Friday, March 12, 2010

Virtual Reality! or Why is Reality Never Enough??

 My tattered copies of Tad Williams' "Otherland" series!

Imagine being in a world in which you can take any guise, any road, any adventure or experience anything you wish, or not wish, continue this for days, weeks even, lose track of who you are, begin to question your very existence.

Imagine this all taking place in a world generated through virtual reality. A place on the Net . . . a place where you are immersed completely; all your senses, all your emotions becoming a part of this existence.  Your real body stored and controlled in sustaining environments while you become your avatar in this virtual world.

Except that, nothing is ever what it seems, and danger is around every corner. Nothing is real, in this world, yet people are dying, in the virtual and in the real worlds. The adventure continues through this cyberpunk tetralogy, Otherland by Tad Williams:     
    * Book 1—City of Golden Shadow (Hardcover 1996, Paperback 1998)
    * Book 2—River of Blue Fire (Hardcover 1998, Paperback 1999)
    * Book 3—Mountain of Black Glass (Hardcover 1999, Paperback 2000)
    * Book 4—Sea of Silver Light (Hardcover 2001, Paperback 2002)
(All links to, except the Tad Williams which leads to his webpages)
I read these books avidly, through. As each volume came out, I re-read the previous ones, finding them intriguing and exciting and involving.

My question, now, is: are we there yet?  We must be . . . almost there. . . so much of my life is spent in this Internet, wearing my wolf avatar, meeting new people and having experiences which are entirely dependent on the availability of electric power. All we lack is the complete sensual immersion into the virtual reality on this network.  We are slowly moving that way, and it will be interesting to see how our social moralities change and how we become a part of this new reality!

The following is a response written by Sylviane, a friend of mine, and sent via email. When I asked her if I could post this, she asked me to fix her English, (her mother tongue is not English) but I felt that her own voice had a great deal of charm and left it the way it was except for a few spelling changes:

Answer to Your Blogspot : march 18
I think our moral obligation about internet and its virtual social networks, should be exercised in the education of the children, especially teenagers and also  towards psychologically fragile people. Those are the ones that risk to loose contact with the physical world and the more they will be searching virtual company the more they will be isolated from the real relationships.
For me the reality for a human being is a mixture of sensations that are wished and unwanted, with its extremes : happiness, ecstasy, sorrow, sadness.. The virtual reality offers only the wished sensations and that is what makes it so attractive.
In the virtual world we can built ourselves a better personality than the real one, we can experience there what is impossible in real life and we live in a world chosen by ourselves.
In the virtual world, or lets say in our imaginary world, we forget our body because we are limited by this host of the soul, and this gives more charm to that world. The body is reality and can hurt.
We all escape from reality through our imagination, that is why we are creative but when that escape is excessive and we neglect the existence of our material condition, we pay the damages. This excess can lead to mental diseases, isolation,total dependence of the virtual world.
Many of us built friendships and loves in this virtual reality, we invent perfect people who correspond to our ideal. This is where we escape from reality and take the risk of losing our face to face real friends.
In fact we refuse the real world, something went wrong in our lives and we run away from that.
I only have one life and I want to live it with my eyes wide open, to sense the reality of all the feelings, good and bad, understand them, accept them. They show me how I have to treat myself and how to find  a way to be happier and thus make others more happy.
This is a choice I made for my life : live with what comes in, or emerges from inside of me and accept it . I hope I will always have all these sensations to guide me. The virtual world is much smoother, clean, non disturbing and if it is, you can disconnect yourself from the disturbing site, you’re floating in an immaterial world where you don’t get hurt ..
I don’t think human relations will change because of the virtual world :as long as we are material, we will have to make and respect rules that makes life in society possible. We are material and our body is the first and last marker of our feelings.
I can understand that people choose to live their lives differently and prefer to transform their inner feelings into an ideal, universal relationship with the rest of humanity. I respect that choice because in the past I made the same choice.

Do you see me, my friend ?


This next one is my response to Sylviane, although I think I am only reiterating what she has already said:
I think we turn to the universe of the Internet's Social Networks, often, because we are lonely and we want recognition.  Our face to face friends are often too busy for our needs. We are a delicate and needy creature, ever unsatisfied and the Internet supplies us with the tools to create ever more friendships, whether they are real or virtual, true or untrue friendships. 

Imagine having the perfect friend, a true virtual friend, always there when needed, presenting you with the perfect answers to every question, always being loving and kind and admiring of you. Always listening to you, always you being the center of every discussion. Never being needy or objectionable. Perfect in every way.  What challenge would that bring and where would be the friction in the daily life for growth and experience, necessary for the human soul to gain spiritual understanding? We would be dissatisfied with this type of relationship as it would lack the challenges that human relationships contain and which we seem to need for stimulus and contentment.

The social networks on the Internet, today, are full of real people, perhaps disguised as if at a masked ball, carefully choosing their avatars to be their guise and in the hope that it will project a better image of whom they believe themselves to be. These people will chose to be themselves, or a better self, or chose to do disharmonious actions or anti-social behaviors. These figures are run by real people, making choices, good or bad, unfleshed but still human.  They are not virtual, it just begins to seem that way when we don't see a face or an expression to give lie to the words . . . so we believe everything we see and hear as a fact in this world, yet it seems more distant as time moves on and our external world disappears from our peripheral vision and our bodies become mere extensions of our actions on this Internet.

