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Confronting bogeymen...

Recently I have made two things. And I am realizing that with both of them I am actually confronting fears or in the case of one of them, if not fear itself a very strong repulsion.

Jellyfish. I have loathed them for as long as I can remember. They have managed to totally sour up my childhood holidays by the sea. We used to have these huge deep blue ones along with the smaller white variety and basically whenever they were in evidence I would not go into the water. They never stung me or anything like that but I loathed them anyway. Later, in my twenties, I did some scuba stuff on the Aegis and once when I was underwater I even saw a shark. (He showed no interest in me whatsoever - Thank God!). And even the shark did not give me the same gut reaction that I got from the jellyfish. Of course I was scared witless, but I really did not have that revulsion. He was very beautiful and mixed in with my fear was also a huge admiration for his grace. And why am I saying "he" anyway? For all I know this was a girl-shark. But seemed very masculine somehow?

I have no idea why I made jellyfish at Syncretia when I built the lightbulb basin. Given how much I loathe them, I really shouldn't have done so. When I started thinking about making things for avatars in Second Life a jellyfish outfit was one of the first things that I thought about doing. So, last week finally I made Alpho do one:

I do not know if this will help next time when I am about ready to jump into the sea and I see the monsters floating below me. Chances are very strong that I will still go "yukkkkkk" and run inland as fast as my legs will carry me. But, that said, I am kind of glad I made this.

The second thing is a bit more complicated to explain. I have been building the Annex and almost all of it is sunk into the sea. I really do love the underwater (although I have to admit that I haven't gone scubaing in a very very long time). So, it would not be terribly surprising if I wanted to build an underwater sim for that reason alone. However, my real reason is that I find the lighting conditions underwater far superior to those above. The light in SL leaves much to be desired. For my personal use I almost always have sky presets enabled. I have a special one for when I am building and for all other times I use the Mescaline Tammas presets. But of course, I assume that the bulk of people who come to Syncretia have the regular sky settings. Even though I set a sim time and everything I am never completely satisfied with the result. And there the underwater lighting really comes to the rescue. In short the real reason is the ability to make usage of the light down there.

I could have created something wonderful and colorful like they have over at Blake Sea where we were last week testing the S+R scuba gear with wolfie. Instead I made this space which scares even me! And I built it for God's sakes! How can I possibly be scared by something which I made myself?

There is a carousel and I honestly do not want to hang out there - it totally gives me the creeps...
Why did I do this? And what is that place all about? If I want to get all high falutin' and banal I can say that it is about life and death. Consciousness and the subconscious. Above and below. Eros and Tanathos. Bla bla bla bla... But, it is about none of these or all of them or something else entirely which I cannot even name properly. Something which resides deep in my unconscious mind and which scares me. Something I have no knowledge of whatsoever on a conscious level.

Now one of the things which I do when I am building is that I use things which others have made if I can possibly do so. I see no merit in entirely homemade endeavors in a metanomic system. If I can't find it I make it and of course I make the basic structural bits, but most of the stuff that goes into the structure is acquired. I either purchase the things or I pick them up as freebies. This is of course a kind of three dimensional collage. Max Ernst and André Breton talk about the benefits of collage, "the chance encounter of two distant realities on an unsuitable level", in releasing the images of the unconscious mind. And my guess is that something of the sort happens to me when I bring together the stuff I pick up on the freebie boards at NCI plaza and Yadni's Junkyard. I wrote a paper about all this at one point and then even made a virtual flip-book out of the paper. (No one was too terribly impressed by the paper itself, I have to admit. In fact Roy sent me off with a colossal flea in my ear... hhh. So a flip-book as a final resting place for it is about right, I guess).

