Sunday, November 25, 2007

It's easy. No, it's magical. No, it's easy and magical - Plus, a Black Swan writing contest

When I was five years old, my dear and wondrous grandmother - who undoubtedly would have had an even worse case of NPIRL-itis than I do - took me to a "thousand and one nights" themed restaurant for dinner. We were greeted at the door by a sheik... the tallest man I have ever seen... and led to our table through a candlelit path by a veiled and supernatural beauty.

Later, to celebrate that I had eaten all the lamb on my plate, that same belly dancer branded the evening's experiences on my mind for all eternity when she ripped a gold coin off her belt... and gave it me!

For years, I begged to be taken back, and my grandmother's answer was always the same: "It will never be that perfect again, so why upset the memory of it?"

The restaurant was in a strip mall, the sheik was surely a local high school basket ball player, and the belly dancer, well, she was just sweet. That coin? I still have it today... the gold paint worn off by me and the five-year-old fingers of my envious friends who were sometimes allowed to hold it.

Years later and just one week ago, I visited the Black Swan sim to see the "Night Dreaming" stone girl for the first time. No one had told me what to expect. "Okay...sculpties," I thought, and touched her to learn more, thinking I'd soon be teleporting off. Suddenly she was transformed into a living, glowing nymph, and I was that five year old all over again, shivering and thrilling all by my lonesome.

These photos by ColeMarie Soleil

Her creator, Light Waves, assured me today that there was no magic to it at all. "The effect is very simple," he said and proceeded to explain the process in his gentle and breezy manner, in terms that even I - a half-baked script-hacking dilettante - could understand.

Well, I don't care if it was simple or complicated. Easy or hard, the effect was sorcery, in my opinion. It transported me to my magical place and I'm not coming down.

The point is - and no, I don't own stock in Linden Lab - Second Life is the most affordable and complete tool I know of to commit hardcore creativity. Every single one of us - whether we are paying members or not - has tools at our disposal to enchant, mesmerize, and even disturb our fellow residents through the use of a simple script or a texture overlay or... but we just have to ssstretch our imaginations... which is the most powerful exercise of all.

Which brings me back to the Black Swan sim. Everything about it is mysterious and unexplained... so the online speculative fiction and dark fantasy zine, The Future Fire, has invited Second Life residents to participate in a creative writing competition that must have a discernible link to the artwork at Black Swan. Go there (teleport directly), flex those brain muscles, and you might become the author of the best entry. The winner of the first prize will receive (USD) $500, and be published in The Future Fire as well as in Second Life by Black Swan, but hurry... the deadline is December 10, 2007.

As for me... I am still buoyant, and I'm headed back to visit the stone girl. Unlike strip malls in the eyes of a five year old, her magic still holds up, and is locked inside me forevermore.


Jolly Jedburgh said...

"It will never be that perfect again, so why upset the memory of it?"
Wow what a grandma, I mostly got "eat some more".
This is a wonderful story and thank you for sharing. My only wish is that I can be as guiding to my children and hopefuly to their children.
May The Force be with you forever.

Bettina Tizzy said...

Jolly, thank you for this. Knowing you as I do, I am certain that your children are being introduced to horizons that are wide open, intensely imaginative, and brimming over with heart.

As for my own grandmother, who died some years ago, I'd give just about anything to be able to teleport her into this world. I can't think of any other person - dead or alive - who could possibly take more joy in this. We are so_very_fortunate.