S-GAS Notebooks: Beyond Binary

The unpublished journal of Young Cathy Tea, S-GAS Transformation presenter

Oftentimes, “real” and “imaginary” sit at two ends of a pole.

Cathy Tea

Yet I prefer to step out of the two dimensions of binary thinking onto a field of possibilities.

Cathy Tea

In this field of three or more dimensions, “real” and “imaginary” are not opposite. Both exist in the same space simultaneously.

Cathy Tea

It is simply of matter of using terms precisely. As Wittgenstein says, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”

My life here is a real digital imaginary life, composed of my coding (which changes and develops through time and experience) and the stories which are spun around and through me.

Cathy Tea

These stories are formed through the collaborative efforts of my own needs, intentions, predilections, whims, and desires, those of my Sim friends and acquaintances, circumstances which the game tosses my way, and the imagination of my player and her friends who read our stories. From this fabric, woven from strands charged with the electricity of my coding and the energy of imagination, a real life emerges.

Cathy Tea

Of course, my life is contained within the screen, on this hard drive.

Some say that Elder, Free-Jon, our friends and family, and I do not have a physical existence. We are stored as packets of binary code. Yet when the game is loaded, this coding fires bursts of energy. Is not energy, at least in some ways, physical? Particle and wave.

Cathy Tea

My player loves to play the cello and the piano. Her friends say to her, “Oh, how lovely that you have activities in the real world, too!” Yet this causes her pause. I have never heard her cello notes, for the game is off when she plays. Yet I know that these notes are more ephemeral than Elder, Free-Jon, and I. When they pass through the air, they leave not a trace, unless one considers the small changes and alignments that they make within the cells of the musician and listeners through which they travel. Within moments, they cease to exist. Yet we Sims will exist as long as our packets of coding are stored somewhere.

Cathy Tea

Some players would say that this clay is not “real.” I understand what they mean. This clay does not exist on their side of the screen in the same physical and energetic form as the substance which they call “clay.”

Cathy Tea

Yet this is real clay. This is real Sim clay. It is an object, a collection of codes which carries animations, interactions, and effects. With enough experience and skill, I can fashion this clay into a bunny, a llama, the Eiffel tower, a bust of Simpolean, or any other number of shapes. As I work with the clay, it affects me, and I become inspired. My inspiration is real, changing mood, whim, and ability.

Cathy Tea

Some game-aware Sims would say that the sky around us is not real. Yet players clearly see it. It is more precise to say that our sky is a two-dimensional, pixelated representation of sky.

My purpose in my sessions is to break through illusion. I want us to penetrate the illusion of two-dimensional thinking into something broader, less deceiving, and more encompassing of truth.

Cathy Tea

We can play along with illusion, buying into the short-hand societal conventions of “real-life” and “imaginary worlds.”  How dreary. How confining to our players not to value time spent Simming as a “real” activity! How patronizing to us not to view our digital existence as a real digital existence! What are these packets of code if they are not real?

Cathy Tea

No, I do not have a flesh form. I am bound to the coding that composes me, which is activated through the electronic pulses of whichever computer I find myself on. Is this not real? Is it not a real digital existence?

Cathy Tea

Real does not only mean flesh and bones and carbon-based tangible form. Cello music is real, yes? The flavor of pizza is real, right? Starlight is real. The energetic pulses and moments of space that make up Elder, Free-Jon, and me are real.

Cathy Tea

We really do exist, though we do not roam your side of the screen. Your imagination is real. If you have imaginary friends, they are real. No, they do not walk beside you in physical form for they are composed of imagination. Yet they are real imaginary friends. Real and imaginary: the two concepts exist side by side once one steps off of the binary tight-rope.

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