Friday, September 28, 2007

Mariner Trilling, Adventurer par Excellence

I have known writers and artists all my life. My own family is glutted with them. I have known writers of bestsellers, famous but impoverished writers, published and unpublished writerss, good and bad writers both.

What defines a writer or artist essentially is the act of writing or creating. The writer who does not write cannot call himself/herself a true writer. The driving need to create is the basic nature of any artist. Talent or genius are worth far less than the incredible almost desperate need to create. There are far too many intellectual dilettantes who fancy that one day in the future, they will bestow the amazing gift of their 'magnus opus' upon the world. (I myself may have been guilty of that delusion.) They are not true artists, nor are they worth the fingernail of an artist who creates NO MATTER WHAT.

Mariner Trilling is a writer who is driven to create, but beyond that, he is driven to communicate. He writes prolifically and then finds ways to publish or otherwise share his work. He is quite amazing really.

In Second Life, there are many artists and writers who never have achieved any degree of fame or notoriety in the 'real world'. In many cases, their work is middling if anything, but the fact remains that they are true artists and writers, sharing a need to create and communicate. (Mariner Trilling actually does not fall into that category. He has a versatile and quite impressive ability, both in terms of the written world and with respect to photography and video.)

For the true artist or writer, Second Life offers an incredible variety of venues. At the moment, there is an Autumn Writers' Exhibition at a place named Cookie.
Mariner Trilling has his own booth there, where he offers samples of his work from BOTH worlds.

It definitely is worth a visit. A short story about SL written by Mariner is included below.

In this world, Mariner Trilling is an expert diver who has achieved a measure of fame and international respect in his field.

You can explore his website at:


For those readers who are familiar with Second Life, the following short story will require no explanation. For those who have little or no knowledge of SL, suffice it to say that the same sort of bigotry that is found in this world exists in SL as well, but there are far more species that can provide 'divisions', snobbery and unacceptance. The primary division is between 'human' and 'non-human'. 'Non-humans' however can be found in every possible form and variety. There are Angels and Demons, every conceivable variety of Elf or other traditional 'mythical' being, Dragons in a myriad of forms, 'tiny' creatures who live their existence in miniature and 'Furries'. 'Furries' are a sort of SL 'race' of creatures who have fur but who, in my view, are more like cartoon animals than real animals. To me, they present a 'cute' appearance which does not make me think of real animals at all, but the Furries I have met have been quite charming, mischievous and creative. There appear to be quite a few troubadours among them for some reason. In any case, I am not the sort of individual who even defines some one in SL by his/her/its physical manifestation. When one can create any sort of form for an avatar and even create multiple avatars, it seems to be absurd that any one would 'judge' another by physical appearance in SL!

In any case, readers who are unfamiliar with SL will need definitions for a couple of terms:

Lindens are standard SL currency, named for the creators of SL, Linden Labs.

'Rez' is the slang term for 'resolution', a necessary step in viewing ANY item, landscape or even avatar. Most objects when acquired appear in Inventory as tiny gold cubes. In order to see the object, one must throw it onto the ground or into the air at a specific location. As objects belong to individuals and cannot be controlled by any one else, many places do not allow individuals to 'rez' objects on the land, as people have been known to be extremely thoughtless, leaving their rubbish on land that belongs to other people. (Many items come in boxes. When the box is emptied, it is only polite for the individual to take the box with him/her, but some people don't do that. This is one of the reasons some areas do not allow the creation or resolution of objects.

'Skins' is a (slightly derogatory) slang term used by furries for humans.

'Oldbie' is a term used for individuals who have been involved in SL for years. I am not quite certain what the precise required amount of 'time served' would be to qualify an individual as an oldbie, but I suspect it is a couple of years at least...

