Review of the MMO ‘Outside’

I came across this via Kottke. I’ve seen bits and pieces posted about Outside over the past couple months, but this is a good review of a game everyone should be dying to try:

In terms of the social environment, almost anything goes. Outside has a vast network of guilds, many of its players are active participants in designing the game’s social environment, and almost any player will be able to find company to undertake their desired group quests. On the other hand, gold-buying is rife, the outskirts of virtually every city zone in the game are completely overrun by farmers, and the developers have so far proven themselves reluctant to answer petitions, intervene in inter-player disputes, or nerf broken skills and abilities. Indeed this reviewer will go so far as to say that the developers are absent from the game entirely, and have left it to its own devices. Fortunately, server uptime has been 100% from day 1, despite there being only one server for literally billions of players.

The reviewer gives it a 7/10.

ADDITIONALLY, just reading this on the Telegraph website, which goes to show just how peculiar IRL and Outside can really be depending on what tribe you end up playing:

The Masai warriors’ guide to England
by Andrew Pierce

Six Masai warriors, who are so fierce they kill male lions with their bare hands, have been warned that surviving the perils of the African bush will be child’s play compared to what they can expect on their first trip to England. […]

"Even though some may look like they have a frown on their face, they are very friendly people — many of them just work in offices, jobs they don’t enjoy, and so they do not smile as much as they should."

The Masai men — who become warriors after tracking, running down and killing a male lion — may struggle with Greenforce’s interpretation of how English law operates.

"For example, if someone was to see a thief and chase after him and, when they catch him they hurt him, then the person who hurt the thief would go to prison as well as the thief."

‘Secret Worlds’


Neil Gaiman quote illustrated by the always-wonderful xkcd.

supacat on sex and flirting in Japan

Came across this on reddit this morning. After having studied "Spirituality and Japanese Design Practise" (via Ambidextrous or the AIGA), the notion of the Japanese intuiting much more than their Western counterparts has been of interest to me. A tidbit from this interesting LiveJournal entry:

Japanese social interaction is all about intuiting the other person’s wishes without discussing them openly, at the same time that they are intuiting your wishes without discussing them openly, so that although nothing is ever verbalised, the two of you will always exist in a compromise position of equilibrium. If you like someone, that intuitive part goes into overdrive, because you should be able to understand everything about that person without them ever telling you, and you should be able to please them without ever asking how, even more than you would with a normal person.

I also can’t emphasise enough just how passive the passive partner is. The way a woman kisses is by submissively opening her mouth, not moving her tongue unless she is cued to do so; if she’s really feminine she won’t open her mouth at all, until she’s told to. Sometimes women will move around a (very) little during sex, but mostly not at all. The slang term for a woman who lies completely still in bed is maguro (tuna). For me, with my western sensibilities and preconceptions, calling someone a ‘tuna’ in bed sounds like an insult, conjuring up images of cold dead fish, but in Japan that word has a very positive connotation. Tuna’s an expensive delicacy.

Part of what was so bamboozling the first time I had sex in Japan was that I didn’t know there was a Way of Sex, with strict gendered roles, and I just was happily doing my own thing, throwing my partner into total confusion. Seiji told me much later that dating me made him feel like he was gay, because I was active in bed, and he couldn’t connect that with anything except masculinity.

Don’t think of it as a piece on sex, think of the nature of the predefined roles and how they shape life and culture there. And, more interestingly, how rebellion would come to be directed 180° from the status quo — perhaps shedding light on Japan’s peculiar sexual fantasies and fetishes as glamorised in the West through their manga and stereotyped pop culture.

What values can occultists call their own?

I’d love to get some feedback from Klint’s wonderful community and readership here, especially those who happen to have experience in design, marketing, and business. After some discussions with fellow designer, Coe, who himself has an esoteric streak, I’ve been considering some issues that might be keeping the contemporary spiritual movement that is the occult subculture (and its legion of niche cultures and interests) from reaching its potential in North America (and possibly Europe).

First to address is whether being different is something that the members of the occult community thrives on, in and of itself. Personally, I’ve noticed differences between the persons I know involved in the esoteric arts. I’ll call them the Few for brevity’s sake. There are the goth shops that stock the books on magic that I’ll visit if I’m too eager to wait for an Amazon shipment. While the books and knowledge are the factors that draw me to their locale, the people and artefacts that are sold there are of no interest to me and, in fact, sell a stereotype that I find repugnant. (Sadly, the books in my section are the cultural accessories to the majority of wares they huck: clothing, hair dye, witchcraft gobbledygook, incense, shoddy pewter jewellery, and punky goth paraphernalia.)

There’s also the New Age shops that huck their own brand, though with a more aligned focus to the ultimate goal of spiritual exploration: crystals, incense, oils, lame calendars with ooh-ahh paintings on them, CDs, cheesy T-shirts, et cetera.

