Holding the questions and loving the questions. If you are faithful to questions, will they be faithful back. FItfully? Are we, as Rilke wrote, “Two solitudes that border and protect each other.”
Tom Uttech (American, b. 1942) paints imaginary woodland scenes that celebrate the verdant natural world he has been closely acquainted with since his childhood in Merrill, Wisconsin.
We who are alive now are witnessing something that has never happened before … you don’t want to die without knowing how beautiful this is. Yes, there is bad. Yes, there is evil. Beyond comprehension – the daily pain of existing in the world. And yet. There is beauty. Rivers, mountains, forests, lupines, bees and birds.
“See, I live. On what? Childhood and future are equally present. Sheer abundance of being floods my heart.” (from, Letters to a Young Poet. Rilke. A New Translation and Commentary).
Imagine my surprise finding this spot in SL. Like stepping into one of Uttech’s paintings and being able to wander around. Summer Quest @ Four Bridges (Four Bridges, rated Moderate) – is an incredible build – see Inara Pey’s detailed review here.
There is a journal called Appetite which describes itself as ….an international research journal specializing in cultural, social, psychological, sensory and physiological influences on the selection and intake of foods and drinks. It covers normal and disordered eating and drinking and welcomes studies of both human and non-human animal behaviour toward food.
I wonder what they would make of the amount of attention paid to eating and drinking in a virtual world?
Food is everywhere in SL. As are places to find it – kitchens, bakeries, coffee shops, street vendors, hot dog stands (I guess that counts as a street vendor) Dining room sets that allow you to sit alone or with others and chat over elaborate tableware and delicious looking dishes. Plates of cookies and candies that are set out on coffee and cafe tables.
In a study released in the May/June 2013 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (May/June 2013), investigators (who are these “investigators”?) from The University of Kansas Medical Center explored alternative weight management delivery methods. The solution they are investigating — virtual reality for weight loss and weight maintenance. They were doing this in SL. One intriguing observation, “Individuals who want to participate in real-life scenarios without real-life repercussions can use virtual reality.” Maybe. If it works – more power to them.
Back to the dining room sets – one of the most beautiful I have seen of late comes from Apple Fall. It’s called the Anashara Dining Set. Look at the richness of the design and the detail of the different elements that come with it. Stunning.
One of the best things about being around a table are the things that happen there. I like my tables to have a patina of use. The scratches, knicks, burns and bruises that remind me of the life that has been lived around them. Like to Harjo poem below.
Yes I know – I’m a slacker when it comes to keeping up on blogs. I was going to say this one especially – but that isn’t true. Since it’s coming up on a year with no posts – I figured that I better get on the ball here, lest you think Lanne Wise is no longer around.
She is – but often wandering or shopping late at night. And she is hanging out with animals. A new jack russell puppy in RL, and a variety of deer, sheep, puppies, foxes, cats, horses, eagles and songbirds in SL. Oh – and a gecko. We can’t forget the gecko.
The American Veterinary Association says, “The human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors essential to the health and well being of both. This includes, among other things, emotional, psychological, and physical interactions of people, animals, and the environment.”
As with many other things I realize as I wander about the grid – my pleasure in coming across animals is always satisfying. Sometimes they speak to me – which is even better. Recently I had a long conversation with this dog at alirium. We talked about the beauty of the area, what it was like to be a dog (who was actually wearing a police jacket) on patrol and the beauty of alirium. I asked if they would pose for some images this was readily agreed to. Noble, right?
On another note – I am currently having an exhibit of my images at the Flossify Gallery in Second Life. Wonderfully curated by Joss Floss, there is also an interview which you can find here. I am grateful for the positive attention – and everyone kind enough to show up at the opening.
She had horses who danced in their mothers’ arms.
She had horses who thought they were the sun and their bodies shone
and burned like stars.
She had horses who waltzed nightly on the moon.
She had horses who were much too shy, and kept quiet
in stalls of their own making.
She had some horses.
from… She Had Some Horses, Joy Harjo
I did not grow up with horses, much to my chagrin. I grew up in Detroit – where cars and freeways populated the landscape. But I wanted to ride horses. Of course I didn’t – not until much later. Early on I dreamt about them, drew them, collected Breyer horse models. There wasn’t the money or the inclination on the part of my parents to make my horse dreams happen. Later on, when I did have the opportunities to ride – I loved it. But it was never often enough for me to feel like I knew what I was doing. If the horse I was riding decided to turn around and bolt back to the barn, I was helpless to do much.
