Thursday, March 11, 2010

splitting, splitting sound, silver heels spitting, spitting snow

many people tell you that they're your friend
you believe them
you need them
for what's round the river bend

Vertical farming. It's the wave of the future. (No, seriously. And thanks to Bettina Tizzy for finding the link.)

make sure that you're receiving the signals they send
'cause brother you've only got two hands to lend

In another found link, Miss Kamenev provided In Defense of Victorientalism by Gatehouse Magazine. The line that stuck most strongly with her was, "Because steampunk is fiction, not research." I think it's both, myself--one cannot have good fiction without some research into whatever it is one is writing about--but I'm more intrigued by the second assertion, that Victorientalism--and, by extension, steampunk--is all about the bright brass and the ever striding forward, that sense of Empire and prosperity, invention and creation. There is no 'dark side', Gatehouse Magazine tells us.

I beg to differ. It is difficult not to appreciate, on a vital and visceral level, the class split between rich and poor when one ponders gears and fittings to convert a laptop case. (If one even owns a laptop.) It is very difficult indeed to desire a proper set of leather airship togs, when one can neither afford the leather, the fittings for the buckles, or knows anyone who sews. (I'm not in that camp, but even so, I can't sew leather--I stop at denim, because I'm still doing everything by hand. And with my hands? It takes a while!)

maybe there's someone who makes you weep
and some nights loom up ahead
when you're asleep

Or let's consider the interpretations of steampunk on the grid: yes, there are shining air palaces and winsome rosy-cheeked Daughters of Industry in SL; there is opportunity for everyone who can rez out a prim and play with building. But there is a learning curve, as well. Not everyone can sculpt, for instance, or afford the sculpts that others make. And nearly anyone can texture, but it does take some understanding to texture well. And once textured, if the fabric/metal/leather texture was unshadowed, it looks bright and sharp and decidedly un-aged in any fundamental way. One must then learn to bake shadows, or how properly to apply shadows, shading and age to textures exported to a graphics program.

Again, if one has one.

some days there's things on your mind you should keep
sometimes it's tougher to look than to leap
better watch out for the skin deep

It's all well and good to move from the position of wealth and intrigue towards other distant lands, but trust me--when the decision to buy a $40 pair of hand-wrapped watch-gear earrings must be weighed against the desire to keep food in the house? Or to pay rent? Such ephemera prove lovely, and no less desired, but discarded in favor of brute necessity.

In this sense? Scrabbling to make do, recycling what we have, adding bits and scraps of trim and beads hoarded from other projects, along with metallic parts from the things that have broken down...steampunk or not, it just makes economic sense. And it is sense that one doesn't acquire when the only decisions in the life fall to buying a new corset with the three bustle dresses...or two new corsets.

Trust me when I say this--I think many more people than might be previously understood get the class struggle; wage slavery; homelessness; lack of sufficient medical care or upper-level educational benefits; patched clothing, patched structures, and keeping the engines running at any cost, repairing on repairs, and teaching ourselves to do what we can, ourselves, because we cannot afford specialists.

one day the track that you're climbing gets steep
your emotions are frayed
and your nerves are starting to creep

There are a couple parcels--maybe just the one, but there's a larger one that has nothing on it and seems to say 'Available'--up for sale in Winterfell Absinthe (that SLUrl will lead you to a point midway between the two open parcels). The one I know is for sale is directly aside der Hut des Jaegers, on Autumnset Road, and it's a lovely little 512 parcel with 234 prims for use. Themes must be medieval fantasy, though dark Victorian/Edwardian is also allowed, providing no Tesla coils or other electronic devices are used. That one goes for L$500 per week, and L$500 to acquire.

We aren't quiet neighbors, to be sure, but we're really only rambunctious on Thursdays. And you're always welcome to come over for a tipple, or to read a poem on Thursday evenings.

According to the Gamasutra blog, Ragnarok II--an update to the original that profoundly changes known game dynamics--is due out sometime this year. We're still watching for the when, since that article was release back in December of last year.

And according to Jon Wood of MMORPG, he says the future is Facebook for MMOs, as well.

Am I the only person who'd be happy if Facebook spontaneously exploded? I can't be. Come on, now. Complaints of slow service and things not loading and stalkers and weird formats...I cannot be the only one.

just remember the days
as long as the time that you keep
brother you better watch out for the skin deep

And in all else, the storm is passing, and it remains only to pick up what shattered in its wake. It will be a slow rebuilding, but I am, if nothing else, stubborn to any fault. And determined. I may not remain the same, after all the pieces are back in place, but...when have I ever?

