D gets a serious case of the heebie-jeebies from the mere mention of Second Life, but in this week's installment of "Sycorax Confesses" I will admit that I find it to be a rich and utterly fascinating phenomenon. I have not, however, been so bold as to create an avatar and venture into an, um, secondary life as of yet. Perhaps once I get this life under control.

Meanwhile, it would seem to be a real boon for the arts, both in terms of marketing artists and granting easy access to people who don't live in a metropolis or cultural hotspot. William Gibson (whose Neuromancer has been lurking reproachfully in my TBR pile for a few months now) did a recent Second Life reading, which involved the creation of an avatar for him by his publisher (oh the non-ironic appropriateness of it all!). Spectators began to arrive and lurk four hours before the event began. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic has created a Second Life replica of its concert hall where users will be able to attend a concert in September featuring a number of new classical compositions.

Is it possible that this phenomenon will create a new group (it is not homogeneous enough in age to be called a generation, I think) of arts consumers just as it seemed some genres (like classical music) were on the verge of pricey irrelevance?


I am completely behind the giving of unusual names to child, being an example myself of how having a strange name DOES NOT result in rampant teasing or poor social development. I make general scornful gestures at the argument that children named Apple or Moon Unit will go through life scarred by the aggressive individuality of their monikers. So I am filled with (supportive) mirth at the news that a Chinese couple has named their child @ . As the New York Sun article linked above notes:

According to the vice director of the State Language Commission, Li Yuming, the child's father said, "The whole world uses it to write e-mails, and translated into Chinese, it means ‘love him.'"

Think how satisfying this name will be to dash off in a signature! As an image it is lovely. And, unlike Prince's moniker-of-yore, it has an easy, obvious and (as the father says), thanks to email, fairly universally recognizable pronunciation.

ing in trueth, and fayne in verse my love to show,
That she, deare Shee, might take som pleasure of my paine,
Pleasure might cause her reade, reading might make her know,
Knowledge might pittie winne, and pity grace obtaine,
I sought fit wordes to paint the blackest face of woe;
Studying inventions fine, her wits to entertaine,
Oft turning others leaves, to see if thence would flow
Some fresh and fruitfull showers vpon my sun-burnd brain.
But words came halting forth, wanting Inventions stay;
Invention, Natures childe, fledde step-dame Studies blowes;
And others feet still seemde but strangers in my way.
Thus, great with childe to speak, and helplesse in my throwes,
Biting my trewand pen, beating myselfe for spite,
Fool, said my Muse to me, looke in thy heart, and write.
Fool, said my Muse to me, looke in thy heart, and write."

Ah, Sidney, you had me at "sunburn'd brain."


Not much news to report today. I am at work on Joan London's Gilgamesh for my Year of Down Under Project, and although it has not yet earned in full Francine Prose's comparison of the novel to Alice Munro's work (I am only 46 pages in at the moment), I can certainly see the similarities. I am enjoying it. I picked up Gilgamesh because I need less implicitly disturbing (in the way it plays on our sympathies for both victims and murderers) reading than Capote's In Cold Blood for right before bed. But the result has been that I have been unable to make time for In Cold Blood for several days. Boo to that!

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