They call it “Teeter,” and it’s just one of the many things that makes my new Eris Droid (not Motorola – it didn’t look as much like an iPhone), one of the coolest gadgets I’ve gotten my hands on in a while.
I did NOT receive it for Chanukah, if you’re wondering. I received it for going to the Verizon store more frequently than I checked my email a couple weeks ago. You see, my last touchscreen phone (I’ve had not-so-secret-iPhone-envy for a while now, but refuse to get AT&T) kept breaking – three times in two weeks, to be exact – so in an effort to placate me, Verizon upgraded me to a Droid.
Now back to “Teeter,” if anyone is still following all the twists and turns of this oh-so-riveting account of a cell phone game. That’s right, people – all this fuss for a cell phone game. But Teeter is not just any cell phone game. It is packed with deep philosophical implications for those trained in the art of finding deep philosophical implications in just about anything. (That would be me.)
I had originally thought Teeter was a knock-off of twitter, which the world certainly does not need two of, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually a highly addictive game that could come with me wherever I go.
In the game of Teeter, a ball in a maze appears on the screen. The object of the game is to roll the ball through the maze without letting it “fall” into any of the “holes” that are situated throughout it.
You’ve probably played games like this with actual metal balls housed inside plastic compartments, covered by clear plastic viewers, but what makes Teeter so cool is that while none of it is really there, it looks, sounds, and even feels like it is. Not only do you “see” and “hear” a 3D metal ball rolling around with a shadow that accurately follows it, you “feel” the weight of the ball as it rolls throughout the maze and the impact it makes when it hits a wall. (I’m quite sure that Google has secretly hired wizards to make this all possible.)
Now why is this so exciting to me (not considering the possibility that I might just need to get a life)? Because it got me thinking about “veils of reality.” The Droid has me convinced that the ball is actually there, because I see, feel, and hear it, but this world also has me convinced that it’s actually here because I see, feel, hear, and sometimes smell and taste it. (Imagine a cellphone game you could smell and taste…hmmmm…)
But what if none of it (life) is actually here? What if actual reality is being “veiled” by our various senses, and nothing is actually as it seems? (If this is starting to sound Matrix-esque, it is not a coicidence. Many of the ideas in that movie are very much in line with Jewish thought.)
Although I didn’t get my Droid for Chanukah, the issues raised by its game reminded me of a famous question the Talmud asks about the holiday — Why do we celebrate Chanukah for eight days and nights? The oil burned for eight days and nights, but it was supposed to last for one day. Only the additional seven days were miraculous. Shouldn’t we just be celebrating a seven day Chanukah?
One answer that’s given is that if you think about it, whenever oil burns it’s a miracle. It’s just that when we experience miracles over and over again, we call them “nature” because we’re used to them. For some people, believing in miracles is a rational stretch they’re not comfortable making. But when we realize, that the world as we know it could be nothing more than an illusion, requiring its own “faith” to accept, believing in miracles outside of nature seems less farfetched.
And speaking of miracles, maybe one day Verizon will get the iPhone that I openly long for, and I could have a beautiful, sleek, ap-filled touchscreen phone supported by “the nation’s most reliable network.” It would be wonderful, marverlous… nah — it could never happen!