Monday, 24 October 2011

In Paradisum - The World's End Garden

Its the end of the world as we know it
And I feel fine!
                                                                                      - R.E.M, 2003

Today I hope to write a blog-post which you'll find interesting and intriguing enough to actually go visit yourself  - The World's End Garden on the Dernier Lamento region of Second Life (SL).

However, after some thought, I have decided not to reveal all the secrets I found on this region nor include all the pictures I took. Some things are best left for you to discover for yourself!
(click images to enlarge)
Normally at this point I would introduce the Creator but for the time being we will forego this formality and instead talk only about the region.

The reason for this is because only by first understanding something of the nature of The World's End Garden can we even have a chance of appreciating the seeming paradoxes and contradictions of the Creator and the remarkable achievement that results.
The World's End Garden is an intriguing story - a detective story, perhaps. Or maybe a horror.

The only clues we have to decipher the story are those which we can find in the Garden; the only verdict is that we ourselves decide upon.
On arrival on the region you are invited to have your Windlight settings changed to 'AvatarOpt'. This is a good choice for a nice compromise between making the prims look good and to flatter the avatar.
However, on my screen at least, the default AvatarOpt settings have the disadvantage of making patches of "glow" look almost nuclear at a distance.

I found that by lowering the sun glow size, the sun glow focus and the haze density a touch that this "nuclear glow" effect was largely negated.
On the surface of things, the layout of the Garden is very similar to the HuMaNoiD region which we explored and blogged only last month.
Both are whole region installations which have small isolated islands separated by shallow ankle-height sea.
However, whereas on HuMaNoiD it appears that the islands are somewhat ad-hoc and only vaguely themed, at the World's End Garden the theme is consistent and unswerving - albeit not easily and immediately apparent.
In amongst the Windlight created light pinks and tranquil textured pastel colours, we hear the delicate sounds of bird song, the harpiscord and harp.
But occasionally, hear a thumping heartbeat, the ringing of a nearby church bell.....

And soon enough you will discover the coffin.
"In Paradisium" translates from Latin to English as "Into Paradise". The phrase is specifically used to describe the part of a Requiem Mass of the Western Christian Church where the choir sings as the body is carried from the church.

To get a better sense of the feel of the World's End Garden - after the discovery of the coffin - press <Play> on this video and simply have the music playing quietly in the background while you continue to read this blog-post.
The suspicion that what you believed was just another lazy Sunday afternoon on a tranquil pastoral sim is actually not a true and faithful representation of the facts increases further when you notice the empty chair looking outwards over the ocean.

The nearby caged miner's canary is still breathing, yes, but is unmoving, paralysed and unfed.
That disconcerting feeling is similarly provoked when you notice the perfectly serviceable row boat standing ready, complete with oar.

Could this be Charon's ferry across the Styx to Hades?
A ghostly ephemeral-white grand piano sits in a bed of English roses. Candles blow in the wind.

We finally become aware of a feeling of grief, of loss. The feeling is tangible and emanates from the Creators sensitivity with prims, with textures and with their precise placement.
This is not some sort of vague generalised sense of grief and loss

No, this is specific; it is unambiguous and explicit... is a widow's grief.
Her loss was sudden. And recent. Possibly violent. 
But her grieving process can only properly begin after the funeral has ended.
The Christian symbolism and iconography on this sim is handled with great delicacy, respect and a sense of the sacred.
For myself personally, I have little time for any religious doctrine or its watered-down cousin, "spirituality".

The wisdom of Feynman is far more meaningful to me than the Wisdom Of Solomon; Dawkins more intelligent than any Deacon; Hitchens more honest than Hiram.

My position is firmly in the atheist camp rather than the agnostic or religious.
But none of that means I am so crass as to not appreciate the beauty, the immersion and the dedication that many artists have since time immemorial been motivated to create due to a religious impulse.
It is clear to me that this space is at least as equally profound and sacred as any other religious space I have yet encountered in SL.

Only the Monastery of St. Michael the Arc at Taliesin Shores (sadly now gone, I believe) even comes close in my experience.

SuicideGirl Evermore & I visited many churches when we were researching 'Personal Jesus' but for me only a small handful could I consider to have a genuinely sacred or profound feel about them.
However, in my opinion, the Creator of the World's End Garden has done precisely that - created a space with a genuinely sacred and profound atmosphere.
And because of that, the widow can grieve...
By joining the World's End Garden group on the sim, you can get as free gifts all of the outfits that you see me wearing in the pictures on this blog-post.

All of them were free, all totally appropriate to the theme of the region.
And it occurs to me just as I near the end of this blog-post that coincidentally all this is very reminiscent of Serenity and Arwen Juneberry's gothic adult machinima, The Widow.  These outfits would have worked well there too, at least in the clothed scenes!

There is only one thing remaining for this blog-post - to reveal the name of the Creator of these lovely clothes, these great prims and textures, this authentic religious space. Her name is Lucia Genesis and she is a Japanese Bloodline Vampire.

I have never met Lucia nor know anything about her other than what is in her profile and her World's End Garden blog.

Regardless - and seemingly against all odds - Lucia has created something really quite remarkable and I urge you to experience it for yourself.
Pixie xxx

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