Does Anything Exist?

Matt Nagin
6 min readNov 25, 2023

Descartes, Sense-Perception, The Matrix, A.I., and The Nature Of Reality

The other night I awoke from a dream and heard certain definitive sounds. Keep in mind, I’m entirely copaceptic. Or, at least as much so as anyone else I know. Keep in mind, too, I’m living in Alabama, temporarily, in a complex so quiet that you can go days without hearing a sound.

I live alone. So there is no other possible sound of the source except a neighbor, I presume. Only the sound was coming from inside my apartment, from the kitchen or main room.

I heard silverware being put away, a buzzing noise, some kind of bang. Usually, if you tell someone this, they say it is the building shifting (only this is a new building). Or the heating system clicking on (but that’s not a sound that heating system makes). Or any other number of explanations.

There are always ‘explanations.’ Or, perhaps more accurately, ways to explain these matters away. I heard what I heard. I opened the door to the bedroom, which I keep locked at night, and found nothing there. Then I tried to go back to sleep and it happened again.

Maybe it’s ghosts, some will say. Not personally a fan. Ghosts don’t read my books (real people don’t either, it seems, but that’s another story). Anything is possible, of course, but my best guess is that my brain created the noise.

The brain can do that. When they put people in a sensory deprivation tank, they find that, after a few days, they start hearing noises, hallucinating, maybe having long conversations with long lost Aunt Bubble, maybe arguing with a dead ex-girlfriend about who was the selfish one.

A study in Biomed Research International, actually goes so far as to suggest sensory deprivation produces full-on psychotic experiences (just reading about it can make you a bit psychotic in itself, but that’s another story). What is more, when subjects were on PCP while in the sensory deprivation tank, they had a lower incidence of hallucinations and abberant psychic phenomena. Now, personally, I find that totally weird. Who would have thought ingesting PCP, in any context, might make you more normal?

But if the brain can create noises — if you can hear and see what is not there — objectively — then what is the actual nature of reality? Is any ‘there’ there? Or are all noises, all experiences, not just filtered through our brain but actually invented? Again, I suggest the latter, but to explore…

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Matt Nagin

Matt Nagin is a writer, comedian, actor, and educator. His latest book, “Do Not Feed The Clown,” is available on Amazon. More at mattnagin.com.