Cultivating an Emotional Connection with the Past

“We think too much and feel too little” proclaimed Charlie Chaplin in the now classic The Great Dictator, Chaplin’s first attempt at the talkie. He chose his words wisely, noting a very human dissociation, and a problem faced by many students curious to learn.

Our interest in the past emerges from our most human existential interests – to know who we are, who we were, and what we are ‘like’. These interests drive us to step into the shoes of our ancestors, to understand how they lived, how they felt, how they suffered, thrived, and triumphed. This interest was known early by the ancient Greeks, whose most sacred site was engraved with the simple, yet critical, maxim: ‘KNOW THYSELF’. To know ourselves complexly we must know our collective past, and the emerging avenues offered by virtual reality technology will facilitate this pursuit with groundbreaking efficacy.

The curious student of history can often have their interest stifled in its infancy under dusty tomes, unable to connect what they know about the past with how the past might have felt. Virtual reality enables us to bridge this gap, and quite literally step into the world of the past in a way that is immediately gripping, confronting, and – when done right – emotionally resonant. It is the hope of Lithodomos VR that the technology we are developing will encourage the student, the traveller, or the humanly curious, to feel their past in ways previously inaccessible. The past is open, and the future bright.

Tom Keep