December 24, 2003

Dragging the chain of life in weary lust

I seem to be one of about six entities in cyberspace who have missed the recent story of how philosopher of language Peter Ludlow was bounced from "Sims Online" for exposing its seamier side, and in particular for uncovering the practice of child cyber-prostitution.

In case you're one of the other five, here is Peter Ludlow's blog the Alphaville Herald, the slashdot thread, the article, and an interview with Peter Ludlow at gamespot.

As modest amends for being so completely out of the loop, let me quote William Blake's introduction of the character Urizen, from whom I suppose Ludlow must have taken his nom de sim:

Lo, a shadow of horror is risen
In Eternity! Unknown, unprolific!
Self-closd, all-repelling: what Demon
Hath form'd this abominable void
This soul-shudd'ring vacuum?---Some said
"It is Urizen", But unknown, abstracted
Brooding secret, the dark power hid.

Simulated worlds certainly offer a different perspective on Blake's critique of rationalism:

What are his nets & gins & traps. & how does he surround him
With cold floods of abstraction, and with forests of solitude,
To build him castles and high spires. where kings & priests may dwell.
Till she who burns with youth. and knows no fixed lot; is bound
In spells of law to one she loaths: and must she drag the chain
Of life, in weary lust! must chilling murderous thoughts. obscure
The clear heaven of her eternal spring?

Posted by Mark Liberman at December 24, 2003 10:53 AM