Uh oh. I certainly did not intend to be away this long. I haven’t even kept up the Spyralle blog either. It’s been a busy, generally good time, and I’ve written tons I never transferred to blog. I’ll post something soon, I promise.

Things I love in SL keep going away, and places I wanted to visit but never did vanish like dreams. I don’t get to Uru much any more. Nothing is constant, and my new friends have become old friends, bless them.

I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you

— Paul Simon

Week One of Plurk was really quite pleasant. Better than tolerable, content-wise, and under control, time-wise. I’ve even been friended by a few people, which absolutely made my day in every case.

I do not have the courage to offer friendship to these people I don’t know very well, so I’ve been adding people to follow, just one or two a day, mostly people I have met and “big names” – mostly designers whose work I’ve loved forever.

Of course, a lot of people I’d most like to follow have private timelines, so one has to request “friend” status, which, as I said, I’m feeling a bit too diffident to do yet. That will come. At present there are plenty of interesting people who are “followable,” and I think adding people slowly is the best way of learning how to control the time factor.

I did not get into trouble with Twitter until I started following too many high volume twitterers. A few I have “unfollowed” – their tweets were either too cryptic and obscure and personal or too often trivial. Also, I have learned to skim more effectively and resist clicking every link. That phase did not last long. Likewise, the “I can’t miss anything!” phase.

Having experienced both, I think I prefer the Plurk format: being able to comment directly to postings and having the comments tied to the posting instead of somewhere randomly else. It’s like a mini-forum, and forums are what I have been comfortable with for a long time (the format, not always the content).

And while I’m getting my feet wet on Plurk, I can take comfort in the fact that almost nobody is reading what I post, so whatever faux pas and stupid errors I make are going to sink rapidly into complete obscurity.

Drama? So far I have not encountered any. Whatever catfights may be going on are probably behind privacy curtains where I have no access. Which suits me fine at the moment. No sharks yet.

Nice people I have observed in plenty. Some are no surprise because I already knew how nice they were from meeting them before.

My main problem (if I have one – this is all under the category my daughter calls “the kind of problems you want to have”) is the same as with Twitter. I don’t really feel I have anything to say. My monologues tend to be lengthy and infrequent (witness this blog); I’ve never got the hang of these short blurbs.

Yesterday I realized there is a terrific solution to my problem, at least on Plurk. Pictures! I can post pictures, and it is trivially easy.

True, I am still a klutz at SL photography. True, producing images to advertise my garments is still the most disliked part of the whole design process for me, and the most difficult. (The styling, especially choosing the pose, is the hardest part. I am forever second guessing my choices and doing it over and then, when time runs out, settling for something I am not happy with…)

But every day I make fractals. At some point I open one of my fractal drawing programs and spend at least a few minutes making new images or working on older ones. Years of practice and gathering resources have made it … not easy, but a seamless, almost unconscious pleasure, like improvising at the piano. It’s a nice, low-calorie binge of eye candy at the end of many a long, hard day.

I will plurk fractals. Enjoy!

Your rainbow is shaded violet.
shaded violet
What is says about you: You are a creative person. You appreciate beauty and craftsmanship. You are patient and will keep trying to understand something until you’ve mastered it.

Find the colors of your rainbow at spacefem.com.

Thanks to Cajsa for this find.

I did a crazy thing over the long weekend. I opened a Plurk account. I have been dragging my feet over doing this for many months. Not only does it have every hallmark of one more web device for sucking up one’s limited time, but everything I have heard about it makes it look like a shark tank.

Still, I have been on Twitter for a year and a half (well, very occasionally) without ill effect, and I always found that there are nice people, even in figurative shark tanks, of which I have survived a few. And the nice people are easy to find.

I did another crazy thing. I stayed up almost all night building something. It was a simple skybox, to replace one I have been using as a “dressing room” almost as long as I have been in SL. I had to take down the original to have prims for the dance pavilion, which finally got taken down last week, and when I rezzed the old skybox again I suddenly realized I now have the skills to make one of these. And make it more to my satisfaction – the original is “no mod.”

Using the old skybox as a reference for size and proportion – and some borrowed generic architectural features – I put together a basic structure with a few prims. Then came the fun part. Since I joined the Twisted Thorn group (hooray for higher group limits!), I have become just slightly geeky about textures and bought (ahem) a few. What could be more enjoyable than an opportunity to try them out? And what better reason is there for staying up all night?

