Reflections on Steel and Marble in Second Life

Artcare Gallery: Gem Preiz – Storm of Steel; On Marble Cliffs

Ernst Jünger (29th March 1895 – 17th February 1998), is a complex figure from Germany’s history in the 20th Century. Born to an affluent family, he rejected his background, serving briefly the French Foreign Legion before serving in the German army throughout the First World War, seeing action in several battles and hard-fought skirmishes on the Western front, being wounded seven times – including to both the head and to the chest (the latter piercing a lung). During the Second World War, he again served in the German Army, where he was both an inspiration for, and had some involvement with, the German anti-Nazi movement (in fact, in 1943 he penned a proposal for peace with the allies which included the removal of Hitler from power and he was involved at the fringes of the 1944 Stauffenberg bomb plot to kill Hitler.

He is perhaps most well known for penning two works: In Stahlgewittern (literally “In Steel Weather” but given the English title Storm of Steel), published in 1920 which brought together his personal experiences of the Great War as recorded in the diaries he kept from 1914-1918; and Auf den Marmorklippen (“On Marble Cliffs”), published in 1939 and most readily seen as a parable against national socialism, written at a time when Jünger had rejected overtures from the Nazi Party on numerous occasions on account of his personal rejection of the German democratic movement and spoken out against liberalism as a whole.

Artcare Gallery: Gem Preiz – Storm of Steel; On Marble Cliffs

Whilst Auf den Marmorklippen and In Stahlgewittern might be interpreted in several ways, the latter has come to be seen as an anti-war treatise and the former a warning against the rise of authoritarianism in any hue. In this, and given the way we appear to be re-treating elements of history experienced a century ago, both books perhaps have particular relevance today.

For Gem Preiz they offer metaphors for the stark choice humanity is facing: to allow ourselves to be ruined through the prettiness of nationalistic politics or to strive harder ad reach our fullest potential. He does this through a new exhibition of his fractal art in which he combines the titles of Jünger’s works, and which can be see at Carelyna’s ArtCare Gallery, itself in a new location.

Artcare Gallery: Gem Preiz – Storm of Steel; On Marble Cliffs

Storm of Steel; On Marble Cliffs offer three rooms of Gem’s art. Within a central hall that forms the landing point, are six images mounted on marble walls that show the potential: gleaming cities that stand (or float) as havens of humanity. Bracketing this on either side are two further halls. In one, this theme to a gleaming future expressed through architectural marvels is continued – although at its centre is a reminder of the dangers inherent in our make-up that may still try to tear down all that we have – and might – achieve: black arms and hands that rise from the floor or drop from the ceiling, reaching out, fingers bent as if to grasp and tear and break whatever they find.

Within the other hall, we see the outcome in allowing the pettiness to prevail is revealed in the form of broken and smashed buildings, sitting with atmospheres heavy with smoke (or pollution) and in places lit by what appears to be fire or burning fires.

Artcare Gallery: Gem Preiz – Storm of Steel; On Marble Cliffs

It might be easy to reconcile Storm of Steel; On Marble Cliffs just as a commentary on the situation in Ukraine; but as he notes – and I hope I’ve indicated here – he net is cast far wider. As such, the exhibition should be seen and appreciated free from preconceptions of our current political climate, just as Jünger’s works were both rooted in their political times but have meaning that reaches well beyond those times.

Do take note of the music suggestions included in the exhibition’s note card, available at the landing point, use the links to play the pieces via You Tube, if so minded.


April 2022 Web User Group summary – Premium Plus

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes cover the key points from the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, April 6th, 2022.

These meetings are generally held on the first Wednesday of the month, with dates and venue details available via the SL public calendar. A video of the meeting, courtesy of Pantera, can be found embedded at the end of this article (my thanks to her as always!), and subject timestamps to the relevant points in the video are provided. Again, the following is a summary of key topics / discussions, not a full transcript of everything mentioned.

March Progress Summary

[Video: 13:45-17:19]

  • The front-end work on Marketplace Styles (aka variant listings) is close to being finished.
  • [Video: 16:22-17:19] The sales tax on recurring US billing (see Linden Lab announce sales tax on recurring US billings) actually came into force on April 4th, slightly delayed from the planned introduction.
    • Note this is a state requirement, with no money going to LL, and the Lab has tried to structure things so the impact is initially felt by as few in SL as possible.
  • [Video: 53:47-55:20] Search:
    • The Search instance is being upgraded to Python 3 so that it can be hosted by an expert third-party service, who will then manage the update of the instance.
    • Once this is been done, work will commence on building a Relevance Engine to assist in managing search results.

Future Work

  • The overhaul of the Destination Guide is still being planned.
  • The “Land journey” – how to obtain Linden Homes, land via the Land Store through to obtaining an entire private region – is to be overhauled to make it easier for people to understand how to obtain land directly or rent it from others.

Premium Plus

[Video: 2:16-11:54]

  • The release of Premium Plus has been pushed back until the latter part of May. Then main reason for this is to allow additional time for all the teams involved in managing / marketing / supporting Premium Plus to be ready for the launch.
    • When released, there will be a pro-rated amount for those on annual subscriptions with 6 months or more of Premium membership left until their next renewal, and renew at their normal renewal date at the Plus rate.
    • Details to be clarified when Premium Plus is launched.
  • The overall contents of Premium Plus are locked down, but will be made public at the time of launch. However, it may include (and as noted in my January WUG summary):
    • A higher amount of free tier than Premium’s 1024 sq m.
    • A higher stipend.
    • A higher sign-up bonus.
    • More group slots.
    • Lower fees “on certain things” (unspecified).
    • Where “more” is being offered (e.g. free land tier) it is liable to be roughly double that of Premium (so the stipend will be more than double that of Premium, for example.
  • Upgrades to Premium form Grandfathered accounts:
    • Grandfather stipend accounts will receive the “standard” Premium Plus stipend, not a Stipend based on their L$500 Grandfathered status.
    • [Video: 43:59-45:10] It is not clear at present if Grandfathered accounts would recover their Gandfathered L$500 a week stipend on downgrading from Plus to Premium, or revert to the standard L$300 a week. This will be clarified for the next WUG meeting.

Questions / Poll from LL

[Video: 19:38-35:05]

The Lab is looking to gain feedback from users, with a series of questions asked at the meeting, which may well be asked again through the forums as well. These included:

  • How do you to find things to do in SL? – responses included: opening group chat with the message “I’m bored”; using the Destination Guide; asking friends; using travelogues such as in this blog; visit the What’s Hot section of the viewer splash screen; Tweeted from other SL users.
  • How did you get started in SL? – responses included: friend already active in SL; seeing one of the SL video ads; seeing people discussing SL on Twitter.
  • What makes you stay? – responses essentially revolved around creativity of others, ability to explore, opportunities to meet people, a group of close friends, art, building etc.; force of habit.
  • How familiar with the SL client and finding things you’re looking for would you say you are? – most said they felt they are all reasonably familiar.
  • What’s the hardest part about finding friends/activities in SL? – responses varied from simply finding other who are willing to engage in conversation through to the rate at which many social spots can be opened and closed (and the reasons for this, which flowed between tier costs and the sheer amount of work involved in day-to-day running of a venue); timezones.

In Brief

  • [Video 36:06-37:10] BUG-226218 “Ability refund purchases but disallow redelivery on Marketplace” – a feature request that has been accepted for consideration.