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    (Interview and comments by Corvuscorva Nightfire) I had warned Wol Euler that I was going to interview her this week. I invited her to my guardian shack just after a Play as Being session to tango. Wol and I have been tangoing and talking for about a year. She was one of the first people I met in SL, one of my closest friends in any world, an important mentor and guide for me, and the person who invited me to my first Play as Being meetings. In the midst of a perfectly innocent tango, I launched into the interview.



    Corvuscorva Nightfire: How did you begin in PaB, Wol, and when?

    Wol Euler laughs.

    Wol Euler: Where did it begin? Fael invited my alt to a session quite soon after she joined PaB, this would be in late spring or early summer I guess.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: How did you meet Fael?

    Wol Euler smiles. Randomly. We both happened to land at an AO shop, and started talking about avs and appearance.

    Wol Euler: it was an interesting conversation, and we kept in touch.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: oh! Tell me a little about that conversation?

    Wol Euler: as far as I can remember, Alt and Fael talked about appearance, how and why they chose their appearances.

    Wol Euler: Because you see, Alt is not Wol.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire nods.

    Wol Euler: I do not have complete access to Alt's memory.

    Wol Euler: Wol knows very well what is in her inventory, down to names and appearances; and Alt knows Alt's own inventory the same way.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: and each remembers their own experiences?

    Wol Euler: yep

    Wol Euler: But Wol cannot tell you what kind of tiny av Alt has, not without a good deal of strain and mental effort.

    Wol Euler: there is an overlap, but it is not complete.

    Wol Euler: People ask me to do things, Alt logs on and doesn't know to do them, then I log back on and remember; it's odd.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire grins.

    Wol Euler: but it is a further proof that alts are different _personalities_ not just different avs.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: How long have you been in sl?

    Wol Euler: Alt was the first to arrive in SL, in July of 2007; I was born in early December 2007.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: does Wol behave differently than Alt?

    Wol Euler: oh yes :)

    Wol Euler: Wol is much kinder and more patient.

    Wol Euler: Wol tries to listen without judging, to enter the flow of thought and proceed within it.

    Wol Euler: whereas Alt has this typical programmer mindset: "Fixed that problem! Next?"

    Wol Euler: Alt didn't really get on at PaB, didn't grok it.

    Wol Euler: whereas I did, I loved it from early on.

    Wol Euler: I can remember that there was an awkward phase where we both went, alternating randomly, and we found that unsatisfactory.


    The conversation where Wol was invited to become guardian can be found in the wiki at 2009.07.26 at 7am


    Wol Euler: after a few weeks, Fael conveyed an offer to Alt to become a guardian. Our response was to say "no" because Alt had too much to do, and Wol was (at that time) very much a woman of leisure

    Wol Euler: but we thought about it, and decided that it would be better if Wol went to PaB and Alt stayed away. so we did, and after a few more weeks, the offer was extended to Wol too :)


    Corvuscorva Nightfire: what was it that Wol found so appealing?

    Wol Euler: the conversation, to be honest. Alt had done meditation before, in SL and RL, but Wol didn't.

    Wol Euler: I have to make a shameful confession here, which will probably get me thrown out of the club.

    Wol Euler: I had been a regular visitor for weeks, and in fact was already a guardian, before I first did a Nine or any other exercise.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire laughs

    Wol Euler: so what did attract me?

    Wol Euler: the people.

    Wol Euler: their openness, their willingness to let go of ideas and just be.

    Wol Euler: the variety of experiences and backgrounds and subjects. it was endlessly fascinating and often amusing.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: What were the discussions like back then?

    Wol Euler: they were considerably more focussed than many sessions now are. There was a greater emphasis on the practices, whereas many session now are salon conversation.

    Wol Euler: which is wonderful, I have nothing against it.

    Wol Euler: and I feel that I am for better or worse one of the leaders of the non-serious salon faction.

    Wol Euler: in a way, the change of emphasis away from talking only about the practice, left me a little space in which I could try it.

    Wol Euler: while it was the prime topic of every meeting, I was a little intimidated, not really wanting to start in as a raw beginner

    Wol Euler: that was also at the end of the first surge in membership, I was one of the last of an influx of new guardians. The group then stabilized for a while at a different level

    Wol Euler: Cal and others have talked about this, how things changed in the early summer when the new people turned up.