It’s more fun than trying on clothes and hair and stuff. And, coming from me, that’s saying something!

Last night I went to the deep city of D’ni and spent some time there, wandering. I went to the pyramid roof in Kadish Tolesa and watched the leaves fall, and I went to Eder Kemo and stood in the rain. In the quiet.

It was my third visit to Uru in eight days, after months of absence. Last Sunday there was a party to celebrate the first anniversary of our return to the Ages of Uru. A few days later I spent some time in Relto, chatting with a new arrival who had found us in Second Life, who had gone to the Cavern and needed a bit of help. Last night I went because I simply needed to be there.

Since those first glad weeks of restoration and homecoming, I have not taken the time to go back more than a handful of times. I was too busy, and the weeks stretched to months.

I feel like a stranger there now, and yet profoundly at home.  I can’t believe how much I have needed this place, this peace and stillness. The delight when a friend sees my name on KI and calls out across Ages. The freedom. The simplicity. The lightness that comes from stepping out of all commercial agendas, from having almost nothing and needing nothing. Even words take a rest in those quiet places.

Who is Kerryth now? I remember asking that question two years ago, knowing Kerryth was not who she had been a year earlier. Kerryth is not who she was three years ago and not who she was two years ago, and it is not some simple dichotomy between keyboard and pixel – or even between country and city – between the starry silence of Minkata and the bustling abundance of Second Life. How do we reconcile these shards of ourselves and remain (or become) whole? Or is “wholeness” even a necessary or good thing?

Lately I have started reading again on the subject of identity in this age of so-called social media. Rafts of anthropologists and sociologists are spending thousands of hours studying the subject, and bloggers are blogging about it, so there is a lot to read.

But I don’t think these questions are new. People have had to grapple with multiple identities since the beginning. Child, parent, spouse, worker, community member, spiritual being. It’s just that we have more identities now, and some of them are new. And the new ones are not subject to the controls of tradition, at least not right away.

For one thing, we can still, to some extent, walk in and out of them, like rooms in a house. I think I am ready to walk out of some of my rooms for a while. Little nothings are hitting harder than they should. I need a real vacation.

We have a saying, we folk of Uru

Perhaps the ending has not yet been written.

These were the words of Atrus, written down long ago, when he realized that the Myst book he had lost might be found by someone, and that the story of his youth, the turmoil of his family, which seemed to have come to a peaceful resolution, could reawaken into a new chapter. And so it did.

For Atrus, there would have been two sides to this “perhaps.” On the one hand, he had hope that his new life with Katran would be peaceful and fruitful. He came to hope that the D’ni civilization, dead before his birth, might be reborn from the scattered survivors. On the other hand, he must have had some worry that the cultural failures that brought down the D’ni could doom them again and that his own family’s tragic legacy would return to haunt his future and his children. If he had those fears, they were justified.

But for us, the latter-day survivors of D’ni, it is the first meaning we hold, the message of hope. “Don’t give up.” “Tomorrow is another day.” And our hope has been justified. We have our Uru back.

We also share the sense that stories don’t really end, there is always more story, though it may be a new chapter. And someone else may write it. And we, individually, may not be there to read or hear it.

Sometimes, though, when I look back I see endings. I see places where a tale really did end, though the end point may have been obscured by epilogues that faded gently away against a background of emerging new tales. Call them chapters, if you like. Though the endings are not always (or even usually) happy and sometimes painful, I see them, these break-points, these transformations, these turnings of corners, as healthy and natural.  Our lives are filled with unwritten but real endings, from which we simply move on, one way or another.

As for me, I have discovered I can write endings. In my once and future life as a writer of fiction, I have always taken great satisfaction in crafting a good ending for a story. It is not easy to do. We all struggle with it, and some writers never figure out quite how to get it done. But I have found that I cannot successfully write a story unless I at least know how it is going to end. The last words on the last page are seldom the last thing that I write. Occasionally they are the first.

But, of course, this is not really (or only) about stories – formal narratives with beginnings, middles, endings and then the book is closed – it is about life also. I do not fear endings. No need to go into why; just accept that I don’t. In fact, many times I embrace endings because they allow new beginnings. They free one to let go and continue on and move forward into a new chapter.