'Prim' is slang for 'primitive object'. Items are made from primitive shapes. The number of shapes that are linked or combined to create any sophisticated item are known as the 'prim count'. Any location in SL can sustain only a specific number of prims at any given time. A further note about prims: There is a flourishing economy in SL that is derived from the sale of items. When an individual purchases an item, powers to change or give away the item can be limited. 'No transfer' means that the item cannot be given to any one else. 'No mod' means that it cannot be modified. 'No copy' means that it cannot be copied. In the story, 'Mariner Trilling's Soul' was not limited to one copy and could be given freely to any number of individuals! Not what one would expect of a soul...

Here then is Mariner Trilling's story, 'The Furry Bar'.


The Furry Bar

I was exploring a region I’d never seen before and saw a group of people on my map. The region was completely empty except for the small tight group. It was an urban area with warehouses, industrial buildings and old offices lining cracked narrow sidewalks. The map showed the gathering was down a dark alley and my curiosity begged an answer as to what was happening at the end of the narrow passage. I followed the alley and found no one, yet the map showed they were very close and slightly below me. A rusty metal staircase led me down from the alley to a basement door. As I approached, I could hear chat going on. People were talking about the latest download bugs, the effect of voice chat and the latest shields. It was all dialog of experienced SL avatars, ‘oldbies’.

The door wasn’t locked so I went in assuming it was a place open to the public. It was a dark, shadowy bar filled with heavily armed furries. The narrow room was decorated with rusty metal street signs and there was an old vending machine stocked with snacks. It was dimly lit with a neon beer sign and a hanging stained glass lamp. When I walked in all the conversation stopped briefly. Many furries are distrustful of ‘skins’ but because I’m not completely human I can usually fit in. After a momentary evaluation, conversation resumed and I blended into the crowd.

I was walking towards the bar when there was a flash of light and my avatar was shoved roughly from behind. I whipped around to find a short furry, a cross between a squirrel and a fox, standing there with a large futuristic rifle that had a wisp of smoke coming from the end of the barrel. 'MARINER TRILLING!' he said dangerously. 'I now have your soul!'

I was relieved to hear that he had only taken my soul. I wasn’t using it and in fact didn’t realize I had a soul. My real fear was that he had attached a fuzzy bunny tail, floppy clown feet or something else that would force to me relog to get rid of. There are many things in SL that can happen to an avatar that are far worse than having one’s soul taken.

'If you want it back you must pay me twenty-five Lindens!' he demanded.

I thought some more, debating how badly I really needed a soul. If I had a soul there would be a lot of implications about how I should live my life but without one, Heaven and Hell were pretty meaningless. Nevertheless, I had never actually seen a soul and wondered what it looked like. Was it fleshy like an organ? Was it a glowing ball of white light? How many prims were in a soul? I had to know.
'I tell you what…' I told the furry. 'I’ll give you five Lindens for it.'

'Hmmm', he pondered. 'OK!' he said, as his sinister countenance dissolved into that of a cute furry animal. 'Five Lindens.'

I paid him five Lindens and he placed an object in my inventory called 'Mariner Trilling’s Soul.'

The bar was a no-rez area so I went to a sandbox to look at my soul. I took it out of my inventory and found that it was cut crystal jar topped by a glass stopper with the words 'Mariner Trilling’s Soul' floating above it. There was some glowing purple stuff inside. I marveled over it for a moment then put it back in my inventory with the rave sticks, Groucho Marx glasses and other freebie stuff. As it turns out, my soul is copiable with full mod rights, so I still had a copy after I gave my soul to my girlfriend. I was trying to be romantic but she thought it was a little creepy.

So now I do know for a fact that I indeed have a soul. I’m not sure what to do with it. The jar it comes in is really nice so I was thinking about dumping it out and using it as a brandy decanter. I might sell copies of my soul to people who don’t have any soul.'


I have posted this short tale here because I feel that it will appeal to ANY reader, even those who are unfamiliar with the world of Second Life. After all, the eternal quandary relating to the purpose and ultimate destination of a human soul is a universal one!

Good luck to you, Mariner and to all the artists and writers of Second Life!