Trip Downunder Sept 07 – Entry 6: The Real, the Virtual, and the Surreal

Me at Bag End
So I spent the beginning of the week in Auckland, mostly in my hotel room, cooking for myself, and preparing a Keynote presentation on my Mac to deliver to an audience of academics and web professionals at Auckland University for [CODE], the Centre of Digital Enterprise, who organised the Seminar, on Tuesday evening. My presentation, based on a chapter I have written in a forthcoming book to be published this Autumn, is entitled “Virtuality: Time, Space, Consciousness and a Second Life”. Essentially it’s about reality and virtuality not necessarily being that different, or as opposed as one might at first think, particularly from an experiential
point of view.

The seminar went very well, and I was well received, and have made some interesting contacts at Auckland.

Then today I drove south to Rotaroa, arriving in the evening after a long day’s driving and two rather interesting stopovers. The first was the Waitamo Caves – the Ruaraki cave to be precise – where I discovered that the glow worms are not actually worms but maggots, and what glows is not actually them but their faesces. So “glowing maggot shit” doesn’t sound as good as “glow worm” in the tourist books. The stalagtites and mites however were fairly impressive, though not as impressive as ones I have seen on the south coast of Spain.

Then I went to Hobbiton. Yes, really. To the set used by Jackson to film the sequences in the Lord of the Rings movie that take place in Hobbiton. Really quite an experience. I was struck by the fact that Hobbiton, as a virtual place that has never existed, exists with such power in the imaginary through Jackson’s films, yet the ‘real’ place is just a tired sham, a mock-up facade of seeming with no substance but what our memory of the movie can give it. The virtual, in short, more real than the real, in this case. How apt.




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