Sunday, March 14, 2010

Virtual Hilarity

I never watched VR.5 when it was on, seeing how I saw the whole VR thing as hopelessly passe by the time it came on (meaning I knew we were several generations of computing power away from seeing anything decent). It's incredibly hilarious now- talking about running full-immersion VR programs on dialup connections and with 40 megs of RAM, and showing off some of the worst computer animation you'll ever see in your life. On the plus side it's filmed in the Holy City, has Knowle Rohrer (aka the man called Jayne ) and Lori Singer cleans up well.

Watch the pilot episode here.

Seeing my son on Call of Duty morning, noon and night yelling and screaming into his headset (actually my headset) like a Blackwater merc got me thinking how close we are getting to living virtual lives. Two years ago I would have thought Caprica was serving up old Cyberpunk hash, now I see it as a harbinger. So if you haven't seen Friday's episode yet, please track it down so you'll be up to speed on my next Capricanity sermon.


  1. I think one of the reasons Avatar was so successful was because it really struck a chord with how we interact with technology today. Jake's seduction by Pandora reflects something of our own relationship with virtual technologies, and seems like a apt myth for an intermediate era on the threshold of the kind of fully virtual lives you're talking about. I know that completely inverts the surface Luddite logic of Avatar, but that certainly how it felt to me: almost like the ultimate cyberpunk movie. (It's also interesting, if you read Avatar that way, to see it almost as a complete inversion of the key sci-fi film of the nineties, which was all about plugging out of the Matrix.)

  2. Owww my ADHD is such that I must respond proactively to your as yet uncomposed CapSermon!! I keep wanting to call Daniel and the Mrs. "Lord and Lady Greystoke" so I'm seeing ERB references, John Carter if not Tarzan. Stoltz' 50s wardrobe made me remember him as Nathaniel Branden in THE PASSION OF AYN RAND... I loved the parallel plotlines wherein Zoe and Clarice(let's recall that THE X-FILES at first drew heavily on SILENCE OF THE LAMBS~ which opens the whole Jodie-Foster-sync can o' worms)seduce Philomon and Amanda into their respective Realms... Clarice uses opium like Samuel Coleridge and the V-Club is like a Xanadu... hoping to gain info, they end up giving away info! Amanda will recall Clarice's monotheist urgings..."WHICH God?" and Philomon gets the 'analog' idea which Daniel, with the help of the dog~ a scene straight out of the end of THE ODYSSEY~ extrapolates to tell RoboZoe, "I See You!"

  3. In AVATAR, I think it is interesting that technology brings the hero into a more harmonious connection with nature - a nature in this case that has a USB connection (get rid of technology, but don't get rid of my internet!).

    While in the far less successful film SURROGATES, the message was that technology robbed us of the direct connection with our natural selves.

    Personally, I think Surrogates' pov was more honest than Avatar's, but I think their respective success and failure had more to do with the actual quality of the stories rather than their messages.

    Avatar was more enjoyable, plain and simple.

    However, I am not really sure that this is about the "second life" sort of technology. More precisely, I think that what we are exploring in this fiction is something that Marshall MacLuhan looked at many years before the Internet, and, in fact, mystical and meditative practices have attempted to explore as well. The point is not that we are seeking "avatars" to experience new lives, but that we are already divided from our experience of life by the "black iron prison" of our perception. The fullness of our experience is not only limited by the ironclad laws of physics, but by the hardwired limitations of the senses we use to perceive them. Our technology is simply an extension of these senses and as technology expands the range of what we can perceive and experience, we are beginning to realize that the very fundamental nature of what we can perceive and of what we can conceive is very, very small and incomplete.

    If you like Caprica as well as Gibson's use of gods and spirits in the Matrix of the Sprawl novels, you might be interested by Norman Spinrad's DEUS X. It is a much more straightforward tale of the attempt to find out if a downloaded personality has a soul. Spinrad, of course, was a somewhat close acquaintance of PK Dick's. They were introduced when a mutual associate noted the similarities between their alternate reality "Nazi" novels THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE and THE IRON DREAM.

  4. Hey Chris have you seen this,
    I don't believe anonymous can pull something like this, if they did I applaud the effort.
    But following your latest Oscar posts, I believe the message synch runs a lot deeper, 2010 will be a interesting year.
    (link kindly stolen from redice)

  5. Skeletal Oscar!
    March 7th, 2010 by Heather Tompkins

    'Beauty is one snip away' -D*Face

    'Beauty is one snip away' -D*Face

    Well check this out! Skeletal Oscar mysteriously appears in LA’s Runyon Canyon with a caption reading “‘Beauty is one snip away’ -D*Face.” It only lasted a day, sadly, but this wasn’t the only skeletal Oscar to appear around LA, you can read all about it HERE!

    p.s. Who’s watching the Oscars tonight? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

    [via Huffingtonpost, photos by Jonathan Lloyd]

    2 Responses to “Skeletal Oscar!”

    1Quicky Links « 11

    [...] Skeletal Oscar! [...]
    Pingback on Mar 7th, 2010 at 4:32 pm
    2Inside the Oscars « I Heart Guts

    Hey Chris I am Outta Synch but if you git the chance to look at the Skelatal Oscars..... [...] guts until this statue appeared at the top of the Hollywood Hills’ Runyon Canyon. He’s flesh and blood and bone like the rest of us, but we bet he’s still got a heart of gold (heard to tell, though). {Losanjelaous blog via [...]
    I will meanwhile look at the wonderful stuff you show us on the S S. x

  6. Hello SS

    I think that because I don't really have a grasp of the blog because:
    a) I am a girl-y
    b) I don't have the time
    c) I am too emotional

    I find it hard to be someone that makes any sense on your blog, and I obviously haven't read much syfy stuff or comics.......Hey, but I get your drift.#
    Just give me time to catch up with wot you#re talking aboot..............I just like the people who spend time here

    Blessings I'll watch the stuff and give you input.