So imagine my delight when a friend introduced me to a beautiful breed of horse in SL, the work of
Zed Avedon at Realistek. I can ride them alone – or with someone else. I can race them all over the sim. They are always there for you to come and ride too.
By identifying with these dynamic, strong animals, Orenstein says, girls are expressing their own power.
“They’re all active, they’re all sources of power and motion and transformation,” she says.
Laurel Braitman, an MIT graduate student in the history of science who writes about animals and what we think about them, says girls’ fascination with these animals is more than power — the animals fuel girls’ imaginations.
“Horses and dolphins and unicorns — these are all borderland creatures; gateway animals to other worlds,” she says. “They help us imagine wonderful other ways of being in the world. They let us be cowgirls and oceanographers and mermaids and princesses.” Peggy Orenstein
Horses from the Breyer collection.
The comings and goings of people in SL is interesting to say the least. Because time is so out of wack, relationships can be intense and fleeting, or spill over into other parts of other lives. I spent a night in London with Boots – a SL friend who used to gallery hop in-world with me when I couldn’t sleep. He took me to an underground (literally) bar that looked like Elvis Presley’s living room. It made me laugh out loud all night. We drank whiskey and did card tricks – and talked and talked and talked. He delivered me back to where I was staying as the sun was rising, in one of those big black taxis. I wouldn’t want to meet everyone I know in SL on this side of the screen. But I don’t regret any of the meetings I’ve been lucky enough to have.
There’ve been quite a few reunions of late. Recently, old friends reconvened for a full day of music. Thanks to Sage Sautereau’s organizational skills; DJ Extrodinaire’s Mach V, 2ndThoughtsBrando, Briddy Boucher, Transient Zeluco (to name a few) provided live sets. (click their names to link to their sets) Panning the room – global representation with Una Gackt, Nur Moo, Karizmah Avro, Dave Attenborough along with Morgan Kincess. These are all folks I see rarely, always feel happier when I do. Pixel dancing and laughing together in that way you only can with people you have spent multiple hours pixel dancing and laughing with.
Also reconnected with Miel Nirvana as well. Miel has had a line of clothing in SL for quite a while. I have a closet full of his clothes that I can no longer wear – and it bugs me to no end. After a hiatus he as back – with a store here and on the marketplace here.
For creators who leave and come back, I suspect the changes that are ongoing in terms of fashion and technology can be daunting. Miel sent over a pair of updated Miel Dandy Boots. and as all of his work – they are both attractive and fun. Plus (coming full circle) they are great for riding horses.
In a NYTimes column called The Ethicist … someone asks about putting medications into a family members food, because he will not take meds otherwise. Applah writes,
“One consideration among many is to avoid “Suddenly, Last Summer” scenarios, where a troublesome family member might be subjected to treatment by kin with complicated motives. Out of justified caution, we now err on the side of putative autonomy, and the heartbreaking story of your damaged brother is a result; when we erred on the side of putative beneficence, other heartbreaking stories resulted. I don’t say that we’ve got the balance right. But the perennial clash between these two ideals can never be perfectly resolved.”
Applah, Kwame A. “The Ethicist.” New York Times, 16 Oct. 2018, (here)
I had to look up the word putative. (Something commonly thought to be true.)
Seen on a profile in SL…I apologize for not knowing the source, but I include it here because I know it to be true as well (putative)
SL Transcendent I have known 70 year-olds who can have raunchy sex with 20 year-olds… I have known persons paralyzed in RL who dance in SL… The Deaf communicate unhindered with everybody around them… I have known famous people who cannot interact with ordinary people because their RL fame clouds the perceptions of others… but in SL they can build friendship. People of unremarkable appearance can have remarkable beauty… persons of great RL beauty can play plain janes. Two persons can fall in love when oceans separate them. Men play as women… women as men… People play the parts of animals and monsters and robots made of cardboard…
SL Transcends… Judge not those you meet by their appearance for it is all ephemeral. Judge them by how they treat you. In SL you must learn to see their hearts.
Yet paradoxically… appearance reveals so much… since we have such easy control over it… Consider… what is that person trying to project about themself through the appearance of their avatar?
This past year nothing is stranger than anything else. So the fact that I can feel comfort from hanging out here while so isolated is not as strange to others as it might have been. Or maybe it is just so familiar now, I don’t care. Sometimes, just being isolated in another place…..on a mountain top or a beach or in the middle of the woods…is enough of an escape. And if you can do it with a friend – even better. I spent two hours this afternoon listening to music and dancing with people I have known in SL for over a decade. There was uniform agreement that it was a comfort.
