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Why we do the things we do

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Nenicirene's picture

I would like to share with you something which Valgard, a warrior-poet who lives life to the fullest, had to say:

Heh. Valgard, the question wasn't "What are your favorite cybering spots?" :P

*gasps*

Tirasa!

*looks hurt*

What are you TALKING about?

Cybering?

*looks scandalized*

Honestly, Tirasa, you have a perception of me which is not entirely accurate. I do NOT "cyber" as you put it. Why must this be the automatic assumption of all observers whenever two people engage in the roleplaying of private, intense romantic scenes? "Cybering" she says....

*grumbles*

I am an artist, Tirasa. I have been involved in acting, writing, role-playing, and all forms of storytelling for many years. I believe that at a deep level of our psyche, human beings NEED to create, hear, co-create, be involved in, and be affected by STORIES. Myths and fantasy and the epic tradition play a huge role in our mental, emotional, and spiritual health and development, as well as the formation and propagation of our culture.

Since time immemorial, since the first dawning of sapience in primitive humanity, we have gathered together, sometimes in large gatherings, sometimes only in pairs, to tell the tales which inspire our hearts, which somehow give color and meaning and shape to the seemingly random and incomprehensible events of our lives. Role-playing is a form of collective, collaborative storytelling, where people can come together to weave an alternate shared reality together, to express and process and feel things which might not be possible otherwise.

I am an artist. I do not come here simply to be entertained, simply to take some enjoyment and gratification from this shared story, but to add to it, to co-create something beautiful, and intense, and powerful, which will affect everyone involved on a deep level. To express the submerged facets of my own humanity and the struggles and triumphs of my own life experience, and also to facilitate the opportunity for others to do the same, to draw out of others things which they long to find expression for, but are ordinarily prevented from doing.

When we immerse ourselves deeply into this world, these characters, this shared story, when we allow our minds to sink beneath the conscious level into the magical, mysterious domain of the mythic subconscious, and we -feel- what these characters feel, and we come together with others and -connect- on that level, we give birth to something very potent, very profound.

It is catharsis, a word the ancient Greeks used for their experience of the theatre. A mental, emotional, and spiritual cleansing, a much-needed form of processing and embracing all aspects of the human experience, and integrating them into one's greater self as a whole. They did not go to the theatre simply for entertainment. It was as much a psychological therapy and spiritual practice as anything else. This can be accomplished with role-playing, as well. Even in an online game such as WoW.

I am a romantic, Tirasa. I believe in love on an epic scale, and no expression thereof is too vast, too deep, too passionate. In these stories, in this fantasy world, we can feel and explore and express our personal stories through the horrors of war and the terror of nightmarishly alien threats and the pain of loss and the desperate hope for salvation and safety and the ardor of a romance which could only be possible in such a setting, so far removed from our own desensitized, mechanized, tragically modern world.

Most people who are irresistably drawn to this form of storytelling and collective expression are somewhat dissatisfied with our real world, with the blandness and banality and bleak ugliness of it all. And what is most torturous about it, and why so many of us live "lives of quiet desperation" as Thoreau put it, is the fact that our "enemies" in THIS world cannot truly be seen, or fought, or overcome, but must simply be painfully endured. We cannot ride forth and do battle with the embedded sociological factors and forces which make our world so spiritually and emotionally barren, we must simply shrug and say, "That's life."

But in our shared fantasy world, in our co-created epic STORY, we can symbolize all that we despise in life into concrete enemies, which CAN be battled and overcome. We can be heroes and heroines, on a much larger scale than is realistically available to us in our normal lives. And we can feel epic pain, and epic loss, and epic rage, and epic love, in a place which is safe and which engenders these things.

I am a storyteller, a romantic, and an artist. I weave my character into the larger world, the larger story, and I seek out others who have similar aims, and together, we give birth to a deeper, more whole, more meaningful story than we would have created alone. I come together with one or sometimes a small handful of others and we co-create scenes in which reality is suspended, and only the characters and the story and the shared alternate world remain, and the feelings and the expression are allowed free reign to move and expand as they will, without artificial restraints.

