Through 12 chapters of his book, RIGHT BACK AT YOU: Being Human in a Simulated Universe, author Steve O’Grady delves into how our brains act as virtual reality simulators that generate a model inside our minds. Although this simulation is what we call reality, O’Grady uses various means to prove this simulation is an illusion. His catchphrase—too often repeated verbatim and slightly altered throughout the book—is “What a huge number of things in such a small space; and what a huge space in such a small thing.” This description applies to video games, books, computers, smart phones, and countless other items in our everyday lives.
Curious cases of mis-perception concern the book itself. The front cover is sky blue with colorful cartoon depictions linked to perception. The typeface, unfortunately in hard-to-read all capital letters, looks like playful simulated handwriting and appears on the back cover also. This whimsical exterior belies the deep thinking and seriousness of the subject matter within, although the tone of the book is not dark or heavy. Likewise, if readers were flipping through chapter headings, they would never guess based on the serious title of Chapter 6, “Split Personalities-painting a different picture,” that the chapter focuses on superheroes and villains of popular comic books and movies.
Chapters explore subjects including “the universal Turing machine” that can imitate any other machine, the relationship of sleeping and dreaming to reality, the poetry of art, cave paintings, ghosts and death, and understanding mental illness. Sometimes the subjects can be difficult to grasp and words may lean toward the technical, but the author does a great job explaining what he means using multiple examples that don’t condescend to his readers. In fact, the book reads like one highly intelligent friend confiding what he knows to another highly intelligent friend.
RIGHT BACK AT YOU should be read slowly and carefully, with an open mind to a new way of looking at life. O’Grady writes: “The greatest thing about an illusion which is performed on a stage is when it fools us with the greatest authenticity…We must applaud our own simulation with similar sincerity. We can only achieve this, however, by accepting that we are watching an illusion show in the theatre of our minds.” Get ready to explore the grand illusion.
RIGHT BACK AT YOU: Being Human in a Simulated Universe is a thought-provoking, eye-opening and mind-bending look at how the brain makes sense (or fails to make sense) of what we see and what we experience, using examples from art, literature, and the world of entertainment.
~Carol Michaels for IndieReader