Welt am Draht, the 13th Floor and Second Life

Saw a triple-header last night with some friends - both parts of Welt am Draht, a 1973 made-for-TV science fiction film by the German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder based on the novel Simulacron Three by Daniel F. Galouye and the remake in 1999 of the same novel produced by Roland Emmerich and directed by Josef Rusnak, called The Thirteenth Floor.

Since I was just reading a review of the state of things in Second Life in the c't, (Goldesel Second Life?, 07/07, p. 94ff) and had just re-installed Second Life in order to check things out, I was struck by the parallels. Galouye tells the story of what Linden Labs would like Second Life to be - a parallel universe in which we can manipulate "units" who do not know that they are units in a higher level.

I don't think we will ever get to that position - or are we currently ourselves units in some higher level, unaware that we are not making our decisions ourselves, but are being directed from above? But the questions raised by Galouye and illustrated by Fassbinder and Rusnak are valid - what is reality? Why are we researching into virtual realities? A quote from Welt am Draht: There will always be questions, so there will always be research.

The Fassbinder version is extremely long, slow, painful - but the music lets us know exactly when something strange happens. The camera work, playing with mirrors, is superb. And the memories of the interior decorations, the clothes, and the horrible hairstyles men wore during the 70s makes this a wonderful film.

The Thirteenth Floor goes into a lot more detail on déjà vu and was so disconcerting for me because I always knew exactly what was coming next. I don't remember ever seeing this movie - maybe I saw it on an airplane to the States? I cannot recall, but it is so vividly etched in my mind, perhaps I was acting in it on a higher level and it got streamed down into my reality?

Second Life, btw, is still as boring as the first times I went in. Jerky graphics. Unresponsive system. Ads everywhere. Stupid idiots soliciting you. And without money, nothing fun to do. Luckily, there are plenty of other games around.

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