Re: [-empyre-] the Times and SL

On Aug 17, 2007, at 12:54 PM, james wrote:

I do not know how extensive your use of Second Life is, but it sounds from your previous posts as though you were involved much earlier than I was. I am given over to a curiosity about why you seem so down on it.

G.H. comments:

I live in New York City. One of the most incredible social spaces in the world. If I want to meet people or have new experiences I walk out on the street. I don't need an artificially constructed media space to do this. My experience with SL is that the amount of effort it takes to get oriented, understand how to move about and communicate in the SL world is not worth what you obtain. The truth of the matter is that all media replaces or deadens a part of the human physiology and psyche. McCluhan had posited that in the 1960's. It is an extension of the notion of the original alienation of a worker from their labor in Marx's Das Kapital and was further iterated in the 1960's by Guy Debord in his Society of the Spectacle. If you trace the development of SL you will see that it is very close to the notion of The Matrix movies. I find that truly frightening. I also find it amusing that people in SL think the Postmaster's gallery show of the 14 most beautiful Avatars was somehow important and verified the importance of SL. Indeed, that particular show was a very wry comment on the private obsessions of people involved in virtual worlds. It was the closest thing I've seen to a serious critique. Losing touch with reality or creating another reality is not something I aspire to. Or let me put it another way, I am an artist, I disagree with the engineers notion of art and creativity. When you allow an engineer to dictate how you are creative and what form that takes than you have given up your artistic freedom. This is the case in SL.

In SL there is the question of the cartoon and mask as a stand in for the archetypes of the human subconscious. On a certain level that is interesting but the playing out of archetypes in an artificially constructed space defeats the power of the symbol. This is because raising an archetype is one of the most powerful modes of expression and communication. There is a schizophrenia between the total dominance of the public sphere by corporate interests and the split of the public social and archetypal space into a virtual world. This is very bad. It is an expression of powerlessness and a concurrent move to balance the split. That may be the core emotion that I find most distateful and depressing in SL. It is a sense of powerlessness. Or perhaps it is the illusion that you are somehow controlling your persona/archetype/body/space in SL.

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