    Wol Euler: then another surge happened in autumn, and I found myself one of the elders :)

    Wol Euler: I took on some responsibility to the group with the autologging project (that was at the end of July)

    Wol Euler: and I found that I was taking it all more seriously, including the practices. My experience with the Nines and YSBS and such dates from late summer, which is also the time that I took on a session.

    As we tango, I watch the screen noticing how beautifully put together Wol is. Each detail of her dress and person is carefully thought out and, imperfect, experimental. She has perfectly coiffed but wild hair, flawlessly painted pale skin, and a broad expressive mouth. She's dressed in a rather frilly, elegant and detailed black leather dress, which accentuates her imperfectly perfect body.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: What is the autologging project?

    Wol Euler: ah :)

    Wol Euler: autologging is a very good idea which has only halfway come to fruition.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: (I'm going to strike that sentence..the autologger works great!)

    Wol Euler: heheheheh

    Wol Euler: no, leave it in, including your offer to strike it

    Wol Euler: :-P

    Corvuscorva Nightfire accidently steps on your toe, not quite hard enough to hurt.

    Wol Euler raises an eyebrow and shakes her foot.

    Wol Euler: leave that in too.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire giggles...would you try answering that question again?

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: What does the auto logger do, and how was it developed?

    Wol Euler: people had been complaining, rightly, about the inconvenience of recording and posting the logs of PaB sessions, first on the blog and later on our wiki.

    Wol Euler: because it was a messy process. So somebody, very likely Pema, had the idea of automating it.

    Wol Euler: a committee formed (including Storm, Fael and Adelene) just as I joined PaB, and I found myself at one of its first meetings, after a guardians' meeting in the Hall of Appearances.

    Wol Euler: I wrote a functional spec for the autologger, as I found the discussion uncomfortably loose.

    Wol Euler: the only practical result of the functional spec was that Pema asked me to be ringmistress of the effort.

    Wol Euler: anyway, cut a long story short. Much of what we first thought to do proved impossible or impractical.

    Wol Euler: Impractical, for instance the continuing need to filter out the constant background hum of noobs tramping through the fountain. Impossible, that we cannot automatically create new pages in the wiki.

    Wol Euler: I am somewhat disappointed that we didn't get further faster, but on the other hand it was a good learning experience..

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: Has Play as being affected the rest of your SL experience?

    Wol Euler: definitely.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: in what ways?

    Wol Euler: I definitely feel that PaB has changed - improved - my experience of SL but I am hard pressed to say what in particular has changed.

    Wol Euler: the feeling of belonging to a community is new, I had friends before but we were isolated sparks, fellow oddities.

    Wol Euler: being in a community here is different, comforting

    Wol Euler: I spend at least an hour of nearly every day at PaB.

    Wol Euler: I might have dropped out of SL had I not found this, actually.

    Wol Euler: it had begun to seem limited, repetitive and trivial, full of tasteless and worthless beauty, like a virtual Los Angeles.


    Corvuscorva Nightfire nods...tell me more about that community?

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: how has having a community changed that?

    Wol Euler: that was due to the isolation that I felt then, having friends in SL but basically being on my own here, being detached from everything and everyone.

    Wol Euler: it's grounded me.

    Wol Euler: is that the community or is it perhaps the exercises that I finally started doing in late summer? (grins)

    Wol Euler: who knows; perhaps it is all one and the same.

    Wol Euler: it gave me a role to play in SL, which is something that I need. I'm not very inventive, nor especially self-directed, I need nudges from the world to keep me moving on

    Wol Euler: and PaB has been very good at delivering those.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: tell me about a few of them?

    Wol Euler: having a guardian slot, the autologging, the wiki(s), my self-proclaimed role as greeter and banisher of noobs

    Wol Euler: and my various roles as friend of various PaBbers :)

    Wol Euler: I have never been as "tied down" as I am now in SL, and I love it.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: You once taught me my favorite second life word: "backformation". Tell me again what that means?

