Second Second Life

Today Chris Meadows on TeleRead has introduced me to a new phenomenon that I had not yet contemplated: the integration of literature into “virtual worlds”, the meta-website-alternate-universe concoctions that have been emerged within the electronic petri dish of the internet*.

The first strike into the terra icognita of literary and visual amalgams has been made by JK Rowling, probably because actually repurposing an existing country into a fully functioning colony of unimpeded whimsy turned out, alas, to be slightly too expensive. My first thought is that this might be a leap that audiences are not quite prepared for. Before there can be synthesis, we have to draw clear boundaries between mediums, which have discrete strengths and weaknesses, not to mention creative intentions that are necessarily at odds. The immediate,visceral response to a moving image and the accretion of emotional engagement that defines the experience of reading must be carefully combined, and the initial forays haven’t produced their landmark works (yet).

I can only conjure one bit of wisdom from the work of Tom Wolfe (more a comment on me than on him), and I think it serves as an indicator of where were the locomotive of innovation should stop before we reach a point of no return. I’m thinking of the day where a younger devotee of the Potter works is only required to sit and look at what is happening, rather than sit and imagine it for themselves. Here is the Wolfe quote I had in mind, from the Painted Word: “…there, at last, it was! No more realism, no more representation objects, no more lines, colors, forms, and contours, no more pigments, no more brushstrokes. …Art made its final flight, climbed higher and higher in an ever-decreasing tighter-turning spiral until… it disappeared up its own fundamental aperture… and came out the other side as Art Theory!… Art Theory pure and simple, words on a page, literature undefiled by vision… late twentieth-century Modern Art was about to fulfill its destiny, which was: to become nothing less than Literature pure and simple”.

I think the reverse scenario is equally possible. Literature dissolved into color, a two-dimensional plane that is acceptably unreal. Its merits are certainly valid, but not at the expense of the instantly hyper-dimensional and perfectly personal worlds that we carry in our skulls, perpetually waiting for new forms of inspiration. The purity of this creative triggers might not be essential, but the influence on profit and unending growth might accelerate the process of synergy at a pace that could negate the power of each and all.

*Confession: two things that come to my mind first: 1) Dwight Schrute creating an avatar that is exactly like him but can fly. 2) Keanu Reeves**

**not from the Matrix. Johnny Mnemonic.

    • radiosilent
    • August 24th, 2011

    harry popper?
    also: why is this young lass being subjected to carrying a CRT on her head? seems like an awfully weighty albatross.

    • Have you ever even played “Clouds”? If you had, you’d realize that trying to play without the helmet would be absurd. Without the helmet the joystick is useless. Do they not have “Clouds” in Texas? I could’ve sworn that they had a whole episode of “Friday Night Lights” about it. Or maybe it was football. Nope, it was Clouds. Definitely remember Matt Saracen putting one on his grandma’s head 😉

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