“Praised be the fathomless universe, for life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious,” Walt Whitman wrote as he stood discomposed and delirious before a universe filled with “forms, qualities, lives, humanity, language, thoughts, the ones known, and the ones unknown, the ones on the stars, the stars themselves, some shaped, others unshaped.”
If nothing is lost, if everything is just waiting for us to want it enough…would that help to explain the universe? Would it help to explain us? Even after a few nights, starry outside on this side of the screen, laying naked on a beach raft with you in this other life. Blind to the future, but happy. Right? Wrong? Does it matter?
We thought the earth was flat and that it was the still centre of our world. That the universe was small, and unchanging. We believed that we were a breed apart, without kinship to the other animals. We have learned of the existence of quarks, black holes, particles of light, waves of space, and of the extraordinary molecular structures in every cell of our bodies.
The human race is like a growing child who discovers with amazement that the world consists not just of their bedroom and playground, but that it is vast, and that there are a thousand things to discover, and innumerable ideas quite different from those with which they began. The universe is multiform and boundless, and we continue to stumble upon new aspects of it. The more we learn, the more we are amazed by the world’s variety. Carlo Rovelli
“Somewhere someone is thinking of you. Someone is calling you an angel. This person is using celestial colors to paint your image. Someone is making you into a vision so beautiful that it can only live in the mind. Someone is thinking of the way your breath escapes your lips when you are touched. How your eyes close and your jaw tightens with concentration as you give pleasure a home. These thoughts are saving a life somewhere right now. In some airless apartment on a dark, urine stained, whore lined street, someone is calling out to you silently and you are answering without even being there. So crystalline. So pure. Such life saving power when you smile. You will never know how you have cauterized my wounds. So sad that we will never touch. How it hurts me to know that I will never be able to give you everything I have” ― Henry Rollins
“Still, the image haunted his dreams throughout the night: a lovely girl gazing at the stars, and the stars who gazed back.” Sarah J. Maas,
What would we do, you and I, if we could know for sure. When there are stars in our eyes looking at each other and we feel it – really feel it – it’s a heady thing. That summer night up north. I thought, “I may not know everything about what you need to know. In fact, I am pretty sure that I don’t. But I do know some things – even some things that will help you to learn what you need to know. And that I will strive to do.”
It is such a clear, dark night here. There are so many meteors streaking across the sky that it is making me weep. The milky way flows like a silken river overhead and the big dipper, the drinking gourd, is as bright and clear as any traveler could ever want. The irony isn’t lost on me – simultaneously contemplating the stars and the universe (so huge) and the state of my heart (so small).
“I write books,” you tell me. “I make books,” I say in response. And the electricity crackling between the two of us makes the small hairs on my arms stand on end.
“A smell can be overwhelmingly nostalgic because it triggers powerful images and emotions before we have time to edit them… When we give perfume to someone, we give them liquid memory. Kipling was right: “Smells are surer than sights and sounds to make your heart-strings crack.” D. Ackerman
Spending more time in the garden and on the lakefront on THIS side of the screen these days. In part because of the smells. The sense that is most elusive in SL – although it is often referenced.
I live on the edges of a great lake (the Great Lakes – I move regularly between three of the five). The smells of Spring and Summer are waited for all winter – and it’s a long winter. So when the fragrance of lilacs comes through the window for the first time, it knocks me off my feet. Later it will be the scent of mint, or lilies, the warm earth….or the smell of the Lake itself.
When I first arrived in SL (2007), most of my activities were within the education sims. This was a heady time for academics in-world, who were just beginning to see the possibilities unfolding for using virtual platforms as educational tools. Some of the things they envisioned and wrote about have met and exceeded their expectations. Others are “in-process” and still others just sound silly.
The following is from a longer article I found in a folder. I clipped it – but I can’t find the author or a link back to the larger piece – for that I apologize. Still it is indicative of the kind of thinking that was going on at the time.
Second Life is distance education 2.0. Development of MUVEs will take distance education to new heights over the next decade. In-world educational events will be the primary source for distance education. There will also be many more “worlds” to explore. Second Life, or what supersedes it, will be very different than today. People will be residents of multiple worlds, and all those worlds will be connected together, similar to the way hyperlinks take us from website to website today in the flat world. Advances in technology will allow us to not only see and hear things in Second Life, but also to feel and smell things, too, that we may never come in contact with in the real world, because the expense or time commitment involved. One intriguing question is: how can educators present problem-solving in an environment without realistic consequences. One answer, and major advantage, is that is one of the major goals of any simulation, in Second Life or elsewhere.
