Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Indian gharial: The original virtual Harbin in OpenSim, Interactive, Avatars communicated by text & voice in real time, Virtual Harbin Spirituality

Harbin ethnography:

... This merging of actual and virtual fantasy, which is instantiated in place, creates new opportunities at actual Harbin, especially in terms of intimacy, but also in terms of psychedelics, (music) and ecstasy.

The original virtual Harbin in OpenSim (which was stolen) was a virtual world which was interactive, where avatar figures could communicate by text and voice in real time, and which connected to my friends OpenSim island where I had a built a warm pool in which my avatar soaked, as well as green rolling hills, and was situated, place-wise, on hard drives in California and Massachusetts. While these virtual Harbins in OpenSim didn't involve immersive technologies such as DataGloves, head-mounted displays, and special-purpose rendering engines (Morningstar and Farmer 1991, in Boellstorff 2008: 51), it did make possible new forms of narrative, new expressions of hypermedia, and did also make possible integration of media elements in new ways (Packer and Jordan 2000). It was thus completely different from virtual reality of pre-graphical virtual worlds, which were entirely text based (Boellstorff 2008:51), and somewhat different from Second Life. The differences between this Harbin virtual world, virtual reality, and the Harbin New Age thinking – very alternative universes – are significant. In a virtual historical sense, in some of my early experiences in 2006 in Second Life, women avatars offered and explored intimacy, and invited me to their beautiful homes, which included warm pools. As avatar representations, such experiences are interesting, but 'not the real thing.' So, intimacy, and virtual body freedom, have been part of graphical, interactive, virtual worlds, such as Second Life, for a long time, perhaps as a substitute for the more combat-oriented uses of many early text-based virtual worlds, as well as present multimedia virtual worlds, such as World of War Craft. But such possibilities pale in relation to the possibilities of New Age thinking and symbolization, especially in relation to brain-computer devices, with, for example, substances like psylocibyn in mushrooms. To go into – to meditate on or get absorbed in the profundity of - the sacred symbol Om, while listening to a Harbin kirtan (Hindu-originating, musical offering, often devotional in nature) in a virtual Harbin, with a head set, and on mushrooms, for example, will open many new virtual worlds, in people's bodyminds, for individuals around the world. At the same time, one could then head into one's bathtub while visiting the virtual Harbin pools with a friend - and listening to music. There are many potential, unfolding, completely open-ended, new human experiences here.

While the most informative Harbin history – virtual (text-based here) and actual – is perhaps Ellen Klages' actual history of Harbin, “Harbin Hot Springs: Healing Waters, Sacred Land,” Ishvara himself, and perhaps the long time editor of the “Harbin Hot Springs Quarterly: Heart Consciousness Church Retreats, Events and Workshops” as well as the Harbinger, a biweekly are two of the richest, Harbin sources of history. ...

( - September 29, 2010)

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