Recently i mentioned my urge to go and explore the far reaches of sl with the purpose of discovering those places that speak of times gone by – the SLarchealogy of the virtual world: Relics of the past that that have somehow survived the constant cycles of change and renewal that typify sl.
So it was, that your intrepid traveller found themselves off to distant lands on a quest to find the unimaginably ancient… things that tell of the time when sl was young, redolent with freshly squeezed pixels and empty vistas as yet unsullied by lag… And i was not to be disappointed.
What i found took me right back to the very early days of sl, even beyond that, in fact – right back to the days of the Alpha Grid, before sl had even been created – a relic of Linden World itself! This quite remarkable object is the Man Statue.
The statue pre-dates the birth of sl by a decent margin and is one of the very few surviving objects from the original Linden World; how it survived the transition to the Beta Grid nobody has been able to explain to me, but it did and more than that, against all odds, it still stands today in Natoma. Originally located in Linden Town, the very first settlement populated by alpha testers and Lindens, it found its way into sl whilst Linden Town itself was lost forever.
In later years, (now that itself seems a weird expression to use about sl), the statue became an icon of the pioneering spirit and the creativity of the creators of our virtual world: A symbol of the sl ethos – people would gather at the statue and even leave ‘offerings’ and gifts at its base. Now it seems that since sl has expanded to become a whole world in its scale and scope, its roots and the statue have largely been forgotten – this potent edifice, representing the pride and the hope of those early residents has been left to preside over a sad and sorry landscape, in a forgotten corner of sl.
Even so, it’s a magnificent and moving thing to experience it.
i arranged to arrive some distance from the statue – there’s something special about seeing an inspiring destination appear at a distance – and, at first, i thought my quest had been in vain: No statue but, in front of me, the imposing edifice of the Library of Prims, (about which, more in my next post). My landing point was fortuitous… As i explored the area, gradually round the curving exterior of the Library, i suddenly caught my breath – there it was, shining in the distance in the afternoon sun; i couldn’t have contrived a more dramatic appearance!
It was one of those fantastically eerie and moving moments; the audio stream added to the ethereal quality and, as i slowly walked towards the statue a strange feeling, almost one of reverence, came upon me. This great monument had stood over sl and its predecessor and had endured for longer than any other artefact i’ve ever encountered; it had presided over countless changes, weathered the storms of controversy and who knows how many landmark events in sl? Viewers may come and go, Grids may change and residents live out a whole SLifetime in the time that The Man has stood… yet, still he stands, seemingly impervious to the whims of the virtual world. i simply had to get closer!
The closer i drew, the more i wondered at the relic from the distant past and the more thrilled i was knowing i had found it. Finally, i reached the foot of the great plinth – for a moment i was tempted to climb to the top but somehow that felt wrong, so i simply sat at the statue’s base and contemplated the vista before me. Across the way i spotted more of the historical side of sl – two giant bears that have stood for the sl equivalent of millennia, welcoming visitors to Stillman; it was all quite surreal.
i sat and pondered what The Man is all about, as i suppose many others before me had done. Idly the thought crossed my mind that perhaps one day, many years previously, Philip Linden had sat in this self-same spot, planning his ‘vast green, continuous landscape’, and i felt just a little in awe.
Eventually, my mind returned to my mission… archaeology is nothing without finds and so, almost reverently i opened the statue’s edit window and clicked on the creator’s profile – i was not to be disappointed! oldjohn Linden – older even than sl itself – stared back at me from his profile; his rez date, over 9 years previously, an unimaginably distant date in the sl past and far beyond anybody that i’ve ever met.
It’s hard to describe the sort of feelings that The Man evokes and i suppose they will be different for every visitor… it’s not really something that can be described; it has to be experienced for oneself. So, why not pay a visit and pay your respects to the old chap – i’d say he’s earned it.
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
The Beatles – In My Life