The “S” Word: A Short History of an American Tradition…Socialism – review of a review

I was checking out a new book I came across: The “S” Word: A Short History of an American Tradition…Socialism by John Nichols. I noticed a book review of it by Michael Lind in the Guardian. Mr. Linds is very misinformed or else is intentionally spreading disinformation. Either way, I thought I should respond:

– – –

“Yet Nichols distorts history by dragooning reformist liberals into his socialist tradition. For example, Tom Paine is posthumously drafted as a socialist hero because he favoured a version of a welfare state and progressive taxation, even though these are compatible with an economy based primarily on private property. Nichols does not mention Paine’s belief in minimal government or his support of an armed citizenry, which are cited today by American libertarians and opponents of gun control.”

There is no inherent conflict between libertarianism and socialism, between valuing both liberty and fairness, both negative and positive freedom, between valuing both individual and collective good, both private and public good. I can’t stand this ideological mindset of either/or absolutism and win/lose scenarios.

Socialism can’t co-exist with capitalism, but it can co-exist with a free market (a criticism even made by some libertarians such as John C. Medaille). And why is this reviewer so simpleminded as to think someone can’t simultaneously support socialism, minimal government and gun rights. The reviewer asks why Nichols doesn’t mention Paine’s belief in minimal government. If the reviewer is demanding fairness, then why didn’t he mention Paine’s belief in a government that is strong enough and central enough to enforce regulation of ownership rights and to constrain the problems caused by private ownership?

This book review is so far beyond misinformation as to not even be amusing. There are all kinds of socialists, including minarchists and even anarchists. As for libertarianism, it’s history is intertwined with that of socialism:

http://globetrotter.berkeley.edu/people2/Chomsky/chomsky-con2.html

The United States is sort of out of the world on this topic. Britain is to a limited extent, but the United States is like on Mars. So here, the term “libertarian” means the opposite of what it always meant in history. Libertarian throughout modern European history meant socialist anarchist. It meant the anti-state element of the Workers Movement and the Socialist Movement. It sort of broke into two branches, roughly, one statist, one anti-statist. The statist branch led to Bolshevism and Lenin and Trotsky, and so on. The anti-statist branch, which included Marxists, Left Marxists — Rosa Luxemburg and others — kind of merged, more or less, into an amalgam with a big strain of anarchism into what was called “libertarian socialism.” So libertarian in Europe always meant socialist. Here it means ultra-conservative — Ayn Rand or Cato Institute or something like that. But that’s a special U.S. usage. There are a lot of things quite special about the way the United States developed, and this is part of it. There [in Europe] it meant, and always meant to me, socialist and anti-state, an anti-state branch of socialism, which meant a highly organized society, completely organized and nothing to do with chaos, but based on democracy all the way through. That means democratic control of communities, of workplaces, of federal structures, built on systems of voluntary association, spreading internationally. That’s traditional anarchism. You know, anybody can have the word if they like, but that’s the mainstream of traditional anarchism.

And, as for liberal reformers, social democrats and socialists are kissing cousins. Socialists seem far more supportive of social democracy than the average person. A government doesn’t have to be socialist in order to implement socialist policies and socialist solutions don’t require a state to implement them. Many if not most socialists I’ve come across aren’t for statist socialism, especially not in terms of Maoism or Stalinism.

“In discussing the perennial failed candidates of the Socialist party, Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas, Nichols edits aspects of their thought which are incompatible with modern leftism.”

So? What does that have to do with anything? If you look at early proponents of capitalism, you’ll find people who held views which are incompatible with modern fiscal conservatism or modern lots of things. People are complex and hold complex views of the world. Also, people’s views are dependent on the times. Even radical thinkers aren’t always able to see entirely beyond the status quo worldview of the society they live in.

As a last point, it’s a complete fabrication to say that:

“Nichols ignores the principled anti-communism of much of the democratic socialist left.”

Nichols writes about this (pp. 181-182):

There were certainly American Communists who romanticized the Soviet Union, made absurd apologies for its totalitarian excesses and aligned their positions in domestic debates to parallel “the Moscow line.” But there were many other Communists and non-Communist lefties, like Longshore union head and west-coast CIO director Harry Bridges, who were less interested in what was happening in Leningrad than in the intensity of the commitment of CP activists to organize workers in Seattle and Pittsburgh and Birmingham. They tended to share the view expressed by the Australian-born Bridges when the government attempted to deport him on charges that he was a “secret Communist.” Bridges denied the affiliation, expressed robust small-“d” democratic views and derided the notion that working with groups that supported strong unions and public ownership of utilities and major industries made him un-American. Radical trade unionists weren’t taking orders from abroad, Bridges explained, they were responding to reality on the ground in a United States that had been ravaged by the Great Depression.

Was this supposed to be a book review or just a hit job?

Battle In Seattle: A Personal Response

I just watched the film Battle In Seattle.

I don’t have any grand opinion about it’s quality as entertainment. It isn’t great art, but it did hold my attention. More importantly, it’s about as close as Hollywood usually ever comes to even slightly grasping the reality of a major grassroots protest… which isn’t necessarily saying a lot. It is worthy in how it gives one some idea of what it might feel like to be at such an event. But, of course, it inevitably leaves out a lot of context and substance. It’s only a movie, afterall. In order to have any real understanding, you would’ve had to been there and have read tons of material about it.

I realize many people criticize the film because of its failings, but I’m annoyed by people who criticize it with an attitude of superiority. It’s just a fucking movie. Anyway, it introduces a lot of people to an event that they would otherwise be ignorant about. It might even inspire some people do some research to learn something new.

Anyway, here is one scene that caught my attention:

Sam: “How do you stop those who stop at nothing?”

Jay: “You don’t stop.”

You could say that it’s just cheesy dialogue (“The conversations are made up of clichés or slogans.”), but that misses the point. Cheese or not, it is still true. That is the 64 million dollar question. I feel that question gnawing at my mind (not the exact wording, but the sentiment of the question). It’s always there. The character realizes that those with power control everything including the media. This protest was before the rise of the internet as we now know it. The average person couldn’t easily put videos on the web and have it go viral. Still, even with the internet today, most people feel just as powerless. The mainstream media only reports what is in the interest of the corporations that own the media.

Why did the protests fail? Was it because of the violence? No. If it had been completely peaceful, it would have had even less impact and would now be forgotten. It wasn’t a complete failure. The problem is the media won’t pay attention until they are forced to pay attention. Even when they are forced, they will still just spin the story. Seattle didn’t succeed for the simple reason it was only one protest. Imagine, however, if protests like that had been going on in every major city around the US and around the world all at the same time.

But that wasn’t the real reason I wanted to post about this movie. I was curious about the lines I quoted above and so did a websearch. I found two reviews which both portrayed different versions of an attitude of superiority.

The first reviewer is someone who apparently is an activist and he feels superior out of some sense of haughtiness. His review had two parts (here is the first part), but it was the second part that interested me where he has some minor commentary on the above scene. His commentary lacks any deep insight and so I won’t quote it, just wanted to point it out as an example. The author seemed to be expressing garden variety cynicism… and was looking down upon mere mortals who might enjoy this movie as an introduction to a major event in US history. I guess he is too cool for any movie made for the masses.

The second reviewer annoyed me even more and I will quote the relevant section below. Basically, the reviewer was entirely ignorant of this major event despite his working in the media at the time. He acts nonchalant, maybe even slightly proud, about his own ignorance. And then he blames the movie for not lessening his ignorance (considering the degree of his ignorance, that is probably expecting too much out of a movie based on a complex event).

The funny thing about this real-life incident is that I was alive and well and conscious and even working at a newspaper in 1999, and yet I have no memory of it whatsoever. I’m guessing I read the news stories, saw “World Trade Organization,” had no idea what that was or why people were protesting it, and stopped reading before I got to the good part, i.e., the part where cops were busting hippie skulls.

The film is kind of terrible. It makes almost no effort to explain the protesters’ grievances against the WTO, instead assuming that we will be on their side regardless. One of the characters even makes a joke about how the general public doesn’t know what the WTO is; all they know is that it’s bad. So, OK, ha ha, interesting comment, but it kinda undermines the WHOLE POINT OF YOUR MOVIE.

Also undermining the movie: the terrible, terrible dialogue. I quote some of the more generic examples:

“The press would have a field day!”

HE: “You know nothing about me!”
SHE: “I’ve been around men like you all my life.”

(Spoken to a pregnant woman.) “You want adventure? You just signed up for the greatest adventure of all!”

“You’re gonna turn downtown into a war zone!”

“How do you stop those who stop at nothing?”

So … yeah. “Battle in Seattle.” The minute I saw this film, I knew it was poo.

I’ve noticed there are many other films about the WTO protests in Seattle:

Showdown In Seattle

This Is What Democracy Looks Like

I noticed that some people highly recommend them, but I haven’t watched them. So, I can’t say anything about them, much less compare them to the Battle In Seattle. But let me end with someone defending the relevance of the Battle In Seattle (emphasis mine):

The issue that Battle in Seattle filmmaker Stuart Townsend seeks to raise, as he recently stated, is “[what it takes] to create real and meaningful change.”

The question is notoriously difficult. In the film, characters like Martin Henderson’s Jay, a veteran environmental campaigner driven by a tragedy experienced on a past logging campaign, and Michelle Rodriguez’s Lou, a hard-bitten animal rights activist, debate the effectiveness of protest. Even as they take to Seattle’s streets, staring down armor-clad cops (Woody Harrelson, Channing Tatum) commanded by a tormented and indecisive mayor (Ray Liotta), they wonder whether their actions can have an impact.

Generally speaking, the response of many Americans is to dismiss protests out of hand-arguing that demonstrators are just blowing off steam and won’t make a difference. But if any case can be held as a counter-example, Seattle is it.

The 1999 mobilization against the World Trade Organization has never been free from criticism. As Andre 3000’s character in the movie quips, even the label “Battle in Seattle” makes the protests sound less like a serious political event and more “like a Monster Truck show.” While the demonstrations were still playing out and police were busy arresting some 600 people, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman issued his now-famous edict stating that deluded activists were just “looking for their 1960s fix.” This type of disregard has continued with the release of the film. A review in the Seattle Weekly dismissively asked, “Remind me again what those demonstrations against the WTO actually accomplished.”

