Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Lyric of (Second) Life

Duran Duran have made a song about the online world Second Life. Not a big deal in itself, but I was wondering about how such things happened in pre-digital times? Consider the spatial and temporal references in this verse of their song Zoom In:

Now she arrives
In a flaming crash
Like a falling star
Heading straight for the dive
Gonna make some cash
With the avatar

Would have such lyrics made sense when Duran Duran were the 80s superstars that they were? I have often thought about the reflexive effect of Second Life; providing a symbolic environment to play out the altering of normative gender, sexuality, space, and time concepts. One cannot help but think about a meeting or event that occurred in Second Life when not online and providing it with some sort of (presumably) logical context in daily life. In the same way that a book can change thought and even society, Second Life is doing the same thing. That a group of middle aged English pop stars have chosen Second Life as the subject for a song goes towards showing that it is not marginal culture but mainstream. Rather the social and subjective dialogues emanating from SL are now beginning to be noticed by those not related directly to the 3D online world. Of course the dialogue around form, time, space and so on flows in multiple directions and the world outside SL informs it of how meaning is constructed using clothing, architecture, gender and so on.

What is also interesting that while Second Life is not really a fictional genre (more like a simulation but its complicated and that's what my thesis is about), there is a long tradition of artists writing songs about literary characters in the past:

"Ahab" by MC Lars retells the story of Moby Dick from the perspective of Captain Ahab
"Alone" by Green Carnation based on the poem by Edgar Allan Poe of the same title.
"Alone" by Arcturus based on the poem by Edgar Allan Poe of the same title.
"Altair-4" by Blind Guardian is about The Tommyknockers by Stephen King
"All is Not Well" by Hannah Fury is based on the romance of Elphaba and Fiyero from the novel Wicked (novel) by Gregory Maguire.
"Among the Living" by Anthrax is about Stephen King's The Stand
"And Then There Was Silence" by Blind Guardian is based on Homer's Iliad.
"And Your Little Dog Too" by Hannah Fury is told from the point of view of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz's Wicked Witch of the West.
"A Man for All Seasons" by Al Stewart (on the album Time Passages) was based on Robert Bolt's play A Man for All Seasons.
"A Picture of Dorian Gray" by the Television Personalities is about Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray.
"Animal in Man" by dead prez from Let's Get Free is a retelling of George Orwell's Animal Farm.
"Animals" is an album by Pink Floyd which is very loosely based on George Orwell's Animal Farm.
"Animal Farm" by Hazel O'Connor also re-tells the Orwell novel.
"Annabel Lee" by Tiger Army based on the poem by Edgar Allan Poe of the same title.
"A Rose for Emily" by The Zombies is inspired by the title of William Faulkner's short story A Rose for Emily.
"Arctic Death" by Virginia Astley is inspired by the William Butler Yeats poem "An airman forecasts his own death"

And the list goes on and on........

We can now add digital worlds to the literary lyric.

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