So all this material would be the halo effect, as it’s referred to in marketing. Unfortunately, goth and witch cultures seem to have let the accessories take the focus away from the core cultural values that spawned them in the first place. Which leads me to wonder what state does the North American occult community find itself.

Now, keep in mind that I’ve worked in design for a number of years and now currently work as a brand consultant. What most people don’t understand about brands is that they are what the people say they are, not what the companies wish to define them as.

This is an interesting point to get across because persons that decide to hate a particular brand are projecting their own form of identity by hating on the brands that rub them the wrong way. The little mental boxes in your mind that you used to define that brand is neurologically linked to other elements that you associate with in your life that you use to define what you’re not. Sadly, by choosing one’s enemies, like I see in these books and posts about “occult warfare,” fans of this thinking do themselves the disservice of filling in all the boxes they dislike. The mental boxes (or mental white space) that remains moulds personal self-identification with the cultural or experiential leftovers that haven’t been already commandeered by others.

Rarely do I see popular subculture movements hijack and infiltrate the mainstream in order to spread their art among the masses. The Few that become self-inflicted prisoners, bound by the things they refuse, begin to wrap these leftover ideas into its own mishmash subculture. Then they get mad when the mainstream adopts and makes it their own. Think of punk culture adopting military garb as their own, or the Barbie girls out there that seem to be standardised with a back-ass tattoo and pierced bellybutton and tongue.

This brings up the universal archetype known as the Elixir. In Joseph Campbell’s monomyth one of the necessary traits of a Hero is to enter the underworld and return to the masses with a so-called Elixir. The Elixir is wisdom. And I define wisdom as knowledge + experience.

“It is important that art is produced, but it also has to be consumed. The dynamics of producers and consumers is the motor of art.” Turkish caricaturist Ercan Akyol said that, and it remains true in all elements of life (unless you’re pursuing a Zen-like knowledge of the self, in some cave somewhere, by choice.) But think of art in this case as a the Elixir of wisdom, this knowledge and experience that is being hoarded by one group or the next, but rarely shared across borders. Borders who’re really only being defined by these little, semantic boxes we build in our heads: aka brands.

One of my favourite things that Grant Morrison says during his well-known Disinfo talk has nothing to do with sigils or his writing. It’s that he’s wearing a Donna Karan suit. Then he spills his drink on it and cheerfully laughs, “Fuck it!” The suit is a beautiful piece, and it serves its purpose. It’s Morrison’s mask magic at work. He doesn’t avoid fashion as a vice of contemporary life, but embraces it and uses it as a magical tool in his everyday life-experiencing what a fine garment can elicit in others, and how that attention can be embraced.

Rollo May says, in Man’s Search for Himself, “The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice… it is conformity.” Whom among us have conformed to our particular set of friends? Their expectations of us, our subcultures’, or our families’? Why? Like Morrison, laugh out loud, “Fuck ’em!” I want everyone reading this right now to say to themselves, three times, Fuck occultism, fuck conspiracies, fuck the little boxes in my head that keep me from exploring the things I simply believe I hate.

And on that, as I digress from my initial hope to encourage some feedback to better a conversation I am having with Coe and sometimes with Rev Max, I leave you with two quotes to encourage some thought on this matter. But remember, they apply when you embrace the lifestyle of a Hero yourself. The archetypal Underworld in many a case might just be the very mainstream that so many so-called “occultists” tend to avoid and dismay. It is that very nightmare I encourage you to embrace! Learn to flirt, learn to dress up as much as you might desire to dress down, and truly put Robert Anton Wilson’s and Ramsey Duke’s ideas to work:

“It’s amazing how much panic one honest man can spread among a multitude of hypocrites.”
-Thomas Sowell

“A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction.”

London: City of Disappearances

London: City of Disappearances is a 655 page anthology with over 50 contributors, including: Ann Baer; J.G Ballard; Paul Buck; Brian Catling; Driffield; Bill Drummond; Tibor Fischer; Allen Fisher; Bill Griffiths; Lee Harwood; Stewart Home; Tony Lambrianou; Rachel Lichenstein; Michael Moorcock; Alan Moore; Jeff Nuttall; James Sallis; Anna Sinclair; Stephen Smith; Marina Warner; Sarah Wise.

Citizens disappear constantly, along with their homes, artifacts, buildings and spaces. As your time-flow accelerates, old friends email the latest obituaries and the function of the writer becomes increasingly clear. You’re there to count the dead; and re-count the missing landmarks. Scribe of mutability and mutation, you’re only a memory-shaman, chronicler of the crumbling scrolls – destined yourself to become a mere neural trace in the world-brain, as the towers tumble around you.

Full Story: Culture Court.

Buy London: City of Disappearances.

Also, if you’re in London: Alan Moore, Michael Moorcock, and Iain Sinclair will be reading from the book on October 26th. Details here.

Second Life gets Reuters news service centre

secondlife.reuters.com. Worth pondering.