While cynicism comes cheap, those concerned about global poverty, sweatshop labor, outsourced jobs, and threats to the environment can witness remarkable changes on the international scene. Today, trade talks at the WTO are in shambles, sister institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund are now shriveled versions of their once-imposing selves, and the ideology of neoliberal corporate globalization is under intense fire, with mainstream economists defecting from its ranks and entire regions such as Latin America in outright revolt. As global justice advocates have long argued, the forces that created these changes “did not start in Seattle.” Yet few trade observers would deny that the week of protest late in the last millennium marked a critical turning point.

Review: The Man on the Ceiling by Steve Rasnic Tem & Melanie Tem

Review: The Man on the Ceiling by Steve Rasnic Tem & Melanie Tem

Posted on Jan 7th, 2009 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade

I don’t enjoy most popular horror and I don’t normally buy horror to read, but this book attracted me.  It has nice cover art (you can judge a book by its cover), and I had noticed it at the bookstore for some time before finally deciding to get it.  I might write more about this later, but for now my review from Amazon…

It seems some people just didn’t get this book.  I suppose I understand their confusion.  Its a very experimental book in how it combines autobiography and story all the while doing this as a collaboration.  Its impressive considering how difficult a challenge this must have been.
I liked it.  There were some deep insights in this book and they avoided giving easy answers or simple stories.  Its not exactly a novel, but I wouldn’t go so far to say the label doesn’t apply.  There are many stories within the book.  More importantly, its about the process of making stories out of life experience and making sense of life experience through story.
There is a cleverness to this book, but it didn’t seem pretentious to me.  What the authors set out to do necessitated cleverness.  I enjoyed how smoothly they mixed nonfiction and fiction.
I was satisfied enough with this book that I give it an overall good review.  It was worth the money spent.  It wasn’t perfect, but its hard to imagine any two authors collaborating to create something better.  I’ve never read anything that compares to this book and so reviewing it is difficult.  Fortunately, I had no expectations going in and so I was able to judge it on its own merits.  However, if someone buys it hoping for a normal novel, then they’d be dissapointed.
There is something specific that I appreciated the most.  Horror is too often limited to the perspective of the individual.  This book is about how closely related are love and fear.
Its a hard book to get a grasp of, but I think it will grow on me more and more.  I immediately read back through the book after finishing it.  I’m sure its a book I will return to many times.

Access_public Access: Public 3 Comments Print Post this!views (151)  

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 5 hours later

Nicole said

i will probably never read it, but it’s interesting how strongly this book has attracted you.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 10 hours later

Marmalade said

Its a very unusual book that attempts to convey a very difficult subject matter. The authors are a married couple. The book is a collaborative work about the very collaboration that is their shared life together. They are very different people and yet seem to balance eachother.

All of their children are adopted, and for whatever reason they seem attracted to somewhat troubled children. One of their sons hung himself when he was 9 years old, an age when a kid can’t even comprehend death.

They clearly demonstrate their love for eachother and for their children. I’ve never been married nor have had children, but I was completely able to understand and empathize.

The book isn’t about horror vs love, but about how horror and love flow into one another, how love demands risking ourselves to the horrors that can befall those we love. This book has the emotional impact that it does because the stories they share are so personal. They give you about as much of a glimpse into their lives as is possible for an author to give.

The book also goes beyond just this. Its about what makes life worth living, what keeps a person doing what they do, what they must do. And its about feeling wonder. Life is hard to make sense of and even story can only go so far. This book is about the limits of life and about looking beyond these limits to see what is there… even when we are afraid or maybe because we are afraid.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

it sounds very powerful.

Virtual Worlds: Comparisons and Overviews

Virtual Worlds: Comparisons and Overviews

Posted on Nov 16th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
Okay, I’m finally getting around to posting something about virtual worlds.  I’ll probably post something more later (in which I might give more of my own perspective), but this is just an introduction.  I came across lots of interesting info and so I need to break it up.  This post will present only info that gives an overview perspective.  There are some virtual globes/maps mixed in here, but I’ll post a separate blog about them sometime in the near future.And the examples that the Wikipedia has entries about:

  • Active Worlds
  • Club Penguin
  • EGO
  • Entropia Universe
  • Google Lively
  • Habbo Hotel
  • World of Kaneva
  • Meez
  • Nicktropolis
  • Project Wonderland
  • Second Life
  • There
  • The Sims Online
  • Worlds
  • Zwinky
  • Here are two interactive diagrams.  The first one is a timeline which is pretty cool.  I couldn’t figure out how to post them into the blog.  So, here are the links:

    http://www.dipity.com/user/xantherus/timeline/Virtual_Worlds

    http://www.dipity.com/twitter_virtualworlds/personal

    These following videos give show some excerpts from various virtual worlds:

     


    The last video was made by Gary Hayes who wrote about it in this blog:

    http://www.lamp.edu.au/watercooler/the-expanding-metaverse-the-social-virtual-worlds-a-stage/

    He wrote about some of his thoughts about virtual worlds and gives a list of the virtual worlds in order from the video:


    Gary Hayes also presented one of these diagrams from this site:


    http://www.kzero.co.uk/blog/?page_id=2092

    The virtual worlds Universe



    Shown right is the K Zero ‘Universe-graph’. This graph shows total registered accounts across a wide-range of different virtual worlds with accompanying average age and year of formation.
    Virtual worlds currently in development are also included. Read more here
    The Radar

    Shown left is the virtual worlds Radar graph.
    A segmentation of the major virtual worlds live or in development. Each world is assigned to a category and average age range.
    Read more about the Radar here.  

    The Explorers: Marketing activity across multiple virtual worlds
    Companies and brands are starting to explore different virtual worlds in order to open dialogues with distinct target markets and demographics.
    These companies include fashion and clothing brands looking to sell virtual goods and real-world media owners leveraging assets virtually through to toy brands seeking to expand the level of engagement with their products.
    The graph shown left shows companies and brands engaging in worlds catering to kids and tweens – a key growth area. Read more

    The rest that I’m posting below are just different diagrams that show the variety of virtual worlds and some of them have hyperlinks to more detailed info:

    http://www.fredcavazza.net/2007/10/04/virtual-universes-landscape/

    This map is divided in 4 main fields:

    • Social, with universe revolving around community building
    • Games, with universes relying on online games
    • Entertainment, where music, videos and films related content
    • Business, where selling or exchanging goods is the main motivator for users and with enterprise applications (virtual training, serious games…)

    Please not that these fields overlap themselves:

    VirtualUniversesLandscape.jpg

    If you search for a high-quality version of this map, here it is: Virtual Universes Landscape.

    A wide typology of uages

    You can find on this map various groups which are related to specific usage:


    http://www.metaverseroadmap.org/overview/index.html

    To construct our scenario set we selected two key continua that are likely to influence the ways in which the Metaverse unfolds: the spectrum of technologies and applications ranging from augmentation to simulation; and the spectrum ranging from intimate (identity-focused) to external (world-focused).

    • Augmentation refers to technologies that add new capabilities to existing real systems; in the Metaverse context, this means technologies that layer new control systems and information onto our perception of the physical environment.
    • Simulation refers to technologies that model reality (or parallel realities), offering wholly new environments; in the Metaverse context, this means technologies that provide simulated worlds as the locus for interaction.
    • Intimate technologies are focused inwardly, on the identity and actions of the individual or object; in the Metaverse context, this means technologies where the user (or semi-intelligent object) has agency in the environment, either through the use of an avatar/digital profile or through direct appearance as an actor in the system.
    • External technologies are focused outwardly, towards the world at large; in the Metaverse context, this means technologies that provide information about and control of the world around the user.

    These continua are “critical uncertainties”-critical because they are fundamental aspects of the coming Metaverse, and uncertainties because how they will emerge, their relative and absolute development in various contexts, is yet to be seen.

    Combining the two critical uncertainties gives four key components of the Metaverse future:

    Virtual Worlds

    Mirror Worlds

    Augmented Reality

    Lifelogging


    http://www.virtualenvironments.info/virtual-worlds-comparison-chart
      

    Comparison of Virtual Environments
    Virtual
    World
    OS Cost per month Target user & style Edit
    avatars?
    Build or design content? Script content? Own land or sell items? Education
    ready?
    Comm. Events?
    Active Worlds
    PC & Linux Free / $6.95 General; Exploration Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
    No selling
    Can code Checkmark
    Barbie Girls PC Free Young girls; Fashion, social Checkmark Checkmark No Neither No Checkmark
    Club Penguin PC & Mac Free / $5.95 Kids; Games and Activities Checkmark No No Neither No Checkmark
    Forterra Systems PC Contract Training, E-Learning, Serious Games Checkmark Can code Checkmark Checkmark Can code Can code
    Gaia Online PC & Mac Free Social; Top-down overview, sprites Checkmark No No Sorta No Checkmark
    Habbo Hotel PC & Mac Free Teens; Social Checkmark Checkmark No Neither No Checkmark
    Kaneva PC & Mac Free Teens; Social Checkmark Checkmark No Sorta No Checkmark
    Neopets PC & Mac Free / $7.95 Kids and teens; Mini-games, social Checkmark No No Checkmark
    Checkmark
    No Checkmark
    Teen Second Life PC & Mac Free / $9.95 Teens only; 3D, Creation, social Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
    Checkmark
    Can code Checkmark
    Second Life PC & Mac Free / $9.95 18+ only; 3D, Creation Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
    Checkmark
    Can code Checkmark
    The Sims Online PC $9.95/mo. General; Social; 3D Checkmark Checkmark No Checkmark
    No selling
    No Checkmark
    There PC Free / $9.95 General; Social Checkmark Checkmark Limited Checkmark
    Checkmark
    No Checkmark
    Webkins PC Free Social Checkmark No No Neither No Checkmark
    Whyville PC & Mac Free Kids and teens; 2D sprites; Educational Checkmark Checkmark No Neither Checkmark Checkmark
    Zwinktopia
    PC & Mac Free Teens; Social Checkmark No No Neither No Checkmark

