Thursday, 26 March 2009

Appearance and self-respect.

Well, not wishing to leave stuff half-finished, I wanted to complete this small section of my writing about the psychology of virtual existence, knowing that I am merely scratching the surface of a huge subject. The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

Having written a little about fear, I wanted to write down some ideas about shame. Why?... well... traditionally (in Western esoteric writings at least) fear and shame are the two Guardians. They are known as The Lesser Guardian of the Threshold (shame) and The Greater Guardian of the Threshold (fear) and the Threshold they guard is the one between normal consciousness and "The Spiritual World".... (that is to say in normal language that lack of self respect and anxiety hold us back from achieving our full potential.)

Their job is to allow no-one to enter a higher realm (consciousness for example) until they have been prepared as an acolyte (esoteric student) to such a degree that the revelations that ensue will be understandable/tolerable to the individual. Now this is all allegorical.... but has an archetypal stature which is worth talking about. We all share archetypes, they are the foundation stones of our psyche.

Now, no journey starts for the know-it-all. There is nowhere to go...

For the rest of us, self knowledge is the starting block. As we learn more about ourselves we come to the point where the balance of self respect and self loathing swings backwards and forwards. This is the Shame that is the Lesser Guardian, and the theoretical question he asks us is.... "are you worthy?" what has this got to do with me? or anyone for that matter? and what has it to do with Second Life for gawds sake?

Well...having written a little before about the real healing possibilities of SL... I am very interested in appearance.

The way we look in FL (first life) is very important in determining how we deal with the self-respect/loathing balance. There is absolutely no point in saying that it shouldn't ...or that its a material world... people the world over are interested in improving their appearance as it increases their self esteem.

Now, this doesn't mean that pretty people pass the Guardian any easier than others. Their self-torment comes in the form of wondering if they only got the job/boyfriend/whatever because of their looks. Age hits the pretty pretty hard, after all.

So....appearance. In SL its all quite different, I think. I am better able to distance the surface design (appearance) from the typist (human) working behind the scenes,. I do this more easily in SL than I do in FL , the duality is more normal, more immediate. I can change what I don't like easily, daily and at a click can become a different gender, species, whatever. this reinforces my feeling that appearance in SL is an illusion TO A GREATER DEGREE than it strikes me in FL.

This, this degree of awareness, is I believe a healing element in Second Life.

People have become my friends before I knew what they looked like or vice versa....

I like that. I am valued for who I am, my behaviour, my thoughts and feelings. That is a healthy environment.

oh, yes...and...the answer to the traditional question..."are you worthy?"...ahhh ...well..the answer is..."In spite of my faults.....yes, I am."



  1. Woot, interesting! I would say that in some sense appearance is less of an illusion in SL, because since we *can* control how we look, how someone looks is likely to be a more accurate reflection of how they really are, inside, than it is in RL.

    But that's not to disagree with you, really; more like saying the same thing from another angle, I think. Very thought-provoking post!

  2. Thanks Dale, yes, maybe in SL the illusion is a self fabricated one reflecting our unconscious more than our "given" FL skin and shape.