that make possible? Would it be the same old conversation, just a new dictionary mapping the same old set of ideas with avatars in place of words or would it enable us to "say" fundamentally new things to one another?


Copernicus and Darwin took away our comfy place in the universe. Copernicus upset the moral order by dissolving the strict distinction between heaven and earth, Darwin did the same by blurring the strict distinction between humans and the animal realm. What trait will be taken from us next ?  It is all about breaking the limitations of the dialectic and blurring our identity.

Could we take the next step by breaking down the strict distinction between reality and fiction?

This is shocking and sounds like a secular postmodern ‘weak’ idea. This theory should draw from knowledge like quantum mechanics as opposed to collections of opinions on the level of cultural relativism. Perhaps a radical reevaluation of the character of time will do it. In everyday experience time flows and we flow with time. In classical physics time is fixed as part of a frozen space/time picture. What if a future scientific understanding of time showed all previous pictures to be wrong and demonstrated that the past, the future and even the present do not exist? We would learn that the idea of woven stories just as our individual personal history and future are just all wrong.

Julian Barbour holds the controversial view that time does not exist as anything other than an illusion, and that a number of problems in physics arise from assuming its reality. He argues that we have no evidence of the past other than our memory of it, and no evidence of the future other than our belief in it. He writes in The End of Time: The Next Revolution in Physics: "Change merely creates an illusion of time, with each individual moment existing in its own right". He calls these moments "Nows". It is all an illusion: there is no motion and no change. He argues that the illusion of time is what we interpret through what he calls "time capsules," which are "any fixed pattern that creates or encodes the appearance of motion, change or history".

In the Pixar/Disney production a young clownfish named Nemo enchanted moviegoers with his epic adventure from the ocean to a fish tank. Before “Finding Nemo” appeared, this species dwelled in relative obscurity compared to sharks and dolphins. The film sparked a booming trade in aquarium fish, endangering the wildlife of the Vanuatu archipelago in the South Pacific. Concerned about the trade, the government has set up a committee to examine the issue. Clownfish, which are also called anemone fish, are relatively small.  For protection they seek refuge amongst the tentacles of sea anemones. In a yet-to-be resolved biological mystery, clownfish have mucus on their skin that somehow protects them against the sting of their host anemone. Butterfly fish are predators of the sea anemone. Research has shown that if the clownfish are removed from the anemone, butterfly fish will move in and devour the anemone. In the movie, one of the tank’s residents, a butterfly fish named Gill, tells the newcomer Nemo that "fish aren't meant to be in a box, kid. It does things to ya."

There is an aquarium in San Francisco that you absolutely must go and see. Just as San Francisco tourists generally visit Alcatraz, going there is a bit like going to an obscure strip club in Pigalle instead of visiting the Moulin Rouge. The departure for Alcatraz takes place on the same pier. Tourist groups wait for the ferry just a few meters away from the deserted aquarium. The aquarium offers very little educational and oceanographic interest. It’s more of an amusement park than an aquarium although according to Disney standards it’s not nearly efficient enough, so that gives it a certain charm. At the end of a quick tour of the aquarium (the glass being so concave that one is obligated to rush through in order to avoid an epileptic seizure) an experience is proposed. It consists of touching a ray or a shark with two fingers, “with two fingers only,” explains a girl. You touch the silky skin of the shark, because the shark is a little silky. When you leave this encounter of the third kind, you happen upon a souvenir shop selling T-shirts that say: I TOUCHED A RAY ! Great! So there you have it, it has already been built, the first amusement park of the real.

Michael Crichton is the author of Jurassic Park, Twister and Prey. In 1973 he directed Westworld. The amusement park motif seems to be recurrent in all his films, but what is always at the center of his stories is the fear and anxiety which goes along with such places. We fear that the images of the Jurassic age dinosaurs, the robots in Westworld, the cyclone in Twister or the nanotech of Prey might be real enough to act upon us. One of the great discoveries in Jurassic Park was that a sign, no matter how beautiful, when it comes from the pre-history of representation and then enters reality, starts by defecating.

We could imagine building a park of deadly flowers, like there is a tree in India that produces beautiful flowers that are lethal. Scotland Yard listed it as a product that is totally untraceable in our organism. They call it the perfect crime tree.

A few days ago local government officials in China were criticized for spray painting a barren mountain face green. Laoshou mountain, near Fumin in Yunnan province, was left an eyesore by quarrying. But instead of re-foresting the mountainside, forestry officials hired seven workers for 45 days to spray paint it green. Some villagers guessed that officials of the surrounding county, Fumin, whose office building faces the mountain, were trying to change the area's feng shui — the ancient Chinese belief of harmonising one's physical environment for maximum health and financial benefit. Others speculated that it was an unusual attempt at "greening" the area in keeping with calls for more attention to environmental protection. Villagers have been driven from their homes by the strong smell of paint, reported the City Times. Local businessman Huang said: "At first I was glad to see the green mountain, thinking the government was paying more attention to the environment. But then I noticed the great contrast with the surrounding mountains." Another villager complained: "We thought the workers were here to spray pesticides before planting saplings".

According to UK-based British Petroleum's latest marketing campaign, BP no longer stands for British Petroleum but for Beyond Petroleum. The company has installed expensive solar panels on 200 of its 17,000 service stations and launched a barrage of news releases and newspaper, television and “wall” ads asserting its basic corporate message. A building-sized wall along Washington, DC’s New York Avenue boldly proclaims: “Solar, natural gas, hydrogen, wind. And oh yes, oil. It’s a start”. Another tries to get beyond the guffaw test with the line: “We believe in alternative energy. Like solar cappuccino”. The ads on vinyl banners made out of unsaturated hydrocarbon stretch the world’s second largest oil company identity crisis…

I like to imagine fictional characters because it’s a way to imagine others. We should call the Other Mordor like in The Lord of the Rings. The Other is the one who knows what you know, which is a dialectical problem that is kind of hard to deal with.

The Other is the one who has a nice penthouse on the Death Star.

What about Russian dolls. Baboushkas… Form within form within form within form. Every nine months a baboushka gives birth to a scaled down perfect replica of herself! The smallest child is invisible to the naked eye but very shortly it too will give birth. Some of them have to be seen with the aid of a powerful microscope. Form within form. Where will it end?

Or the astounding clockwork man! Once set in motion this cunning automaton runs for seventy-five years simulating the stages of life.

Or the invisible ape boy.

A superhero that exists only when named.

Recent studies have shown that the Earth's magnetic field is rapidly weakening. In the past 150 years, its magnetic strength has diminished by 10 to 15 percent. This deterioration could possibly lead to a reversal of the magnetic poles. Over a period of hundreds of thousands of years, its force will wither away to the point of almost complete disappearance. Today the magnetic field shields the earth from cosmic radiation, and deflects it towards the north and south poles. But as the field dissolves, its structure will change. There will no longer be just two poles, a north and a south, but several different poles all around the earth. In this case cosmic radiation will not just be focused to the north and the south, but to different places all over the world. Eventually, the field will regain its strength and its original structure, but this time the north will be south and the south will be the north. Already, scientists have tracked how the north magnetic pole is drifting from north Canada towards Siberia. During this long reversal process, the aurorae borealis will not just be seen in the low populated areas of the far north and deep south.
The northern lights will be everywhere.
As a result, all over the world people will no longer look into the night sky to see the stars, but rather will see solar wind directly hitting our atmosphere and setting the darkness ablaze with frenetic neon colors.

At that time, will fiction and reality melt and merge like two historic ice poles? 

This question will doubtlessly be our future.