    The following is a legend for the above chart:

    • Virtual world – The name of the virtual environment.
    • OS – The available platforms for the title (PC, Mac, Linux, etc.)
    • Cost per month – The cost for a monthly subscription. If the software has free, limited access available, it will be labeled as Free.
    • Target user and style – The intended audience for the virtual world (e. g. kids, teens, adults) and the style of the environment (education, exploration, content creation, building, socializing, etc.)
    • Edit avatars – The ability to customize one’s digital character.
    • Build or design content – The ability to create custom content, without any required programming or coding.
    • Script content – The ability to create objects and items via programming or coding.
    • Own land / sell items – The ability to own virtual real estate, and the ability to sell virtual items within the virtual world.
    • Education ready – The ability to utilize the virtual environment for educational purposes, such as to teach subject matter.
    • Community events – Available community supported or sponsored events within the world.

    http://www.virtualworldsreview.com/info/categories.shtml  

    Best for KidsDisney’s Toontown
    Mokitown
    Virtual Magic Kingdom
    Whyville

    Best for Teens

    Coke Studios
    Dubit
    Habbo Hotel
    The Manor
    The Palace
    Playdo
    Second Life for Teens
    The Sims Online
    Sora City
    There
    TowerChat
    whyrobbierocks.com
    Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates

    Best for 20s – 30s

    Active Worlds
    Cybertown
    Dreamville
    The Manor
    Moove
    Muse
    The Palace
    Second Life
    The Sims Online
    Sora City
    TowerChat
    There
    Virtual Ibiza
    Voodoo Chat
    VP Chat
    VZones
    Worlds.com
    Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates

    Best for Ages 40+

    The Manor
    Moove
    The Palace
    There
    Traveler
    VP Chat
    Voodoo Chat
    Worlds.com
    Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates

    Best for TechiesActive Worlds
    Cybertown
    Muse
    Second Life

    Best for Newbies

    Coke Studios
    Dubit
    Habbo Hotel
    Playdo
    The Sims Online
    There
    TowerChat
    Virtual Magic Kingdom
    VP Chat
    VZones
    whyrobbierocks.com
    Whyville
    Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates

    Best for Artists

    Active Worlds
    Cybertown
    Muse
    Second Life
    There
    Worlds.com

    Best for Dial-Up

    Coke Studios
    Dubit
    Habbo Hotel
    The Manor
    Mokitown
    The Palace
    Playdo
    TowerChat
    Traveler
    Virtual Ibiza
    Voodoo Chat
    VP Chat
    VZones
    Whyville
    Worlds.com

    Free Access!Active Worlds
    Coke Studios
    Dreamville
    Dubit
    Habbo Hotel
    Mokitown
    Moove
    Muse
    The Palace
    Playdo
    Second Life
    Sora City
    There
    TowerChat
    Traveler
    Virtual Ibiza
    Virtual Magic Kingdom
    Voodoo Chat
    whyrobbierocks.com
    Whyville
    Worlds.com
    Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates

    Mac Access

    Coke Studios
    Dubit
    Habbo Hotel
    The Manor
    Mokitown
    The Palace
    Playdo
    Second Life
    TowerChat
    Virtual Ibiza
    VZones
    whyrobbierocks.com
    Whyville
    Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates

    Best for Broadband

    Active Worlds
    Cybertown
    Disney’s Toontown
    Dreamville
    Moove
    Muse
    Second Life
    The Sims Online
    There
    Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates

    http://sleducation.wikispaces.com/virtualworlds
      

  • General Information about Virtual Worlds
  • Massively Multi-player Online Games (MMOGs)
  • 3D Virtual Worlds
  • ‘Vertical’ or Niche Virtual Worlds
  • Education-focused Virtual Worlds
  • 2D & 2.5D Virtual Worlds
  • Virtual Worlds for Kids, Tweens & Teens
  • 3D Intranets, Conferencing & Virtual Workspaces
  • Second Life Style Software & Alternative Grids
  • Virtual Worlds Building & Development Tools
  • Geospatial or ‘Mirror’ Worlds
  • Other Lists of Virtual Worlds
  • Latest Virtual Worlds Resources on del.icio.us
  • Here are a few more sites with useful info:

    http://arianeb.com/more3Dworlds.htm

    http://www.funsites.com/in-virtu.html

    http://oz.slinked.net/comparechart.php

    http://www.techcrunch.com/wp-content/casual_immersive_worlds.html

    http://www.virtualworldsnews.com/2007/10/virtual-worlds-.html 

    http://www.masternewmedia.org/virtual_reality/virtual-worlds/virtual-immersive-3D-worlds-guide-20071004.htm

    Access_public Access: Public 48 Comments Print // Post this!views (4,568)  
    Marmalade : Gaia Child
    about 1 hour later

    Marmalade said

    As you can see there is an immense number of virtual worlds.  This year has seen many new ones and there is going to be an explosion of competing worlds in the next few years.  Fortunately, it sounds like there is starting to be standardization between the worlds and even some interconnecting. 

    That is the reason I wanted to post these diagrams and comparisons.  Context is important to understand the differences and how these virtual worlds have developed over time.

    Let me say that I personally have no experience of most of these worlds.  I’ve explored Second Life a bit, but I’ve actually spent most of my time visiting Google Earth which isn’t the focus of this blog.  The most popular category is probalby the Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying games.  I’ve never played any of these, but maybe one of these days I’ll try one of them out just for curiosity’s sake. 

    At the moment, I’m just dabbling in these worlds.  My interest began with Second Life.  I didn’t even realize that most of these other virtual worlds even existed.  The more I looked around the more I found.  I’ve been researching all of this for the past month which I originally had not intention of doing.

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    about 6 hours later

    Tele3dworld said

    I think you are missing the Virtual Reality Worlds based on the professional gameing 3D engines which provided for more computing power and networking technology.  These VRWs are based on sound principles derived from years of experience with games.  see  www.mellanium.co.uk   for an example.

    Nicole : wakingdreamer
    about 12 hours later

    Nicole said

    I wonder how many people have a sense of the scope of all of this. It’s mindblowing.

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    about 12 hours later

    Tele3dworld said

    Most of what are called virtual worlds are just graphical chat room really.  Anyone who has worked in Virtual Reality would laugh at SL, etc. they should be called graphical chat rooms.

    Marmalade : Gaia Child
    about 19 hours later

    Marmalade said

    Nicole – Yes, mindblowing.  And this only scratches one category of virtual worlds.

    Tele3dworld – You’re correct… I’m missing a lot of things.  Its such an immense field.  Professional gaming has some of the most impressive virtual worlds.  The graphics in the gaming world blows away something like SL.  But they have different purposes.  The one thing SL does is to give the user great freedom to create.  No other system did this in the past besides SL, but maybe other systems are moving in that direction.  Now, if you could combine the benefits of a gaming system with SL, then that would be cool.

    The point about SL being a graphical chat room is partially true.  It is a social network, but it wasn’t really designed for that purpose exactly.  There are other virtual worlds that have been created to compete with social networking sites.  Whereas SL is more of an open system where people of different purposes can meet whether to socialize, create, or play games.  OTOH most other systems are designed mostly for a single purpose.

    I personally don’t have an allegiance to any particular virtual world.  I’m curious about them, but they’ll need to evolve slightly more before my interest becomes more active.

    I’m not all that interested in the gaming systems simply because my interest in video games has only been moderate for my whole life.  I grew up playing video games but I was never that into them.  SL is interesting to see what people do with it, but its mostly too difficult to use for casual interest.  Other virtual worlds are simpler and more user-friendly, but too often focused on a younger crowd.  These kinds tend to be social networks which are slowly becoming more impressive.  Afterall, we are interacting on this social network.  Social networks are the future of the internet because the internet is about people.  However, in the next few years these categories will become less meaningful as they’re already beginning to merge.

    The type of virtual world I’m most interested in is virtual modelling of the real world.  I love information and these worlds present info in a whole new way.  These are the systems that are getting some major influx of funding from all directions.

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    about 19 hours later

    Tele3dworld said

    Our long term objective is to take the teacher out of teaching;  you will be responible for your education, you will learn what you want to learn to the limits that people programmed that topic can teach you.  Using 3D to 3D as a paradigm will revolutionise education.
    As Richard Arkright removed the human out of the manufacturing process ; 3D to 3D will eventually remove the human from Education.  We expect neo-luddites to return as that is what happens in history.
    The Virtual Reality Worlds have to become realistic;  I have become used to it now but I still have to reassure myself at times which world I am in.
    It’s going to be a super new world if acceptance without distruption can be accompliced.
    We haven’t seen any funding;  money goes in at the top but never trickles down to workers.  theyn like talking and stating how clever they are.
    The wright brothers never got a penny for developing flight; but others got millions and never discovered the obvious.

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    about 20 hours later

    Tele3dworld said

    SL was at the inception designed to be a graphical chat room;  it was stated in the beginning that people are not interested in detail of 3d objects because they are bandwidth hungry.  (They aren’t possible as they cause lag and latency in the SL system.) But they needed a Business model to generate cash.  (It has definately create interest in VWs). 

    SL is like the BASIC computer programming language of the 80’s which introduced people to computer programming but you would never use BASIC in a real system due to its limitations.

    We are looking for people who can supply us with virtual real world objects (3d models textured as they are) and the terrain they occupy with GPS locations.  We can then incorporate and embody them within a VRW and offer them as an education. entertainment package in perpetuity.

    The games guys have been working on the development of virtual worlds, but their business model won’t allow them to extend the scope from what they know that makes money.  Many have tried and many have failed.  But we know that there is a demand for Virtual Realistic Worlds;  we need good visionaries to create quality, interesting, and well scripted VRWs that people want.  We need meshes, and their huddled textures with good scripts that can create non-linear experiences in a VRW.

    We are now working on Artificial Agents that will perform tasks and pre-empt your wishes by using intelligent predictions from your past actions and responses.  Humans are very predictable, it’s in their nature.   Sad but true. 

