Monday, June 15, 1998:
Let's take a short break from traditional video gaming and look at two other venues of online interaction -- both of which can be viewed as another form of gaming. Both of these events occurred in a two-dimensional graphic chat space.
In one case we were "just sitting around" engaged in discussion about a topic. The topic being discussed was related to the question of being and essence. Contrary to 98% of all online discussion, we were not involved in the topic of sex. The last time (I don't mean the most recent, I really mean the 'last' time) I went into a public forum was a physics discussion group. I was looking for a heated discussion about the new views of aether. Much to my surprise this "physics" discussion group was being used as just another pickup bar.
Since then I have been involved in the production, distribution and support of private discussion groups. And, believe me it has been very rewarding to have the space to discourse on a subject such as "zen mind" without seeing the question "are you a boy or girl" flash (pun intended) on the screen.
During one of these discussions -- specifically one related to "being and essence" it struck all of us, in the same moment as it turned out, there was a being just on the other side of the flat screen pixel graphic avatar. When I put my attention on the sprite that represented "TM" I could feel "TM". When I put my attention on the sprite that represented "SF2" I could feel "SF2".
I suppose if one pauses to consider that these hamburger meat and bone fleshy-sprites we think of as ourselves are no more us then a pixel graphic, then it should not come as a surprise. We expect as normal the experience of being-to-being contact when two fleshy-lumps are put into proximity. The fleshy-lumps are not the being. The fleshy-lumps are sprites, avatars, or waldos that we use while playing the big video game called Urth -- except for those Sumerians, Earth is the common misspelling.
It is the process of identification that fools us into believing ourselves to be the lumps. This is good. Without some identification it would not be possible to use the waldo effect for Work. However, too much of a good thing is not a good thing. When the being falls so far into identification that the lump is taken as one's self (you actually believe yourself to be a body) then that is definitely too much -- tres` gauche.
Back to the online discussion and this sudden group realization.
Well, that's what it was. Doesn't seem like much sitting here now, typing these notes at my keyboard. At the time, it was much. We confirmed for ourselves experimentally in the context of a real-life situation that the theory of being was not theory -- that the theory of avatars was not theory -- that the theory of direct being-to-being contact through vehicles other than physical proximity was not theory. All of this was practical, experiential data for each and all of us in that moment.
Granted it is not true that during every succeeding moment has the realization been as strong -- it ebbs and flows. Like first love, a first realization of something is that little bit extra special. Perhaps because of the sharp contrast between the before and after. In any case the potentiality looms ever present. Now whenever I enter into a chat space, whether it be an online chat space or a physical meat and bones chat space, the potential for true being-to-being contact is there and known to be there. Perhaps in some respects I more aware of the potential during an online chat. maybe there is something about the ritual of logging on and entering with will and intention that has been lost in normal interactions. Perhaps there is something to be drawn from one to the other.
Something that is not a perhaps, something that is a certainty for a small group of online participants is the fact of being-to-being contact through online graphic interface.
If you are interesting in setting up a private chat environment, or participating in on-going chat environments, let me know. I'll put you in touch with someone that can help.