Virtual worlds, travel, and the picturesque garden

Philosophy and Geography 5 (1):83 – 99 (2002)
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Debate concerning virtual reality is often drawn in terms of sharply defined dichotomies--for example, between "real" (or "actual") and "virtual," "authentic" and "inauthentic," and "natural" and "artificial." In this paper we offer an alternative approach by suggesting a conception of a virtual world that highlights a continuity and commonality with our sense of everyday reality. We accomplish this in part by an examination of the English picturesque garden as if it were a virtual world partially constructed out of ideas and objects collected during travels to foreign lands on the Grand Tour. Such foreign travel transformed not only the English person's sense of self, but also altered the English landscape. We conclude that in one sense the "real" England is also a "virtual" reality.



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