(You can listen to this post at http://www.pownce.com/akelatal/)
What is it about being a big white werewolf that makes people walk right up to me and start talking? I love it, but it's funny... if I were in Real Life, the villagers would come after me with pitchforks and torches. (and by the way, villagers, you ever smell smoking fur? you may want to rethink the whole burning thing... just, you know, FYI)
I love being the silly, loping fool for people... what the good folk at White Wolf call the "Ragabash" auspice. This is interesting, because I was born under a full moon... just like any Garou who follow the Ragabash path. Additionally, the RWS (or Real World Self, for those new to this blog) is a Cancer, the Moon Sign. AND! He was born in 1969, the year Mankind walked on the Moon. AND AND! The astrological symbol for Cancer resembles the number '69', just like the year of his birth!
What's it all mean? Is there any significance at all to the fact that he was born on the Seventh day of the Seventh month, at Seven PM, weighing in at Seven pounds, eleven ounces?
Anyway, the freedom in being me is pretty exciting, and heady. As I often tell people, I'm just a puppy! No reason to fear me. And even those who, at first, are cautious around me, fearing the large claws and teeth, soon realize that I'm just a playful pup who'd rather lay his head in their laps than rend them with my fangs. I've made so many new friends, in fact, that it's difficult to spend time with them all. So this post is a way for me to apologize to those who see me come in-world but not contact them right away. Hi everybody! Akela loves you all! I'm just one wolfie, though, and my time in SL is limited. But I'll catch up with you soon!
This post was brought to you by the letter C and the number 6.
their names are called
they raise a paw
-- "Mammal", They Might Be Giants
I think it's time I revealed a little more about myself. Time to display a little more openly what drives me, what moves me, and what fascinates me. Me, me, me, it's all about me! Well, you knew that, didn't you? Otherwise, you wouldn't be here. Somethingmust keep you coming back for more. Perhaps it's the chance to gain a glimpse into the mind of a genius, whose every utterance provokes a cascade of shimmering, rainbowed thoughts within -- what? Oh, you... you came here by accident. You were looking for Akela from the Jungle Book instead. Uh, yeah, he's down the hall, third door on the left. No, my left.
Well. I've got this place rented out for the next hour anyway, so I'll just ramble on. Try to keep the giggling to a minimum, please, this is serious stuff. Angellica, this means you! heehee... oh, damn.
Anyway! One of the best things about sharing what you love is being exposed to like-minded individuals, who will then go on to introduce you to things that you may not have known existed, but are right up your tree. Or alley, I forget which. Maybe both. A tree growing in an alley. With an alley cat sitting in it. Aww, cute! It's playing with one of the branches! Here, kitty kitty kitty...
Where was I?
Oh yes, anyway, whenever I feel like it's time to change the nature of these posts from metaphysical exploration to more Akela-based matters, I'll call it 'Things I Love'. Catchy, yes? Got a ring to it.
First, take a look at the picture I've attached to this post. It's called 'The Moon', and it's a Major Arcana card from the Particle Tarot, designed and illustrated by none other than Dave McKean, the brilliant mind behind the recent release MirrorMask. For those in the know, you'll have already been aware of his work through his cover artwork for the Sandman series of comics written by Neil Gaiman. Prior to that, he'd also illustrated DC's Arkham Asylum, written by Grant Morrison, and Black Orchid, also by Gaiman. At some point I'll write about those two worthy authors as well, but this post is a Dave McKean LoveFest, and I'll not be swayed by the likes of you! Be off, sirrah, or feel the sting of my blade!
Wait, don't cry, I was just kidding! See? Akela smiling! Yay! Happy wolfie! Okay, hush now, it's okay. Let's move on. Wipe your nose.
A great deal of McKean's artwork can be found at www.dreamline.nu; just scroll down to the links at the bottom of the page.
I don't think I'm writer enough to be able to elucidate exactly what it is in McKean's artwork that stirs me, but for the love of all that's Yummy, look at it! The color, the texture! The bold composition! His typography is wondrous. His line work is sublime. He also composes music (which can be heard in MirrorMask) and, of course, animates and creates film. He burns so brightly that it's hard to look directly at him. Anthea, you know what I mean.
