Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Happy Birthday, Second Life (Part 3)

2012-06-25 SL9B_050

Second Life's Birthday, and a few of the other art displays around - including some hunts which should qualify as art - got me thinking about my own taste and how I decide what to photograph. I was also struck by a recent SL Secrets about how a photostream full of pictures of a single avatar is really nothing more than ego-masturbation. This is not a new statement - I've seen a lot of indications in blogs where fashion is not central which comment on the piles of flickr streams and blogs which are iterations of the same avatar in different clothing. I can't deny that these sorts of statements don't hit home in a rather uncomfortable way, leaving me feeling defensive. Fashion and self-imagery is a centrally selfish impulse, and there's a large part of me who wants to present a person who is selfless, kind, and concerned only with the welfare of others. I also can't deny that I love dressing myself up and taking pictures in places - and that often my avatar is the most important thing in the frame.

2012-06-25 SL9B_043

The main exception to this is events with large builds - like all of these birthday pictures, or the pictures I took at the Fantasy Faire. Even at events that are fairly dark, like Rusted Development, I also tend to focus on the pretty and attractive rather than the disturbing, horrific, or shocking. That's part of why I had such fun taking pictures all over the Birthday party. Since it was general admission, the focus was on pretty, attractive, often naturalistic things instead of a bunch of zombies and bloody body parts. This makes me strange for someone with a gothic bent, but I really don't like the deader things in life (except for the sexy version of vampires); sometimes I can get a little into it, but mostly I get grossed out and want to hide in bed for a long while. A focus on the pretty instead of the meaningful and avante guard is often seen as shallow and superficial - focusing on the surface and the lighter things - but as my life has become full of more dark and sad things, as I've had people around me suffer and die, I've clung to the light, sweet, and superficial as if it were the buoy which can keep me above the waves when 'm too tired to swim.

2012-06-25 SL9B_055

I think there can be deepness in the light and cheerful, a profoundness in the bright and sparkling which might be difficult to see at first. I think there is value in a focus on kindness and co-operation. It's difficult to balance that with necessary feedback, though, when things are unjust - I don't believe injustice or prejudice could ever be beautiful, and so seeking ways to root prejudice out and burn it up is necessary. I think people often mistake lightness for rigidity, kindness for shallowness, and treat positivity as if it precludes any acceptance or even awareness of the dark, sad, painful things in life. Joy in the full knowledge of pain, in the knowledge of the shifting time leading inexorably to something different, has a tenor which is subtle but recognizable. While I understand intellectually the draw of the deformed, dessicated, and disgusting, my own desire is to quickly head in the other direction for the beautiful. It is also to be beautiful, in both appearance and deed, something which is much easier to accomplish on Second Life! The selfishness this encompasses is part of the dark side of beauty that I try to remain aware of without being overtaken by this - all things in moderation, after all.

2012-06-25 SL9B_054

( More pictures here. )


  1. Your posts are always beautiful and thoughtful. I love them!

    The person who was snarking about self-centered bloggers can just, um, I don't know, maybe NOT READ THEM? I never understand that. Why waste precious time making a stupid SL Secret when you can just find other blogs to read?

  2. Well, honestly, I think there is a valid purpose to social critique to keep us asking why we do what we do. I know I've gotten a lot out of examining my motivations and the ways I am and am not participating in the rarification of the female form (for example) by having an avatar who is much thinner than I am offline. Likewise, the question of "why are you so invested in that look" is an important one.

    It is critical to my self-image that Deoridhe primarily be light skinned and blond haired. In the absence of rainbow eyes, it is critical my eyes be blue. That my self-identity ties so strongly into these features of myself and not, for example, my weight is clearly societally influenced. One thing I've been doing on alts is deliberately trying to make avatars with "looks" that are non-White Pride Central as part of broadening out what I feel like I can identify with as part of combating my own racism. I feel like these are valuable areas for self-reflection and for conversation, so I can't deny that I appreciate people bringing it up even if I end up feeling a bit defensive and having my view of myself challenged.