3 February 2017: Pygmalion’s Spectacles

Artist’s Name: Stanley G. Weinbaum
Artist’s Bio: Stanley G. Weinbaum was an author of primarily science fiction short stories. His most popular and influential work is “A Martian Odyssey” and though his life was cut short from lung cancer, he was a prolific author and made a large mark on the science fiction community. His background in university was chemical engineering before he switched to English.
Name of Artwork or Topic: “Pygmalion’s Spectacles”
Date of Artwork, Article Publication or Topic: 1935
Describe Artwork, Article or Topic: “Pygmalion’s Spectacles” is a short story that imagines a virtual world filled with the lovely, lush landscapes of Paracosma and the dreamlike characters of Galatea and Leucon, the Grey Weaver.
Opinion of Artwork, Article or Topic:
“Pygmalion’s Spectacles” is one of those stories that I can’t help but enjoy. Though I felt that the character Galatea did not have a lot of substance as just the idealized woman of Dan’s dreams, I did fall for the rich world of Paracosma as it reminded me of my own dreams as a child. As Weinbaum imagines a technology at least three decades before its appearance in universities as research, the full effects of the spectacles are still far off. Virtual reality as we have now – with technologies such as the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive – is quite immersive and our human mind’s can’t completely overcome the immersion that comes with the head-mounted displays. Motion sickness is not uncommon for users of VR, meanwhile if I jump in a homemade high-ropes course and fall, my heart drops as if I were actually falling though I know its an “unreal” experience. As for “Pygmalion’s Spectacles” as the story itself, I feel as a woman objectified. I, in attempting to enter the virtual world the story evokes, do not fill the shoes of Dan Burke because as soon as he falls into Paracosma, I no longer identify with him as a character. I get lost in Paracosma just as he does, but I cannot help but see through his eyes and feel blinded by the artificial beauty that is Galatea.
Links (to article or topics):
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_G._Weinbaum
http://www.sffaudio.com/librivox-pygmalions-spectacles-by-stanley-g-weinbaum/ (photo credit)

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