Thursday 21 December 2006

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!

Mr. Wendell Holmes was referring to the chambered nautilus, but might have been speaking of mine own toiling soul, erecting my fourth structure in Orion. It is a more modest affair than my previous attempts, a mere hundred odd prims, leaving room for more building on my land, and a garden. It is small, one might complain crowded, but better suits an adventurer than a rambling villa or a massive library.

Osprey Therian has resurfaced after a winter storm quite displaced her in time and space, and for that we thank the powers that be, even while she rails against them herself. I half expect to see icicles hanging from her nose when I next see her.

I have also discovered Sky designs, and expect to do some shopping there. I like this desk, although there is another that inspires me to write without stop.

Tuesday 19 December 2006

Radcliffe Camera II

And no sooner than the stones collapsed about me, I discovered this, and many other delights at

The limited edition model of the Tempietto is only USD 15,750, so I shall stick with my SL version, however I have made a small purchase of several bookends.

Radcliffe Camera

If any be in need of a largish rotund structure weighing 500 odd prims and occupying a rather lavish amount of space, only very slightly used, please contact me at young {at} I have taken down the Radcliffe Camera and taken up gardening instead.

Wednesday 13 December 2006


Report of fashions in proud Italy
Whose manners still our tardy apish nation
Limps after in base imitation.

Thus whilst I imitate an inimitable imitator of Italian architectural fashion,
who fell from fashion erst he built the Radcliffe Camera,
I leave you, Dear Reader, with an Florentine impression,
its dense lanes and pale towers, aspiring domes and retiring villas.

Monday 11 December 2006

Mistakes in Building

Primarily these are committed against Proportion; Frugality; and Judgement, and you may see an example in the hasty erection of my new home in Orion. The result is squat, stoney and entirely unsatisfactory, a troll of a building, having none of the graceful measures of James Gibbs original at the Bodleian Library. Construction but halfway complete I had exhausted my prim budget and so certain mouldings and pillars have been rudely elided, and my land denuded of vegetation. And against my own strictures of planning, I attempted to rotate the whole, with the result that the structure now leans in a most Pisa-like fashion.

It must all come down and I must back to my draughting board. I miss my comfortable villa already!

Saturday 2 December 2006

Top of the World

In Bydalen at dawn without ropes or oxygen.

Tuesday 28 November 2006

Early Avatars

Of a sudden, childhood phantoms have returned to haunt my memories, and searching through decades of detritus, my attic disgorged these sleeping beauties, which I crafted in my youth.
Before Second Life was a twinkle in Mr. Rosedale's eye, nay before Mr. Rosedale was dreamed up by his parents, my avatars roamed a different metaverse.
As a girl I lived through these personnalités, tricking death and the devil and getting beaten for my efforts.
After Carmen's cold reception at the Opera Comique, my version of M. Bizet's heroine languished unfinished and forever unloved in her paperboard tomb.
But my favorite was the Baron von Munchausen, whose tales I acted out tirelessly, to the utter exasperation of my father, an Encyclopædist and most rational man. Many, many others are long lost to time, having been made of papier maché: these, except for the Baron, are all hewn from scraps of wood.

Sunday 26 November 2006

The real world is beyond our thoughts and ideas; we see it through the net of our desires, divided into pleasure and pain, right and wrong, inner and outer. To see the universe as it is, you must step beyond the net. It is not hard to do, for the net is full of holes.
Sri Nisargadatta 1897 – 1981

Oft I meet thoughtful avatars who are aware of an existence beyond This Life, a life less vivid and colourful perhaps, but which occupies their pensées constantly, to the point of distraction. In that existence they have homes and loves and labours, just as they have in This Life. And yet they call that life Real, and this one False!

O foolish avatar so vain to think your real life more substantial than your second life. Your fecund mind hath built it stone by stone upon the shifting sand of your senses, and neither this nor that life is any more real than ye imagine them to be.

Friday 24 November 2006

Roar of the Greasepaint

The world's a theatre, the earth a stage,
Which God and Nature do with actors fill.

It seemed my villa lacked one thing appropriate for this fictional world we all inhabit - a stage. I did not play with dolls like other girls, but with puppets, marionettes, soldatini di carta - paper soldiers - and toy theatres from Benjamin Pollock's in Covent Garden. These last were magnificently printed on large sheets purchased for a tuppence, which I cut with nail pares and pasted to board. My theatres were elaborate constructions, complete with rising curtains, scenery flats, sulferous effects, and a cast of hundreds, as corps of paper soldiers frequently made guest appearances in The Millers Sons or The Maid and the Magpie, causing the women to swoon and giving the villains and rakes the beatings they deserved.