    Wol Euler: ah, where skills that we learn here are taken into RL

    Wol Euler: Rivka Rau taught me that word, as she has taught Alt and I an awful lot of good stuff, even about ourselves.

    Wol Euler: backformation is connected to the concept of identity as flexible, subject to deliberate change,

    Wol Euler: as we can see in SL where people can experiment with age, shape, colour, gender, even species.

    Wol Euler: backformation happens when people carry the things they've experimented with in SL back into their "real" lives

    Wol Euler: an example being one of Rivka's associates, a transwoman, who studied female AOs and animations here for tips on how to appear more womanly in RL

    Wol Euler: or myself (if I may) growing my hair out in RL to match a SL style I like :)

    Corvuscorva Nightfire grins.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: ah! Did it have other effects for this woman?

    Wol Euler: well, yes, her coming-out happened in and through and because of her SL experiences.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: ah! So in that case, the backformation has had pretty powerful effects!

    Wol Euler: oh yes.

    Wol Euler: well, the effect comes a step before that.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: tell me more?

    Wol Euler: the strength of the feeling, the cause of the strong feelings, is embodiment

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: Oh! What is embodiment?

    Wol Euler: the feeling of being physically present, embodied, in the avatar.

    Wol Euler: that the avatar is ME, my body.

    Wol Euler: I am very deeply embodied in SL, and always was.

    Wol Euler: One of the first experiences I had here, when I less than a week old, was to meet a friend from RL who joined SL at the same time I did

    Wol Euler: she took me to one of her favourite places, high up on a snowy Japanese mountainside, in drifting cloud and little flurries of flakes, with the lights of a town glowing below us.

    Wol Euler: we stood in the snow and talked, and I thought to myself "I am not dressed for this weather"

    Wol Euler: I felt cold in RL because of what I was looking at in SL!

    Wol Euler: that is embodiment :)

    Wol Euler: embodiment comes first, I think. Backformation works because you are embodied, because you "feel" the animation or the hairstyle or whatever, as applying to _yourself_

    Wol Euler: not just as pixels.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: so you apply it to yourself in real life?

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: or the events of second life become experiments with real applications?

    Wol Euler: both :)

    Wol Euler: I have learned a lot from SL generally.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: like what?

    Wol Euler: for instance, that one may talk to strangers, and that nearly always they are grateful to be spoken to and are glad to reply

    Wol Euler: that it is perfectly valid, in fact delightful, to have short and intensely serious conversations with strangers, then smile and say goodbye and never see them again

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: tell me about one of those conversations?

    Wol Euler: just walking down the street, somebody coming towards me says something to the peson they're with and catches my eye as they do so. Two years ago I might have smiled but would never have replied.

    Wol Euler: Today I reply and smile, and then sometimes we stop and talk for a moment; other times they just meet my smile and we walk on.

    Wol Euler: and you know, it's all good.

    Wol Euler shrugs. You can't do it everywhere, obviously; and not with everyone.

    Wol Euler: there are situations where it is inappropriate, and I do still respect that.

    Wol Euler: but I have discovered a new and lovely grey zone, where the sensitive edges of our soulbubbles rub gently against each other.

    Wol Euler: and in that zone, it is perfectly OK to talk to strangers.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: what are some other things you've learned from SL?

    Wol Euler: well, seeing the difference between Alt and myself was a real eye-opener.

    Wol Euler: I had no idea that alts were distinct personalities, I thought it was just a convention, a twist in the game.

    Wol Euler: I was astonished by the things that Alt wanted to do, and by the difference between Alt's voice and mine.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: ah! tell me more about that?

    Wol Euler: though both are natural voices. When I am being Alt, the typist does not stop and consider "How would a short fat sixty-year-old bald man reply to that question?" Alt just speaks.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: hehehe

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: and that's different from how a gorgeous young woman with a wide mouth would reply to a question?

    Wol Euler: often it is, yes :)

    Wol Euler: the question of gender in identity, gender as something _chosen_ and malleable, is new and quite exciting (grins)


    Wol and I get a notice from the designer whose clothes Wol is wearing.


    Wol Euler: (oooh, are you in AVid group? did you just get that announcement? the red Salem dress? Need need covet covet)

    Corvuscorva Nightfire grins..mmhmm...I sure am.