(Lyrics from the Stranglers' song, Skin Deep.)


Sphynx Soleil said...

Am I the only person who'd be happy if Facebook spontaneously exploded? I can't be. Come on, now. Complaints of slow service and things not loading and stalkers and weird formats...I cannot be the only one.

No, you're not. I'd be just as thrilled if they spontaneously combusted in the near future. *Especially* because of their insistence on RL info, which I see no need to hand out to a social site. :)

Emilly Orr said...

That's my one flamingly big complaint. And when I had my six-day account, I signed on with my SL name. Screw them and their rules, I wasn't going to hang around, they don't need my RL info.

Also, haiii! *hugs you* Hope things are going well. Or, as well as can be expected.

Lalo Telling said...

I spent a handful of wonder-filled hours photographing the Winterfell regions this past December (using a contest at Koinup as an excuse to explore). By the time I was done, I had enabled the world map's function of showing land for sale, and was lingering over a 1024 on the north coast of Ebonshire... Winterfell is that enchanting, and that enticing as a place to reside.

But... these are the times that try men's and women's pocketbooks, and as mine currently has no input, I must be penurious about its output. Translating those L$500's into their approximate US$2 equivalents yields an annual cost of $106 for half the Mainland 1024 I homestead now (group land; my annual Premium + $5/month = $132). You can see: $0.21/sq m in Winterfell vs $0.12/sq m in Luskwood... and if my Irish-style thatched stone cottage didn't pass thematic muster, there'd be the additional expense of a new home.

Maybe by December (when my Premium is up for renewal), I'll have an income, and thus a larger entertainment budget. Maybe I'll drop Premium and apply those funds toward living off the Mainland, in a literally fantastic community like Winterfell. Maybe the horse will learn to sing...

Icterus Dagger said...

As much as I agree with your notions on a Facebook-like model for SL, I have to say that I do find FB useful. But I am not on of those who update statuses every 5 minutes or play their farming or zoo games. I use it to stay connected with my family, most of whom live quite far away from me. The one application I use regularly is a birding app that helps me keep track of my life list and manage important sightings.

Their insistence on RL information - meh, I can see both sides of it, and for now it doesn't irk me personally, though I do sometimes fail to see why it's so damn important to them that no SL avatars and the like have accounts to network there.

It's all in how you use the tools, I guess.


Emilly Orr said...

Mr. Telling,

I have longed to live in Winterfell since I first discovered it, back when it was only one sim. I'm in much the same position--if local finances improve, I might well be able to buy in, somewhere. If they don't, there's no sense worrying over it, which is also why I tossed up the Winterfell Absinthe parcel. One, because some Wulfenbach supporter may well buy the plot and set up another dance garden, or some such. But two, because if I can't get it, then someone should.

Emilly Orr said...

Mr. Dagger,

I'm sure there are uses for FaceBook, and good ones: a very dear friend of mine uses FaceBook to keep in contact with friends and family not me. Occasionally he will offer his services as a tour guide to the site. I've always said no.

I can also see their side of it, but by the same extension, I'd much prefer, if they really need to know who's behind the curtain, what SL and other sites do: fine, keep your handle, you tell US who you are. And I'm perfectly okay with that; I just don't want RL ties to a sprawling stalker complex like FaceBook. I'd invent a new identity anyway--I am never giving them RL details, I just don't trust them.

Magdalena Kamenev said...

Oh, it's not that I didn't have any reaction to the rest of the "Defending Vicorientalism" post, but others on Twitter and blogs had gone toe-to-toe with the other parts of the post and I thought to leave them to it rather than risk apoplexy or resigned cynicism.

Emilly Orr said...

Miss Kamenev,

I do understand that, I just picked up on what hit me directly. As far as the actual time, and the neoclassic/Oriental reflections on society at large, I think Gatehouse is mostly right when they say it was, more or less, innocent in nature, not racially damning.

What they miss, how'ver, is that the sense of innocence sprang directly from stripping the identities from those deemed 'exotic' to upper-class Victorian eyes: anyone who wasn't white, or English, or upper-class became, in this sense, absolutely charming and enthralling. Not because their cultures weren't that interesting--some cultures were and are--but because to the upper class Victorians, at least as a group, these were attractively attired--well, not animals, precisely, but obviously cute indigenous things, to be gawked at and marveled over.

I suspect I'm preaching to the choir on this one, though I did find it somewhat stunning that a modern-day magazine, even one focusing on past events, would hold a similar attitude.

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Emilly Orr said...


