Recursively Virtually Real Neil


I was tipped off by reading Dusan’s blog of an SL event yesterday. In the above image you see myself and Robin attending a live simulcast being graciously hosted at the Eternal Flames Pier (the lady on the left was most hospitable, thank you, ma’am). The fact that we watched a virtual version of an in-world event is why I echo the recursion theme from Dusan’s memes. Apparently one could only get into the location where it was taking place by invitation. I assume they needed to control numbers to insure the sim operated well. Meanwhile the irony of a virtual view of a virtual interview is ponderable, mayhaps.

The interview was with Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary, who collaborated as screenwriters for the new film Beowulf. I have enjoyed around a half dozen of Neil’s novels having been introduced to him through his collaboration with Terry Prachett in Good Omens. I was interested enough in the interview, but more on experiencing the event in SL.

As a side note, I am new to blogging and as I found the link on amazon to the book just now, I saw that Neil has already blogged a bit about his SL interview and it was syndicated into the book’s page. That nifty trick of dynamic semantic webbery is is cool enough, and the immediacy and intimacy with Neil is even more cool when a rambling entry ends with him saying:


Later. Mr Gaiman has drunk too much champagne to continue this blog entry.

& so to bed.

Pais hoots and sniggers. Perhaps he is one of us…

And I think that was part of what I was trying to grasp. Why would one want to see an avatar version of Neil talking about a movie screenplay?

The first answer is another question; why might I have gone to see him in RL? After all, he’s an author, it is his written words for which I know him. Yet we all seem to crave to share space with the famous. Of course, I was not sharing space with him – we were on different continents – yet we were sharing SL, and there was something in that knowledge that seemed to make it more interesting to be at the event, rather than (for example) to read a transcription later.

There was a little comment Neil made at the end of his interview that gave me a start – I forget how he turned the words exactly but the gist I got was that he was saying goodbye for the moment, but he will be around in SL. He said this as if this was something he familiar with doing (I tried to scan his blog to see if he’s mentioned it, but the site is not loading). Other famous people have also mentioned having anonymous avatars in SL, and the implications are pretty interesting. I am not the kind of person that gets willy-nilly at the notion of meeting someone famous. I don’t collect autographs. When I have rubbed elbows with the famous, rich, or powerful I try to keep my cool and perspective that we are all human and fawning over over a celebrity is not only impractical and undignified, it also prevents the chance that one may actually connect with them as a person. So pointing out that celebrities are in our SL midst is not a call for stalking and outing, it is to remind us to stay attuned to the potential to find wonder and magic in all that we meet.

This point is driven home by the passing of one our own, Dummie Beck. Now that he is gone, one of the laments to be heard is a regret for not knowing him better, or for not answering that last IM…


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