Sunday, November 22, 2009

There is a nice book shop up the street from me and I decided to try and get a snapshot of it. I am not entirely happy with the picture. I wanted the sign to show but that made getting a good picture of the whole shop difficult. Also, I should have had the reader, in this case me, closer to the camera. It occurred to me as I was looking at the image of a reader with their face buried in a book how very much spending time in a virtual world is like spending time with a book.

I remembered Paul's fictional grandfather's conversation with Ringo in the film A Hard Days Night.
Grandfather: Would you look at him? Sittin' there with his hooter scrapin' away at that book!
Ringo: Well, what's the matter with that?
Grandfather: Have you no natural resources of your own? Have they even robbed you of that?
Ringo: You can learn from books!
Grandfather: You can, can you? Pahh! Sheeps' heads! You could learn more by gettin' out there and living!
Ringo: Out where?
Grandfather: Any old where! But not our little Richard. Oh, no. When you're not thumpin' them pagan skins you're tormenting your eyes with that rubbish.
Ringo: Books are good.
Grandfather: *Parading's* better.
Ringo: Parading?
Grandfather: [nods eagerly] Parading the streets! Trailing your coat! Bowling along! LIVING!
Ringo: Well, I am living.
Grandfather: You? Living? When was the last time you gave a girl a pink-edged daisy? When did you last embarrass a sheila with your cool, appraising stare?
Ringo: You're a bit old for that sort of chat, aren't you?
Grandfather: Well at least I've got a backlog of memories! All you've got is - THAT BOOK!

I remember hearing a letter read from Robert E Lee's father to his mother written when Robert was still a young boy. This was perhaps something mentioned in Ken Burns Civil War series. The father advices that young Robert should not be allow to waste time reading fiction. He felt that this sort of activity is not good for one's development.

I first heard of virtual worlds from a group of people that I know. They mentioned Second Life and laughed about anyone who would waste time in a virtual world. They said that people in virtual worlds needed to get a life and they needed to get outside into the real world. This was coming from a group of people who spend most of their evenings parked in front of a television.

Readers of books promote their activity with phrases like "expanding one's horizons". It seems to me that a virtual place that encompasses cultures from all around the world offers a very similar experience. I still enjoy reading. I enjoy watching films. I enjoy experiences in virtual worlds. Do I need to get a life? Am I wasting my time? I am not wise enough to know the answers to these things.

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