I had dug some very deep canyons and used a very dark ground texture for the deepest level of the terrain. So, the place has been dark almost from the day that I got the sim. But that has to do with the fact that underwater, as I remember it, is dark. Or rather a weird admixture of dark coming at you from the depths and light coming from above. But it is eerie as a space - underwater. And it seemed to me that creating a dark ocean floor and a lighter upper level would simulate that RL underwater feeling more or less accurately. Because I did want accuracy of sorts in that. But that is the groundwork. What happened after that is that I started picking up things. I found a strange sculpty horse as a freebie. The textures on it were pretty awful although the shape was really good. So, I blanked out the texture. Too harsh. So, I decreased the opacity. Too wish washy. So, I added glow. Suddenly I had a ghost horse. Hmmm... Suddenly I sunk it into the water to see how it would look against the dark ground. Looked pretty good. So, I duplicated it to see the increased effect. And one more and one more. Suddenly I had a herd of ghost horses galloping underwater. I had had no idea, no intention of doing this. I was going to do fish and stuff. I mean I still have a lot of fish down there, but now there is a herd of ghost horses as well.

Then, next thing, I send Amina off to the gnubie store to get kitted out a bit. She has no clothes to wear and although she does not really go anywhere she should still have something to wear, no? And alpha.tribe designers do not really wear their own designs except for experimental purposes. We have a house policy like that. So while she is there she sees this carousel. Picks it up, passes it onto me. I rezz it. I have no intention whatsoever of using it, I just want to see what it is. However, I happen to rezz it right next to the horses. Next thing the horses are on the carousel. And... I get really really scared by what I just did.

It is all like this, what is down there. How it came together. The horses are just one part. There is other stuff too. Of course, there is this synchronistic encounter theory as well, where you apparently bump into things which somehow end up being what you were looking for inadvertently.
So what is it about? Fear of something for sure. Death? There are objects directly related to death in another part of the sim. And the ghost horses are dead too in a way I suppose. But, I am not at all morbid. Hardly ever think about all that stuff. And also, I was talking to a friend of mine Natasha Vita-More, who is very involved in radical life extension research and while we were mulling about all this it emerged that I really have no interest in living forever. Or for much longer than what people normally do these days. Don't get me wrong: I have no desire or intention to pop my clogs anytime soon, say within the next 4 - 5 decades - hhh. I do want to have a good innings and genetic predisposition on both sides of my parentage would indicate that this is probably likely to happen - unless shit happens, of course. But, if it does it does... So? I am probably about as much scared of death as the next person, but really no more than that. And plus - I firmly believe in reincarnation. They had a case here years ago with all these babies that started blabbing about a location 100s of kilometers away where they claimed to have wives and children. Turns out it it was all correct. And the babies had been conceived within hours if not minutes of the demise of a group of men who had died in a really bad car crash at a young age. Now, that is irrefutable evidence in my book...
Not death then but something. I seem to have spat out a conglomeration of objects which scare me to look at. So, again, as with the jellyfish I must be in the process of confronting something. Except I really have no idea what it might be? Or only a very vague inkling of some sort? And that unsettles me even more somehow?

Ah well, I am sure all will be revealed in due course. For now I have far more pleasant matters on my mind: Frigg Ragu gave me her collection of poses and these have got to be the best ones ever seen in SL! Oh and - Amina picked up a set of maracas which make you "manbo" (not mambo!) when you wear them. And, I have had my heart set on making a sailors outfit for the longest time. So, speaking of "the chance encounter of two distant realities on an unsuitable level", I am frantically busy in photoshop right now making the "manbo sailor" outfit! I am sure it will be the hottest seller yet!
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The avatars of alpha.tribe

 Something I was going to add the other night and then forgot to do. Or rather, I could have done so obviously, even after posting the thing but then chose not to after all. This seems significant enough for a separate entry: My alts.

I am at the point where I am feeling them as completely separate persons. They are standalone entities with different pre-occupations and thoughts. Which is very strange. They originated from some part of me, surely they are me? But, it is definitely not how this all feels, how the game is progressing here. And, funnily enough, meeting with them, hanging out with them, is proving to be yet another incentive to stay in SL. Perhaps maybe even the strongest one?

Grapho, I am in awe of. Xiamara, I do not like. And neither, for that matter, am I too overly fond of Amina. She looks a bit like Priscilla Presley (not at all my reason for not liking her, I should add). But she is this type of flaky, droopy, overly innocent seeming female, the kind who contrary to all appearances of flakiness gets everything done exactly in the way she intends it to. In short, the type for whom I really do not have much time for at all. Devious, the word is, I suppose?

