Thursday, August 21, 2008

Music: Virtual Harbin, "The Magic Flute" and "Flow: the Psychology of Optimal Experience"

Here's a virtual chat conversation with a friend from a few months ago (Feb. 2008) about creating virtual Harbin vis-a-vis possible 'Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience" experiences therein: When I listen to some recordings of “Die Zauberfloete" {"Magic Flute"} arias, I regularly experience far-reaching neural cascades of great pleasure, - a specific 'information technology' giving rise to the chemistry of bliss.
Bos: All you need is a listening device...
me: The term "religio" does seem to open possibilities of a kind of connectedness I associate with bliss, which might have been furthered with psychedelics - the oracles at Delphi may have had a similar chemical aspect related to those pools [smile]
Bos: So how does one take this bliss to the masses?
me: virtual worlds' information technology, ... so naturally
Bos: I don't think the whole planet will fit in the hot tub
me: redefining naturally
Bos: but maybe you're onto something
me: away from chemistry, but toward information technology.
Bos: The big problem is to fully flood the body with an experience that may only be virtual
me: bath tubs facilitate the relaxation response, and while there aren't 6.5 billion bath tubs for all of the worlds' population, and I don't want to start a bath tub soaking craze, soaking in warm water in bath tubs does facilitate the Relaxation Response
Bos: I doubt that taking the laptop into the bathtub will make virtual Harbin real
me: When listening to "Die Zauberfloete," {Mozart's Magic Flute}, my mind is often fully absorbed - the definition of "flow" - focused mind . . .
Bos: I suspect the experience is more complicated than that. Yes. Not everyone gets this from the same things, and you want people to experience this together, I think.
me: Re-focusing some cultural practices of enjoyment might re-orient people to a kind of relaxation response - flow - bliss experience . . . These are elements of it . . . how to synthesize them into an accessible whole is the question . . .
Bos: I guess the question is what does technology bring to the task?
me: And a virtual world makes possible some of this in novel ways . . . being there (not the film) {Have you visited the "Gardens of Bliss" in Second Life, where I get visceral responses to both flight there and its beauty?}
Bos: I think more Virtual Reality technology is needed
me: For pragmatic reasons, I think I'll probably start with something like Second Life because it works and it's easy . . . it also privileges the visual (and auditory), which gives one a kind of overview (so to speak) of the specific kinds of flow experiences that Harbin's milieu makes possible . . .
Bos: Visual is the vast majority of the human sensory system
me: and Harbin is clothing optional, which seems to ease people's mind - a part of Harbin's flow, and why people go to Harbin
Bos: Thus, it's the best way to get info into the mind
me: [smile] yes of Harbin's 'flow'
Bos: Yes, I understand the experience from nude beaches and hot tubs, saunas, etc. But I wonder if it can be replicated in Second Life
me: Harbin also has 1700 acres of land, and it's 'chill' - meditative - relaxed, - due to the hot springs' retreat culture they create, the warm pools' "relaxation response," (I think) and what has emerged there . . .
me: virtual worlds are a start . . . and the very beautiful natural environment of Harbin, is another difficult aspect to 'simulacrate' – to represent accurately in a virtual world. This is yet another aspect of the Second Life - Real Life disjunction
Bos: I think being naked may be more important than being with other people who are naked. The contact with sun, wind and water may be more than the sort of shy intimacy between people on a nude beach (to color it with my experiences anyway). Yes, the natural world's beauty is hard to replicate in Second Life.
me: The pool area at Harbin is very visual, - seeing others in the pool area has been what it's designed for. I think this is significant and eases people's minds, I hypothesize . . .
Bos: There seems to be different tastes in Second Life, different senses of what's beautiful. Much of Second Life seems to embody a fantasy of what people wish they could experience in real life
me: Harbin requires membership {in Heart Consciousness Church}, and most everybody pays at the gate. Signs at Harbin are also important, and help to shape milieu, - so a "virtual world" - Harbin is a starting point
Bos: tropical beaches, fantastic architecture
me: Real Life Harbin is a realizing vision. Harbin has very nice and unique architecture, that has emerged gradually and organically, and is a starting place for modeling virtual Harbin
Bos: Yes. You're onto something there.
me: onto the day?
Bos: Maybe recreating the Harbin environment for Harbin members who can't get there in real life is a start. Then, if you flood the Second Life place with real Harbin people, they may bring the experience with them.
me: Yes . . . but I want to create the possibility for 'flow' experiences that may be novel as Virtual Worlds develop
Bos: It may be a matter of enough willpower coming to the virtual place to make the vision real
me: Does milieu shape ethos/discourse, that then gives rise to roles and actions?
Bos: I think it might have to be the reverse in virtual Harbin
me: One University I'm in contact with has made a significant investment in Second Life, and doesn't have much happening there. They even have a staff helping to develop their in-world . . . Hmmm
Bos: I'd bet it's very hard to create a place in Second Life that produces an experience
me: "Place" is the beginning in my analysis, and representational process . . .
Bos: I think the people produce the experience out of a sense of longing for something that they want in real life
me: real life Harbin isn't movable, so I drove out here (in January from the east coast). . . [smile]
Bos: But is place created by people or are we created by place?
me: And Harbin emerged from counterculture
Bos: Why is a sunset beautiful?
me: questions of determinism . . . co-constitution
Bos: But I think Harbin is rare in real life. And there are many beautiful places. Some put you into "flow" experience, but lack the social element of a Harbin
me: . . . I'll probably start with as much similarity with Real Life as possible in virtual Harbin - so people will have to pay at the gate in virtual Harbin, making it a little 'rare.' I envision this project first as a new kind of ethnography
Bos: I don't think you can reproduce the beauty sufficiently to make that the trigger. The trigger for "flow" will have to be the people.
me: There is an element of unfolding organically, that will develop . . .
Bos: Yes, pay at the gate is probably helpful, since it will select for people who want to be there. Do you need permission from real life Harbin? ...
me: First, a relatively realistic topography, and then I'll see what emerges, vis-à-vis Harbin....
Bos: If the right people approve, I suppose it may be worth some risk to go for it.
me: I like Harbin.

Metaphorically, I think a kind of improvisational opera is occurring at Harbin everyday, with each person's enjoyment and experience a contributing internal voice and instrument. I wonder sometimes how people might complement and add to this far-reaching Harbin experience, to facilitate furthering loving bliss there.

Curiously, I think exploring the relaxation response further, especially in the pools, may facilitate this.

Back to the pools . . .

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