The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

June 29, 2008

new bodies for old aabody series

after advanced/character/ menu produced male and female characters
accouterments and refused to return all hir objects

Think of SL as an abstracted 4-dimensional space-time continuum: What are
the built-in constraints? Fundamental forces like gravity have to be
built-in; there's no _inherent_ reason for its existence. The ceiling
instead - that which backgrounds the continuum - is corporate, and as such
might as well be a corporate model for future-culture and cultural proc-
esses in the 'real world.'

The corporate model is fundamentally a tacit and leaky one. Tacit: because
its operations are quickly treated as natural by body and mind (invisible
prosthesis). And leaky: because it fills every space, construes every op-
eration, colors and codes within and throughout the true world invisible.

"Corporate" is not restricted to either a particular mode of capital or
power, nor a particular mode of governance - but instead is a basic and
backgrounding mode of quantification, related in Second Life and for that
matter, the older MOOs and MUDs, by the assignment of hierarchies, parent-
child processes, and identification numbers within the world, world-build-
ing, and worlding "in general."

Given this constraint, what are others, and how do they relate? At least
for the moment, one logs in and out of SL; inactivity logs one out and for
the most part, when one logs out, one's body disappears (unlike a MOO, for
example, where a body might be found somnolent in a "body-bag"). In other
words, one's activity is _framed_ by a process of intention and/or tend-
ing-towards, a process which requires a particular action on the part of
the participant - which in fact constructs the framing of the very concept
of participation.

One is constrained by the process of building, but this is also a matter
of time, energy, money, and nuisance. A similar constraint exists for
land-ownership - and within SL, ownership is both relative (in relation to
the corporation and the continuous output of the corporation, in terms of
finance, governance, capital, and power in general), and absolute: The
land that is owned is purely and totally _intended_; it has no otherwise
existence or mode of being, no wilderness. (One might designate or assign
a region as wild, but this an intended act as well; it is neither obdurate
or substance, "idiotic inert" no analog.)

At least at the moment, one is constrained by three-dimensionality and its
projection into the 2-space of the screen. Given that, objects may inter-
sect and self-intersect and may or may not be "gravitationally" bound.

One is constrained by modes of behavior, coded and uncoded; by bandwidth;
by one's terminal (therefore one's economy and one's relationship to class
and corporate in any world); by one's health in the physical world; by
one's ability to script and code. Where is the internal (not to mention
external) history, per participant and/or login, of Second Life and its
denizens? Where are the rolls of land ownership and usage? The history of
SL's code and coding? The detailing of its proprietary software? (The
world itself is closed-source.)

(For surely the world as a whole may be investigated, as a book of nature,
a supine woman, an angry man, red in tooth and claw, as God's hand and
God's shriveled hand, as systemic coordination and mathesis, as semiosis,
as subject and object of dissection, of nothing whatsoever.)

One's steam runs out ...

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