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    about 21 hours later

    Tele3dworld said

    Come on Gaia people join the www.dotvidi.com project.  It is being designed to allow everyone the opportunity to contribute and gain finacially by collaboration.  However, we are starting with Industral Archaeology but other topics can be contained.
    Let us change the world to what we want not what the control freaks want.  It doesn’t take loads of money.  Even though the Orwellian Pigs tell you so.

    Marmalade : Gaia Child
    1 day later

    Marmalade said

    Tele3dworld – I’m glad you joined Gaia and posted here in this blog.  I’d love to see more people here who are interested the developments happening with the intenet.  So, what is the project you mentioned?  I went to the site but there isn’t anything posted there yet. 

    Everything you talk about sounds exciting to me. 

    I defintiely like the idea of making knowledge more easilly available in a way that people can learn on their own.  I think the way knowledge is taught in schools is pretty pathetic.  Kids if given a chance would probably learn more than they do when forced into a tedious and constrained educational system. 

    And I love the idea of Artificial Agents.  It doesn’t bother me that humans are predictable in the same way it doesn’t bother me that scientific laws predictable.  If people weren’t predictable, the world would be chaos.  I actually find the predictable patterns of humans to be quite fascinating.

    I think you’re correct that as the technology changes so will the buiness model.  I suspect the future will be filled with many smaller niche businesses using a common technological platform, but some companies and governments will do everything they can in trying to get full control of the internet.  There are various open source projects going on with virtual world technology.  I hope them all the best.

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    1 day later

    Tele3dworld said

    Locking kids up a walled school is pretty medieval;  invented by the industrial revolution to obtain a compliant workforce.  I remember approaching some teachers; was a nightmare they shouldn’t have been teachers.  Yet some where good we should keep those.  AI will be more approachable and helpful but will only be as good as the program and information that runs them. 
    dotvidi.com is a new concept whereby people can contribute, either models or information, and will also have a stakeholding of various levels.  We have models of Coliseum, Theater of Pompey, and many more.  We are starting to use Motion Capture to create real time shows, etc. 

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    1 day later

    Tele3dworld said

    The point about predicability of humans; yes the majority must act in a prdicable manner or choas would reign.  But as the story of Socratese there is more knowledge to be discovered;  people who can think out of the box should not be ostracised or made into a paraiah.  We only know a fraction of the avaiable knowledge.  Transferring the 2D knowledge into a more easily understood 3D form will inrease the indivdual human understanding and build aven bigger collective understanding of the real world.  Access will be from any geographical location, will collaboration by like minded people.  The world will become better understood without burning tons of fuel on non-essential journeys.

    Marmalade : Gaia Child
    1 day later

    Marmalade said

    There will always be a limited number of people who are capable of being great teachers.  Its a rare person who knows not only how to teach but more importantly how to inspire students to want to learn.  A kid is lucky to come across one such person in their entire life.  Fortunately, as technology develops, these few truly excellent teachers will be able to be used more effectively to help larger numbers of students.  Plus, technology will free up the natural desire of children to learn rather than destroy the love of learning as our present school sytstem does.

    As for human predictability, I personally doubt that people who stand outside of the box are any more inherently predictable.   They may follow different patterns of behavior than the typical person, but if you knew the factors that make them who they are then you’d be able to predict them just like everyone else.  I tend to see myself as someone who stands outside of the box, but I think I’m as predictable as everyone else.

    The issue of being ostracized or being made a pariah is a separate issue.  Predictable or not, I wish I lived in a world where true equality of opportunity existed. 

    Technology does seem to be moving society in the direction of levelling the playing field.  However, if we extend into the future the predictability of human social behavior, then its more likely than not that technology will be co-opted by the same human tendencies to control.  Barring a mass transformation of collective consciousness, I don’t feel too hopeful.  I’d like to be wrong about this.  Sometimes unpredictable things do happen and sometimes they’re even for the good.

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    1 day later

    Tele3dworld said

    The predictability of humans was documented in the stories of George Orwell;  by observing human behavior he predicted everything that has happened on a micro and macro scale.  These are not just individual behaviors but cultural ones as well.
    I doubt we shall ever change these basic traits;  we must lead by vision that is the purpose of government.  Only by providing everyone with a purpose and goal that benefits all will we achieve equality of opportunity.
    Greed, Envy, etc., caused great disasters in the not to distant past, and is manifesting itself again today with the finacial industry.  The American Dream has run its course;  we need a new concept that will focus the minds of the present.  I believe giving people the opportunity to work, play, and study from the comfort of their home and then have true real world networking to discuss peronal issues that are facilitated by good communicators/connectors will be an answer.  People like to discuss their experiences with others.

    3D to 3D is virtually the same as the real world so removing the human element will allow greater interaction with Artifical Agents so removing the dark sarcasums in the classroom.  Teacher leave them kids alon!!!!.

    1 day later

    MellaniuM_Rules said

    Please Marmalade, I humbly request that you kindly accept a demonstration over SKYPE of our realistic virtual worlds as blogged about at www.mellanium13.blogspot.com and website www.mellanium.co.uk. I can videostream live walkthroughs of our environments developed in the UNREAL platform. This application allows for high polygon models modelled with high resolution textures and per-pixel shading and lighting for extraordinary realism. We have reconstructed the famous “Theatre of Pompey” in Ancient Rome upon the steps of which Julius Caesar was murdered. In addition we have raised the RMS Titanic at a 1:1 scale reproduction for a radically revolutionary introduction to industrial archaeology. Please contact me over SKYPE at joe133952

    Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
    2 days later

    Marmalade said

    Tele3dworld – The America Dream has run its course?  Oh no!  What will we do now?  lol

    Nice to mee to you MellaniuM_Rules!  I checked out those links.  It looks inteesting.  I’m always game to check out some new thing.  But I’ve never used SKYPE before.  I’ll look into SKYPE first and then I’ll see about contacting you.

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    2 days later

    Tele3dworld said

    Lets tear down the walled classrooms and let the new generations explore the world virtually without danger and inhibited thought.  I was very lucky when I left school they provided me with being able to experience the workings of an aerospace company from the bottom to the top in 5 years.  They told me you are heare to learn the business and then teach us how to do it better;  But then the Orwellian Pigs got into power and the troughing started and “by gum” they could trough.  Controlled thought = compliant population.  Any thinkers turn’em into a pariah by dark sarcastic comment or worse.

    The Sheriff of Nottingham inverted a new business model;  IRS;  and now uses it to collect his taxes and pay him.  What evr happened to Robin?

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    2 days later

    Tele3dworld said

    3D Tele-immersive Internet.

    The 3D Tele- Immersive Internet is the term used to describe an evolving technology category. What we once called virtual worlds as a catch-all category now only describes one small piece of the picture. Other important elements are virtual campuses or 3D intranets, immersive simulations, 3D business applications, and serious or industrial games. What these all have in common is that they deeply engage the person who is using them. A combination of these technologies and an emerging culture with roots in gaming is opening up new dimensions in collaboration, engagement, and context.

    While enterprise use of the 3D Tele-immersive Internet is still in the “seedling” stage of adoption in mid-2008, within five years it will have transformed the way people learn and train, participate in meetings and conferences, visualize and share complex data, recruit, and interview employees and contractors, design and prototype products, remotely manage systems and facilities, and even operate machinery and vehicles. Why so fast? A major factor is the prevalence of social networking. People all around the world who have Immersive Internet expertise and passion can easily find each other and share information and skills at a rate unheard of just a few years ago.

    You’ll never “go to work” the same way again

    What’s all the fuss about? Well, the Immersive Internet will have just as big an impact on the way work gets done as the World Wide Web has. Organizations are already starting to use the Immersive Internet to help meet important business objectives like:
    Minimizing costs. Early adopters are using virtual environments to reduce costs associated with business travel, phone and Web conferencing, and prototype development. How? By using virtual environments to teach and learn, rehearse business activities, create and share 3D models of physical and theoretical objects, network and meet, collaborate and communicate, and manage real-world systems.

    http://mellanium.co.uk/

    Going green. Managing facilities and data centers through 3D virtual control rooms can reduce real-world energy consumption. Eliminated commutes and reduced business travel means less fuel consumed and fewer carbon emissions from cars and airplanes. One of our own goals here is to replace unnecessary business travel with meetings in immersive environments not just to keep our sanity intact but to reduce our impact on this fragile planet.
    Recruiting and retaining employees. Innovators are starting to use the inherent qualities of virtual environments, like interactivity and engagement, to appeal to the simple human need to have a good time. Organizations that focus on this aspect of the human experience in the work context have the potential to positively impact employee recruiting and retention. Also, by using virtual environments people can be productive who may not be able to work otherwise due to disability or illness.
    Creating a culture of bottom-up innovation. Serendipitous interactions – what people sometimes think of as “watercooler conversations” – can lead to ideas that no person would have come up with on their own. When people share great experiences, and are exposed to other people they don’t normally spend time with, amazing things can happen. Virtual environments can be used to create immersive spaces where people run into and communicate with others. This can have enormous value particularly for organizations that have a culture of bottom-up innovation.
    http://mellanium.co.uk/

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    2 days later

    Tele3dworld said

    When I was at school we discussed “1984”  and the significance of 2+2=5.  I said Sir but 2+2=4.   Hmm he said; but if told you 2+2=5 and if you disagreed you will be a pariah and out of a job.

    That is the way of the world my son.  I understood this much later in life as fewer and fewer people maintain that 2+2=4;  metaphorically speaking of course.

    Marmalade : Gaia Child
    2 days later

    Marmalade said

    I’ve never heard of the term 3D Tele- Immersive, but I get the general idea.  Universities, for instance, have begun to use the internet more.  My dad is a professor who has taught some live classes on the internet where students  physically elsewhere could ask questions.  I’m sure that type of thing is becoming more common, but what you’re talking about would go far beyond that.

    I like what you say about costs being reduced.  I can’t wait for that to happen.  The problem with the internet is that its such a massive investment.  In the long run, things will become cheaper, but for right now the most interesting technologies are outside of the reach of the vast majority of the world.