    It's a strange time......I hope it will prove to be beyond Normal life........Synchro Mystericalnass....


    Benjamin Zephaniah - Rong Radio

    You have been listening to the Wrong Radio station

    " I've been beginning to not trust me, In fact I've wanted to arrest me, I've been listenin to the wrong radio station" etc

  9. Hey KnowleseyBoy, can't get to see Caprica anymore, haven't got the Kudos/kredit/what-evah.

    I am resigning from this blog.

    Here's lookin at you Squid.....


    P.S. I know wot's gonna happen anyway. Tell ya about it another time.

    It's got somethin to do with .......++++???????

  10. Anonymous is calling for what Hakim Bey terms 'Immediatism'. A Noble concept, but it's hard for me to envision life outside my hierarchical niche within the Empire. I've got Black Iron bound up in my hemoglobin at this late date...

  11. Truly one of the most horrible scifi shows EVER! Even back then it was laughable.

  12. Okay, as one of the half-dozen people who actually WATCHED VR.5, and one of the two who enjoyed it, I will note that the "dial-up modem/acoustic coupler" thing that made the magic VR connection was more than just Radio Shack back-inventory junk.

    In case you plan to watch the rest, I won't spoil what it IS -- but you may enjoy the show. There's a high level of conspiracy/transhumanism/general weirdness in it, along with a Campbellian Search for the Father.

  13. OK, OT, but you have to SEE this.
    NYT picture of Obama with a full shadow cross behind him and a small White House. Can't explain it any better - you have to see it.

  14. "Anonymous is calling for what Hakim Bey terms 'Immediatism'. A Noble concept, but it's hard for me to envision life outside my hierarchical niche within the Empire. I've got Black Iron bound up in my hemoglobin at this late date..."

    Honestly, I cant see how it is even possible to overcome the filter of our perception. I mean, the potential of what we can conceive is wired into our physical perceptions. Just try thinking of a color that not only does not exist but can never exist. The range of the concept color is limited to the potential of visible light because that section of our brain that processes color evolved millions of years withing those parameters. When it comes to our intellectual capacity which is built up from our emotional impulses and our unconscious urges, again, physiology dictates potential in much the same way a photographic negative can be developed poorly or well, but you won't get anything on the negative that wasn't in the picture in the first place.

    Only if we have some sort of non-material body, like a spirit or a soul, could we somehow escape the limitations of the material, physical and physiological.

    That is certainly a definite desire. In religion, and the movie AVATAR, the hope is that our bodies and brains are not who we really are. That when Jake finally and eternally leaves his body to go into the mother tree spirit and into his Avatar for the final time, that it is really Jake's "true self" that makes that journey and not just a copy of the informational pattern that makes up his identity.

    Personally, I'm not so sure that is possible.

    John Keel in his book Haunted Planet discusses the idea that there is some sort of device that seems to be recording people's personalities. He mentions a paranormal encounter between a man driving cross country and a "phantom hitchhiker" that claimed to be a baseball player whom the driver later discovered had died some time before.

    However, investigating the story, he wondered, if this truly was the "spirit" of the ball player, why would he appear randomly to a complete stranger? Why would he be hitchhiking at all?

    The oddity of this story and similar ones left him thinking that these were doppelgangers, copies only taking only the memories of the dead - not their "essences."

  15. That's a good question. Personally, I think it is akin to breeding domestic animals for special traits but, obviously, at some point the human species lost a lot of its chromosomal diversity so our physiological range is far less than dogs have, for example.

    Another interesting connection to this is Peter McAllister's somewhat humorous MANTHROPOLOGY where he writes: "As a class we are in fact the sorriest cohort of masculine Homo sapiens to ever walk the planet."

    He studies the evidence of the physical prowess of our prehistoric ancestors and discovers things like footprints showing that men were running at about 37 kph (23 mph) along the muddy shore of a lake. For comparison, world record holder Usain Bolt reached a speed of 42 kph (26 mph) at the Beijing Olympics.

    The implication being that due to the demands of the environment, almost every person was capable of energetic outbursts only Olympic athletes can manage today.

    Also, in the same program about the silver fox, the documentarians spoke to anthropologists who admitted that though "cavemen" and bronze age peoples were smaller than modern men, the remains we have of them show they have larger teeth and bones and probably much stronger musculature than typical today.

    To go back to the cryptoterrestrial hypothesis, the idea would be that the predecessor race, threatened by the fertile, aggressive and physically more powerful homo sapiens would introduce agriculture and civilization knowing that it would essentially pacify and soften the species over a long period of time. If Mac Tonnies' theory of UFO's and CT's instead of ET's is correct, then civilization might not so much be a program to convert humanity to a new species but to simply manage its more destructive tendencies.

    John H