Game On

So… this here article touches on something pretty close to my heart:

Coming out as a gamer still turns you into a social n00b | Game theory | Jack Arnott | Technology | The Guardian.

About once a month I have a conversation go on a rant, usually with at my wife as she’ll listen to me without backing away, about how I find there to be a very clear hypocrisy, that goes hand in hand with an adult view of “play” not being for, well, adults.

The conversation rant is essentially this:

People seem to allow for, say, a Giants fan to not go out on the day/night of a game because of said game. Or a Pats fan. Or a Celtics fan. Or whatever.

Vacations may be scheduled around golf. Or whatnot.

But if you want to spend a few hours of your off time say, playing a video game or WORSE, playing an RPG, you are a bit freakish.

And I just don’t get it. I mean, I get it. I get the thinking (wrongheaded) that leads to that. Pretend is for children, adults are about the real world, etc etc. But I guess… hm… I guess the revolution is just to slow and late for me.

Because here’s the deal, darlings – play is how you figure shit out. Social shit. Science shit. Politics shit. Financial shit. All that shit. It’s how we learn without actually getting killed, bankrupted, burnt, fired, gouged, dissed, or hurt badly.

UPDATE: Ok. that’s not a conversation, it’s a rant… I get it…

Xanadu

Catching up on my reading after vaca, reading Coding Horror :: The Xanadu Dream reminded me it’s time for my yearly re-reading of:

Wired Mags 1995 article..

Truly this, and the book Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software are two of my favorite non-techie non-fiction reads about software.

This is the Modern World

A presentation from Webstock via O’Reilly Radar:

The Demon-Haunted World.

Delving into the networked, invisible environment we live in, and increasingly REALLY live in, as in, it isn’t a layer upon the world, but the water in which we swim.

Why am I writing about this?:

  1. Blogjects!
  2. Introduced me to the Archigrams group.
  3. Fascinated with psychogeography, and the Situationist’s in general.
  4. Has a reference to ‘walking cities’, which is previsioned IN PASSING in Hodgman’s The Night Lands
  5. Reading a pot-boiler called Daemon right now that dovetails nicely with this… but in a less benign way.

Dirty TED

I’ll admit I have a particularly New England reaction to the TED conference, some kind of self-satisfied but silent disapproval of the idea of a conference of special people all listening and applauding each other.

And I feel I should be invited, because I’m a genius.

But more imporantly, no one told me Mike Rowe was speaking* there, damnit:

Mike Rowe celebrates dirty jobs | Video on TED.com.

* About castrating lambs, and unintended consequences. And castrating lambs with your teeth.

Why am I writing this:
Mostly because I’m jealous of TED attendees… seem to move in a different circle from the rest of us. I worry if I miss a day of work that something’s going to get fubar… the cemeteries are full of irreplaceable men and all that notwithstanding. And because I actually think Mike Rowe belongs talking there — because even though he’s a tourist, he’s a tourist who’s willing to eat the local delicacy and drink the water and get, well, duh, dirty.

Jeepers Creepers

In high school we learned about Ypres. Heard of it? (One thing that I’ll say for my small town high school — we got EXCELLENT educations, probably the equivalent of what most people walk away from liberal arts colleges with. Don’t know why we had such a density of fantastic teachers in a little, dry town… but we did and thank god for that) Anyhow, Ypres.

In World War I Ypres stood between the Germans and France. First the allies (just about everyone) took it back from the Germans. Then the Germans used gas. First time. Chlorine and mustard. The third battle ended with half a million dead, a destroyed town, and a couple of miles gained by the allies.

When people talk about WWI and the horror it brought home to the modern world, the shell shocked and disillusioned decade it ushered in, this is the kind of thing they’re talking about.

Sometime in April of 1918 a British soldier named William Hope Hodgson was killed by an artillery shell at Ypres.

The irony is astounding.

Hodgson, (read about him on Wikipedia), in addition to having been a mate, a sailor, an early proponent of “Physical Culture”, photographer and philatelist was an author of, among other things, spooky stories.

I highly recommend checking out his freely available works. The Boats of the “Glen Carrig”, if you can get past the diction, bears reading. Seriously, why isn’t this a movie? He has a firm hand of the uncanny. But all this is beside my point.

Hodgson might be most renowned for 2 works, both of which were influential on H.P. Lovecraft, The House on the Borderland and The Night Land, and through Lovecraft, pretty much every other spooky story writer you’ve ever heard of, movie you’ve seen or show you watched.

I just read The Night Land, and that’s where I find the irony of Hodgson’s death rich. In a nutshell, the story is about a man in the 17th who falls in true love, his love dies, and he has a vision of sorts of the last humans living millions of years in the future in a giant pyramid amidst darkness (sun’s gone out, you see) and strange giant creatures and whatnot. Really crazy stuff. BUT – here’s what I love. It’s not pessimistic. Consistently, the narrator addresses the fact that it might seem weird to us but everything is just the way it is for these far distant humans. They have not problem living in the middle of a blighted earth surrounded by ab-humans and communicating telepathically. That’s just life.

So there’s the irony. This guy, envisioning the millions of years hence lonely heat death of the earth and the last humans thinks “Hey, maybe they won’t find it so bad.” Then he re-ups as a soldier and gets killed in one of the most terrible fronts of WWI. He didn’t even have time to imagine that humans might take care of themselves well before the sun burnt out, or if he did he didn’t set it to paper.

Why am I writing this?: I’m circling in on something. Hodgson was writing fiction, the Night Land and House on the Borderland in particular, that wasn’t afraid to think big. And people read it. I mean, this stuff is out there, and yeah, the Night Land reads like a veiled, vaguely S&M, completely suppressed sexual fantasy (completely chaste, but every word in the second half feels like it’s carrying some kind of late-Victorian tension) as the protagonist and his true love make their way through the darkness, BUT — like Olaf Stapledon he’s thinking OUT and UP. And I think that’s worth thinking about now, where we’re so vested in the immediate, in the span of our own days not the bigger picture.