But – then I discovered house music. And all bets were off. Most of the educators affiliated with specific institutions have their own platforms now – and they aren’t easily visited. The idea of hopping between grids is still in it’s infancy.
I am still intrigued by the idea of smell in SL. As Ackerman writes below – language is rarely able to create the sense of smell. Still, I keep finding myself putting myself in situations where lovely smells would waft through the breeze of my memory.
The charm of language is that, though it is human-made, it can on rare occasions capture emotions and sensations that aren’t. But the physiological links between the smell and language centers of the brain are pitifully weak. Not so the links between the smell and the memory centers, a route that carries us nimbly across time and distance. Diane Ackerman
“Winter is a lesson about the fine art of loss and growth. Its lesson is clear: There is only one way out of struggle, and that is by going into the darkness, waiting for the light, and being open to new growth.” Joan Chittister
The grid is full of wonderlands all the time – but it is those that pop up during this winter season that seem particularly wonder-full to me. I hop from one to another wandering about, taking images, and always learning something new.
Winter, as the darkest time of the year for those of us in the northern hemisphere, is also a time of transformation.
Nights passed by, snowfalls and solstices; time passed in minutes and millennia. Eugenio Montejo
There is a beauty in the gently falling snow. All quiet – all equal. The alley is beautiful, the woods are beautiful, the ruts in the road are beautiful…and silent. Sound is muffled, the crunches of tires moving slowly down a street, or the soft whoooosh of a small accumulation of snow falling to the ground from a branch.
Here are two of my favorite places for Winter reflection. I am fans of both.
Winter is a season of intimacy and reflection – we can stay inside, look inside. Artist Andrew Wyeth said, “I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape—the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.” Reminds me of the SL work (most long gone) by AM RADIO, especially The Space Between These Trees. Or The Quiet, as taken by noob photographer – me.
AM Radio’s The Quiet
Gazing at the frozen world outside it’s easy to believe everything is dead. But the trees are dormant, not dead. Sap is stored in roots and will rise again in spring. Bulbs, seeds and other creatures buried or hibernating beneath the snow will sprout or spring up before we know it. Winter is the season of hope. You have hope in your heart for what is to follow, despite the cold and the dark outside.
Bebu has a side that is warm and a side that is a blizzard. (I couldn’t decide.) Well I could and I did – but that is a story for another post. Yesterday I was sitting in the middle of the blizzard next to a Mistero Hifeng sculpture. The weather out the windows on this side of the screen was the same – a dramatic snowfall being blown about by the wind. A certain kind of dizziness from looking back and forth from one to another made me laugh. If you know Hifeng’s work, parts of it sometimes look as if it is blowing apart into particles. This was blending right into the snow blustering around it – looking wonderful. I invite you to come and take a look, and I apologize for the long gaps between posts.
I have been enjoying music in SL for over 10 years. The people I’ve met and the music they’ve shared with me is overwhelming some days. I’m eternally grateful for it. Live music, club music – genres that vary….they are all there. Some of the best don’t come in-world anymore – but I have their productions and sets to listen to when I like – which is often.
As someone who has owned a club of some sort or another for most of those years – either with business partners or alone, I’ve spent a fair amount of time musing over the nature of those places. Virtual or not, they (along with the music) set a mood, make up part of the vibe of a place.
Another thing that’s interesting: the different ways that people plug into these places. Same as anywhere else I suppose. My friend Karizmah Avro built Enigma 1 & 2. The first I was co-owner of – the second I had nothing to do with. Court Goodman built Terra Lounge and Terra Gallery. One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. The days when Una Gacht and Court and I lived on that homestead were good ones.
But Bebu (the first place I ever was a part of) was resurrected after that – and it is where I have centered myself for the past few years. The music ebbs and flows depending on what is happening on this side of the screen. Recently there has been a hiatus – down to monthly gigs. But the gallery is up and running and the area is being continually refurbished to get it to a point where people would actually want to come and spend time wandering there.
Everytime I pull down and rebuld Bebu, some things stay the same and some things change. The original sign is a given. For all the hilarity it has caused over the years – a deck of some sort is generally a part of it. Mixers and turntables have changed – but the turntables I have now were given to me by my good friend Ugen Beck. His are beautifully detailed, functional, have labels that change and turn on and off. I love them.
Ugen’s work is speaks to a level of design in SL that is worth seeing. There is a detailing, craft and concern for the aesthetic of a small thing. I am glad to know him. I am pleased to have his work as a part of what I do in SL.