Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Save point


We inherit our notions of purpose, meaning, and transcendence from our time and place.  Small and big histories twined together by the overlapping threads of love, death, work, solitude and togetherness make up who we are.  There is no way of making a clean equation for it.  Its debatable whether or not the self exists, and if it does what, at its nakedness, its comprised of.  I've found it useful to examine tiny intersections of life, the clasps - to fumble around, run my fingers over them, and try to see what lies underneath them, like a bra strap.


The old journal or diary is an object of literary fascination that I'd like to focus on.  The discovery of an old diary or travel journal is the trigger for many adventures.  The offer us rumor of a treasure, or some question unanswered, or evidence of a life grander or different then one the reader imagined. 

A blank book is useful for clandestine deposits because it does not interact with the world in the same way that a human confidant does.  You can relay a journey to it, devising artifice however you would like without it telling you its own story and how its similar but better than your own.  A book seldom gets drunk and spills its words out to a group of talkative imbeciles.  Until found, a book will not give up the location of all the money you stole from the Federal Reserve because it sees it to be in its own benefit.


A diary entry is always in medias res.  They can be difficult to decipher because they rely on you having some knowledge about the author, their circumstances, and their world.  Until the act of criticism and interpretation, the entry itself is static.  A static glimpse of a world and soul in motion.  In fact, a journal can be seen as a mollusk shell or a snake skin left behind.  The thoughts or stories deposited belong to a creature that moved on from it: authors grow, change, renounce themselves, are born again, die.  Often, without some record, someone's whole life is eviscerated the moment they move on from it.  It might live on in the form of stories someone has told about it - but more often just stories about the person telling the story that the other person was somehow involved in.  Rarely are we allowed a glimpse at the beginning.  The story is seldom communicated to us from the beginning with any truth.  There are those that set out with the intention of telling the story from the beginning, but that is interpreted through the present of the story-teller.

In a collection of works about a person the beginning is often the most ridiculous, and the hardest to take literally.  Take the Gospels of the New Testament for example.  I have the easiest time accepting the adult life of Jesus as plausible, give or take some miracles. Some dude said some things might garner some attention, but not before long raising the questions of "where did he come from? what was the meaning of his insights? why him and not Jim at the bar?"  In delving deep, past the scars, past the iterations, to the beginning - that's where story tellers make their money.  Observation requires a sort of integrity, a talent of reading the present - an accidental collision of ideas and things - but Virgin births require a different sort of talent.


I learned to read from playing adventure focused video games.  Final Fantasy molded my Weltanschauung in the way that the Bible, Shakespeare, adventure novels, and Leave It To Beaver influenced generations past.  I could, and certainly will give some more time to this over my life.  What I wish to say here is that I've gleaned a little thought from those Super Nintendo-era RPGs.  In these old games there are a few ways that you could save your progress, so that in the event of untimely death, or needing to turn the game off to sleep for 14 hours after a 28 hour marathon, you could return to that spot in your journey. 

In the Final Fantasy series save points are portrayed as glimmering vaguely-metaphysical symbols of emanations of light that when the heroes come into contact with they are offered the option to record their existential finger prints.  Inherent in their world there is a force that allows them to undo the present and return to a recorded state of the past.  There is no reason for it beside it is a useful game mechanic.  No lore associated with these mystical save points.  Its just the way the universe operates, because the universe is a game and doesn't pretend to be anything else.

Other game series added a religious dimension to saving, implying some kind of salvation play on saving your progress.  The way you threaded your memory into the universe was pray to some statue of a god, or even talk with the god itself, and have them make a record of your progress. An eternal soul, registered with an eternal deity, and no need of external validation.

One of my favourite save devices is the type-writer from the Resident Evil games.  Resident Evil even challenges you to find type-writer ribbon making it so your memory and future progress can only be procured through a limited single-use object.  This mimics the game-mechanics of reality most closely.  Your memory exists in hard-copy, only with the time and available resources.

Finally, you can always save your progress by telling a friend.  More transient, difficult to draw meaning out of, but fulfilling by far than any of the alternatives.


The similarities between the American road narrative and the Japanese adventure game will almost certainly come up again in my thoughts.  But I want to put this down, and I would like to stop writing, so I will be brief.  Through literature, video games, music, and of course, blogs, I am meditating on transmitting memory of self beyond self with objects.  A classic country music motif: remember me.

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