Thanks for the link, and when I have more time (when it's not the Feast of Padraig), I will definitely read through.

It's a thorny topic to be sure--does simple like for steampunk as a genre mean embracing all the bad things about an era? If it's the-past-as-it-never-was does it matter?

Does remind me a bit of the SCA--all that love for medieval life and times, save that it's generally the love of a medieval section of history where people miraculously didn't have to work fourteen hours or more a day to make ends meet; had access to health care; had better personal hygiene; assistive devices and surgical solutions...the list goes on, and that's without getting into the fact that there are female fighters in the SCA and that, for the most part, women are accorded the same status as men.

Lalo Telling said...

Miss Emilly ~

Your comparison to the SCA is cogent. The SCA, and mediaevalists generally, are a fandom. Yea, though individual members may also be historical researchers, or craftpersons reviving auncient skills, for the most part they are "cosplaying" fans of a genre of literature which, as early as the 1300s, had already romanticized a period 300 to 500 years in their past. (cf. Malory's Le Morte d'Artur) We derive the very word romance (and the French and Germans, Roman for "novel") from the Old French romanz, which first described a style of writing (for example, Roman de la Rose).

I would put forth -- from the outside, as it were -- that the generic term steampunk also is, in is broadest sense, a fandom like the SCA or Science Fiction fans. That is (not to gainsay the scholarly among them), they are enthusiasts for a period and a style which begins as a romanticized vision and proceeds from there.

My first exposure the subgenre of science-fictional literature now dubbed steampunk was through the works of the late Keith Roberts. They were set in an "alternative timeline", if you will, in which the internal combustion engine held no sway and steam still reigned; thus, there was no connection with Victoriana, never mind the portmanteau "Victorientalism".

All of which above is a long-winded way to agree with you: "If it's the-past-as-it-never-was does it matter?" No, it doesn't.

After all: If science fiction set in the future were held to the strictest verisimilitude to be gained from our present, there would be no stories of manned space travel beyond low Earth orbit.

Icterus Dagger said...

Apart from the manned lunar missions, of course.


Emilly Orr said...

To answer these out of order:

Mr. Dagger,

Apart from those, yes, save for the contingent of humanity who still believes fervently those missions were faked.

Emilly Orr said...

And Mr. Telling,

Yes and no, and the why behind that I've always found fascinating.

From the SCA's earliest inception, it has been a costume recreation of medieval western European life. But when I came in, my first experience of the SCA was with the group my friend camped with--a tribe of Huns, who took the Mongol lifestyle very seriously. Most of the main tribe members (though not the allies) had yurts, dinners were authentic (at least as poor California college students and their hangers-on could make them), and we learned enough Mongolian to get by when the Khan spoke formally.

In return, most of the local SCA folk? Hated us with a fiery vengeance. In fact, the first event I attended, there was a petition in Court to have us formally evicted. Literally--and I do mean this--run out with pitchforks and torches. We could see the glow of the torches over the hill.

So in an odd sense, that was an absolute reflection of the times. There was no acceptance workshops for people of other races, creeds or castes--it was pure and undisguised loathing for Not-Us. When I asked some of the founders of the SCA (for most of them lived in Cynagua still), they told me--and records uphold this--that any culture with a set of rules for honor and merited good behavior that falls within accepted historical periods is good.

Which is fine if you want to play a merchant from the Ukraine wandering around France in 1395; people tend to complain, and loudly, if you want to play Mayans, Egyptians, or the one I ran into--a 7th-century Aqatiri cook and seamstress who allied with the tribe of Mongols who destroyed her village, rather than die, and traveled with them, learning their culture. (This is what I played for more than ten years in the SCA, yes.)

To this day, you're gold if you want to play a Western European of any stripe; but if you don't have a tremendous will and stubborn streak, you're not going to survive long playing anything else. That, at least, is period.

Lalo Telling said...

Fascinating, Miss Emilly ~

I wonder: have you read the 6-book series (to become 7 in September of this year) by S.M. Stirling that begins with Dies the Fire? If not, I believe you'll enjoy it.

The set-up is 'alternative timeline meets post-disaster'. Suddenly, critical things like firearms and internal combustion engines cease to work: the laws of chemistry have been altered, world-wide. Among the successful survivors are people who taught themselves skills from an earlier time, as members of the SCA.

Emilly Orr said...

I haven't, but it sounds interesting. And yes, those would be the people to help out in such a situation--SCA members, and to another extent, Roundup/frontier recreationists. (Though they do deal more with gunpowder and flintlocks, to be fair.)