I mounted many productions for my own entertainment, drawing my own characters when I could not afford to purchase them, or when I could not find one appropriate among my players. I began writing for them: baroque, romantic plays filled with divine interventions, ghostly maidens avenging their faithless sweethearts, and exploding cannons!

For a short time many years ago, I took up that childish play again with an artist's conceit, and designed this little stage in watercolour. It was only when Osprey Therian mentioned her Christmas Pantomime project that I remembered it, and realized the pleasure I receive exploring This Life is no different from that I enjoyed as a child, pulling wires and declaiming in funny voices as my cut-out players slipped in and off stage.

I have earned a part in that Pantomime, or Music Hall production, and now I must think about my role.

Below is another design for another day.

Wednesday 22 November 2006


If there are obstacles, it cannot be space,
If there are numbers, it cannot be stars,
If it moves and shakes, it cannot be a mountain,
If it grows and shrinks it cannot be an ocean,
If it must be crossed by a bridge, it cannot be a river,
If it can be grasped, it cannot be a rainbow,
These are the six parables of outer perception.

Mortgaged Time

Time, that hath no bound, and years without number, is in the present so meagre and thrift, it grudges me cheap minutes to play. Would I gain an hour, I might count myself a king, and build palaces to its honour. Instead it lends me a thief's estate, my leisure stolen from an arrearage of work.

If we meet upon the road, suffer me to greet thee with joy, and consider it a rare and precious thing, but do not tempt me to stay, for I am in this world for ransomed moments, and must soon return to my debtor's cage.

Friday 17 November 2006

A Mustering of Dragons

I am not one for social gatherings, nightclubbs, dancing parties and like congregations of romantically inclined youths or spirit-befuddled wastrels. An invitation to a weyr of wyrms (so directs my dictionary of correct usage) is another matter, and I was treated to the spectacle of enormous creatures, scales ablaze and tails a-waving as they tarantella'd up and down the stepping floor. At times they speak an odd, hypnotic language (I caught references to sonic, and shadow, and knuckles that quite went over my head), and contary to my initial impression mix quite readily with humans.

A few hours later I explored the Outer Islands and discovered a lovely haunt that reminded me of an eccentric inventor I once met, and his sweet wife!

I felt as though I had seen everything, until I spotted this placard announcing the existence of mermaids. I shall be wandering up and down the strand with my eyes open on moonlit nights, listening for her dulcet and harmonious breath, that makes the sea grow civil at her song.

Wednesday 15 November 2006

CopyBot Sculpture

A Second Thought stole into my head as I dreamed of multiplying avatars last night. With our customary collection of tools there is no way to create a lasting tribute to any notable person or to the beauty of the human form in all three dimensions, without employing hundreds of prims and the patience of Job, as Mr. Starax was wont to do.

After all our bodies are made of the same stuff as the rest of our world: we are nothing but a special prim, albeit one blessed with a more generous endowment of attributes than your garden variety cube. In other words, thanks to a built in camera obscura we have paintings and pictures in our world but no sculpture of the representational kind.

There are no doubt reasons why our building materials do not include the avatar prim: it is perhaps expensive to archive or render; one shudders at the thought of encountering one avatar wearing another as an attachment; in wicked hands it might be used to deceive. Our public spaces and classically inspired buildings are poorer for the lack of it, all the same. Quite separately from its potential for misuse and harm, the CopyBot apparently offered the ability to make such sculptures.

As I built my chestnut mare, I did often think how convenient it would be to employ a general quadruped prim, modifiable to a variety of human or animal shapes. I suspect now the cost in attorney's fees of such a thing unfortunately will far outweigh the convenience.

Tuesday 14 November 2006

A Copybot Thought

If your eyelids have grown heavy reading about the latest attack upon our Society and its principles of fair reward for effort made, then you may prefer to pass over this late addition.

A stranger wandering through our world will be forgiven for supposing its inhabitants have a uniformly low level of aesthetic appreciation, and I am not the first to comment on the apparent popularity of ugly constructions, ill-proportioned homes and bland places for work. A few minutes on the mainland are quite enough to explain why residents flee to islands offshore where restraint and moderation are more in fashion.

