Friday, April 10, 2009

獻詞,(新世界中)性別/物種認同的誕生

閱讀「新世界記事」(New World Notes)作者 Wagner James Au 的 The Making of Second Life: Notes from the New World。一開始的獻詞他是這樣寫的:

For all those who strive for a life enriched by ideas and imagination --- and all those who create the tools to make them real.

本書獻給那些人們:他們努力奮鬥讓人生因為理念與想像而豐富....並且創造工具來讓理念與想像成真。

不過說真的,讀起來蠻像讀墓誌銘的(哈)。

第五章:自製人類(Self-Made Mankind)有提到 Second Life 最初的居民中,性別認同原始設計誕生的過程:

In Second Life’s first few months, by Hunter Walk’s estimation, perhaps half the avatars were fantastic and strange, and would enter the community freakishly tall, say, or with spiky multicolored hair and other flourishes of gratuitous silliness. This rapidly changed, for the first cottage industry to emerge from within the community was customized avatar enhancements. (Nearly all of them made the choices for the female avatar more beautiful and fashionable. Linden Lab’s avatar customization interface was created by male programmers who were, for all their copious coding talent, not exactly on the cutting edge of glamour.) And while the default options for a woman’s avatar were vast, nearly all the choices somehow managed to be remarkably unflattering.

...With a few notable exceptions, the early Residents who took matters into their own hands were women. Washu Zebrastripe, Resident name of a girl from the Midwest, invented wigs that were actually attachable prims sculpted to look like hair, and they quickly supplanted Linden’s own hair interface. Nephilaine Protagonist, a young mother from the South, became so renowned for her elegant, Goth-inflected clothing that she launched Pixel Dolls, among the first virtual fashion lines. They were part of a quiet uprising, as the talented women of Second Life reclaimed a sense of beauty the system had denied them.


作者有跟 Sherry Turkle 處理 MOO 的經典著作 Life on the Screen 對話,反省了她樂觀的看法,認為人們會從被傳統的認同束縛當中被釋放開來。他作了很「有感覺」的評論:

But as it turned out, Turkle’s observation was simply ahead of its time. Creating a constantly revolving theater of role-play first required a system expansive enough to make every attribute fluid, and believably so. It also required an economy and a culture vibrant enough to make those shifts in identify meaningful—and, at times, painful.

從今日來回顧,Turkle 的觀察只是超越了它的時代。創造一座持續轉動、角色扮演的舞台,首先需要一套夠昂貴的系統,讓所有的屬性都保持流動,並且讓它彷彿是真實無比。它也需要充滿活力的一套經濟與一種文化,來讓這些認同的挪移變得有意義....並且有時候甚至是相當痛楚。



在述說了種族偏見的故事之後,Wagner 介紹了「毛毛族」(furries),大約佔所有居民總數的 6%,是一群以動物形象出沒的 Second Life 族群。Wagner 說他們是 the Amish of Second Life,簡直就說得太讚了!我自己常常覺得,如果我在 Second Life 世界裡面再待久一點,再多演化或生出一些智慧,我大概就可以「轉生」成其他型態的生命型態了(呵呵)。這也是我讀到 Wagner 所表達的意思。

Several of the most prominent avatar types represent Internet subcultures that have existed long before Second Life. Among the most identifiable racial minorities, so to speak, are the furries, Residents who role-play as anthropomorphic cartoon animals. By one estimate in mid-2007 (derived by the number of avatar costumes sold at retail), furries comprised some 6 percent of SL’s active community but include some of the most recognized and talented content creators. In a sense, they are the Amish of Second Life, a relatively insular subculture that many find strange, but whose skills as nurturers of the world are respected. They also represent a summit of the avatar experience: a striving for transcendence into an alter ego that’s so idealized, it’s no longer even human.


他把他自己變成倉鼠的過程跟卡夫卡的《蛻變》相比,哈哈哈真是太好笑了。我自己有見過龍(一位在加州大學的藝術家/研究生),以及牠/他所正在進行的實驗;但是我沒有跟龍講過話。(台灣的時區的確還是很麻煩的:這個區域的創意還沒有很密集,能夠撞擊出創意的可能就還很有限。)不過老實說,改變認同所創造出來的撞擊真的很大。有點像是你自己 DIY 去做了變性手術,更誇張的是,去做了變換物種手術:你必須學習用新的眼睛去看待世界。在 SL 當中的角色分身(avatar)竟然可以讓自己認同突破如此多的既存框架,對我來說,既是一件充滿力量也是讓人心生恐懼的事情。

“It’s been years now [as a squirrel],” Baysklef tells me, “but I’ve been a furry longer than that. It takes a lot of time to really find yourself.”

....If you want to know who you really are, try on a role that is decidedly not you. Relee Baysklef takes on the form of a squirrel and feels a connection to a form she’s always wanted to be. Hamlet Au takes on the form of a hamster, by contrast, and feels as if he’s walking around in public wearing a scuba-diving suit made out of lime-green sandpaper. And while there’s nothing exactly wrong with publicly wearing a lime-green sandpaper scuba suit, I still wouldn’t quite feel like myself inside it. I’d also worry that people would form their impression of me just from the scuba suit, and not see who I really am.

These are valuable things to learn, if you can stand to have the nub of a tail sticking out your backside for a time.

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