The Metaverse

In his famous 1936 essay “The work of art in the age of its technical reproducibility”, Walter Benjamin analyzes the loss of ritual value of works of art in the face of mass reproduction. The aesthetic experience, for him, deepens in the presence of the unique, the unrepeatable, that which transcends everyday life in a desire to remain. Art is thus a small moment of eternity. The massive reproduction of the work of art strips it of the aura of that which is unique to transform it into a simple consumer object. The attitude of our society towards mass-reproduced works of art goes beyond the aesthetic sphere to be incorporated into human consciousness as an inability to identify what is unrepeatable. We have become so unique and authentic that we are all the same.

Photography and film, audio and video recordings, store and reproduce our image and our voice, but in a twist to Benjamin’s ideas, Adolfo Bioy Casares in “The Invention of Morel” from 1940, imagines a series of receiving, storing and reproducing machines of everything that can be captured with the human senses. Morel’s reproductions are three-dimensional images, sounds that accompany the image as it moves through space, sharp smells and flavors that make it impossible to distinguish the woman from her artificial reproduction, equally smooth to the most feverish touch. Morel not only deprives us of the ability to distinguish the unique and unrepeatable, but by reproducing all the manifestations of our presence in the world, it also deprives us of ourselves. Bioy Casares characters have corporeity but they reproduce cyclically the same week that Morel captured them in his invention. It is possible that their very consciousness has also been reduced to a small storage space in Morel’s infernal machine.

In what I think is an approach to the fiction of Bioy Casares, Mark Zuckerberg recently announced his Metaverse project, conceived as a fusion between real and digital life, in which each user will have an Avatar with the same factions and that will repeat your movements and gestures in real time. Access to the Metaverse will be through glasses and a bracelet that will also project holographic images in three dimensions with which it will be possible to interact in the real world (or the one that we still consider real). The Metaverse will allow you to work, entertain yourself, shop, read, write, meet with friends or fight with monsters and villains from infinite universes, or, if you prefer, be that monster or that villain, all without having to leave your house or not even move from that armchair in which he is sitting since his life is stored in servers protected with the highest technology.

With fine irony, the name Metaverso refers to the 1992 cyberpunk novel “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson, in which gigantic private companies have replaced government at multiple levels, both geographically and by activity, including those that up to the today we continue to consider essentials of a state. The word Avatar also comes from this novel to designate the character that represents the user in the virtual world.

I share the concerns and concerns of Benjamin and Bioy Casares about the depersonalization of the individual and our isolation from the great foundational myths, and although I do not hope to live it or be part of that world, it seems to me that it is impossible to contain and it will be necessary to find spaces to the simple and warm human coexistence around the fire of a bonfire before returning to the Matrix.


Gerardo Soria

President of IDET


Lawyer specialized in regulated sectors. President of the Telecommunications Law Institute (IDET). Doctoral student in modern letters at the UIA.

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