No doubt some of the blame lies on the Ease and Economy by which we create our surroundings. It costs nothing to create a thing, but it costs much to make it beautiful. Therefore many things are created without thought or plan, which are of dubious utility or value. I wonder if more care would go into the creation of a thing, and more thought to its protection, if the building materials were not so cheap? But that thought goes against the commonly held principles of our land.

Beauty draws attention to herself by her own virtues: modesty in scale and proportion, variety of invention, and faithfulness to the natural world. Those who wish to serve her must be careful observers, patient and determined builders, and thoughtful critics. She visits the artist rarely and only after much labour and effort has been sacrificed at her altar.

The creation of beauty is her own reward, but artists must eat or perish. If those who enjoy beauty (or profit from it) do not see fit to reward those who create it, then we will all live in a poor society indeed, and an uglier world.

Oh to be a dragon!

Oh to be a dragon,
a symbol of the power of Heaven -- of silkworm
size or immense; at times invisible.
Felicitous phenomenon!

Marianne Moore

There is nothing so rare or magical as a conversation with a dragon. I have now met a small number in This Life, but I happened upon a haven where their elders and guardians congregate and met a young wyrmling. Dragons it seems have a general distaste for humans (lucky that!) but Trigger Eclipse forbear to speak with me about his life as a wyrm.

My adventuring has led to many odd and unusual places. It's still a rare treat to find one so filled with magic!

Monday 13 November 2006

Memory Palaces

Cicero, in De oratore, relates how the poet Simonides of Ceos invented the art of memory, which enabled the student of rhetoric to give long speeches from memory with unfailing accuracy. The art depended on associating an image with a place. Quintilian described the art in more detail. First one impressed in memory a series of loci, or architectural settings, say rooms in a villa. The speech to be remembered is then broken into a series of concrete images, such as a musical intrument, representing one idea, or a weapon representing another. One can then imagine walking from room to room while delivering the speech, recovering in order the emblems that were earlier placed there. Matteo Ricci, the Jesuit missionary to China, taught just this method to children of Mandarins struggling to memorize the Four Books and Five Classics for the court examinations.

I had memory palaces very much in mind when I undertook construction of my villa at Tempietto, and indeed, a series of rooms without any decoration but blonde wood grain is as hard to navigate as a maze. But as the doors and stairways have gone in, and my horse has taken up residence in the foyer, I find myself wandering its halls in my dreams, recalling conversations and visitors who have brought it alive, and look forward to using it as a reposity of emblems and signs to stir the memory.

The art has fallen out use. I have tried it and can attest that it works, but requires mental gymnastics of considerable agility and regular practice. Instead I have taken to copying out my conversations and saving them verbatim, so I may later peruse the sparkling remarks and recall their authors with delight in my leisure. This is quite in accord with copying out one's imagined loci and rebuilding it in Second Life.

Donlyn Lyndon and Charles Moore wrote a charming little book entitled Chambers for a Memory Palace in which they exchanged encomiums to their favourite examples from a collection of architectural themes and compositions. A sampling of chapter titles: Axes that Reach / Paths that Wander; Roofs that Encompass / Canopies that Center; Platforms that Separate / Slopes that Join.

Architecture as poetry. What this imagined and remembered World might yet become!

Sunday 5 November 2006

Late Night Ramblings

It was close to the end of the day when I invited Osprey Therian to visit Tempietto. Of all those I have met in this Life, she is perhaps the friend whose company I most enjoy, though we are only recently met. A thoughtful and loving artist, who is deeply concerned for the fate of the World and the Happiness of its Residents. Mechanical Bellman joined us later and we chatted into the night about art, theatre, and relationships. At last we were all yawning and struggling to make sense, at least I was! To bed, to bed! And so we parted, drunk on words and content.

Memory Harker

At home in Orion again, I spent more time resurrecting my mare, inspired and thrilled by my chance encounters. Then who should arrive, bearing gifts, but Memory Harker, whom I have never met, but with whom I have exchanged comments on Hamlet's blog. I was too involved in our conversation to think of taking a picture, but she graciously permitted me to show her around my unfurnished village, and I found her a delightful companion. At last, after months of searching, I am beginning to discover a few residents who take pleasure in banter and demonstrate quick intelligence and share a love of literature!

Tengu Isle

Journeying onward among these outer isles, I came to Tengu Island (there, Osprey -I have remembered it at last) where I came across a silent warrior on a beautiful, articulated horse! He must have been on a quest, for he paid me no heed as I chased him through snowcapped mountains and bamboo forests, and evidently preferred not to be disturbed. But my kingdom for such a horse!

