Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pleiades: In terms of Harbin's economy, Participant observation, Commodities, land and Harbin's vision

Harbin ethnography:

... And actual Harbin freedom vs. virtual Harbin freedom vis-a-vis clothing-optionalness and physical intimacy, and hippie agency, become new processes when studied ethnographically in a virtual Harbin.

In terms of Harbin's economy (which we shall return to in Chapter 8), and participant observation as method, commodities, land and Harbin's vision play significant roles in both actual and virtual Harbin's cultures. For example, Heart Consciousness Church (HCC) – so, Harbin and Ishvara, significantly - have just bought, in late 2010, around 4,000 acres of land, in Lake County, around ten miles away from the Harbin Hot Springs' valley, which this ethnography is significantly about. I don't know much about this purchase. Ishvara's vision of growing Harbin, which he expressed in 2008 (MacLeod 2008 - personal interview, as well as in a number of “Harbin Quarterlies,” and perhaps in the pamphlet “Living the Future”), is realized further here, in 2010, with the acquisition of this new land. My first, virtual Harbin build, in Open Simulator, was stolen, unfortunately, and quite painfully, along with the first manuscript of this book and a manuscript of poetry, so it's from an amalgam of related, virtual world and virtual Harbin experiences, in Open Simulator and Second Life, that I write of virtual Harbin, in terms of finances and the virtual. Second Life, itself, has both an economy with its own currency, the Linden dollar, which has an exchange rate with the U.S. dollar, which avatars can use to purchase prims' which other avatars have made, as commodities, and also makes possible the 'purchasing,' (rental, in a sense) of virtual land. And Linden Lab, the company which owns Second Life, has a business model of virtual land for actual 'real-world' currencies. These days, people who want to build things in Second Life, or simply own virtual land there, pay Linden Lab around U.S. $3,600 per year, (which in Linden dollars at today's exchange rate would be ), plus a U.S. $1,000 dollar set up fee (2010 VWER transcript, http:// ; and Second Life costs web page, http://). Harvard University, for example, presently pays this amount of money for their Berkman Island in Second Life. In this context, and in relation to this recent Harbin purchase of actual land, participant observation, as method, makes possible an articulation of countercultural vision, with finances, in unique processual and temporal ways.

So, ethnographic field work leading to the above interview with Ishvara, where he expresses his vision of growing Harbin, as well as his bumping into me in the warm pool, finds social meaning (Boellstorff 2008:75) in Harbins' interactions - communication-wise, financially and even physically - in combination with synthesizing various articulating 'cultural' milieus, processes, and temporalities, such as a Harbin hippie 'vision,' since 1972 when Ish bought the property cum economics cum the warm pool. ...

( - December 15, 2010)

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