Except in SL, this is NOT my body shape–a simple fact that haunted me greatly when I was young and trying to Dance. To this day, I remember some sadistic teacher pointing out to an entire class that I had “a short neck”. But this is the herd-like aspect of ballet that I came to abhor. This goes well beyond an individual pursuing a hobby for which she is not suited — it is a facet of the larger syndrome that makes women despise their own perfectly normal and lovely bodies.
Because, you know, ( Mr. Ballanchine, I am talking to you.) I AM NOT UGLY. Ballanchine married four times in his life, all to dancers, and his liaisons with members of his corps amounted to droit du seigneur privileges. He was so enraged when Suzanne Farrell married, that he fired her from the company at the peak of her career. His iconic style of choreography involved “de-individualizing” his dancers. A woman was not a woman, one feels he’s saying, but a brushstroke. They were, like his wives, interchangeable. His corps de ballet moved around the stage in abstract patterns. Only his own idiosyncrasy was considered worthy of celebration.
In an accident of time and place, Ballanchine’s narcissism proved extremely influential in the culture. His ideal body, an echo of other iterations, broadcasted through art and advertising, was the source of suffering and even illness for women trying to somehow become what they would never be, in the process, tragically ignoring what they actually were: people with their own beauty, deserving of love.
And in SL? Seems you have a dys/utopian choice there. So, Reader, I chose Beauty. Ballanchine wins in the end?
Perhaps many of you, (well, OK, all two of you who may read this blog), get this reaction when you try to explain the profound and transportive experience of Second Life. It’s like playing with dolls. Well, I was a little girl once and really did enjoy playing with dolls. Mostly paper dolls as it happens, which is interesting in view of my future digital concerns. As with so much of childhood, there comes a moment when these pursuits are no longer encouraged. Otherworldly concerns are no longer appropriate.
Obviously the pleasure I took in arranging these magical and adaptable (if a bit flat!) images never left me because they have burst out in full bloom within Second Life. There is another force here as well. I was the kind of child who dearly loved any book where the children (it’s always the children) speak a spell or open a door and enter another world. E. Nesbitt, C.S. Lewis, Edward Eagar, I adored them all. Second Life in all its splendor, danger and glory, is indeed that world for me. As anyone knows who has experienced real emotion there, amidst a supposed bunch of pixels, this ain’t no fake world.
Is there value in leaving the too-solid world behind? I can’t prove it, but I believe there is indeed a real benefit, one that adults have been, in the main, prohibited from experiencing. (Remember when Aslan tells Susan she’s too old to ever return to Narnia?) Mysticism, meditation and hallucenogenic drugs touch on this same territory. It’s a question of perspective. Using SL terminology, is it valuable to ‘cam out’ — way out! to look back upon your life and being in the solid world, from a place where those rules do not hold? Undoubtedly.
No, this isn’t permanently mine, but I’m borrowing the image, because this is truly my dream office. Just sitting here fills me with peace.
How can SL affect RL? Well, if you can’t even visualize what you want, how can you achieve it? I am currently experiencing my usual Fall surge of energy and organization — undermined by the Holidays, usually, but those are weeks away and promise to be relatively inobstrusive. The energy rush is due to a GTD restart, which Always Works, but there are other factors too. Losing one part time job, which has been great, but I now realize, has taken up a lot of psychic energy. Time to turn the soil. Time to look around for new possibilities. Time to finish the novel. My friend Zin and I are meeting every Saturday, virtually, to further our agreed upon goals. Coaching is very powerful. One page at a time. One task at a time. Keeping an eye on your goals.