He's one of those people who, while I'd love to listen to him speak, or watch him work, I'd be hard-pressed (ouch) to know what to say to him in conversation other than 'Uh. Thanks. For, y'know, the... stuff. That you did. Do. Um. Whuh -- I really... can I come live with you?" And let me tell you, that kinda thing never goes over well. Believe me, I know from experience.
So there you go. Part one of Things I Love, done and to bed. I'll try to come up with a better title for it than that, but it works well for now, dunnit? Oh, and by the way, I know I missed a day of posting, and this blog so new... there's really no excuse for it, is there? None. I shall leave it to my esteemed audience to devise my punishment. I await, trembling.
if I should be short on words
but long on things to say
could you crawl into my world
and take me worlds away?
-- "Seasons", Chris Cornell
(I continue my practice of putting up old posts as a way to bring myself back up to speed with learning how to write again. I've been away much too long. The following post is from October 19, 2005)
I've been thinking lately about personality. We've all got this accumulated collection of behaviors, reactions, quirks, and suchlike oddities that combine to form what we think of as our personalities. As we grow older, our personalities also grow, and, hopefully, mature. I like to think that I'm not the same great thumping silly that I was even ten years ago, but I may be wrong. I'm not really the best judge of my own character.
When we get old enough, we begin to go senile (a word that actually means "of, or relating to old age" -- it doesn't intrinsically carry within it its current pejorative sense) and our personalities slip. To others, we become someone else, someone who isn't connected with reality. Of course, what we mean is that the senile person isn't sharing our consensual reality. Who knows? The demented personality might be experiencing a true alternate world, complete with its own rules and physics. This in itself isn't a terribly bad thing, but that their bodies don't go with them. Their bodies remain rooted to this plane, and must be taken care of.
I fear growing older, with its likely attendant change of personality and loss of mental faculties. It doesn't always happen, mind you, but it usually does. I've heard of different ways to keep one's mind in order, but there's no way of telling what will work.
Where am I going with this? I found out today that my grandmother, who suffered first a stroke last year, then a fall a few weeks ago, is in the hospital in a demented state. She doesn't recognize her family members anymore, and she goes in and out of both consciousness and lucidity. I don't know what to do.
I read somewhere that our personality is a percentage game; at any point in time, there is a greater or lesser chance of our being "ourselves". Sickness can make us rave and hallucinate -- at these times we are at a lower percentage of "selfhood", returning to 100% only once we've gotten better. There is a standing waveform that represents ourselves, and it fluctuates over time. On any given day, we are more or less who we are.
Dementia is definitely in the low percentile. The question is: If that person in there isn't completely me, then who is it? Who's driving the body? Who has taken over, and why?
So I turned myself to face me
But I've never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I'm much too fast to take that test
-- "Changes", David Bowie
(from October 18, 2005)
Back to my old self again! Thank you, Sherah, Rai, and Angellica, for cheering me up when I needed it the most!
I should know by now that it's cyclical, that it won't last, these horrible feelings of nihilism. It's just so easy to get caught up in the undertow! It's amazing how our body chemistry dictates how we feel, sometimes in the absence of any apparent stimulus. For a while now I believe I've had Season Affective Disorder, which, for those who don't know, is a condition in which sunlight plays a large role in mood regulation. The more sun I get, the happier I feel, and vice versa. This might not be surprising, considering I'm originally from Hawai'i, where absorbing solar radiation is a matter of course.
Here's something I just recalled: When I first moved to California, I would get shocked by nearly all contact with conductive metal, if I weren't careful to take precautions. The most frequent jolts came from metal doorknobs, which turned out to be problematic. I was often found standing outside a building, working up the nerve to grasp hold of the handle, knowing I'd get a shock. Call me Pavlov's Wolf.