The best, happiest endings are the ones we move through without awareness, without catching on the hooks of loss. When we turn and look back and say, “Oh! That was when that chapter closed. That was when the arc finished. That was when it was over. Well, then. That’s done. What’s next?” And our faces were already turned to beginnings with such eagerness that we did not even think of the ending as a loss, or only in passing. Sometimes the ending and the beginning were simply two sides of the same time.

What is behind all this jabber, unsurprisingly, is my becoming aware of having achieved one of those “good” endings (I’m not prepared to characterize it as “happy”… yet. Though it is shaping up in that direction) in the last couple of weeks. And though I could have written it long before the story got to that point – it was so perfectly symmetrical, poignant and yet easy to walk away from – and though I in fact engineered it, I didn’t spot it coming or going and only saw it looking back, so absorbed was I in my beginnings.

But I am glad I did not go so far as to close the book. Who knows what will appear upon the next blank page? Perhaps the ending … has not yet been written.

[Written in character, and yet not, which is kind of the point...]

Can you see sadness?
Underlying all like a
Watercolor wash

I’m working on a post that may take a while to get thought out, so I might as well put down the early glimmerings of thought process. These don’t all have to finished essays, right?

It’s not about Art directly, but it is related. There’s an argument artists have with themselves all the time, and between themselves and the world outside. The argument is over the question of Value. Is it sufficient for my work to have value to me alone? Or is it necessary for it to have some value outside of me? And does that have to be commercial value? (And how do I get that commercial value? How do I get them to pay me for this work?) Is aesthetic value enough? And does that kind of value even exist outside of each individual’s opinion? What about “sentimental” value?

Well, that last is almost guaranteed to raise an eyebrow because it implies right off that there is no other value to whatever it is, and whoever values something “sentimentally” should wise up and get over it.

I am haunted by a photograph taken some years ago by my daughter. She happened to working at a site where a motel had once stood, on some back road in the Midwest, and she took a picture of an old radio she found lying face down among the deeply drifted leaves, where young trees had grown up through the almost invisible ruin.  She took the photo not only for the aesthetic quality of the colors and textures and forms but for the interesting contrast between the vacuum tubes and wires – the rubble of an almost vanished technology – and the conquering vegetation. To her the radio was merely an artifact of a vanished time, as exciting as an arrowhead or fragment of pottery.

To me it was inexpressibly sad. I remember radios like that. I had one, not so long ago. Someone valued that radio once. What happened to them? Who were they? How did it come to be left in the woods, obliterated by leaves?

It gave me the same feeling I have when I wander through an antique store and see old photographs gathering dust in a shoebox. Some have names and dates on the back. “Uncle Eustace and Aunt May. Summer, 1932.” And there is no one left in the world who knows who these people were. There is no one left who valued them, who values this photograph.

It seems to me that “value” is a fleeting, transitory, subjective thing. Something that I value highly – that letter from my fifth grade teacher, a scrap of lace from my wedding gown – will turn out to be so much rubbish when some descendant comes across it, with no idea that this thing was ever meaningful to someone.  And even if they have an idea these things meant something to me, the letter and the lace have no meaning to them. So, out they go.

But even a diamond ring has no value if your child is hungry and there is no food to be bought.

And also “value” is something quite apart from Cost. We often value most highly those things that can only be given freely, never bought at any price. Or taken, for that matter, or demanded or begged. In fact the cost can turn one’s heart’s desire to ashes.

So, I have been thinking about Value in an environment in which nothing is physical, in which everything is made of pixels, bits and bytes. What gives things even their fleeting, transitory, subjective value in that environment?  And what things do we truly value there? Does anything have enduring value in the New Lands? Surely, human relationships. And yet, not always, as most people find out, sadly, at one point or another, when things turn out not to be what they seemed.

What else? Our time? Our skill at making these ephemeral bits of light and color, or these songs – or whatever it is we make?

We can know what we value, but we cannot force anyone else to value it as we do.  No matter how much time it took or how hard we worked or how “important” it is. And that brings me back around to Art again, and Commerce. Or it will, eventually. These are incomplete thoughts.  I’ll keep on thinking…

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