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.