Apocalypse When?

September 28, 2009


A Welcome Center.  Shit.  I logged into a Welcome Center.  Every time I log in I think I’m gonna rez at my home but my sim must be down.   When I was in my second life, I wanted to be in my first.  When I was  in my first, all I could think of was getting back in-world.  Every minute I’m stuck in this Welcome Center, I get antsier.  Everyone gets everything she wants in Second Life. I wanted a project, and for my sins they gave me  one. Brought it up to me like room service.

A few months back, I was hit with an idea as I watched the Apocalypse Now.  Why not try to make a version of Apocalypse Now based in Second Life?  What really put the hook in me was a sentence in the opening narration.  Captain Willard (a young Martin Sheen) was waking up in his Saigon hotel room and talking about his return to Vietnam for a second tour of duty.  The line that got me was this:

When I was here, I wanted to be there. When I was there, all I could think of was getting back into the jungle.

Why did it hook me?  Because it reminded me of moments of my experiences with Second Life.  Of the times where I was in my first life and wishing I could be in my second.  Then times in my second life where I was feeling the good pull from my atomic world.  This, of course, got me thinking.  What about a Second Life version of Apocalypse Now or Joseph Conrad‘s Heart of Darkness?  (and for those of you who didn’t know, Apocalypse Now is a loose retelling of Heart of Darkness)   I found that I was thinking about what was common to those stories and linking them to SL; telling a tale of a  lead character set on a journey for Kurtz in Second Life, but going deeper and deeper into her darker places.  Done well, I thought the SL version could be a fascinating comic, machinima, blog with pictures, just about anything.

So why are you writing about an idea that you never did anything about, Lanna?  Because, just like Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now, I got the mission I wanted.  And when it was over, I would never want another.  What mission was that you say?  Look after the jump to find out.

So yes, I found myself thinking of my Apocalypse Now project.  I mentioned it to a few people in-world; some loved it and a few others thought I was nuts (which happens from time to time, so I’m used to that reaction.)  But I thought about it, scribbling notes here and there.  Thinking of how I might make something look or feel a certain way.  The idea excited me and I had fun taking it creative places in my mind.  But, alas, I never got past the idea phase.

The main story was going to be that I was going to be asked to go on a mission to find Kurtz by “The Chairman” (courtesy of a bootleg Philip av).  You see, Kurtz had been a good avatar: involved in mentoring, owned a couple of sims, really very much an ideal Resident…until getting involved in land speculation on Zindra…then Kurtz’s methods became unsound.   Somehow Kurtz had locked down TPs, so my mission was to go to Zindra, find Kurtz, and terminate his account.  Terminate with extreme prejudice.  If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll see that there are lots of possibilities for great ideas.  I’d even gone so far to get some wonderful people to agree to playing key roles.

But just like Willard had a confession in Apocalypse Now, here’s mine.  I cared more about thinking of ideas for creative Second Life avenues than finding ways to express my creativity in my first life.  Wait.  Strike that.  That’s what I used to tell myself.  I made a very common error that I think lots of people in Second Life make.  Not everyone, but certainly a whole lot (if my friends list is representative at all).  What I started with is true, I thought more about SL creativity than RL creativity until I realized that it is all the same; I’ve only got one source of creativity for both worlds.  Gosh, not exactly an earth-shattering revelation, but still a revelation.

I’ve always had a tendency to dive into things that really interest me.  What I realized was this:  the part of my brain that controls my creativity, my dreaming, my visioning was putting energy into Second Life.   Not all of it, but I found myself wanting to be creative in SL more and more.  For me, it became an issue that there is an opportunity cost to my creativity. Time spent being creative on anything in SL meant that I wasn’t spending time being creative with my first life.

But it is hard to find time for a full first life and a full second life, so I did what so many in SL do, I slept less.  I told myself that I was wanting to make time for my creative expression.  But what was worse, I found myself waking up and thinking about my blog, or Plurk, or decorating my house, or shopping.  I found myself being excited by the creativity of my SL and forgetting about the creativity of my first life.  What did it add up to?  Being tired everywhere.  Tired in SL.  Tired in RL.  Just feeling tired.  Needless to say, my methods became, um, unsound.

Wait, who was I supposed to be again if I retold Apocalypse Now?  Willard?  Kurtz?  Oh, see?  Now I’ve let my creativity run away again.  Yeesh, I’m tired.  Sorry, I think I need to take a nap.  I wonder what I’ll dream about now.



  1. Goodnight, Lanna, and sweet dreams. ^_^

  2. You really hit on it. So many of us have the drive to be creative and SL is a great outlet for it. But being creative in RL or in SL does take away from the things you need to do in your life. And if you have a family and/or a job less sleep isn’t really an option. I find it’s hard to find the time to be creative but there are times I feel I HAVE to do it. It has become my relaxation but only because I resist the urge to indulge my whims and try to take care of the immediate business of life first. Not always easy to do and if you go that route too far you find you just never have the time for your creativity either.