    BTW I can’t wait to see my workplace transformed.  I have a job that a computer could do at least as well if not better.  Actually, the technology already exists for a computer do my job.

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    2 days later

    Tele3dworld said

    The technolgy is available now.  It’s not technology that is delaying things.  It is the culture; to much change causes problems.  You can’t do that; you will put us out of work!.  I have heard for nearly forty years.  But if a machine can do it better and more reliable as Richard Arkwright discovered more tha 200 years ago then why should a human do it.
    Humans have been gifted with a mind; they have the ability to ask why am I here.  Their mind wants an answer, we should enable humans to use this mind to find and satisfy what they seek, cos every mind is looking for something unique.
     

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    2 days later

    Tele3dworld said

    To continue;  after spending 5 years observing and improving on the processes in the aerospace industry we actually thought that change would occur.  But the technology was not developed like today.  We can and should create the 3D to 3D paradigm.  This needs support and innovative knowledge to create content, content, content, that is in demand and creative.

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    2 days later

    Tele3dworld said

    Gaia people could make a difference; but giving chocolates ?

    We do need to focus on purpose.

    Can you contribute to the concept and cause for change or willing to discuss to possible senarios that will achieve a non-confrontational situation

    Marmalade : Gaia Child
    3 days later

    Marmalade said

    I’ve always thought it strange why humans are so resistant to change.  I suppose its an evolutionary thing because change is often a bad thing when it comes to species survival. 

    Even when the technology is available, we’re resitant to embrace it.  For instance, we could have fully functioning colonies in space by now, but the government took control of that field and suppressed innovation.  I look around the world and I see that its essentially the same as its been for thousands of years.  Change comes so very very slowly.

    Especially in terms of the market system.  In the 50s, experts predicted that machines would be doing most of our work for us and there is no reason why that couldn’t have been implemented.  Instead, we work more hours than people did then.  Machines have taken over much of the work humans used to do, but new pointless jobs were created to keep people busy.  If people weren’t distracted by the endless hamster wheel of our economic system, then the citizenry might be engaged and cause the government problems.

    Fortunaely, the changing technology is starting to give the average person more freedom to actively participate in the larger world.  I’m curious where it will all lead.

    So, what kind of content do you mean?  Content for what purpose?  Are you just talking about 3d content?

    And what are you talking about with Gaia and giving chocolates?  Am I missing something?  I suppose you’re asking me if I can contribute.  I don’t know what I have to contribute and I’m not even sure exactly what the cause is.  My simple purpose in life is to be a writer.  I blog and share what I learn.  Writing is what I know and so writing is what I do. 

    As for virtual worlds and 3d technology, I’m interested in it but being a proponent of it isn’t precisely what I’d consider to be my life’s purpose.  My interest is in any medium of communication whether of knowledge or stories or whatever.  In terms of the internet, my main focus is social networking sites because I think of the whole internet as a social networking medium.

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    3 days later

    Tele3dworld said

    Intention, Inspiration & a box of Chocolates from Siona (Gaia director)

    When I first started out after my 5 years apprenticeship at an aerospace company I aspired to be a design engineer.  We had secretary to type memos, reports, do travel arrangements, etc.  We had filing clearks to look after the drawings, documents, etc. I even had someone to hold instrments and take readings.  We were paid to think and come up with new ideas.  We just networked about ideas and wrote specifications. 
    Slowly they took everyone away; until we did nothing else but what everyone else did.  No time to think; spent all the timr typing reports, filing electonic docments, answering pointless e-mails, etc.

    The real world is surprisiingly 3D.  I learned by observing people at work and the way in which products were designed managed, and manufactured.  It didn’t come from out of a book.  So what I mean by content is simulated real worlds that teach by experience.  not by piecing together 2D information and trying to visualise the final objective.  I spent the last 20 years in aerospace trying to document a workable system engineering process that could be adopted by everyone;  culminated in ISO 15288.  The trouble was hardly anyone has the time or inclination to read never mind understand.  So it is not very widely used because you needed the experience to understand.

    After that conclusion we need something that can be easily and quickly understood; that is were the 3D to 3D paradigm was comceieved.  So accurate content that can be explored and experienced by anyone at any time must be the future.

    Humans fell from the tree of knowledge in the beginning; our goal is to return somehow.  By pooling our understanding “like the 100 monkey phenomena” we can return to the space/time dimension.  –so the bible says or some earlier scripture.

    The 3D internet is not far away;  dotvidi.com will be our portal to it.  Once entered everything will be as a high-end game environment with realistic artefacts and Intelligent Agents enabling anyone anytime access to learn and enjoy. 

    Marmalade : Gaia Child
    10 days later

    Marmalade said

    I find it amusing that this blog has had almost 500 views and yet I didn’t do much beyond copy/pasting info I found elsewhere.  Ok. it took me a long time to find and organize that info, but still.  I’m thinking the ‘popularity’ of this blog has more to do with the popularity of virtual worlds in general.

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    11 days later

    Tele3dworld said

    Virtual Reality Worlds have been the next big thing for about 15 years and still is the next big thing.  This generation demand information that is precise, accurate and quickly accessed and absorbed.  They have experienced the power of 3D in immersive environments by using FPP features.  The demand is there dut isn’t being satisfied be cause there is little content.  We are addressing this and expect to launch an initiative shortly.

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    11 days later

    Tele3dworld said

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    11 days later

    Tele3dworld said

    Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
    11 days later

    Marmalade said

    I watched the Titanic video.  I enjoyed it.  Is it a full replica?  Can the inside be viewed also?
    What I’ve been looking at lately is fiction online.  I’ll post a blog about it later, but I thought it fit in with the virtual worlds.  Gaming virtual worlds often use some kind of storyline.  I haven’t explored it yet, but it looks like there is some promising stuff going on in the fiction world: hypertext, hypermedia, collaborative, interactive, etc. 
    Similar to a movie, any story could be re-created as a virtual world.  However, traditional stories aren’t interactive.  Creating an interactive virtual world story could be quite fascinating and quite challenging.

    11 days later

    MellaniuM_Rules said

    Marmalade,  If you log on to Skype all will be revealed a virtual world  with no limits to the imagination to explore and revel within.

    http://seriousgames.ning.com/video/do-you-believe-in-faeries

    I can guide you through the next revolution in entertainment and learning

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    12 days later

    Tele3dworld said

    We are working on just that idea;  we use a story; input the whole text and enable users to select their characters.  These are then guided by the story line or thread with non-linear options.  We are working with Alice in Wonderland presently.  But the process will be useable for any story. Visually rich stories work out the best.

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    12 days later

    Tele3dworld said

    Re: the titanic insides;  we are working on the interals as the sister ship the ‘olympic’ internals are incorporeted into a hotel in Northhumberland.  So we can scan and photograph the nearest example.  She sails in 2012 on the anaversary.  Avatars available.

    Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
    13 days later

    Marmalade said

    MellaniuM_Rules – Give me some time.  I always have my mind going in a thousand directions.  I’ll take you up on that Skype offer eventually.  I’m thinking I’ll have a bunch of free time after the holidays and so I’ll keep it in mind.

    Tele3dworld – Sounds awesome! 

    Have you seen the island from the show Lost that was created on Second Life?  I briefly visited it, but didn’t explore it very far.  One funny thing is that the dog from the show just wanders around and the black swarm can be observed going by.  I suppose if you look hard enough you might run into a dinosaur and a polar bear. 
    However, even though the Lost island is a fictional world, there is no narrative involved in exploring the island… as far as I know.  The difficulty of creating a story in a virtual world is that you have to limit the choices available to create a direction to the narrative.  There needs to be a balance between giving freedom to the person to control their own focus to an extent and the necessity to have subtle and not so subtle factors that force the person’s attention in specific directions.  I’m very curious about the possibilities with this.

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    20 days later

    Tele3dworld said

    We see this as the major challenge for virtual reality worlds;  AI will have to be equipped with some knowledge of how to bring back the non-linear deviants back to the story theme. We can only see using historical learning as the tool to successfully achieving this goal.
    I have just returned from VAST 2008 with some very interesting perspectives on implementing ideas. Funny how listening to other expeiences can change your perspective

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    20 days later

    Tele3dworld said

    My theory about keeping to the theme is to use the way plays work;  they use scenic changes in the story line.  The curtain comes down and they change the location by props.  These can be the level changes in a VRW. enabling any non-linear transgressors to return to the theme.  However,from the conference no one had researched this method.  We see this as a good way to formulate a new paradigm for teaching.  The Real World is 3D why not teach in a simulated RW.  The benefits are obvious and plain to see.

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    21 days later

    Tele3dworld said

    Conclusions from the VAST 2008 conference was that the new generation want highly realistic 3D environments that are immersive, highly detailed, interesting, and available 24/7.  Those that have experienced a CAVE environment demand no other after experiencing; even when cost is a factor.  Virtual Reality Worlds will be in demand not primarily as a social network but as a primary educational tool.  Teachers will become content creators and maintainers with monitoring and helper functions to students.  Will this begin the end of the bricked wall schools invented by the industrial revolution age and summon an age of creative thought and new possibilities?

    Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
    21 days later

    Marmalade said

    I like your ideas. But I don’t think that new technology will replace prior methods of accomplishing goals (e.g. schools). People will still meet face to face when its convenient. They’ll just bring the new technology with them in the way people carry watches.

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    21 days later

    Tele3dworld said

    I really mean the 2D methodologies of text and images being taught by a teacher to a class is very inefficient and sometimes destructive.  Trying to assembly words, images and speech, provided usually by a bored human is very difficult for many.  Creative minds are not encouraged, and discussion between different age groups about local issues sometimes banned.  When I left school the real world was nothing like school, I had to learn how to converse with all groups, classes, ages of humans from scratch.  Sitting in a classroom with a teacher whose only means of keeping order was sarcasm and punishment wasn’t like real life in general.  School to me just breeds that mentality into the mind set,  when people ask where did you learn that; they never taught us that at the school I went to.  I am totally amazed and dismayed.

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    about 1 month later

    Tele3dworld said

    Over 1600 views and no additional comments.  Surely, comments on the future and tele-immersion as a media must create curiosity.

