Philosopher and psychologist William James, it is often claimed, first defined the science (fiction) multiverse in 1895 when he said, “Visible nature is all plasticity and indifference, a multiverse, as one might call it, and not a universe” (10). My presentation makes two contributions to his claim, and, for that matter, all later uses of the multiverse in science and science fiction by contending that the multiverse is a much older Sophistic device. I call this the “rhetorical metaverse,” claiming tha...
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...ribe observable reality where science fiction merely describes different realities, but I argue that both are in fact rhetorical metaverses since neither can completely nor accurately describe our observable universe. As a result, the numerous artistic representations creating rhetorical metaverses (i.e. alternative realities, or parallel universes) reciprocally interact with scientific theories. While the multiverse may be traced back to Ancient Greece, or even further back beyond the 5th century, new technologies merely dress this “old trick” in new (predominantly visual) rhetorics that create cinematic representations, like Avatar, or that more generally create embodied psychosocial experiences. I close by claiming that the tension between science and science fiction can be framed in this way in order to address how we separate the multiverse from the universe.
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