The Visionary State: An Interview with Erik Davis

Erik Davis talks about his new book, The Visionary State (with Michael Rauner), about the psychogeography of California.

This landscape ranges from pagan forests to ascetic deserts to the shifting shores of a watery void. It includes dizzying heights and terrible lows, and great urban zones of human construction. Even in its city life, California insists that there are more ways than one, with its major urban cultures roughly divided between the San Francisco Bay Area and greater Los Angeles. Indeed, Northern and Southern California are considered by some to be so different as to effectively constitute different states. But that is a mistake. California is not two: it is bipolar.

Full Story: BLDGBLOG.

(via Abstract Dynamics).

Also, Davis’s site Techgnosis has been re-designed.

Better than roadside crosses…

You see them all along the side of the road. White crosses which mark where a drunk driver snuffed out a life. However, what of the bike riders taken out by irresponsible auto drivers? This interesting article discusses the burgeoning art project in Seattle and elsewhere which seeks to draw attention to the threat automobiles pose to those on bikes. It seems like a positive step toward the type of auto-free city I’ve advocated in other articles.

World Changing Article

Two Reads on Psychogeography

This essay, Senses of Place and Urban Studies (via Abe), is dense and covers a lot of ground regarding theories of the cities and place. Very interesting.

Ultimately Sinclair distinguishes himself and his perambulations from those of the flaneur. While the latter strolls aimlessly about the city, idle and undecided, he claims to walk with obsessive, mad purpose. He fashions himself as a ‘stalker’, as someone who walks with a thesis, however crazed, and not the dawdling, browsing manner of the strolling fl?neur (1997: 75). In this he once more references the example of Debord, whose Situationist platform includes the concept of ‘drift’: a calculated movement across the city determined by an absence of proper criteria (Sadler 1998: 81). Hence his exercise with the inscribed letter V or his insistence that the annotations of a map belonging to a vanished man might somehow reveal an occult pattern. The point is to locate fictional alignments: between City churches, telephone boxes, war memorials etc., to find energy lines or paths to be walked, and thus open what he calls ‘a secret history of London’ (1997). By these stalking manoeuvres, Sinclair believes himself capable of taking possession of the city. His walks are intended to unravel a one-dimensional plan.


So, Basso states that among the Apache wisdom is seen as the outcome of deep reflection upon landscape (76). By observing different places, listening to stories about them and thinking of the ancestors who gave those stories voice, they gain knowledge about how to behave in the world (80). Indeed, the Apache landscape is viewed as a resource through which subjects can modify themselves or alter their thinking (85). In this way, Basso and other anthropologists (cf. Feld 1996, Munn 1973) look to provide ‘ethnography of lived topographies’ (58).

Here’s an Alan Moore interview about Voices of Fire (via Jason):

And it was also born of the conviction that, yes, Northampton is the center of the cosmos. I truly believe that. I also believe that Northampton is nowhere special. I believe that anybody living anywhere upon the face of the globe, if they were to simply take the time and do the research, would find an incredible nest of wonders buried right where they were standing, right in their own backyard. I think that all too often, in the 21st Century, and throughout the 20th Century, we tend to spend our everyday existence walking along streets or driving along streets that we have no real understanding of, even if we see them everyday, and they just become fairly meaningless and bleak blocks of concrete, whereas, if you happen to know that such-and-such a poet was incarcerated inside an asylum upon this street or that such-and-such a murder happened here or that such-and-such a fabulous, legendary queen is buried in this vicinity: all of these little stories, it makes the places that we live much richer if we have a knowledge of these things. All of a sudden, you’re not walking down mundane, dull, everyday streets anymore, you’re walking down fabulous avenues full of wonderful ideas and incredible stories. It just makes living a much richer experience if we can fully appreciate the part of the world that we are living in, and I suppose that is a very long winded answer to why I wrote Voice Of The Fire.

This is what interests me about psychogeography: connecting historic dots. Creating new meaning (or discovering old meaning).

I’m reminded of a story about Kurt Cobain. At Burning Man last year I camped with an Olympia-based musician who knew Cobain before Nirvana. He said he and Cobain used to lie on their stomachs on skateboards and roll down State Ave. starting at Ralph’s Thriftway and going down to around where the AM-PM used to be. You probably won’t find that story in an Olympia tour-guide.

Geo-tagging could be a great aid to this, especially if there are a variety of ways to filter and search the information left in places. First kisses. First cigarettes. Sites of police brutality.

Introduction to Psychogeography

The Headmap Manifesto


From the Social Fiction blog February 11 (couldn’t find a permalink)

eski! consider this; when nationality is a psychogeographical quality this implies that nationality is a shattered all over the place. This opens up the possibility that your nationality is an array of PML data that descibe places where you feel at home, or are at least attracted to. Once you have established you nationality like this (which of course can change over time both because the place changes & because the things you are attracted to change) you can locate your homeland abroad by matching your PML nationality to the existing datasets. Nationality as geocaching!

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