The stories and the scenes which I am blessed to be a part of with such amazing role-players and storytellers take in all aspects of the human experience and the events and feelings which such characters in such a world might actually partake of, were this world REAL. For that is what we aim for, to produce a collective illusion so compelling that for just a little while, it becomes virtually real.

And indeed, the deep structures in the brain, and the endocrine system and other systems in the body don't know the difference. The hormonal reactions of the body are the same whether the danger or love is real or only simulated. Which makes for some powerful experiences, when we realize that we can produce any effect within ourselves, at will, simply by choosing to tell the right kind of story. It is excellent therapy!
And good fun. *smiles*

So, to be real, and to be comprehensive, and to truly do justice to this shared reality and the virtual lives of these characters which are our manifestations, our projections, our masks in this pseudo-real co-created fantasy, we must not leave any part of our selves or our experience untouched. Divinity is in the profound AND the profane, the sacred AND the sordid. We cannot have the heights without the depths, the light without the dark, the outer without the inner, or the cerebral without the visceral.

No aspect of the huamn experience and of our inner selves which demand to be expressed in this collective story can be safely ignored, and since romantic love is such a powerful, huge part of our emotional and spiritual lives, and also such a tremendous vehicle for storytelling and character development, it is natural that we would indulge this obvious need. And sexuality is clearly a very important factor. To gloss over it would be to rob ourselves, and to diminish our story and its potential impact and usefulness.

So yes, Tirasa, sometimes the story calls for scenes which are much more primal, much more intimate, much more private. But it should never be approached casually, or in any manner which cheapens this sacred celebration of life. Sometimes, Tirasa, my character is physically intimate with another character, and sometimes this is borne out in a role-played scene. But it is NOT "cyber" as commonly understood. It is art. It is storytelling. It is holistic, involving and touching every part of the participants - cerebral, emotional, spiritual, and physical.

To call what I do "cybering" is like calling Michelangelo's "David" -porn- because it is a statue of a nude man.

I do not take offense, but truly, it is an insult to me and to the other fine roleplayers with whom I have woven these amazing, beautiful, deeply impactful stories to cast such an aspersion upon what is, in fact, a very pure and artistic form of personal sharing and co-creation.

It is never about sex, or about personal gratification. It is always about the story, about the characters' feelings, about the connection with the other, about the expression of our humanity. It is always within an appropriate context, at an appropriate time, with an appropriate person. It is storytelling, it is art, it is profound and beautiful.

I have no idea what other people do, and I will not speak for them. I gather that there are a fair number of cheap, sordid things going on which may fall well outside the parameters I have described here. But as for me, and the people whom I engage in deep, full-immersion role-playing with, there is nothing going on which is deserving of any castigation whatsoever.

I may joke, and smirk, and make sarcastic comments which serve to make me, and my intentions, appear worse than is actually the case, but I assure you, that is merely my sense of humor, and not an accurate reflection of what I am, in essence, about. This list is not my favorite "cybering" places. It is a list of locations where at one time or another, I shared a prolonged, deep, intense, highly immersive and cathartic scene with another person, with another character, which was incredible and memorable and which furthered our personal stories and the larger story of which we are a part in this shared fantastic world.

But, no offense taken Tirasa. Just clearing things up....

*smiles*

And, by the way....

Excellent references available upon request.

*grins*

Ooh, wow…that was impressive. I'm moved. The part about how reality is insufficiently grand and tragic to the satisfy the souls of dreamers resonates with me greatly.

I am constantly driven to create worlds and populate these worlds with stories, and in stories everything is somehow greater than it can be. The peaks and valleys are exaggerated, and we can ride the roller-coaster without fear of falling off.

Apart from the act of writing, which is solitary yet draws upon all the people we have met and events that have shaped us, I find that sitting at a table with my friends is the best way to create grand stories, as we have control and can shape the whole world to our will.

Yet, playing in a game like this is the best way to be a character. When I log on, I am Nenicirene, and others see just that, without the real me getting in the way of my portrayal. Granted, Neni is really just me turned up to an eleven, but it allows me to focus on the character. I never break character, merely the fourth wall. When I talk about things Neni has no right to know about and don't exist in her world, I still use her voice and her opinions. Ultimately, she is aware that she is a fictional character, and is okay with this.