Aphorisms XXI

Nothing on this earth scares me more than the past that we have forgotten. Accepting that past is like a particularly sneaky part of accepting mortality.

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You can play a game as a past-time, like I would dabble in chess, or enjoy a board game. But then there’s playing a competitive game in such a way that it starts to shape your mind, quieten other pathways, reinforce and enlarge or complicate the shape that develops and queries the game-problems. You lose the spark associated with other parts of your life, you dream about the game. You shrink. To play a game well, it almost demands this total dedication in a race to the bottom amongst those who play it. It drains that elusive, bare kind of joyful ‘fun’ out of the game, leaving yourself with just angry bemusal when you fail – how can I put so much into something only to fail? You play to say ‘yes, yes, I behaved adequately there.’ Not to say, I had a great time. Or the great time becomes that crunchy moment when your team manages to overcome the adequate challenge. No wonder people fall into toxicity where hate drives their performance. There are entire ethics around competition in the Olympics, and a culture of admiration of the athlete. Videogames lack this, and the moments of humour are all that serve to outweigh the hate speech that infuses all the higher ranks of performance.

Game design tries to encourage this intense engagement, as determined by the capitalist drive to squeeze the player base and keep them playing. But there are signs of a better ethic somewhere. The anonymous player is harder to tame than the cultural agent engaged in a sport or IRL game. But with online community and ‘community engagement’ there is a better world to come.

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My generation and the next have as a moral duty the surpassing of life as it is now, with environmental collapse as a condition. In an ideal world we will look back on our childhoods and say – we did well to destroy that.

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Belief in a kind of incredulous spirituality is sometimes an indulgence. I sense it in the surreptitious people who buy dog-eared penguin Arkana books from the seventies.

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You know if the perspective in a picture is good, if you turn it upside down and it gives you vertigo.

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How are horror games relaxing? Because it’s better to be scared of something that’s not real.

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You don’t have to use peculiar words to have peculiar thoughts.

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A poem is a song that’s meant to be spoken. Or an essay that’s meant to be sung.

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The concern with building the concept of the ‘speaker of the poem’ must be bound up with the feeling of – but I could never have said this, or I would not say this thing. But often, I was speaking, myself, in making the poem. I am happy for it to be said by me. If I read a poem to you, but you don’t know that I’m reading a poem, it would be strange for you to think it wasn’t me who was talking, or that the words weren’t mine. Yes the context always does it’s work, but it’s not as simple as getting rid of authority through affirmations.

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Anyone can write worthwhile writing, no matter what profession they have. All of us write so much these days, almost all day every day.

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If the right were to get their way, they would have to pick another, even more constrained society to head towards, like a puritan race to the bottom. All the while feeling manically unfulfilled, or engaging in psychopathic conspicuous consumption.

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Travelling through liminal spaces helps you sense the massive work it requires to maintain a built space, structuring it in its conventions.

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All artists practice multiple arts, but only some can or want to practice more than one, or are considered important or marketable in each.

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In inception, the hall of old people plugged into their dream machines. Videogames have more than a little of this. I find it easier to deal with life, when I just have to consider the circumscribed problems of the game, have it sculpt my mind, away from anxiety. As soon as the game stops for a period, the anxiety returns. I assume this is the same for any quasi-addictive experience.

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Liberalism, in a base sense, favours those with means and position. This is why it sometimes abets the right wing’s political goals. This is also why it is adopted by some enlightened souls in the upper classes. Not too much disturbance, please. But we are both free to own as many cars as we like, said the millionaire to the wage slave.

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