Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dead Plane

Sitting in the dead of night, completely bored, always has a specific edge to it.  Nothing reminds me of my mortality more, and nothing reminds me of the endlessness of life more.  It’s weird how a few months can seem like the blink of an eye, but also make me feel like I’ve been transplanted into another life – like I never experienced the churning seas of the past.

Or maybe it’s that I am becoming more and more emotionally numbed to my own experiences.  While I still approach most things with the same feelings and thoughts, it feels like I don’t even know how to approach myself.  Like I am estranged with my own brain.

Post-traumatic stress, drawn out over years and years, becomes something wholly different.  It feeds into the kind of separation that is more severe, more fluid and more stagnant.

five or six years ago, I would be coked out of my mind right now, or shooting up somewhere with people I barely knew.  Or, I would be tripping my head off with the same three people that I spent nearly every single day with.  While it was so destructive and pointless in a sense, it was the most meaningful and impactful time of my life.  While it decimated me, it also defined me.

But, you get to a point in your life when drugs only mean addiction, when friends only mean other unknowable people, when love means trying to lie to yourself as long as you possibly can.  When once I felt the waves crash against my body, tearing me apart, there was a certain satisfaction in that.  Now, I sit on a cliff, watching the water slowly eat at the bottom of a precipice I’ll never so much as move from.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


It’s amazing to me that the new wave of music is moving to the pre-indie style of unfiltered, pre-processed instrumentation, but without any of the poetry.  Instead of four douchebags learning nu-metal riffs and angsty, self-absorbed, embarrassingly immature lyrics, four douchebags get together and learn how to play like The Pixies or Radiohead or The Violent Femmes, with crappy lyricism and the same musical structure.

When music became so institutionalized that schools were created specifically to build the kinds of bands that were popular in the 2000s, I thought that the impending financial disaster of all these huge labels and production companies was going to foster a return to the –real- indie style.  Instead, they shifted to stealing that style, and even making the idiosyncrasies into a mainstream style.  Every song is still about the same subjects, the same gimmicks and the same teenage-esque philosophies.  “Mainstream” will always look to keep its base in a perpetual state of adolescence.

And now, that mainstream base thinks that they are the underground edge of culture.  The long-banged, off-angle camera poses have become iconic of everything wrong with every generation, but even more insidious.  Self-conscious self-absorption.  Because the individual is so worthy of being the center of the universe, even when every other facet of society is crumbling and degenerating into primal violence, The Corporate Individual still ravages creativity on the larger scale.

That’s all I can think of whenever I see some “indie” or “electronica” or “super-cool unknown” band that is obviously just trying to get into the mainstream.  I think that the idea of culture is such a joke, now, that it makes me wonder how small the percentage is of people who genuinely care about creating real humanist art, and not just peering off to the side, far away enough to show that they aren’t interested, but close enough to lock everyone that’s watching them in their periphery.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ludens Is a Cough Drop.

One of the first things I learned about writing was that if you can’t write, if you feel stilted and blocked, then write about feeling stilted and blocked.  Another is that writing is like a muscle that atrophies five-hundred times more quickly.

I’ve been reading an argument about ‘Ludonarrative Dissonance” in games, and since I had never heard of the term before, it was pretty interesting.  I’m amazed at how much a single game has helped push forward critical thinking about games.  I thought Bioshock was stupid the first time I saw it.  But, that was also in an apartment watching someone on an XBox, completely wigged on coke.

In the first few pages of “Beyond Good and Evil”, Nietzsche taught me the most important lesson of my life.  Everything that has ever been written was written by a person with their own mind, their own thoughts and prejudices, their own opinions.  This colors everything, almost always unintentionally.

This is why I hate people who reject the notion that games can be art.  If they believe this, then games really can’t be art; in their minds, at least.  But to the people who believe otherwise, and who actively develop their skills in making games that art artistic in different levels, they are.  That is the end of the argument.

Then there are the people who try to put a ceiling bracket on discussion, declaring this or that to impose their own boundaries.  This specifically comes into view with the term, ‘ludonarrative dissonance’, because I guess it’s kind of a buzz-word now, and people like to use it to sound smart sometimes.  But this doesn’t mean it isn’t a real term.

But, when someone tries to put a subject in their own box, and decry anyone who says that there is more to it than they think, it makes me think of amateur philosophers who think they understand Nietzsche because they heard he influenced the Nazis and was in love with his sister.  To me, it’s laughable and ironic.

So some idiot says something like, “Gameplay and story are the same thing because games have been around since the dawn of time and have always been used as a means to convey story”.  It was written better than that, but that’s what I got from it.  Therefore, something like ludonarrative dissonance isn’t a real thing, because narrative can’t conceptually go against gameplay, because narrative –is- gameplay.

Well, I’m willing to be that the ancient romans didn’t write plays in which the actors played “throw the rock” while the narrator told a story.  To say that gameplay and narrative are the same thing is like saying that, in a movie, cinematography and narrative are the same.  It’s just not true.  They compliment each other in fundamental ways, but they are not the same.  There is a sense of cinematic narration, as there is a sense of ludonic (gameplay) narration.  But they are not the exact same thing.

The word was kind of pieced together to describe something that someone observed about Bioshock.  And I thought it was a good point.  But even if there weren’t Bioshock, and weren’t ‘ludonarrative’, there would still be a small fissure between narration and gameplay.  They simply are not the same thing.

In a game, I am playing an actor in a story.  While the game’s narrative slowly paces on with me, I am not ‘playing’ the narration.  I am experiencing it through the actions of the actor.  Just as in a book, a story’s narrative and its writing style are two separate things; just because they are inextricably intertwined does not mean they are one.  And, if someone wrote a novel that had a writing style that seemed to contradict the essence or spirit of the narrative, I would say it suffered from… scriptonarrative dissonance?  or something like that.

But it really bothers me when people try to say that you can’t progress further in analyzing something because it isn’t there.  It happens all the time in philosophy, and that is why a lot of people don’t understand philosophy properly.  They think there are right answers and wrong answers, and there is a level where you cannot reach another ‘meta’.  But that is wrong, and only shows the person’s lack of understanding in the depth of a medium.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


It never takes much to slip past the border that every person holds on to for support, for stability.  I think that most people must have a brain structure formed around keeping it close.  It must be some requisite of developing, something hard-wired into them.  How else could so many people do something so effortlessly, yet so integral to society.  And the defects, their defects are what ends up mattering.

It’s dematurating to be a part of that skewed crop.  it’s demoralizing to try to keep from realizing that that’s just an excuse.

I don’t need to excise, but to exorcise.