    As in all things, finding the proper balance is the trick!

    BTW: I love your comparison to Apocalypse Now!

  3. I thought you were going to report on your survey of profiles we discussed online the other evening! Now that’s a descent into the true Heart of Darkness! Seriously, the whole balance thing is so important. I’m overdoing it in SL no doubt about it but what is really starting to take its toll is the divergence of making an SL living and having fun in SL, which can also take on creative aspects (roleplaying, for instance). So here’s the HoD Spiral for me: I get paid to write about SL! OMG! But I want to play in Splintered Rock, too; if I don’t get paid, I can’t afford it!

    I love exploring and it’s a kick to be able to write about it and get something back for doing it=the Nam. But each place I visit has it’s pull into roleplaying and interacting with the people there=the jungle. What happened to first life????

  4. It’s somewhat easier to be creative in regards to SL, compared to RL, at least for me with no artistic or graphics skills.

    We had finally finished out journey into the Heart of Darkest Zindra. We had reached the Temple where Kurtz was based. There were Panther Girls, hordes of Gorean Panther Girls.

    I left the Chief and the remaining members of the crew at the airship.

    As I was moving through the silent Panther Girls towards the temple, I saw a familiar face. CC? What the hell was she doing here. Then I realized that she hadn’t blogged in months, and must have been stuck in Kurtz’s domain.

    She was wearing a khaki Victorian exploreress’s outfit.

    “Hey there, Lanna, Wow. You’re here to see Kurtz, wow! The man is clear in his mind, but his soul is mad. You don’t talk to the Kurtz. You listen to him. The man’s enlarged my mind. He’s a poet-warrior in the classic sense. I mean sometimes he’ll… uh… well, you’ll say “hello” to him, right? And he’ll just walk right by you. He won’t even notice you. And suddenly he’ll grab you, and he’ll throw you in a corner, and he’ll say, “do you know that ‘if’ is the middle word in life? If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you”… I mean I’m no, I can’t… I’m a little avatar, I’m a little avatar, he’s… he’s a great avatar. I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas…

    And he likes you! The land is damage enabled so if he didn’t like you, you’d get the 0 health freeway back to your home point!”

    Watch out, There’s scripted mines over there, there’s mines over there, and those scripted monkeys bite if you get to close to them, I’ll tell ya. And don’t mess with the Panther Girls.”

    I said to CC:, Why didn’t you take him down yourself.

    “He’s a wise man, a prescient man. He’s got eyes in the jungle. He shut of scripts somehow on everything I owned but my Mysti-tool and Huddle. I was here researching Zindra for a blog post and Zam Zowie, smack in the middle of Dionysian debauchery. Which isn’t half bad, I’ll tell you what.”

    Then CC changed outfits, as she was wont to do back in Apollonian Caledon, but she was soon wearing the fur lingerie and oiled skin of a Panther Girl With the Eagle of a Full-bird Colonel on her fur trimmed buckskin bustier.

    “General Kurtz will see you now. Have fun.”

    The horror…the horror.


  5. Interesting post….. I didn’t know where you were going with the story telling, but then, wham. You hit the same point I’ve had to address – do I spend my time being creative in SL or in RL? It’s such a hard decision, so exciting to have the option to do both – but I really need my sleep.

    Since I’ve pulled back from SL a bit, I’ve had more time to work on more RL projects and finding it very satisfying. I wonder though – if I could be creative in SL and have my RL associates appreciate it as much as my RL creativity, would I want to spend more time in SL again? If I knew I could make money with it, like I do in RL, would I want to stay virtual? I wonder.

  6. I’m always so pleased to see I’m not the only conflicted one =^..^=

    “If you will practise being fictional for a while, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats.” by Richard Bach

    Brinda IS me most of the time it seems. 🙂

  7. Hi,

    I’m new to your blog and have found this post on SL/RL balance, amongst other things, very interesting. I share many of the traits you describe above and whilst being in the grip of a new, exciting creative outlet is an exhilarating experience, the eventual come-down is always hard. In my 3.5 years in SL I’ve had three such ‘lows’ and am currently skittering around the edges of my fourth. The strange thing with this one is how it differs from those that have gone previously. In part it feels as though these periods are just part & parcel of the ‘normal’ SL experience cycle and as such I know I’ll come out of it again, but there is an underlying feeling that with each ‘low’ I get nearer to an inevitable point where I leave SL for good. I’ve likened it to two people with a doomed relationship who break up & get back together again & again knowing that each reconciliation brings them closer to a final end.

    At the moment I’m enjoying roleplaying in Steelhead, but due to my UK timezone I don’t really see anyone there so in truth most of my RP exists in my blog, not within SL. The issue I’m skating around is do I actually need SL to RP? Do I need to pay rent & deal with all of Linden Lab’s technical cock-ups? If I’m effectively RPing outside of SL, and that RP all I use SL for, what the hell am I doing in SL?

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