The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

Augmenting reality is weirder than it seems to sound


I didn’t get the memo, but apparently the world needs augmented reality.

That’s what’s behind the huge and sudden craze over the game called Pokemon Go. Augmented reality explains the editorial cartoon just to the right of this column, in case you’ve just come out of a coma and don’t know: Pokemon Go is a game that uses the cute little cartoonish figures from the Pokemon game in the late 1990s and places them, through your mobile device, onto actual locations in the actual world around you. The technology that does it is called augmented reality. Players have to chase after the figures and “catch” them with their phones. It’s changing everything. Just yesterday the State Patrol reported its first Pokemon Go-caused collision, when a driver playing the game rear ended the stopped car in front of him. And the game’s only been out a few weeks.

One trembles at its power. For example, how will one know the difference between a Pokemon figure and Donald Trump? Especially given the “reality” of life he’s augmented for himself? But let’s be fair: reports are coming in that Hillary has been spotted on phones in prison cells. (The tragedy of this election is that one of the candidates is going to win.)

There are so many terms for reality today. There’s the real reality, if anyone can still find it. You’ve got virtual reality, which sounds redundant and a little oxymoronic. There’s augmented reality; for musicians, it makes you wonder if there is a diminished reality. There are reports even of a false reality, populated by weird and manic denizens who twist all evidence of the actual into sinister devices of their own making. You know, like Democrats. (OK, not your rank-and-file Democrats, just the ones who get elected.)

It’s an increasingly weird world out there. It reminds one of the scene in the 1936 “Dracula” movie where two grave diggers are talking with each other; one says, “Everyone in the world is crazy except for you and me. And sometimes I wonder about you.”

So let’s bring this conversation home. Klickitat County has its own kind of augmented reality, in the sense that it has a calm and peacefulness that doesn’t occur naturally among a lot of the 7-plus million people who live in Washington State. It doesn’t require mobile devices unless you count horses. It just sits there. Like in Robert Frost’s shortest poem:

We dance round in a ring and suppose

But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.


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