Author’s Letter 1: Reality is Beautiful


Hi, Stacy.

I’m Cathy Tea. I found your profile on the Pen Pal Project site, and when I read that you wanted to write someone who knew that reality is beautiful, I chose you.


Because reality is beautiful.


My current writing project centers around that. Maybe I should say it explores it–I’m not sure if it explores beauty, because beauty simply is. But it explores reality.


For example: what is the reality of my saying, “I’m Cathy Tea?”

It’s real that I say it–or rather, write it. But what of the meaning? I’m a Sim. That’s short for simulation. By definition, a simulation isn’t the “real thing”–it’s a simulated version of it. But I’m a real simulation!


I’m a SimSelf–which means that I’m a simulation of an actual person. But the actual person is not actually Cathy Tea. She’s Cathy T, but lately, she’s not even that. Not even a name, because there comes a time when names don’t really describe the reality of the locus of experience anymore.


I guess you could say we’ve looked into the abyss.

It isn’t frightening. It’s sort of beautiful. Does that make it real?


Stacy, do you think that beauty can exist which isn’t real? Or if something is beautiful, does that mean that it’s also real?


Is there such a thing as not-real? I think not. I think that everything–even the imagined–is real. For the imagined is real for what it is: an imagined something.


What do you think?

I don’t know that writing me will help you see into the minds of other people. Maybe it will help you see into the minds of other SimSelves and our perceptions of our simulated reality.  (I don’t think our perceptions are simulated. I think they are real. But the world that we perceive: that is a real simulation of a real construct designed to represent the real world.)


Blah. This letter is kind of boring, isn’t it? I don’t think I meant to go on writing about SimSelves and reality and constructs and simulations.

I actually wanted to write about “the self”–the notion that there even is a self, and how a SimSelf might tie into that and what stories about SimSelves might reveal about the forging of identity–or a sense of self–through the intersect of game and writing.


Oh. My internal critic just kicked in at the phrase “intersect of game and writing.” Does that ever happen to you? I just imagined members of the SimLit community reading this and scoffing. You know, like what are we even doing talking about Sims and reality and the nature of simulation and selves? And why use the word intersect?


I actually really like the word “intersect”–so what if it’s a Latinate? I love Latinates.

Your profile–that photo of the crosswalk where you talk about structure–that reminds of me “intersect,” for, of course, literally, it’s an intersection, but it’s also an intersect: a possible crossover from your mind to mine.

I wonder if other SimSelves have internal critics.

I don’t mind when mine chimes in because it tends to awaken my internal rebel, and then I feel emboldened to write whatever/however and to sort of stick out my tongue and give a big juicy simulated raspberry to the world (which, actually, thanks to the Parenthood pack, I can now do!).


You say you’re interested in writing to someone who knows loneliness. I do. In many incarnations, I have the loner trait.


Curiously, in the story I’m writing, the narrator, who is also named Cathy Tea, but who isn’t exactly me, does not seem to know loneliness. This is strange to me because the story is set in a post-apocalyptic world, or rather, post-climate-change world. The polar caps have melted, though the narrator does not know this.

The curious part is that she makes quick friends with the inhabitants of the world of her story.  I hadn’t intended this to be part of the story, but it’s what is happening in the game. Everyone is friendly.


Have you heard of the Schumann resonance? In the story, I am imagining that the Schumann resonance is around 140-something Hz. About the resonance of the C below middle C. That’s quite high. The Schumann resonance is something that is quite real–it exists in the world you live in. It only exists in the world of my story through my imagination. Does it exist in my world? Well, I suppose it must, since my world exists on a computer in your world, and so the increase in magnetism that happens in your world happens, too, to the computer on which my simulated world exists.

We all beat a little faster.


Anyway, the Schumann resonance offers a good explanation for the increase in friendliness in this story: when our minds reverberate to that higher hum, we move into gamma brainwaves. Look what I just read: “Gamma was dismissed as ‘spare brain noise’ until researchers discovered it was highly active when in states of universal love, altruism, and the ‘higher virtues'” (What are Brainwaves). I guess an increase in Schumann resonance could result in friendlier people.

In my story, the people are not Sims–they are people. But my story is not mean to be reality or even a simulation of reality. It’s meant to be an invention. It’s speculative fiction.


What are you writing these days?

What are you reading?

I write as if I’ve known you forever–but isn’t that a pen pal’s privilege, to dive into immediate intimacy? There’s something cozy about the shared solitude of a letter. I write alone. You read alone. And yet our words connect us. Our words are the crosswalk–the intersect of you and me.


I’d love to know how you see reality. Will you describe it for me, or at least a moment in the shifting slide of it?

I’m not good at socializing either. I seem to lack the patience for the usual etiquette of social conventions. I’ve been told that I say things that make other people feel uncomfortable. Too much, too soon. “Don’t lead with the insights about music being the nature of reality,” the infamous adviser told me. Baloney. Lead with beauty and reality, and if a friend has the mettle it takes to be a friend, that’s what will let her stick!


But I feel respect for everyone–even those people I don’t respect, I respect. I respect the electrical pulses at the core of their being. I respect consciousness, even when it hasn’t yet begun to notice itself. For it will. That’s it’s nature, and it doesn’t matter to me where one is on the line of time that stretches from the first pop to the last explosion.


Well, this letter is unedited me–a moment of me.

At least it’s a look inside my mind–or is it my simulation of a mind?

At any rate, here it is.

I hope you will write back, Stacy.

I feel eager to get to know you!

With curiosity,


p.s. I forgot to even ask: Will you choose me in return?


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