The next comment is a poem written by Spud-Lover and passed on through MSN Messenger.
I thought it was such a beautiful expression of life behind our avatars that I asked if I could share:

Behind our avatars
Do we really know what we’re saying in our posts on the page,
Just one word, one sentence, one comment, one phrase,
Can make a world of difference, lift or crush, once it’s done,
Bringing wild raging anger, or a giddy joyous fun,
Can eradicate what went before with a click of a key,
Can bridge the gulfs of difference between you and me,
Access can be blocked or granted, limited and defined by spontaneous choice,
Just like we’re given freedom, opportunities, friendships, and a voice,
Words are so freely written, sometimes without thought of their potential,
Their impact often felt later, but no less worthy of our attention,
Their power must not be underestimated, for whilst it can bring elation
Also possible are happiness, warmth, confusion, and sometimes revelation,
Consideration of implication is paramount to the context in which they’re received
Whether to laugh and giggle, be shocked, worry, is it to be believed?
Just think…… The textual universe does not convey the same as your speech
Whilst you may have been making a joke, what nerves may you have reached?
It’s not about deleting what doesn’t fit, and keeping just what’s good for you,
It’s about evaluating what we write, seriously thinking it through,
Criticisms are only helpful if they are not part of some sort of list,
And don’t try and tell me what I said, you’re not a ventriloquist,

By Spud-Lover
New Blogger!



That night we walked together

beneath an ebony sky

Did you hear the
            gentle raindrops
wiping sorrow from
                   the worn face
                 of the golden moon?
Were you counting the fallen
as they coated our pathway
          like velvet snow?
Did you see them glow
      like pearls at your fingertips?
They sifted softly through your smile
as you looked at me
a star shining
            through your eyelashes
while you sang my name . . .
Can you hear
the moon sigh
                        for the thought

of you . . .
I can see the
wind breath the
shimmering petals through the darkened sky. . .
they gather in
the moon-light
like the memories
I have of you


My sister was killed
she was gone in a blink . . .
her body tossed by the side
of the road . . .
never to be seen again
by me . . .
lying under a yellow tarp
as they measured and weighed
the drunkeness of the killer driver and
the eye of the camera roved
and lingered
while I stood before the television
observing -
shaking -
weeping -


. . . . . .

a vision:

. . . . . .

we were walking in a meadow
a sun dappled meadow
we picnicked
we laughed
we talked
I wiped a crumb away
from her beloved, smiling face
looking into my eyes
she said,
"it is time to go."

I followed her to the sky-blue reflective river
and as she started to cross
she said, "No, you must stay here - awhile yet!"

And I stood on that beautiful shore
and wept


  The previous story is true in all regards
except I left so much out:
what it was like on that riverbank;
such an indescribable beauty and peacefulness;
so I wont attempt to paint the picture of that place.
But I do want to say this, God blessed me with the chance
to say good-by to my best friend, my sister,
and to catch a glimpse of perfect peace!
Why did I weep? Because, I wanted to go there, too!

Got a message today as I walked home!
I followed my pathway and saw leaves
in concrete - pasted there for the long life
of an untrod way
unlike the offerings from a soft ephemeral course of a season . . .
left on the trampled byways 
which reduce the broken things,
the fallen leaves, 
into a shifting scab covering the disappointments
and scars along the road . . .

I came to a boulder
nearly passing him by . . .
but he called to me and showed
me a sign - that
the past is best left dead
and the future may never be . . .
for what is left to see
may evaporate completely away
and all we have
is what we are . . .


I've been hunting - and I caught - a sunbeam, a feather in the wind, the quiet song of angel wings, the bell like sound of laughter, music in the crystal air - all music . . .

After-School Computer Lab

My God - I feel so blessed -I wish you could hear the music of their voices
the gentle patter of children chatting about their games
sharing techniques, laughter, and the sweet banter
of one student beating a level before another . . .
Pure Joy emanates from their beings
their little songs when there are empty spaces . . .
they fill everything with their electric presence
they are fascinating little creatures . . .
from the little boy, so serious with his car racing games, as
he always sits alone and makes automobile sounds
or the girl who has to keep everybody laughing and
always has a crowd around her. . . . laughing!

 This album's concept and the music's darkness . . . creates a massive dreamlike quality and gives itself a power to grasp hold of the individual's imagination and soul . . . which has an intriguing effect on the listener's visions. Smoothly flowing, like liquid ebony, leavened with emptiness, the music wraps itself around your very being. This is a very dark story with a gleam of wistfulness, like stars in the night sky, shoring up the emotions with hope and causing the listener to look for angels.
This is an astonishingly good album with a foundation of poetry and dreams. . .

have you ever flown too high
through the inner darkness
far away from the golden sky?

whoever is afraid of the rain
. . . chooses instead to die . . .
dreading the wind and

the loneliness of the cold falling dew . . .
this incomplete world was gifted,
confused and silent and dark
with many longing to make harmony of

a song which has never been heard
and yearning for dawn from the

the night rolling on like a wheel
From the end of the dream
to the end of the road
where an angel stands guarding the passage
and we stand alone
in the darkness,
hungering for a passing song . . .


left on the planet
as a mysterious trail,
hundreds of puzzle pieces . . .
the orange and the blue,
the brilliant greens
shining there
beneath the dust of human
and muddy rivulets flow . . .
I thread my way
between the pieces
leading from the old
burned out house
where the homeless
found strength and shelter
. . .some release from the storm. . .
the overgrown garden
with the sagging picket fence,
where all was once content
when the old man lived there . . .
but upon his release
from this world
chaos formed
and chose to create
a new venue
an insistence of life
of living . . .


If all the multitudes,
from time before memory
. . . through the misty 
reaches of the unknown
declare their love for you . . .
that song would pass through
you like water through a sieve . . .

and if all of the heavenly hosts
from here to dimensions unknown
presented shining love
indelible and engraved for all eternity
in precious stone
it would evade your understanding
and leave you cold and broken. . .

That love is fluid and quenching. . .
will that ease your soul?
that love is solid and attainable
will that reach your heart?


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