In a snowy vale I came upon a magnificent organ built by Baron Grayson, and a Dareth Kennedy wyrm. These are artists I should be happy to meet one day.

Just as I was writing this I went back to Tengu Isle for a better picture of the bamboo forest. Happy fortune! As I busied myself composing my picture I heard muffled hoofsteps and looked up to find Shiranui Kubo towering over me! He has the quiet manner befitting a noble swordsman, and we exchanged greetings while dragonflies darted in and out among the bamboo. I was turning to go, when his companion, Nefearia Trilam, appeared out of the woods, also mounted. I must say, I kept my sword drawn, but mainly from vanity, for I believe I would have ended my days there if either of these two felt I were a threat to them!

Update: The lovely horses, complete with flexiprim manes and tails, animated legs (two alternating poses while you walk) and several sounds are by Kristivon Kolache of A Double K Horse Ranch in Calleta 122,88,29.


Never in my life did I imagine such a wealth of invention! Exploring the map in a haphazard fashion, I discovered the quiet, understated Bellas Antes yesterday and this lovely build by Trax Hathor, about whom I know nothing at all. The empty, moonlit landscape that surrounds this fantastickal folly may be unfinished, or it may be lonely desert. I immediately felt a presence or a power, no doubt what the Chinese describe as diqi - earth energy, but which I recognize as the majesty and the glory of Art, at work.

Friday 3 November 2006


Exploring caves in Lauk's Nest, the shores of Svarga and the volcano of Pomponia. Inspiring man-made natural wonders.

Sunday 29 October 2006

Rapier Wits

Sworn off adventuring to finish my villa, I labour'd a few hours adjusting here, texturing there, but the sound of steel against steel and the promise of seeing reknown duellists in combat weakened my resolve and led me to Spangle, where Comhrag McLeod tutored two beginners, yours truly and the willowy Ishi Mirrikh (on the left), in the art of duelling by Combat Cards. After two rounds we broke off, rank beginners that we were, and unsure of our controls, to watch Osprey Therian, uncharacteristically putrid in her Sick Sumo guise (in the background), deliver grievous harm to her opponent. I cannot tell if I felt faint for loss of blood or from the sight of so much gore indiscriminately spilt.

We revived in the graveyard, where I faced off with the King of the Mountain, and suffered a good beating, my life spared by someone called Stack Overflow just as I was to receive the death blow, much to the consternation of Doc Boffin, author and inventor of the Cards. I have played with swords, cups, coins and staves; and with hearts, bells, sleeves and acorns, but never with arcana that nominated the Maiden's Moan or the Courtier's Cuff!

The duel of wits that presently followed while admiring the new game cards demanded more skill than any armed combat seen that day. There were intelligent and sharply honed minds in play, and few defensive moves available to any!

I shall return after I lick my wounds and recover my breath!

Saturday 28 October 2006

Other Lives

I refer to Second Life as This Life, only because it is but one of my many lives, perhaps the fourth or fifth, but hardly the second. I do not speak, as others are wont to do, of a change in career for then my count must multiply into the teens. I write of spiritual transport from one plane of existence to another. Such things happen more easily than might be imagined, and more frequently than expected.

My architectural career began in another life, and by happy fortune I have carried some evidence of those modest accomplishments with me into this existence. In that life one built with quite different primitives and enjoyed a quality of light that does not penetrate our clouds here. But one always built alone there and could not share the fruits of one's labour with others, and so I prefer our Community of avatars, angels, demons, intelligent insects, robed rodents, albino vulpines, mechanickal men and persons of all stations.

Thank You, Hamlet

Wagner James Au, the gentleman whose weblog inspired me to explore this Life more widely, has kindly made mention of my home in Orion in his The World from my Window column. I am brimming with Pride and Delight.

A busy day

Rarely have I the luxury to spend an hour in this Life. Yesterday I purchased the accoutrements of a Dark Life adventurer and marched into a boggy forest, populated by vermin, not unlike the courts of many noblemen I know. These rats, mosquitoes, and other unspeakables were there for the slaying, however, and as I struck a pose for this self portrait a monstrously large rodent took advantage of my inattention to make his move. Needless to say I survived its cowardly attack, but I have to wonder if there is not more to this pastime besides swatting at flies and hauling a heavy rucksack over soggy ground. The sword is quite handsome, all the same.

After dispatching the vulgar vole, I returned to my home in Orion and invited my kin Amorpheous (we share the surname, but no family resemblance) to visit.