While this is a common occurrence, and not at all the stuff of Fortean dreams, I observed that I seemed to be afflicted with this phenomenon more often than my friends did, even if I followed them through a door, and they hadn't been shocked by the handle or knob. It became ridiculous, and the subject of hilarity among my close peers. (As an aside, Chris Hudak (of whom more will be written later) once wrote his own lyrics to a favorite song of the time, "88 Lines About 44 Women". His lyrics were all comments upon friends and acquaintances of his. It was a great piece, and neatly skewered us all. My stanza went like this: "Littlemouse was pure conductor, static shocks off every knob". That's how prevalent my outraged yelps were -- they had become a part of my personality. (Littlemouse? I hear you asking? Later, little ones, later.)
My friend BJ West once attempted to understand what was going on with me and came up with this hypothesis: Born and raised in Hawai'i, I was used to having my body act as a conduit for sunshine. Sunlight would enter my body through the top of my head (is that why my hair's so thick, because it's like electrical wiring?), channel itself down through my corpus, and enter the earth through my feet, thus grounding me. Something about the conductivity of the water particles in the air (Hawai'i is very humid) facilitated this process, not to mention the general and remarked-upon holistic nature of living in the Gathering Place.
When I moved to California, BJ reasoned, that direct link with the sun was broken, such that sunlight now enters my body like usual, but does not now discharge through my feet. I have become a walking broken circuit, discharging my pent-up energy at the merest touch of the right kind of metal.
What do you think? Does anyone else have any other ideas on why this happens to me? I'd like to stop looking like a big puffball, please.
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right
-- "Here Comes the Sun", the Beatles
(from October 17, 2005)
Tonight wasn't a terribly good night to be me. All my friends were either away, or busy with other things. Time used to be that being alone was my preferred mode. What has changed? I'm still the same, silly wolfie. I still chew holes in my pants, one leg at a time. I still like to pounce on my friends to let them know how much I treasure them. I don't feel any different.
Or do I? A friend the other day was telling me how many people he knows were getting married, or pregnant, or dead. So many at once, it seemed. We were trying to figure out why the sudden boom in life changes, when he realized "We're just getting older. This is what happens when you live long enough."
I've never minded getting older; have, in fact, relished the idea of increasing my wisdom with age and the experience it brings. It's true, however... as I get older, everyone and thing I love does too, and soon enough I'll have to say goodbye. Goodbye is hard. I don't really know how to do it. When I'm in SL, and I have to leave, I make my farewells to all and sundry, and always hesitate a few moments before logging off, hoping that someone will suddenly say "Akela! Don't leave yet! Stay and play awhile more!" Even if I weren't able to, it'd be nice to be asked. Time marches on, however, and as Jim Morrison says, "No one here gets out alive."
Feh. Sorry about this maudlin tone... I'll be better tomorrow.
I'm on my feet/I'm on the phone/Demanding answers/Maybe I'd better just sit down
-- "Screwed Over By Stylish Introverts", The Loud Family
(Previously posted on October 15, 2005)
Arf, mein kleine freunden, arf! Wurf, even. The scintillating Angellica Lemieux has given me a gift, the likes of which cannot be purchased: a new idea.
If you've not read the last post (and if you haven't, go ahead, I'll wait.
*starting to whistle to pass the time, then realizing that I can't whistle because I'm a wolf with no pucker-able lips*
okay!), I was offering up my thought on the origin of dreams as actual experiences in a separate reality, rather than merely lightshows your brain conjures up to keep you amused, as seems to be the current popular wisdom. However, the sweetness embodied within Angellica mentioned in her comment to that post that her take on dreams is that they're suppressed memories of past life experiences.
How have I never thought of that one before? Seriously, I read a lot, and I've not come across that particular interpretation. Thank you, Angellica; I owe you a portrait (ask me when I'm in-world next). Okay. So, to continue this line of reasoning, let's say that we have access to what Jung called 'racial memory', or 'collective unconscious', the concept that some of what we know has been transferred to us via the chain of ancestry that makes up all of our genetic inheritance (except for mine, being a figment and all; everything that I am I blame on the RWS).
How would these transmissions work? Well, we know, first of all, that what we call cerebration seems to occur through the firing of synapses in our brains. Thus, thinking is electrical in nature. We also know, second of all, that matter and energy are merely two sides of the same coin; destruction of matter releases energy, and the condensation of energy creates matter.
