A response to Giulio Prisco's article on Virtually Sacred.
Thank you for this article, the subject and direction this is going intrigues me greatly.
Sacred spaces in virtual reality. Very interesting.
The experience of, art, myths and symbols and concepts of the sacred have fascinated me for a very long time. While I am not a religious person I am fascinated with the sacred and believe there are deep riches within our relation with the sacred.
Planetside I have been to and experienced a few deeply moving and beautiful sacred places including the great Stupa in Sarnath,
the Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya,
the Dalai Lama's Temple in Dharamasala to watch the construction of a sand mandala and ritual,
a candlelit mushroom enhanced labyrinth walk and meditation in Grace Cathedral in San Francisco,
meditation in the Lotus Shrine in Yogaville Virginia.
Architecture as space, as sacred space. The beauty of these places is truly inspiring and the experience of communion at times profound. I would love to tour the world to experience more!
Virtual Sacred Spaces are interesting but have some challenges..
How do you effectively create these kinds of spaces in a virtual world? I will admit I have never tried or visited one. Maybe it is time to change that. Now that I have a computer connected to a big screen TV and a reasonable sound system it could be more effective. I will give it a try. The problem for me is submersion and the limitation of the interface. In sacred spaces the profundity of the places is in the experience of full submersion. Haptic interfaces and goggles might go a long way to bridging that gap, though I expect neural implants allowing complete submersion will be necessary for the depth and richness of experience I'm looking for. In my own speculative fiction writing I've explored some of this, such as reliving ancient myths and rituals and visiting spaces that have aesthetic beauty and greater intensity than our planetside sensorial connections.
My own, limited experiences in Second Life and Warcraft were interesting.
The issues I had with Second Life were that I found it difficult to interface smoothly with the world and construct a meaningful narrative therein. With Warcraft, the overarching narrative of self empowerment could not be changed though some of the spaces I visited were beautiful and grand.
The other piece to this is sacred narrative. Sacred places participate within and engender their own sacred narratives, do they not? Eliade's idea of the heirophany, the transparency to the numinous that connects us through the eternal return, the return to the eternal as well as a participation within a primordial sacred narrative. How can this be achieved in current Virtual Sacred Spaces? The narratives I found in Warcraft and Second Life were not sacred though the Hero's Journey could easily be incorporated in the battle-quest world.
After reading a lot of Creation myths and Heroic myths I came to the conclusion that indigenous people encoded vast amount of information within those narratives. In my own writing I've tried to incorporate sacred narratives into the substructure of the narratives. I also anticipate and explore the idea that some Artificial General Intelligence will be fascinated with sacred narratives to help make sense of the complexity of information rich worlds of the future.
Well, maybe it's time I go read the book Virtually Sacred and explore Second Life again.