Posts Tagged ‘relationships


day 5 of becoming dragon

It is the morning of day 5. I’m glad I’ve gotten this far, 5 seems like a good number of days, a friend said its almost a week, the way we think of a week as monday to friday.

Day 4 was ao amazing. I can only hope for more days like yesterday. I have a constrant stream of visitors in rl and sl which is great.

Yesterday Cauleen and Ricardo visited, which was very nice. I showed Cauleen around SL, we hung out for a while in the space park, with me floating in space and her controlling the stereo projection’s character. Ricardo said he feels that all the technical difficulties are a strong part of the project, it’s a complicated process becoming dragon.

In the evening I tried to be on the panel at the rubber rose, but their audio setup was really bad, just a macbook with the impossible builtin mic next to the speakers, so we started an hour late. I only got to make a few comments, and when we finally got it working, I said a few sentences and then my wireless mic battery died, so we ended it there. Still, it was nice to hear the parts of the panel I could hear, about being trans and struggling to be visible, or strugling to explain yourself to people, and feeling like people think that a trans person is all of who you are, even when there’s so much more to a person. There was a lot of discussion of being trans in relationships and the difficult dynamics of seeming straight, being misperceived, or of dealing with your partner transitioning. This was all in the context of a photo exhibit at the Rubber Rose gallery with nudes of trans people, as well as some discussion of this project.

Interesting dynamics continue to emerge, like the feeling of having all of this life support apparatus, all of these applications and computers and cables enabling my living, and dealing with their failures and keeping going. This morning the head tracking and the motion capture are both working, which is great, and I hope they keep working for the performance at 5.

At night were some of the most profound moments I’ve had here yet. I talked for a while to a furry little fox with a wrist computer, who told me that she lives in the south in the US and that she doesn’t have access to hormones or know any other trans people in real life. She says that second life and on the internet are the only places she can talk to other trans people.

Later at night, some people from the Space Studies Institute came by and gave me some amazing objects. First we rode some rockets, which they gave me a copy of. Then they gave me a 3d model of all the stars local to earth at a distance of 10 parsecs or less, which you can pull out of your pocket, unfold and fly around in.

One of them had a avatar of a little girl. I asked her later, while we were walking through the chakryn forest, if she is really a little girl. She told me no, she’s an adult woman, but that people treat her better in SL as a child, that she likes that people take her less seriously with this avatar. She told me that she has another avatar that looks just like her real self, and sometimes she interacts with the same people with different avatars, and people treat her much better as a little girl. It struck me as one of the most profound moments of avatar exploration that I had heard of yet. After that she invited me to go talk to ALICE the AI in a city that looks much like blade runner, and we went there, but then it was time for me to sleep. She said that she thought I was staying up the whole 365 hours! I told her no. Though she was still very excited when I showed her a sign that said “hi name” with her name over the video stream. This morning I went back and talked to ALICE, but she’s not a very good conversationalist.


Identifying with, avatars, pets, lovers

“The partners do not precede their relating; all that is, is the fruit of becoming with: those are the mantras of companion species.”

“I am not posthumanist; I am who I become with companion species, who and which make a mess out of categories in the making of kin and kind. Queer messmates in mortal play, indeed.”

– Donna Haraway, When Species Meet

There seems to be something similar in the experience of avatars, pets and lovers. I see people with beautiful dogs, with beautiful flowing hair, standing with grace, and I would not necessarily give those characteristics to their owners. It makes me think of the many sets of companion photos of people and their avatars. Surely, with avatars, there’s a clear idea of what people want to look like. But in creating my avatar, I find that the constraints are such that it is too hard to model what I would ideally want to look like, or actually, I don’t even think about what I would want to look like, so much as I think of creating an interesting looking avatar. Still, when people see my avatar, I cringe a bit, because I know there’s some assumption that what Azdel Slade looks like “reflects” on the me in RL.

In thinking about this, I think similarly about couples I’ve seen where I think that one person is very beautiful and the other person isn’t. I guess that these aren’t very nice things to say, but I’m being honest here and trying to think about this phenomena of “identifying with”. I guess what I mean to say is that I often see couples where one person is beautiful according to popular western beauty standards, but really, there’s always a difference in how attractive I think one person is to any other person, and rarely with any two people is that attractiveness exactly the same. Ok. Do people base some of their self worth on their lovers? Surely, as someone who considers themselves radically queer and polyamorous and independent, I would on the surface reject such a claim, but I think that in reality, having someone close to you who loves you has some positive effect on your conception of yourself. For queer people there is an added layer of complexity here, because relationships are not based in difference, necessarily. For trans people, like Kate Bornstein, she talks about becoming the person you are attracted to. Not becoming your lover necessarily, but becoming the thing you are attracted to, shaping yourself into what you love. Barbara Hammer says, in her film Tender Fictions, “I is a lesbian couple,” and that’s not a grammar error. [1]

So what does it mean to “identify with” someone or something? What about being “proud dog owner”? Is that being proud of the work you’ve put into taking care of your dog, in a way, “creating” it? Is identifying with your dog related to being proud of it? Do people identify with their pets? I know that when someone says my dog is overweight, I immediately feel a bit defensive.

This seems like a really complicated concept, to identify with. I know that queer people and people who think about gender talk a lot about how they “identify” or how they “self-identify”, describing the notion of a conscious act of choice in their identity construction and presentation. With transgender people, this becomes very important because how they “identify” is often at odds with how they are perceived. But it seems that the act of saying “I identify as…” implies a kind of separation, a reification or an active forming of a self that can be conceptualized as a solid entity. To say “I identify as a woman” creates a relationship, an identity relationship between the I and the category of woman. And isn’t Aristotle’s law of identity that A = A, so that one is saying I = woman. If we are always already multiple, as Deleuze and Guattari claim, then is this multiplicity embodied in the act in which we imagine who we are in order to define ourselves? Thus stepping outside of ourselves for that act of thought, only to solidify who we are?

But to say one identifies with, instead of as, seems to assume a distinct, objective separation that is maintained, not just imagined. As I began, there seems to be something similar in our feelings towards avatars, pets and lovers, because we choose them and they say something about who we are. Of course there is a lot which is different in our relationship to these people and things, they are radically different, but there is some element which seems to be similar.

Donna Haraway argues in When Species Meet that our becomings are inseparable, that we “become with” each other, always, and that to realize this should change our conceptions of ethics and morality in how we deal with the world.

Is “identifying with” a constitutive part of being? Do we ever not “identify with”? If so, are we always “becoming with” someone or something else? Jean-Luc Nancy says in the early pages of Being Singular Plural, “Being cannot be anything else but being-with-one-another, circulating in the with and as the with of this singularly plural coexistence”. [2] Haraway’s challenge to that seems to be to open up this field of who we are being with to interspecies companionship, and possibly, since she authored the Cyborg Manifesto, even to entirely articifial or virtual entities, such as cyborgs, as in the television show Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles, or virtual beings such as avatars.


[2] Nancy, Jean-Luc, Bing Singular Plural, p. 3,M1


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