    Nicole : wakingdreamer
    about 1 month later

    Nicole said

    wow, jeepers, Marmalade, that’s a lot of views for a relatively new blog here!

    Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
    about 1 month later

    Marmalade said

    Yeah, yeah, yeah… I’m glad people like it. I’m not overly attached to this particular blog, but as long as its useful to others. I don’t take too much credit for the traffic flow as its simply a matter of who decides to link to you. Gaia isn’t a major blogging site, but people will find your blogs if you write about something popular enough.

    I don’t really care one way or another about the traffic per se. It’d be cool if it actually led to some of those visitors commenting. Many of my less visited blogs received way more comments. Its about quality not quantity as they say.

    This was a fun blog. It was quite an accomplishment in putting it together. I was having major brain overload at the time and it was a relief to bring some minor order to the chaos. The things I spend my time doing. I need to take some anti-curiosity drugs. Curiosity is all fun and games until it becomes an addiction.

    I’ll tell you what… I couldn’t do blogs like this too often or I’d fry my brain. I have enough info gathered to write many blogs like this, but there is only so much time in one’s life.

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    about 1 month later

    Tele3dworld said

    I think the guy that started this has become Marmalade!

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    about 1 month later

    Tele3dworld said

    They did say that curiosity killed the cat.
    but confuse a cat is the name of the game; is’t not.?

    Marmalade : Gaia Child
    about 1 month later

    Marmalade said

    I am Marmalade. I sneak onto the internet when my human isn’t around. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

    Hey curiosity will never kill me. When I get too curious, I just cool myself down with some catnip… and have me a contented nap. Its hard to get too confused when you’re asleep 18 hours a day.

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    about 1 month later

    Tele3dworld said

    The great theorists spent more time in bed working out the future. 
    Ideas are generated by the mind not by power point presentations.

    The future is exiting don’t despair with the negative democracy attitude of today.

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    about 1 month later

    Tele3dworld said

    We have the technology; ask why?  to all that is happenings.  Asking why will determine the truth, don’t be fobbed off with half truth’s.  The answer is out there!

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    about 1 month later

    Tele3dworld said

    The Orwellian Boot is now shown to be Debt;  keeping the human spirit from rising to new levels of awareness.  Negative democracy and getting the population into debt has proven to be a very powerful means of control.  Suckers!

    Tele3dworld : Tele3dworld
    3 months later

    Tele3dworld said

    WOW,  2457 hits!!!!!!!!!!

    I’ll start off with linking to the Wikipedia article:

    Virtual world

    The Dark Knight

    The Dark Knight

    Posted on Sep 14th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
    The Dark Knight  

    (My review is at the end.)  

    Official Warner Bros. Dark Knight Website  

    Wikipedia Dark Knight Movie Entry  

    Rotten Tomatoes
    95% rating  

    IMDb
    9.1 out of 10 stars
    #3 of the top 250 movies as rated by users  

    Metacritic
    Critics: 82 out of 100 rating
    Users: 9 out of 10 rating  

    Box Office Mojo
    Users have given it the highest rating of any movie.
    Widest release of any movie.
    Largest opening weekend gross and largest total gross.  

    Review from The New York Times
      

    http://movies.nytimes.com/2008/07/18/movies/18knig.html  

    Viral marketing
      

    http://www.ibelieveinharveydent.com/  

    http://whysoserious.com/itsallpartoftheplan/  

    http://www.thegothamtimes.com/page1.htm  

    http://www.superherohype.com/news/topnews.php?id=6970  

    http://www.rotheblog.com/movie-reviews/the-gotham-times-now-online/  

    http://www.cinematical.com/2007/11/24/holy-dark-knight-viral-sites-batman/  

    http://www.firstshowing.net/2008/03/26/updates-on-the-dark-knights-viral-campaign-new-gotham-times/  

    http://www.firstshowing.net/2008/03/31/latest-on-the-dark-knight-viral-clown-travel-agency-and-april-1st/  

    http://www.firstshowing.net/2007/12/05/the-dark-knights-viral-marketing-gets-very-real-cakes-cell-phones-and-all/  

    http://www.firstshowing.net/2008/03/28/why-the-dark-knights-viral-marketing-is-absolutely-brilliant/  

    History Channel Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of the Dark Knight  

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6MzqoubRAo  

    Interesting Blogs

    The following blogs are from other blogging sites, but if you do a search you can find some blog reviews of this movie also here on Gaia.  

    http://cielos.wordpress.com/2008/07/02/the-influences-of-the-dark-knight-part-1/  

    http://cielos.wordpress.com/2008/09/03/the-dark-knight-westerns-film-noir-and-horror/  

    http://cielos.wordpress.com/2008/08/17/the-dark-knight-vigilantism-law-and-terrorism/  

    http://cielos.wordpress.com/2008/06/15/war-on-terror-of-chris-nolan%e2%80%99s-batman/  

    http://cielos.wordpress.com/2008/07/28/the-dark-knight-politics-strike-back/  

    http://cielos.wordpress.com/2008/08/09/half-batman-half-two-face/  

    http://cielos.wordpress.com/2008/08/05/the-dark-knight-the-joker-the-devil-and-dogs/  

    http://seeker65.wordpress.com/2008/07/19/the-dark-knights-joker-is-a-mystical-trickster-not-mad-super-villain/  

    http://goatmilk.wordpress.com/2008/07/15/the-dark-knight-movie-review-the-dark-knight-ascends/  

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/reviews/article-1037123/Holy-Moly-Batmans-big-noise–loses-plot.html  

    http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/2008/07/the-politics-of-the-dark-knigh.php  

    TV Tropes

    This is the best site I’ve come across that analyzes the patterns found in various media.  

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DarkKnightTrilogy?from=Main.TheDarkKnight  

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/JustBugsMe/DarkKnightTrilogy  

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/JustBugsMe/TheDarkKnight  

    Frank Miller’s Comic Dark Knight

    Here is an article that gives good background about Frank Miller’s comic that the movie was based upon.  This movie is part of a larger storyline.  

    http://comics.ign.com/articles/595/595592p1.html  

    Cultural and Philosophical Origins of Batman

    Here is a very interesting thesis titled The Mythic Symbols of Batman which describes the origins of Batman.  

    http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/ETD/image/etd2158.pdf  


     
    Marmalade’s Review of Dark Knight  

    The first thing that someone should know about this movie is that its for the most part a typical Hollywood action flick.  I’m not a big fan of action flicks and I strongly dislike certain aspects of this movie.  Some of the scenes are quite contrived and some of the characters are extremely stereotyped.  Nonetheless, its relatively speaking a very good movie for an action flick.  I must admit, though, I prefer the movie Batman Begins, but Dark Knight definitely would be my second favorite of the Batman movies.  

    I’m a fan of Christian Bale.  His acting in Batman Begins made Batman real to me.  Previously, I always connected Batman to the cheesy tv show that I watched as a kid and the cheesy Batman movies that came before.  In Batman Begins, there was actual character development.  It finally made sense to me why a rich white guy would want to wear a funny costume and beat up criminals.  

    Some prefer Heath Ledger’s portray of the Joker.  I admit it was entertaining, but I didn’t think it was all that great… not to speak ill of the dead.  Heath Ledger didn’t make the Joker seem real in the way that Christian Bale made Batman seem real.  Heath Ledger’s Joker was a stereotypical madman.  This Joker lacked subtle psychological nuance and lacked character development.  This Joker was intended to be more of an archetype than a character, but even as an archetype I was left unsatisfied.  Heath Ledger does seem to be a good actor, but I wouldn’t consider his acting in this case to be all that original.  His acting here seemed to be directly based off of David Tennant‘s portrayal of Barty Crouch Jr in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  The whole lip-licking thing became annoying after awhile.  To be fair, however, Heath Ledger was probably just playing the character according to script.  Comic book villains aren’t known for their depth and complexity.  

    As for Batman, his character also had its annoying aspects.  It seemed rather far-fetched Batman’s unwillingness to kill anyone.  The Joker is willing to kill anyone and everyone, but Batman isn’t willing to kill the Joker even to save innocent lives.  Batman has highspeed chases through crowded city streets and sidewalks.  In real life, this would lead to the injury and death of large numbers of bystanders.  Anyways, I find these kind of action flick car chases rather boring and predictable.  

    Despite my criticisms, I did enjoy the movie.  Its quality entertaiment and the portrayal of Gotham is interesting.  Most of all, I liked the themes and ideas of the movie.  Joker’s viewpoint of there being two types of people added an interesting context.  I appreciated the moral complexity of the film.  I very much prefer a comic book hero such as Batman over one such as Superman.  I’ve always been a fan of the tragic hero, and this movie adds a depth to the theme of the superhero’s split personality.  

    Basically, if you like superhero movies, then you’ll like this movie.  Even if you don’t like most superhero movies, I’d still recommend this movie as its much better than the normal fare.  Also, this movie has a lot to say about where our culture is and how our culture views itself.  Heck, go see it just to find out what all the hype is about.


      
    * This review can also be found on the Community Film Picks (zFilms) Group.  Here is the link to the thread:  9/14/08 “OLD” — The Dark Knight


    Access_public Access: Public 2 Comments Print Post this!views (429)  
    Nicole : wakingdreamer
    about 6 hours later

    Nicole said

    well, you did it! :):)

    Have you seen Hot Fuzz – not the kind of movie I’d normally watch, way too much violence but surprisingly funny at parts http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/hot_fuzz/#

    It’s amazing to me that i found something I could enjoy with my 18 year old son who loves action movies and horror films…

    I only mention it because it’s the only thing I’ve seen recently, besides Nim’s Island which I also watched yesterday because of my 11 year old daughter 🙂 . Jody Foster did well in it despite the many challenges the premise, script and supporting actor (Gerald Butler with accent issues lol) presented.

