Anyone remember Cup of Brown Joy? (As if I need to ask.) Well, Elemental wandered in to the post I did last year on the song and the rapper/producer who made it.
According to him, you can now get the album, Rebel Without Applause on Tea Sea Records--which includes "Cup of Brown Joy"--and that page is just fun to wander anyway--there are more artists on the label, and lots of samples, and apparently even a recipe section! Whee!
He says the rest of the album is not very "steampunky" at all, but he's very happy with it, and he hopes we will be, too.
You can also listen in on Elemental's MySpace page for more up-to-date information. And if anyone happens through Brighton, drop him an email--he runs a quirky little Victoriana show there called "Come Into My Parlor". Damn, that nearly sounds fun enough to visit Brighton! (Considering your humble correspondent is in the US, that is rather a long trip.)
After the last post, I am feeling the definite need to get away from the adult content topic. Not because I don't want to cover it, not because some part of me still feels I am somehow invested, but because after today, two things have become inescapably clear. First, that the line between avatar and typist is not so much eroding, as buckling completely and falling aside; and second, now that I'm finally at the place where I face my own prejudices on sexuality and (what is generally considered to be) perversion, I'm having to confront a lot of other issues.
None of which, frankly, I really want to talk about to casual blog-wanderers.
But I did want to make one thing very clear. It's not that I've seen a lot of backlash from this, but reading through the last post, I thought I should state some things formally.
First--I am foursquare against violence to women. Rape is not a good thing. Sexual or physical assault is not a good thing. Torture and murder? Not good things, and I'm not in support of any of them.
There are two things that stop this from being a womens' issue (for me) in SL: first, you can take no action in SL without consent--and while, yes, there are ways to 'force' the issue (spamming some new lass with port requests followed by handing over an item with instructions to put it on is one that still, on occasion, works; there's also, somewhere out there, rumors of a 'date rape' virtual drug that blocks out the visual input from the client, leaving only sounds), by and large, at some point the question will be asked, and it's our responsibility to say yes or no.
The second point is, in my opinion, even more vital: the grid is virtual. There are people doing things in SL they would never do in the real, for an insane variety of reasons. Some just treat it as harmless fun. Some have deeper issues, and are either reacting to those, or actively working on those, again for a variety of reasons.
Whether or not extreme sexual content and violence should be seen in video games or virtual worlds has been endlessly debated--not only this past month, but for the past ten years. There are no clear, solid answers. And whether or not places like Stepford should exist in SL, well, that's not a question for us, that's a question for the Lindens. No one, not even me, is asking everyone to support them; I'm just making the point that fantasy, even dark, disturbing fantasy, is one thing; actually doing things in reality is an entirely different thing.
And doing something we've fantasized about--be that the ability to garden outdoors, clear down to, well, Stepford--that's not a bad thing.
As long as you're not doing things that would harm you on the other side of the screen. (Which yeah, for me, includes being outdoors on a sunny day.)
Amanda Linden also has a Twitter feed where she's listing off business innovations in SL--it may be a good working guideline for what the Lindens at large are thinking, and why.
In the meantime, I want to talk about the paranormal movement in Victorian times, Madame Blatavsky, and intolerance in Caledon.
Spiritualism was huge at the time, one of the few things that transcended cultural and economic barriers. Just about everyone, including those who had the benefit of higher education, believed in some aspect of it, and most of them were willing to defend spiritualism in scientific terms--even if, on occasion, those terms fell short. One of the oddities of the movement, in fact, was that--rather in reverse of other cultural movements--it rose from lower levels to higher; the more educated and cultured the social class was, the more intensely they believed--and defended!--spiritualism.
In another interesting twist, spiritualism arrived in Victorian England after beginning in America, at the behest of well-known mediums who hit the scene in 1848, Margaret and Kate Fox. Later joined by their older sister Leah as manager, they hit stage after stage from New York to London, performing the calling of the beloved dead, and perfecting the art of "table rapping", wherein all hands are visible on the table, yet it 'knocks' with unearthly sound.
Whether or not the Fox sisters were "real" mediums is still under debate--there's evidence for both sides of the argument. But whatever history would or would not prove them to be, what they represented was seemingly "scientific" evidence of life beyond this one. And spiritualism was off.
The core of spiritualism was the belief that the dead could communicate through mediums, seers into both realms trained, or simply born, to communicate with the departed. These individuals would go into "trance" states, and could then answer and ask questions given to them. There were many different ways to do this: the most common ones involved levitating household objects, eerie music and lights, distant echoing voices, and even full-on apparitions, occasionally comprised of a substance that became known as "ectoplasm".