Thus we have for ourselves an interesting scenario: Life experience is recorded in our brains as electrical impulses. Upon our death, these impulses are released from the now-defunct matter in which they used to reside. Being energy, these impulses either enervate and wink out, or they follow the path of least resistance to find a host which will contain them, i.e., another, similar, brain. As genetic science has established, the most similar type of brain to the one you have would be your closest relative, whose genetic material helped create you.
Therefore, your living brain is probably likely to contain the same impulses that your parents' brains did, including their memories of their past experiences.
Now, the question here is, 'If that's true, why am I unable to more precisely remember any of that stuff?' Well, consider the path that the impulses must take to get to your brain. Any way you choose to consider it, and I leave this for stranger minds than mine to figure out, somewhere along the line, there must be an attenuation of signal, a gap that the impulse must leap, and in doing so, lose much of its strength and cohesion. What's left after it gets to you is scattered, fragmentary. Bad signal.
How do we strengthen this signal? Well, that'll have to wait for my next post. All this thinking makes my skull burn. If you've ever smelled burning fur, you know it's time for me to go to sleep.
"I think we dream so we don't have to be apart so long. If we're in each other's dreams, we can play together all night." ~Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes~
I'm about to keel over from exhaustion -- chased my tail waaaay too much this evening (damn you, tail! Why must you be such a tease?) -- so I'm going to keep this one short, and make up for it tomorrow night:
I've always held that our dreams aren't merely mental diversions. They're actual trips into other realities. Apart from whatever dubious metaphysics this may conjure up for you, consider this: How can we have memories of things that we've never actually done? I still remember things I did in dreams from as far away temporally as childhood. If it was 'just a dream', i.e. not real, then how can I remember doing those things?
More on my dreams soon, and why I'm a big white wolf.
dream a little dream of me (and give me lots of kibble, please)
(from October 14, 2005) Having just recently come from a rawthuh swinging par-tay in SL (Hi Maeve, I still wanna have your puppies), I think it's time I ask the question that's been gnawing at me for years, the same way I gnaw on my favorite rawhide bones from Owooooo brand Dog Treats ("Dogs ask for it by name!"): What the hell is it about the wrong kind of guy?
Now, I know it's a cliché and everything, but seriously. There must be something behind this phenomenon for it to be borne out so many times in so many ways. Ladies (or gentlemen, I'm sure this isn't simply a heterosexual thing), let me in on the secret. Why do women (and/or men) like being treated badly?
What is so appealing about the Bad Boy type? Is there some kind of Alpha Male vibe that makes you go all loose in the knees? Does it make you feel like you're somehow protected when being with a guy who's just as willing to flirt with the cute blonde sitting in the seat next to yours when you're out on a date with him? Do you think that because he chose you, when he could have his pick of any babe in the bar, that his taste in women is any more valid than that of the mousy little dude who can barely work up the nerve to ask you the time of day?
I hear someone murmuring something under their breath. I do have wolfy hearing, miss. You might as well share it with the class. Oh, confidence? Confidence is sexy, you say. Sure, I'll agree with that. It's the confidence of knowing that he's in full control of the situation, that he can pick you up and leave you behind when he wants to. Is it sexy to think that you're disposable? What does that say about your own feelings of self-worth?
Perhaps I'm oversimplifying the issue. I don't really have all the answers, despite what my fan club says (hey guys! Akela loves you!). But here's what I do know.
The RWS lived in Hawai'i from his birth until 1992, when he moved to California. Up until that point, sexually, he was a virtual cipher. He wore his hair long, he wasn't athletic, he didn't drink. He was, essentially, not boyfriend material. When he came to California, however, he discovered that, hey! having an ethnically-mixed heritage meant that he was exotic! Ooh, we don't get many boys like you over here... come and sit on Mama's lap!
Suddenly, the floodgates opened, releasing years of pent-up sexuality. The RWS began dating, having lots of fun with many different women. He slowly became a Bad Boy. Leather jacket, long hair, devil-may-care attitude and everything. Life was fun.
Fast forward to years later, attending the party of a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-co-worker in San Francisco. The RWS is introduced to the hostess as "the guy who can get any girl he wants". I'm sure it was meant as a compliment, especially since it came from a guy who was still in Cipherland himself, pale, overweight, nerdy. The hostess (whom the RWS had never met before) turned to him and said "Yeah, I've heard that about you."
