Linus Torvalds once said that Richard Stallman was the great “philosopher,” and that he was an “engineer”… perhaps Neal Stephenson is the great “architect,” and Philip Rosedale is an “engineer”…
It’s kind of crazy to realize that Neal Stephenson has never been to Second Life. And that Philip is gone, again. God the Father has never even been to our world, and God the Son has left it, twice.
It reminds me a little of the first words from Steven Goldsberry’s epic novel of mythical Hawai’i, Maui: The Demigod:
When the gods of Hawai’i made the first man, they tied four straight sticks together, three long and one short:
Then they threw mud on the sticks and said, “Walk.” The man staggered back and forth on his stiff legs. He had no joints. The gods put a stone on the ground next to their creation and said, “Pick this up.” The man leaned toward the stone but fell over. His arms were as stiff as his legs. The gods righted the man picked up the stone, and placed it in his hand. “Walk around carrying the rock, ” they said. The man obeyed, although the stone fell often and had to be placed in his hand again by the gods. After a long time watching the man the gods said, “This is the best we can do,” and they went ahead and made the entire race.
Then the gods went away.
The people wobbled alone on the earth, bumping and leaning everywhere, unable to pick up even a curling vine from the ground. They became hungry but could not eat. They fell in love but could not hold each other.
Finally one of the stiff men fell over in a way that broke his arm. He liked this. He could move it more freely. He could put food in his mouth. So he fell on the other arm and broke it too. Then he fell again, breaking the arms higher, then lower, then lower again. He had made four joints on each arm: at the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and fingers. He broke his legs in four places: hip, knee, ankle, toes. Then he broke the joints on his brothers and sisters. He slit the webs of skin between their fingers and toes. The people were free to move. The felt loose, like water.
The chanters tell us the name of this man was Maui. Everyone was so grateful to Maui for making life easier the they worshiped him as a god. “I am not a god,” he told them.
The women crowded close and rubbed against him. “You area a demigod then,” they said.
Maui smiled. He held the women in his bending arms. “Yes,” he said, “I am a demigod.”
Neal has never been… and Philip is gone… but through the work of many, many people, like Eloh Eliot, like the entire Phoenix team, like all the teachers at The Brewery and elsewhere, all the peeps answering questions in group chat, all the bloggers, and the many, many other teachers and innovators, we are building a livable world for ourselves. A world where we can pick up vines from the ground, feed ourselves, hold each other, and so much more.