DemosNews: Re: Do You Have a Second Life?
Re: Do You Have a Second Life?
By: Anita Spertus

Some forty years ago I remember my brother telling me about a Disney exhibit he’d visited called Carousel of Progress. I think it was sponsored by General Electric to celebrate the glory of electricity. The entire auditorium rotated as the audience sat, revealing six or seven successive tableaux. The first perhaps depicted a farmer swinging a huge axe while his wife churned, another an early refrigerator or gramps straining to hear the new crystal set pressed to his ear. Surely there was a record player in the parlor of one scene, the first home televisions, a vacuum cleaner. The last glimpsed the future: a modern couple seated in leisure clothes at home, perhaps pushing a button for instantly readied food. The exact details have become fuzzy for me now, but my brother’s concluding remark remains vivid: in the first tableau the figures looked vital and active and engaged; by the end they seemed passive plastic shadows.

That story crossed my mind again reading anouk’s excellent article on Second Life (posted June 22 ) regarding the guy sitting alone in the basement in front of the computer screen, titillating himself. It’s as if our modern urban senses have gradually narrowed to mind, eyes and finger tips. Forget about smell, or touch (unless you have a cat or a lover or small child), or the rhythm of natural sounds. Large muscle movement is mostly segregated to sport or diversion like dancing, or timeout (as in vacations.) Strange. Of course, one might say, people lost themselves in books alone when readers still read, and movies, and listened to their poets’ epic recitals. But those, good ones, wove in real emotion, and the complexity of human experience, and societal concerns, and consequences—not just spin and facade.

The human mind does roam to very dark pockets. Poets, artists, diaries, confessionals, strange dreams voice them. A highpoint of last year’s Cezanne to Picasso show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was a pair of exquisite, tenderly drawn watercolors of female nudes by Rodin, partly suffused with a translucent burgundy wash. But turning to the text (they were commissioned as book illustrations), words described a French erotic imagining of some rarified venue in the East to which gentlemen were transported, where love and sadistic pleasure soared until the women’s life blood dripped away drop by drop!

So why do I disdain the Second Life guy secretly pimping in the basement and fulfilling any sexual desire others imagine? I think because it’s crowd behavior-- thousands of persons unknown to one another, goading and cheering one another to more and uglier fantasies in real time.. And no consequences… except that the realities and nuance of relationships and the delicate web of care and responsibility in real society ebb, and right cheapens, and we lose touch. Already, the real and imagined—war, power, love, yearning-- flicker side by side on the tube, gradually conflating true and not true and blurring ramifications.

© 2021 Anita Spertus of DemosNews

July 4, 2007 at 11:29pm
DemosRating: 4.5
Hits: 1292

Genre: Technology (Software)
Type: Creative
Tags: virtual, world

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