Method existence, method writing, method acting, shapeshifting

I’ve picked up a thing on the BBC about authors adopting ‘method writing’ in their work -living the life of their characters- in the same way actors now do ‘method acting’.

I kind of sighed at this as ‘news’, because for many people in Second Life, ‘method existence‘ is what we do. An amalgam of ‘writing’ and ‘acting’, aren’t we directing our avatars, writing their script, producing their ‘back story‘, much of the time, particularly in, but not exclusive to, role-play within SL?

I know that the nature of the beast, for me, is that I’m as real, in mindset, actions and behaviour as my first life. How I act and behave is how I am in real life, in other words. But that wasn’t always the case, and I have had times where I’ve been someone else, most recently when setting up an ‘alt’, who was black skinned. In doing so, I would be trying to get inside her head. Of course, and I’ve said this, I can’t possibly comprehend the casual racism black people probably encounter on a daily basis, so it doesn’t exactly work to plan. However, that ‘method existence’ occasionally opens up a mindset we didn’t expect, either in ourselves or others. I would guess there are many males, at the keyboard, living life as a SL woman. Many females, at the keyboard, living life as a male. (I’ve not created a male alt, I should add).

From Puss in Boots (the ogre tricked into changing into a mouse) to Harry Potter (the magician as a rat), shapeshifting is a regularly used device. Just as it is in SL.

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Classical art includes ‘shapeshifting’, as in this Van den Eeckhout painting, where Velrtumnus, as an old woman, woos Pomona

We can shape shift between outfits, looks, gender, skin colour in an instant. And in doing so, for those who do so, there’s a bit of method writing, method acting, method existing going on each time we log in. Mature men pretending to be young men conjure up their memory of youth in order to woo mature women pretending to be young women, whilst conjuring up the memory of youth.

We inhabit our avatars in a kind of ‘method acting’ manner, and have done for more than the decade of SL’s existence. It’s only now that the world of RL literature is catching on?

Trine

 

 

Papa Dom’s Havana Hangout

Cuba. While ‘western’ in terms of its outlook (America’s only 100 miles away), its ideology looks to the European east of the past, and a communist regime. As a result of US sanctions against the communist government, the country (I’ve visited) has a sense of being time-warped. Very much ‘American’ in a sense until the outset of the communist government in 1959, it has meant it is a country still peppered with American cars for which no spare parts can be sourced, leading to a sense of invention and ‘make do and mend’.

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While some communist countries were abject failures, and the very few that remain are laughable in their definition of communism, some worked to greater or lesser degrees. Czechoslovakia might have been regarded as a success of sorts (but how much of a success it was has to be measured by the fact that there was an intelligentsia in the country who were tempering communist excess. East Germany was a semi-success in terms of its industry (great cameras, great radios), but that has to be measured against stereotypical German industry, and East Germany’s a definite failure if one examines the paranoia of its secret police, the Stasi.

Cuba, despite overwhelming odds, ‘worked’. Certainly it worked in terms of education, literacy and universities, and is possibly the best example of Caribbean education systems at work.

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My observations were that the country, while being ‘communist’, contained people aware of and connected with American culture. Their ‘communism’ wasn’t dogmatic, more something they did while not really believing in it too much other than making the right noises for those in authority. For a ‘communist’ country, there was also a deep connection with Catholicism, the state having previously dropped the old communist idea that they were all atheists.

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It’s also worth pointing out that Cuba has a tradition of naturism, notably at Cayo Largo.

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It’s odd, isn’t it, how ‘repressive’ regimes have a history and tradition of ‘ease’ with nudity.

A new sim in SL combines these elements, at Pappa Dom’s Havana Hangout. Is made by the same people who brought you the lovely ‘Lupe’s Magical Forest‘, very much a naturist location we recommend and a place where, if you know it, also contains a Cuban ballroom.

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Trine and Fidel

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I’ve spent some time there recently, and I happened to bump into avatar Ellana, a Floridan with Cuban roots which had attracted her to the sim. The naturist beach there has a nice geography, not the usual palm trees by the score, that gives its naturist area a unique feel much in the same way Lupe’s feels unique.

We’ll be publishing more ‘Havana’ photos, both from the naturist area and the old town area itself, in the coming days on our Flickr page.

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Ellana in Havana

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The naturist sauna

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Trine

 

 

 

I’d rather go naked than…

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‘I’d rather go naked than wear fur’, runs Peta’s tagline. As naturists, we’d agree on the basis of the normalisation of the nude form in society. As humanitarians, we’d agree that there is almost no reason to wear fur, ever. If you’re living in the wilds, in sub-zero temperatures for six months of the year, there’s probably some historical necessity for skinning an animal, but then, if that’s you or your society, the chances are that you’re using the animal’s meat as well for survival purposes. But that doesn’t apply to 99.999% of women (or men) today.

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I’ve noticed a little bit of a growing trend for ‘fur’ to be included as part of some outfits in Second Life. My goodness, but we even got suckered into that one ourselves on a post about ‘The Masked Ball’ in which our model wore ‘fur’ and I highlighted a fur stole available for little cost. I’ll hold my hand up here and say that I was guilty of a massive oversight in that regard, and wasn’t thinking about what we were promoting. I’ve seen four examples of outfits with fur included in the past couple of weeks. It was something that was previously almost unheard of in SL, and on the extremely rare occasions it was seen it was almost uniformly labelled as ‘fake fur’. The description ‘fake’ is now missing, and these articles are being presented merely as ‘fur’.

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Of course we can say ‘it’s only a game’, and quite obviously nothing has been harmed in the shuffling of a few pixels to create a Second Life fur stole or coat, and that’s correct but…but…but…

Second Life is extremely quick at picking up on real life trends. Ice Bucket challenge in real life? SL will have a pose for that in days. So a growing trend for fur in SL is disturbing in that it’s maybe reflecting real life couture and fur is making a comeback having been dismissed as part of a wardrobe for many years. I’m not certain as I don’t slavishly follow fashion.

Even if it’s not, the sudden appearance of fur in SL lends itself to a little bit of a normalisation of that – the message being delivered is ‘hey, pixel ladies, it’s now OK and cool to wear fur’. No, it’s not. It’s extremely uncool to have your avatar bedecked accordingly. I won’t remove our fashion faux-pas in the ‘Masked Ball’ post. I’ll let it stand as evidence of our error. But we won’t be promoting anything with fur in the future. We should be responsible for our actions in SL. This blog would never, for example, promote or photograph anything that illustrates the humiliation of (naked) women, and there’s a lot of that sort of thing (props, tattoo layers, ‘costumes’) going on in SL. Neither will we further promote or photograph anything that illustrates an animal killed purely for ‘fashion’.

SL does have a moral conscience. As a community we uniformly reject all manner of ‘age play’ on the grid, for example. Quite rightly. On moral grounds I think we also need to take an equally firm stand on fur, and make it clear to designers that we don’t want or need such items in SL, that we do (as we often do) link our avatar’s conscience to our own real life values. And those real life values, for me, are that the promotion of ‘fur’, even pixelated, even in a made up world, is wrong and is to be roundly rejected.

 

Trine