    Marmalade : Gaia Child
    about 13 hours later

    Marmalade said

    I did it… I waited to the last possible moment, but I did it.  I was really feeling reluctant.  Maybe it was the whole deadline thing that was killing my motivation.  I could have, of course, done more with analyzing the film.  I wrote down a bunch of thoughts about the movie, but I decided to leave most of them out and just give a simple overall review.  I had researched all those links several weeks ago and so I just needed to organize them.  It still took me a couple of hours.

    Yeah, I’ve seen Hot Fuzz.  I enjoyed it.  It had a great plot twist.  Have you seen Shaun of the Dead?  It was written and directed by the same people.  That movie is a zombie movie and so isn’t lacking in violence, but heck they’re zombies afterall.  Its quite humorous.

    I’m not all that interested in most action films and horror movies, but as long as the story and acting are good enough I don’t care what the genre is.  I don’t mind violence as long as its an integral part of the plot.  There are certain kinds of violence I can’t stand.  I dislike movies that glorify violence or dwell upon it without giving any deeper insight.  The violence in The Dark Knight was a bit gratuitous, but its to be expected from that kind of movie.

    I hadn’t even heard of Nim’s Island before you mentioned it.  I doubt I’ll be watching it unless it happens to be on when I’m visiting my niece.

      Phaedrus : Jedi  

    Re: 9/14/08 “OLD” — The Dark Knight

    Phaedrus said Dec 26, 2008, 7:07 AM:

      First off, let me start with saying that I really enjoyed this movie.  Probably one of the most powerful sections of the movie occurs when the Joker is being held by the police and Batman is allowed to interrogate him; that scene makes a point that is often overlooked by many I think, and it’s a point that I’ve made in my classroom after watching that scene via YouTube. (If you haven’t seen the movie, then watch the clip if you’d like to know what I’m talking about.)

    This scene is an amazing demonstrator of the futility of violence.  In spite of all of his prowess and skill, Batman’s tools are still limited; a fact pointed out and actively demonstrated by the Joker in this scene.  Joker is incredibly good at getting inside the Batman’s head, and pushing his buttons.  Finally, after realizing that intimidation and threats won’t work, the Batman resorts to violence, and the Joker takes great delight in pointing out that even that is ineffective, and finally gives in and tells the Batman what he wants to know, not because he is essentially tortured and/or intimidated into telling him, but simply because it furthers the Joker’s own end.  To me, this makes the movie more than a simple action flick, and deserving of one of the best scripts of 2008.

    Spinner
      Will : Divine Intention  

    Re: 9/14/08 “OLD” — The Dark Knight

    Will said Dec 26, 2008, 9:49 AM:

      …I loved the movie too…but one inconsistency that jumped out at me was…

    …Joker was the quintesential Master of Caos that espoused the virtues of not having a plan…

    …then I remembered the first scene where the bank heist was carried off with detailed planning …

    …I’m thinking…hey who is talking out of both upturned corners of his mouth ?…

    Spinner
      1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"  

    Re: 9/14/08 “OLD” — The Dark Knight

    1Vector3 said Dec 26, 2008, 3:03 PM:

      Wow, Todd, thanks for pointing out those lessons !!!!

    And Will, glad you brought that up; isn’t it SOP (standard operating procedure) for the DF to “talk out of both sides of their mouth?” Inconsistency is one of their tools. As I said elsewhere, lying, deceit and trickery are what we can EXPECT from them. Absolutely nothing is to be trusted, even their utterances of what we consider Truth will have some distortion, some dark under-energy, some nefarious goal.

    Blessings, OM

    Avatar: Imagination & Culture

    I finally went to see the movie Avatar.  It took me a while to convince my friend to go with me. He doesn’t usually like SciFi, but I think he enjoyed it.  I can understand why this movie has made so much money.  I’m glad I saw it and I’d be happy to watch it again.

    I want to say something about the larger meaning and impact of this movie, but first I’ll point out my immediate response to it as entertainment.  Even though it was mostly what I expected, I was pleasantly surprised by the high quality of its production.  It was a truly immersive experience.  It did, however, take me a while to get into. 

    First, I don’t often watch 3D movies and it was initially odd trying to get forget the rectangular screen framing the 3D effects.  In a normal movie, it’s easier to forget the shape of the screen itself.  That wasn’t really an annoyance per se… just something I was aware of.

    The second thing was that the indigenous people of Pandora were essentially just very large blue Native Americans.  Their language and facial features all had elements of the Native American people (along with bows and arrows and weird large horse-like creatures).    I eventually just had to accept that large blue Native Americans could actually exist on other planets and just go with the story.

    I’ve noticed that other reviewers have pointed out that the story isn’t all that original.  That is true to an extent.  White soldier goes native and helps the natives fight the evil invading military.  There are many other movies with a more original vision of an alternative world, but the central conceit of the movie (the avatar bodies) was an original twist.  I don’t care if a story is all that original as long as it is told well.  Most stories aren’t original.  Even the story of Jesus isn’t an original story and that has never lessened its popularity.

    So, was the story of Avatar told well?  I think so.  I was immersed in the world.  The character development was limited, but I genuinely cared for the fate of the characters and I was saddened when the large tree was destroyed.  The movie probably would’ve been better if done as a trilogy.   But, even as is, I was more than satisfied.

    The real reason I wanted to write a review is because of thoughts I had of its larger cultural context.  I have heard that conservatives really don’t like this movie.  Even the Vatican made an official statement of criticism.  I’m not surprised.  I don’t think it’s an overestimation to say that this movie will have some impact on the collective attitude of our society.  It is a movie that is full of messages and conveyed in a very entertaining and compelling way.

    As an adult, this movie is impressive even if only for the special effects… but, to a child or young adult, this movie is the type of experience that could help shape the mindset of an entire generation.  The youth today are already very liberal in most ways because of various demographic shifts.  Conservatives dominated most of the twentieth century with their formulation of the cultural war.  Conservatives have been very good at controlling the cultural narrative and the group that controls the narrative controls all social and political dialogue. 

    Liberals have been challenged in recent decades.  The conservatives managed to reframe progressivism as socialism and communism, as big government, as intellectual elitism.  But liberalism was never entirely limited to progressivism or not any simple notion of progressivism.  The liberal vision was never solely or centrally about creating a new society.  Rather, the liberal vision was about basic human rights, about empowering the common person.

    Avatar has deep resonance with struggles that have been going on throughout US history and world history.  I’m just about finished with my second reading of The Culture of Make Believe by Derrick Jensen.  If you want to understand why this movie matters, read some of Jensen’s writings.  Avatar is, in some ways, a simple story but it is also a story that is communicating some basic truths about our culture.  The evil military guy may seem like an exaggerated stereotype.  However, I would argue that he is a fairly realistic portrayal of a certain kind of person.  Jensen goes into great detail about US history and there have been plenty of military (and non-military) people who have had the same basic attitude and who have said very similar things.  Sadly, this character isn’t an exaggeration.  There really have been (and still are) people like him and they really did try to get rid of any culture that got in the way of their ideology or profits.  For certain, the US government’s treatment of Native Americans wasn’t an isolated event(s). 

    In the early 20th century, the workers union movement was connected with the beginnings of the civil rights movement.  These progressive movements were led by working class people.  For example, the Wobblies fought against unfair pay and immoral working conditions.  What was interesting about the Wobblies is that they didn’t refuse blacks and women from joining.  It was a truly egalitarian progressive movement that happened decades prior to Martin Luther King, jr.  And, yes, the Wobblies were violently put down by the government.

    The first World War undermined this movement even further because patriotism has a way of redirecting public outrage to convenient foreign enemies.  In place of these progressive movements, arose the renewed KKK.  The KKK was different in that its membership was mostly middle and upper class.  The KKK was a gentlemen’s club and not an organization defending the common man… although it did play off the dissatisfaction and anger of the common man.  This was the beginning of the conservative movement as we now know it.  The beliefs of the KKK are essentially the same as the beliefs of present rightwingers (patriotic nationalism, anti-immigrant sentiments, traditional family, white culture/supremacy, and Christian fundamentalism; it was the KKK that was behind the early attempt in getting Creationism taught in public science classes).  The story of the conservative movement has been that of true Americans fighting for the American Way, the American Dream.  This “America”, of course, was a bit exclusionary toward a large portion of the population, but it appealed to all the people who mattered (i.e., those with power). 

    Even the moving speeches of MLK had a hard time of challenging the conservative narrative.  Because MLK couldn’t change the popular narrative, the popularity of the civil rights movement mostly died with him.  Ever since, liberals have been trying to communicate their message.  Obama has been somewhat successful in awakening the progressive sense of hope, but he too hasn’t been able to find the narrative to empower this hope beyond speechmaking.  Conservatives are just better at creating and controlling the political attitudes of the general public.

    Still, not all is lost.  Liberals seem more successful in using entertainment as a mode of communication.  This is where conservatives have failed.   The conservative ideology doesn’t fully appreciate the power (and the potential merits) of imagination, and the conservative movement did successfully limit creative freedom during the 20th century (Hollywood blacklists, Comic Book Code, etc).  The conservative response to imagination is simply to fear it.  Both conservatives and liberals understand the liberating potential of the arts and of popular entertainment. 

    In the late 20th century, the conservative oppression of the Cold War started to lessen.  There was a tremendous explosion of cultural creativity that was combined with technological innovation.  The liberals found the media for their message in movies, and special effects allowed them to communicate their message in ever more compelling ways.  Star Wars was the first great use of movies to express the liberal vision.  Following that, Blade Runner and the Matrix began to remind Americans of the true power of the liberal vision.  The Boomers set the stage for all of this, but it took the GenXers to instill this liberal ethos into the very structures of our culture (e.g., the internet).

    That brings us to the last decade when a new generation was coming of age.  This new generation is the largest generation in US history and probably the most liberal generation in US history.  The Millennials have grown up with liberal vision.  Harry Potter has become central to their identity, and the message of Harry Potter is very liberal.  Fantasy/SciFi in general is very liberal.  Our culture has been slowly shifting towards liberalism, but I think Avatar might be a tipping point of sorts. 

    The improvement of special effects has unleashed the collective sense of imagination.  Movies may seem like mindless entertainment, but the power of imagination shouldn’t be underestimated.