Past this point, "spirit boards" were invented, automatic writing made an appearance, and on occasion things got much more dramatic as spiritualism waxed and waned (the rise of Apostolic Christianity paired spiritualism with religion, for one, and the Civil War in America brought hundreds of adherents to the cause), but at the time it began, from 1848, until just after the turn of the century, spiritualism was a strong driving force in two countries at least.
For some, it was a pleasant pastime--draw the curtains, light the lamp, invite your favorite medium over for tea and table-tapping. For others, like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini, it was serious business (if for different reasons).
"Theosophy is the name Blavatsky gave to that portion of knowledge that she brought from the masters to the world. It comes from the term 'Theosophia' used by the Neoplatonists to mean literally 'knowledge of the divine'."
William Butler Yeats was one of many who met the famed "Madame" Blatavsky and joined her Theosophist movement, which persists to this day as, literally, theological philosophy--integrating Hindu and Jewish mystical beliefs, Greek myths and philosophies, Egyptian and Gnostic Christian ritual and magic, and the early scientific principles of death and dying. Theosophists believed then--and believe to this day--that all world religion can be understood in a larger framework; similar to Stephen King's mention of the 'communal myth-pool' in Danse Macabre: that all religion draws from the same group of themes, same cast of characters, same archetypal imagery--simply refitted to adapt to the culture of the believers.
"Madame Helena Blatavsky, who founded Theosophy in 1875, viewed the Gnostics as the precursors of modern occult movements and hailed them for preserving an inner teaching lost to Christian orthodoxy."
Carl Jung was a follower; his twelve archetypes, though developed utilizing his own perceptions, were influenced by Blatavsky's work on collective religious mythology. The entire "New Age" movement--as flaky as it gets at times--was started by a revival of Theosophic beliefs. It's still somewhat hazy--for me, at least--whether Freemasonry influenced Theosophy, or whether Freemasons embraced the writings of Madame Blatavsky, but they are definitely linked. And, intermingled in sometimes unusual ways, the Rosicrucians--with their emphasis on personal understanding and Egyptian history--play into it, again either as another information source Blatavsky drew upon, or as a spiritual movement influenced by Theosophy.
But it all started in a humble little part of Manhattan, in the waning years of the spiritualist movement, that "Madame" Helena Petrovna Blatavsky used to set up shop. Born in 1831, dying in 1891, she didn't do that much that was different from the standard round of mediums at the time--the table-tapping, the luminous ghostly presences in the background, the eerie music playing where no source of music was seen. And she had her share of detractors, more than most--and there are those to this day that said she was the consummate example of the "fake seer".
However, little of that matters, in terms of what she wrote. What Blatavsky ended up doing, and quite well, indeed--was provide a conversational framework, that so many follow to this day--a way to comprehend core beliefs of any faith, and identify their roots--all the way back to Babylon and Egypt.
This is quite the fun article on Freemasons, if you're interested. And go through the Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary, if you want; it's eye-opening and very nearly exhaustive.
All right, so--what does this have to do with intolerance in Caledon?
This is the tricky bit. You see, Caledon is a wildly diverse place. We have Duchesses and Dukes, Baronesses and builders. We have egalitarian treatment of both genders. We have the Bashful Peacock, Caledon's premier--and mayhap only--club for gentlemen and ladies who prefer the company of gentlemen and ladies.
(For anyone outside Caledon reading this? That does mean what you think it means.)
And we have religions. Oh, my, do we have religions. We have Walpurgisnacht (for the Wulfenbachians) and May Eve (for Caledon nature worshippers) both coming up tonight, and on any given Sunday you can find Miss Elspeth Woolley and other devoted souls in St. Patrick's Cathedral in Magellan Kinvara. There's an even wider diversity of belief amongst actual residents, from the serious all the way down to Miss Poindexter's Church of Rosedale.
Up until recently, I held out hope that--while scuffles have broken out in the past--we were, more or less, able to deal with the major issues, and keep moving forward as a nation.
I may no longer agree with this.
I've recently found out that Mr. Jayleden Miles, one of the founders of the Caledon Paranormal Society, and also the H.P. Blavatsky Memorial Branch of the Caledon Library (it opens May 1st, in Caledon Wellsian), has been called a Satanist for his efforts in celebrating this period of American and English history, and, while Theosophists and spiritualists both were called that--and worse--during the heyday of the movement, I like to think--in Caledon, at least--we're bigger than that.
Yes, yes, I know I'm wrong, I know many of us are petty vindictive people, but come on, it's a library!
Which means, if that doesn't say anything, that it's backed by Sir JJ Drinkwater. NO Caledon Library branch is built in a vacuum.
Which also means, if that still doesn't tell you anything, that it's backed by Desmond Shang.
You want to take on JJ in high dunder or Des even mildly irked? I sure don't, and I make life difficult for Des like it's my hobby.
So knock it off! Jayleden is no more a Satanist than I'm Darien Mason. GET OVER IT.