Amorpheous is now a Master Coder (seated on the right), and seems quite full of novelties, and a surprising collection of amusing behaviours. He was soon joined by his friend Electron Electricteeth, a nine-foot ivory tower in red and black, whose eyes are perpetually covered by a shock of red hair. We followed Electron to his new home, watched him perform Phoenix Jutsu (don't ask) and went swimming. Amorpheous showed us his giant spoon (again, don't ask). In the painting, Electron is telling us the shocking storu of how he was given his remarkable name.

Today, Electron reappeared at my home quite changed, invited me for tea, but instead of tea, offered me a cow, then led me on a merry chase through interdimensional gateways. These strange devices transported us to a limbo filled with aught but the whistling wind. Our last jump left us falling several kilometres through empty space. An interesting, though bizarre, adventure.

Saturday 21 October 2006

Equine nobility

The noblest conquest man has ever made.

For want of a horse a kingdom was lost.... No person of quality should be expected to walk everywhere she goes. I have tried more modern conveyances, but I seem preternaturally unable to hover, too slippery-footed to skate, and too averse to narrow spaces for those metallick coffins popularly described as auto-carriages. A fleet steed for me and the wind in my hair! My mare will be easier to build than she will be to animate, but even still as a stone, she will be a pleasant thing to look on. Some oats and barley will fatten her up, poor thing, and put meat on those bones.

Friday 20 October 2006


Appearances to the mind are of four kinds. Things either are what the appear to be; or they neither are, nor appear to be; or they are, and do not appear to be; or they are not, and yet appear to be. Rightly to aim in all these cases is the wise man's task.

Epictetus also said, "Practice yourself, for heaven's sake, in little things, and thence proceed to greater."

Thus have I considered appearances this week and changed mine own. Black befits a widow, and though I mourned then, I am preparing to greet the World today in Sanguine, the colour of cheerfullness, hopefullness and a confident temperament. I am boldened to proclaim I am what I appear to be, and have aimed rightly and struck my mark wisely. My villa and my appearance are all so much practice behind me. Today I plan my first steps into the wider World.

And to my horror I discovered my black attire was so like a desititute version of Osprey Therian's handsome appearance as to suggest Plagiarism!

Tuesday 10 October 2006

Scale and Importance

Even as my neighborly vicinitas begins to fill in and new wilderness opens up nearby for exploration, I am finding my spare moments consumed by Construction and Improvements, courtailing any chance to adventure beyond familiar fields and greens, or to pay social calls on new friends. Obligations prevent frequent visits, so work has progressed slowly. Though it appear grand, the villa is smaller than many other local dwellings, and I think it is solely the effect of its Classicism that lends it Scale and Importance. I am finding many of the rooms barely large enough for an unobstructed view and most of the corridors must be navigated with fingers outstretched and still result in unpleasant bumpings of the shins and crown. So in the end it is a very modest villa, soberly decorated, temperately scaled, moderate and measured.

But it is my villa and I shall fill it with all sort of treasure!

Thursday 5 October 2006

Thank You, Amorpheous

[18:33] Amorpheous Geoffrion: A person by the name of ******* Webb is interested in buying a house; I have pointed him in your direction. He really thinks your work is amazing. You may end up famous for your buildings :)

Thank You, Amorpheous, only half as famous as you will be for your scripting!

Wednesday 4 October 2006

Under Construction

It is not the Bulk of the Fabrick, the Richness and Quantity of the Materials, the Multiplicity of Lines, nor the Gaudiness of Finishing, that give Grace or Beauty to the Building; but the Proportion of the Parts to one another and to the Whole, whether entirely plain, or enriched with a few Ornaments properly disposed.

So writes James Gibb (1682-1754), English architect and author of the Book of Architecture, Containing Designs of Buildings and Ornaments (1728) . One of those designs served as the model for my new home, though I have allowed a certain Roman excess in decorating the central, octogonal hall.

I have learned Corinthian capitals are not easily modelled with prims, so after many days' labour have replaced Gibb's original porch with one following a doric order.

The dust still flies and my modest villa wants a second storey and a roof, but you are most welcome to visit and look around as I work slowly on Improvements over the weeks to come.


The Tempietto, the name of Bramante's famous circular temple in the cloister of San Peitro in Montorio, Rome, is the model for my first architectural project in Second Life. It is purely formal: a hemisphere joined to a cylinder, encircled by sixteen columns; small and compact, only five metres in diameter. Yet it prefigured Bramante's next project: the rebuilding of St. Peter's Basilica, marking the beginning of the High Renaissance.
Auspicious, non?