    All of this reminds me of an incident from a several years ago.  I went to hear a lady speak at the University of Iowa.  It wasn’t exactly what I expected.  The lady turned out to be a conservative Christian.  She discussed popular culture and the entertainment industry from the view of conservative Christianity.  She thought conservatives needed to use popular culture to communicate their ideology.  There isn’t anything necessarily wrong about this attitude, but my sense was that this lady’s view (and the conservative view in general) had an extremely superficial comprehension of the value of imagination and creativity.  Conservatives want to control entertainment for their purposes.  The best example is how the Mormons like to spend money making movies with good Christian values, but these movies of course are never very popular.

    Liberals don’t need to use imagination and creativity to express their ideology… or at least not in the way that conservatives try to do this.  For liberals, imagination and creativity isn’t just a medium for their message.  It is their message.  The very act of imagining is inherent to the liberal attitude, the liberal view of reality.  This can be understood in terms of Ernest Hartmann’s boundary types.  Liberalism corresponds to the thin boundary type.  Thin boundary means that a person’s experience demonstrates less distinction between dreaming and waking, between subjectivity and objectivity, between imagination and perception.  Liberals don’t use imagination.  Liberals live in imagination.

    After listening to the conservative Christian lady speak, I went into the University library where there was a showing of William Blake’s art and writing.  There couldn’t have been a better contrast between the conservative and liberal understanding of imagination.  In Blake’s vision, imagination was something with the power to liberate.  I don’t know if Blake was a visionary, but he was most definitely touching upon the visionary potential of imagination.  It was imagination as self-expression, as celebration, as defiance of all oppressive forces.

    Avatar isn’t on the same level as Blake.  Even so, Avatar expresses the same liberal impulse.  There is ideology in Avatar, but it’s ideology as a vision of reality.   With liberals, ideology is expanded through imagination.  With conservatives, imagination is constrained by ideology.  Both may start with ideology, but go in different directions.  The liberal impulse wants to escape or transform ideology into something greater.  It’s not that conservatives don’t have a sense of something greater.  It’s just that to conservatives ideology itself is an expression of that sense of something greater.  Maybe it’s a difference between ideology as means vs ends.

    Imagination has so much influence because it’s so easily dismissed.  Entertainment beguiles our conscious mind and sneaks past our rational and ideological defenses.  The most powerful stories are those that alter our very perception of reality.  We don’t see imagination.  We see through imagination.  And it’s liberals who understand this best. 

    As such, Avatar is a vision of what imagination means in the world.  Imagination is potential.  We live in and embody imagination.  The world is alive with the imaginal.  To see this planet or any planet as an inanimate chunk of rock is a failure of imagination.  Killing life for profit can only be accomplished if imagination is first killed.  But imagination is an ever-present potential that can be reborn in any person.  That would seem to be the message of Avatar.

    Book Review: The Secret Life of Puppets by Victoria Nelson

    This book is one of the best I’ve ever read. My copy is heavily underlined and well-thumbed. There are few authors that connect the topics she does in the way she does it, and there are even fewer who do so with such insight. It’s a hard book to describe as it includes much: puppets and humanity, reality and imagination, philosophy and religion, film and fiction, high and low culture. It’s a fairly large book at around 300 pages of text and also there are useful notes in the back. Even though her ideas may be above the head of the average person, her writing style is easy to follow. If you’re a somewhat curious and minimally intelligent person, then what you’ll probaby enjoy about this book is learning new ideas and discovering new authors. I’m very well read and I came across a number of things I’d never heard of.

    Two topics Victoria Nelson covers that are of particular interest to me are Gnosticism and Noir. If you like these topics, then another book you’d like is Eric G. Wilson’s The Melancholy Android: On the Psychology of Sacred Machines and Secret Cinema: Gnostic Vision in Film. Wilson is directly influenced by Nelson. There aren’t many books that look at the religious aspects of Noir, but another one is Thomas S. Hibbs Arts of Darkness: American Noir and the Quest for Redemption. Somewhat oddly, a major connection for these authors is that they all discuss Philip K. Dick who is a favorite author of mine. Dick was mainly a fiction writer, but also wrote non-fiction about what it is to be human in terms of philosophy, religion, and science (in particular the subjects of Gnosticism and androids). If you read Philip K. Dick’s non-fiction, it will give you a richer perspective on the meeting of high and low culture (which is an emphasis of Nelson and Wilson)and on the dark quest for redemption (which all of these authors touch upon). Two Philip K. Dick books I’d recommend are The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick: Selected Literary and Philosophical Writings and In Pursuit of Valis: Selections from the Exegesis. If you want a clear overview of Philip K. Dick’s philsophical and religion thoughts, then you should read Pink Beams of Light from the God in the Gutter: The Science-Fictional Religion of Philip K. Dickby Gabriel McKee.

    Some of Nelson’s best insights revolve around the notions of imagination and reality, sanity and insanity (which are typical Philip K. Dick topics in both his fiction and non-fiction). This is where she discusses various genre writers (for example, Poe, Lovecraft, Schultz and Kafka) and where she explores the connection between psychology, spirituality and creativity. If you’re intellectually fascinated by imagination and creativity, then there are some truly awesome books out there that would give even greater context to the already large context that Victoria Nelson provides. I’d guess that much of the groundwork for Nelson’s thinking comes from the Jungian tradition of thinkers and she references Carl Jung a number of times (but she also discuses Freud). If you’re interested in further reading about the imagination, then check out these other books: Dream & the Underworld by James Hillman, Imagination Is Reality: Western Nirvana in Jung, Hillman, Barfield, and Cassirer by Roberts Avens, Daimonic Reality: A Field Guide to the Otherworld by Patrick Harpur, and The Trickster and the Paranormal by George P. Hansen.

    Besides my mentioning a number of related books, I’d consider The Secret Life of Puppets to be very unique. There are many books out there about these kinds of topics, but she brings it together in a very compelling way. These ideas easily could’ve become lost in abstract intellectuality if handled by a lesser writer.

    Lone Star: Western, Noir, Romance

     

    I just watched the movie Lone Star.  It’s all around good movie.  The script and acting were solid, and the mixing of past and present was very smooth.  I wouldn’t call it a great movie.  It’s just quality Hollywood fare.

    There was one thing that intrigued me about it though.  Outwardly, it was a contemporary Western with good guys and bad guys.  However, the story was more complex than good versus bad because the good couldn’t be determined until the truth had been discovered.  So, this is where it had an element of Noir to it, but nowhere near as dark and tragic as typical Noir. 

    Where it was most like Noir was in the idyllic surface of a small town with old secrets that no one wants to talk about.  Along with this, there is the detective-like character who is determined to discover the truth no matter what.  He is the rugged american individualist type with his personal code of ethics, and that is where the Noir elements connect with the Western setting of the story. 

    So, this Westernized Noir replaces the Noir oriental aspect with latino culture.  What would be the femme fatale is latino, but although she is part of the dark past she doesn’t try to pull the hero down.  Instead, there is an easy, almost too easy, resolution at the end.  Even though the past hangs heavy, the hero manages to escape its hold.  This is where it departs from most noir, but then again it’s not entirely unkown for noir protagonists to find redemption.  He avoids self-destruction because he is interested in the truth and not vengeance or even legalistic justice, and this aspect is pure Noir for the protagonists in Westerns aren’t usually all that interested in truth.

    Some further clear elements of noir are the flashbacks.  It reminded me of Citizen Kane because a central character is never seen in the present even though everyone talks about him.  He is present by his absence.  The question is whether he was the good guy that everyone made him out to be.

    The Western setting is interesting as it seems so different from Noir.  The latter emphasizes the human world of cities, and it’s as if humans are trapped in their own human world.  Lone Star begins with a scene of the wide desert which makes the human world seem small.  Noir films are filled with stark contrasts of shadow and light whereas the desert is brightly lit.  However, the desert creates a similar starkness that serves a similar purpose as that of Noir. 

    The camera work mostly isn’t very much in the noir style, but there are scenes that have a noir feeling.  Near the beginning, a police officer approaches some young men sitting on a truck.  It cuts to an image of his approaching as seen in the reflection of a mirror.  The kid in the truck is working on it and so is laying on his back.  The kid looks up and sees (and the audience sees with him) the officer upside down.  The use of reflections and odd camera angles is something Noir uses often, but it’s only occasionally used in this movie.

    The story felt very familiar even though it was done in a fairly complex way.  It wasn’t fully Noir or fully Western, but it melded them together.  Also, by mixing in the happy ending of a Romance, it tamed the darker streaks of both Noir and Western films.  Romances necessitate clear resolutions which neither Noirs nor Westerns need.  Especially for Noirs, clear resolutions are rare.  In Lone Star, the mystery is solved and the ending was a bit anti-climactic.

    Response to Rogerson’s Review

    Anomalist 12: The Universe Wants to Play 

    Reviewed by Peter Rogerson

    My response:

    I can’t say that I disagree for the most part with Rogerson’s view here, but I have one criticism about his comments on heresy hunting in science.

    It’s true that many anomalists fall into conspiracy theorizing about mainstream science, but such an attitude isn’t entirely unfounded.  There are examples of scientists of unpopular views having their work confiscated, destroyed or simply ignored.  Scientists have at times been imprisoned or driven to suicide.

    These cases are not typical, but they exist.  Scientists don’t normally act that way and I have general faith in scientific progress despite some of it’s failings and limitations.  I’d like to think that such rare cases have become even more rare and that science is becoming more openminded in it’s appreciation of multiple viewpoints.

    I still think it’s important to keep in mind that scientists are just fallible humans like everyone else and science like anything else has unsavory incidents in its history.  I’m happy to admit that science is far less oppressive than religion has been in the past, but even with religion heavy-handed oppression wasn’t the norm.  Ridicule and dismissal have always been more effective methods of control.  A good analysis of the limitations of science can be found in George P. Hansen’s The Trickster and the Paranormal.

    Anomalists should avoid a hostile attitude towards science, but they shouldn’t withhold criticism that is well deserved.  Mainstream scientists need anomalists to keep them honest… just as anomalists need mainstream scientists to keep them honest.