lotu5 on Wed, 23 Jul 2008 19:46:05 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Dreaming of Molly Millions, the Panther Moderns and Body Hacking

Michael Wojcik wrote:

> lotu5 wrote:
>> If "life has become an object of power in itself", then what about 
>> second life or the mass consensual hallucination of another life?
> How is that different from, say, popular written fiction? RWA 
> estimates 64.5 million "Americans" (presumably residents of the USA) 
> read at least one romance novel last year.[2] Does that make romance 
> novel reading an even larger "contemporary occurrence"? Does it make 
> romance novels a more-significant "mass consensual hallucination"?
> And if not, why not? That's the question I have to ask, when I look at 
> VW and the like critically. What justifies a claim or assumption that 
> these forms of activity have different implications for wider society, 
> or politics, or what have you?
> Mind you, I'm not saying they *don't* have different implications. I'm 
> just saying I haven't seen a convincing argument why they would.
> [1] http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm
> [2] 
> http://www.rwanational.org/cs/the_romance_genre/romance_literature_statistics/readership_statistics

Hi Michael,

I've been thinking about this because I think you bring up some good 
points here about this discussion and what might and might not be useful 
questions about second life and MMO's.

I'm not trying to argue that romance novels aren't important sites of 
investigation, and I'm sure there are lots of other great positive 
examples in that regard to bring up.

But what is different from the way that people imagine themselves 
through literature and through virtual worlds? There seem to be a few 
big differences, one being interactivity. People can and do say that 
they create their avatar as an expression or reflection of themselves. 
They say their avatar is "me". I think this is related to the sense of 
agency created by interactivity. The second thing I think is significant 
to point out is that they are networked, so there is a social process of 
feedback very similar to the social process that creates out identities 
in everyday experience. Yes, this is also true of any other interaction 
on the net, moos, blogs, twitter, etc. Perhaps there is something about 
the speed and bandwidth of social feedback in MOO's that creates an 
intensive difference in the impact on a feeling of identity.

Lastly, there is the question of the image. While it is one thing to 
read characteristics and imagine them, images have a powerful unifying 
effect on the hallucination of a unified identity or subject. I think 
this is a major part of lacan's ideas about the mirror stage, that the 
image itself presents one with the idea of wholeness, of a complete 
identity that you think you have, and therefore end up striving for once 
you find that you actually don't have, either when the baby falls or 
when you quit second life and shut the lid of your laptop.


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