This was a sobering moment. If his reputation had made it up to the City, what did that mean? Hell, that he had a reputation at all...
This post is getting a little long, but suffice it to say that he began considering monogamy, and the idea of settling down and putting his wildness to rest. He's done a fairly good job of that. He doesn't run around anymore, he's put down roots, has a wonderful child. My question is: Has he now become less attractive in doing this? If so, why? I invite your comments, as always. Grant enlightenment to this poor lowly creature, that he may benefit thereof. I'm gonna go watch 'Lost' and enjoy my Sawyer. I'm the furthest thing from gay, but that boy is HOT!
hoo hoo ha, and a hoka-hoka hey
Well, heLLO! Thanks ever so much for dropping by. Can I get you anything? Muscat grapes? Muskrat crépes? Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan? Welcome to my new home-away-from-den, courtesy of Weebly. Thanks to TechChick for bringing these guys to my attention. As I'm getting used to these new digs, I'm going to republish past blog posts for your edification and my laziness. Stay tuned, don't touch that dial, watch the skies, don't take any ticking nickels! My first post follows, from Wednesday, October 12, 2005:
Hi, I'm Akela. You may know me from such persistent online worlds as Second Life, and -- well, really, that's the only one. I'm glad you've come. Please remove your shoes, and get that thing out of your mouth. C'mon, we're professionals here.
I wanted to talk a little bit about identity. If you know me only as Akela Talamasca, it may surprise you to know that I do have another identity, one which is shrouded in secrecy, mystery, and, occasionally, corn chips. This identity I playfully refer to as the Real World Self (or RWS). He's the one who pays the bills, calls the shots, greases the palms, and buys the yachts. He keeps me in the style to which I've become accustomed: an endless supply of kibble, a solid titanium scratching post, and just the cutest li'l flea collar you ever did see.
I, on the other hand, am a figment. I exist only when someone thinks of me. Fortunately, the RWS thinks of me virtually all the time, so I rarely have to endure the yowling void that is Unexistence. Occasionally, though, the RWS will find other matters too pressing to deliberately concentrate on maintaining my reality, and off I go into the Wild Blue (it's not as thrilling as it sounds, believe me -- maybe I'll talk about it sometime. Brrrrrr).
So, I'd like to ask a favor of you, and this will be the only thing I ask: keep me in mind. When walking your dog, think to yourself "Wow, Stubby's little beady eyes really remind me of Akela, and the adorable way he has of cocking his head to one side when he doesn't understand something, which is, let's face it, frequently." While you're out shopping, take notice of the impulse items near the checkout stand and say "Good lord, that Paris Hilton is revolting. You know what Akela would say? Probably something hilarious and cutting and beginning with the letter 'J'." During those times when you're bored with nothing to do but love your family and friends, suddenly stand and exclaim "By all that is holy and yummy, Akela Talamasca is a Force for Good in our time!"
If you're in the restroom, you can stop thinking of me. I don't need to exist that bad, you know what I'm saying?
Identity is a funny, fluid concept. We roleplay every day of our lives, all the time, whether or not we realize it. We play the parts of employee; lover; sibling; friend; Greg the Handyman who dropped by to "fix the shower" but uh-oh, his tight jeans have popped open at the button-fly; and many others. We are rarely, if ever, what we might think of as our 'True Selves', especially when around other people. Everything we do and say is colored by our past experiences, our expectations of ourselves and others based on those experiences, and our immediate needs, whatever they might be at the time. We modify our behaviors all the time to get what we want.
It's a natural occurrence, this roleplaying. We seem to need it simply to get through the days. The point I want to make here is that it's important to be aware that you're doing it, and conversely, to be aware that others are doing it too. When you think about this (and that's your homework, due the next time you visit this blog), you're bound to realize all manner of crazy things, many of which will be True. I invite you to leave me your thoughts. And the next time you're idly waiting in line to buy that trampoline you've been promising yourself, think of me, and give me a little skritch beneath my chin; I love that.
business is business, action is action