    Wol Euler turns and speaks directly into the camera. AVid gothic clothing, dear friends, the finest shop in SL!


    We took a break and came back the next day.


    Corvuscorva Nightfire: where were we?

    Wol Euler: we were last talking about how the group has changed, moving away from the "purity" of early sessions to general discussivity

    Corvuscorva Nightfire nods

    Wol Euler: I'm not sure that those are actually my thoughts.

    Wol Euler: I am not disturbed by the non-meditation talking, on the contrary.

    Wol Euler: I wonder why that came up?

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: then lets try that one again.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: How has the group changed since you started?

    Wol Euler: well, it's grown enormously of course, and with the growth has come a change in focus.

    Wol Euler: the original "core" of ten or so were dedicated meditaters, they knew each other outside the group and so had already established personal contact, as it were.

    Wol Euler: The rest of us, and I include myself in that, had to "declare ourselves" in the group and to each other

    Wol Euler: conversations have become much broader as a result, on the whole a good thing

    Wol Euler: Now that there are so many more guardians, one notices specialties, interests, creeping in.

    Wol Euler: ThreeDee and Ade almost always end up talking about neurology and brain science, quite fascinating

    Wol Euler: my sessions are often about avatars and identity and how character gets expressed in the medium of SL

    Wol Euler: Poor Gaya has a thankless slot, she usually sits alone.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: If you had to describe to someone what PaB was about what would you say?

    Wol Euler: heheheh, I often do have to describe it, to new visitors

    Wol Euler: I say it is a meditation and discussion group that meets to talk about our practices, matters arising from them, and the state of the world.

    Wol Euler: we are not a debating society

    Wol Euler: I usually point out that it has no religious affiliations, we are not a buddhist group nor a taoist group ...

    Wol Euler: if people are still asking questions, I move on to "dropping what we think is true and trying to see what is actually there"

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: what makes a good PaB member?

    Wol Euler: openness, a good pair of ears.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: openness?

    Wol Euler: not rushing to judgement. Storm expressed this very well in his first Scribe post.

    Wol Euler: a good member listens without needing to understand all immediately; disagrees with a statement without judging the speaker

    Wol Euler: lets people speak from their own experience and beliefs even when these don't coincide with their own

    Wol Euler: supports rather than boxes in

    Wol Euler: shows the path rather than pushes along it

    Wol Euler: knows that there is no "the path", no singularity of Truth somewhere

    Wol Euler: knows that we are all approximations and prototypes and just somehow doing the best we can

    Wol Euler: and loves us all with a calm and supportiveness, despite our imperfections.

    Wol Euler: Geo's discussion with Pema last week, in which he spoke about Love, is reverberating in my thoughts.

    Wol Euler: also hard to express.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: i liked that one.

    Wol Euler: the ideal PaB member is one who loves.

    Wol Euler: not loves me, not loves you, not even loves all of us, but simply Loves in that way.

    Wol Euler: it's a pretty high ideal, I'll admit :)

    Corvuscorva Nightfire grins.

    Wol Euler: but granting attention, giving space and consideration and time and thought, to each other is a fine start

    Wol Euler: accepting without granting special favours; not-accepting without condemning

    Wol Euler: I like spinach, you prefer broccoli: who cares?

    Corvuscorva Nightfire grins.

    Wol Euler: why should it be different when your flavour of Belief is different from mine?

    Wol Euler: does yours invalidate mine?

    Wol Euler: is my belief in some way improved when more people share it?

    Wol Euler: or to put it rather more combatively: What a weakling your deity must be, if my puny little disbelief hurts him.

    Wol Euler: how shaky, how insecure, how straw-grasping-at must your believing be, if it needs my agreement for you to be comfortable in it?

    Wol Euler: thus endeth the lesson.

    Wol Euler <- pontificatrix.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: perfect.

    Corvuscorva Nightfire: thanks.

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    Originally written on 19:43, 06 Apr 2010
    "Wol Euler: the ideal PaB member is one who loves." What a great interview, so friendly ! Thanks Corvi and Wol, this is so inspiring!

    Posted 17:17, 9 Apr 2010
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