And it is these two, whom I do not like, that I should probably be taking a really good close look at since according to the laws of projection in them would be embedded my deepest personality flaws. So ingrained that I probably have a hard time recognizing them in myself and mirror them onto entities whom I do not like? So, how horrifying is that? But, in all likelihood still very true...

The one that I do like is Alpho. I even like the way she stands around with her goofy chubby girl AO animations and then bursts into that freebie female power walk - so purposeful! hhh... She is the only one that I have given my own shape to amongst my alts (although I have distributed quite a few of them to customers in the shop - but that is another story...). However, Alpho is a furry and so whenever she is not making clothes she is a wolf designed by Leben Schnabel or a panther designed by a really talented furry designer, whose name I cannot remember off the top of my head. But much as I like her, she is someone else entirely. In fact, if anything, her separateness I recognize more readily than all the others. And Grapho too. He intimidates the living daylights out of me I have to admit, but I do like him as well. And I very clearly see him as his own person. A stranger, in fact. The others are separate and yet not strangers. Grapho however, is a stranger whom I have yet get to know.

I guess, this is what it was like to play with dolls? When I was a kid? I really can't remember. grrr... What it is definitely like is hanging out with my animals. Distinctly separate entities.
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It is time to talk some more about alpha.tribe.

I am spending a lot of time working on the output - to the extent where sometimes I have a hard time falling asleep because there is some new thingy floating around in my head and I get up in the middle of the night and fire up photoshop to do things. Wander into the shop in the early hours of the morning and start rezzing prims. It is a full fledged obsession. And not only the work but all of it. Sometimes a few days go by and no one buys anything and I feel low: Instead of checking emails  (as one does), I first look at the transaction histories of the 5 avatars on their SL accounts pages when I get up in the morning. It isn't about money obviously: I would need to be selling thousands of items to talk about any kind of a tangible income. And, of course, I do not. I make enough to cover my day to day SL expenses and a bit above that perhaps. Maybe, in time, it will be enough to cover the fee of the new homestead. Certainly not what I pay for Syncretia as well. Not anytime soon anyway... So, the obsession is about something else.

Bettina asked me the other day about Syncretia, that she was concerned that I was no longer so interested in "building". I have been a multi tasker for as long as I can think; so no, I have not given up building. I will do that as well. But, the thing with Syncretia is that it is finished. And there really is no reason whatsoever for me to hang out there, to go back there even. The new sim, yes... Of course. I will be building that - eventually. It will take a couple of weeks, maybe 3 or 4, but probably not even that and then that too will be done, finished. I will be putting an alpha.tribe store there as well, I should add. I can do that, it is not educational land.

The thing about designing avatar apparel is that you can just keep on doing it, over and over and over again - infinitely. Each outfit is a novel design system which you need to tackle all over again, from scratch. And it is an imaginative process. So, on the one hand it calls all of my previous design know-how into question, but then you can use that design know-how to really take an imaginative leap of fancy. I am my own client in a way, I write my own brief and then I implement it through the 5 avatars. And while on the one hand one does need to pay a lot of attention to inherent design restrictions such as those odious avatar templates for instance, the total nightmare of getting one's head around that little problem right there; on the other hand it is a truly liberating process. You need not worry about RL design issues such as "function" or "usability" or "specifications" or "legibility" (a very big one for the work of a graphic designer, this last one). You can play - really and truly. So, it is a designer's paradise. No wonder I am so enthralled with it. And like I said, it is endless...

But is that it? It is quite a bit of it, true. I really am preoccupied with the creative process. But that is certainly not what makes me run and check my transaction pages every morning. What it is is that alpha.tribe is giving me a purpose. It is giving me the illusion of having a valid reason for carrying on my existence in SL. That I am needed somehow. The illusion that I have clients who look forward to my producing something new. It is, like I said, a huge illusion and of course I know that it is anything but true. No one needs me or particularly wants me or cares if I am around or not. But, when I click on the transactions page and see the names of avatars that have bought this or that, that have valued the stuff that I make enough to actually pay me for it, it gives me that illusion of being needed. And, I need that sense of purpose to carry on. To justify my continued existence in SL. To myself.
And no, even though it may sound like it, I am not sad. Just trying to formulate an explanation to an obsession, that's all.