04 June 2007

The Lost

This afternoon, I had a terrible headache, so instead of going to watch the tug-of-war as planned, I came home to rest. But, I can't just rest. That would waste valuable at-home-undisturbed time. So I started sorting through the bookmarks, particularly the folders labeled with dates, because those are from moments when I had to leave suddenly, and just opted to "bookmark all tabs" and sort out what I was doing at a later time.

So, I have no idea how some of those things came to be open at the same time, or what stream of consciousness I was fly fishing in, but there were a few worthwhile links. The only one I feel like sharing today is this article by William Gibson. He discusses "regooding" of places he has previously known and loved. I'm wondering now what it is that gives that feeling of being part of a place. Not that usual "hometown pride" schmaltzy bullshit, but a deeper feeling that a place is special. A small city where I used to live has fought to try and preserve that vibe, but as quickly as a Wal-Mart will taint it, so will attempts to institutionalize or codify it. You can't zone cool. You can't even really ask people where it is in their town. They always steer you away from the skuzzy, hole-in-the-wall looking place to yet another god-damned T.G.I. McAppleGarden (only because they honestly believe that you would be offended if they suggested Hooters). Thus, you are barred from the real place. You are isolated on the other side of the "here" glass. You are part of the stream of motorists, consumers, travelers, and passers-by, separate from the reality of the place and the people who live in it.

I'll go one step further, and say that this same thing happened to Second Life. At this time last year, it felt much more like a community. Lately, it feels more like an abandoned advertising laboratory. Empty buildings full of virtual merchandise for sale (sometimes on broken display devices) and occasionally, you find someone atop a ladder with a message saying how much virtual money they're getting for acting like they're washing the windows. Aimless wandering is hampered by exclusionary landowners.

Probably, the best thing to do is make a note of such places and times in your diary, and then you can reminisce about them after the small town where you went to college gets Disneyfied, the secluded lane where you took your first date is bulldozed to make way for a strip mall, and the park where you used to take your children is invisible behind a row of billboards and an expressway clover-leaf. Joys are fleeting and soon lost forever, but you can count on some asshole trying to sell it back to you after he ruins it.

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