The Endless Shuffle

Here’s one more old piece. It will likely be the last transferred from my other blog. You may have already read it. If so, disregard.

I realize that I am gifted with the ability to sound like I know what I’m talking about, when in truth I do not.

Here are some things you don’t know:

I am suffering from corneal neovascularization. It sounds terrible, but it is not. This means I’ve been wearing my contacts too much and for extended amounts of time. I don’t sleep in them, but for the past several months I have been staying up rather late on the weekends playing Mass Effect, or Skyrim, or The Old Republic.

Gamer? Yes. Reader? Yes. Musician? Well … like I have time to play music. The Olympics are on!

My life was once a series of habitual pinball-frantic jaunts between each of my creative pursuits plus a lot of drama in between. Imagine playing pinball with the glass removed and a continual flood of Guinness, Scotch, and Camel Turkish Silver butts being poured and dumped on the gaming surface.

While I thoroughly enjoyed that time in my life, I’ve slowly removed myself from the hazy miasma of the bar. I feel I gathered enough data on the human species to fill the Library of Alexandria at its peak. In truth, I was teetering towards a serious “ism”.

I don’t regret it. It’s what gonzo journalism is all about: get in the toilet, be the turd, feel the flush. I’m not saying the pub scene is a hellish wasteland of filth and depravity – I have met a goodly number of amazing people in the embrace of the local public house. I happen to think you find poor artists that are good people at coffee houses, but the only place to find really great artists is at a place that smacks of hedonism. The problem there is that in those places, the really great artists are usually terrible people.

I use “terrible” in the naval sense here. There are about twenty-four ships in French and British history named “Terrible”, and though these days we think “terrible” and conjure up with it visions of evil things, there is an application of the adjective that means “to inspire terror or awe”. I strive to be a terrible person.

“Who is that man?” people will ask about me.

“That is the jabberw00kie,” they will say.

“By the gods, isn’t he terrible!”

And I am.

So, neovascularization  – vis-a-vis, a-one-two-three, tee-hee-hee, eric the half-a-bee – I now have a new pair of glasses and I feel “terrible”.

I wrote my first serious novel at age 10. It was titled “Hans and the Cyclops”. Hans was my first attempt at character creation. He was plump, yellow and wore a Errol Flynn-style Robin Hood hat. He had a sister named Francis who was blue.

I wrote several short pieces depicting the adventures of Hans, but only seriously approached writing a Hans novel when my Sharpened Thinking and Reasoning instructor challenged me to do so. In the 12-page illustrated piece, Hans is suffering from a “terrible” sickness. His sister Francis is the only person that is around to tend to him, but unfortunately, the only cure to Hans’s sickness is the tear of a cyclops.

Francis sets out for the lair of the cyclops and arrives to find the “terrible” beast asleep. In her attempt to approach the creature stealthily, she inadvertently wakes it. In a fit of desperation, Francis throws a rock into the cyclopean eye and is successful in not only drawing forth a tear, but catching it on the fly. Racing back to her home, she cures Hans and all is well.

Now that I think of it, it’s one of the few times I’ve written a female lead hero. I even went so far to indicate at the end of the book that Hans would never have been able to perform if placed in the same position. Hans, a hero by account in previous tales, was deathly afraid of the cyclops.

I find it difficult to write the female lead, but even more difficult to roleplay the female toon. Sure I played around with female blood elves in WoW, and maybe even in some chatroom RP, but I challenge you to ever find proof.

I am about to embark upon the entire Mass Effect trilogy a second time as a renegade female Shepard. If you have not played or witnessed Mass Effect, I submit it to you as the future of entertainment. At some point in the future, video games and movies WILL merge into one form of entertainment – virtual reality.

It seems sci-fi to the modern age, but not because of any technological hurdles. The technology is already here – our culture’s ability to appreciate and understand it is not. Consider reality television. We prefer to live vicariously through the inept social undulations of celebrity.

Let us consider the Lesser Divide of our global culture. There are those who see video games as a viable extension of the pursuit of increased mental dexterity, and those who don’t. There are those that play games for the achievement of dominance, and there are those that exist in those virtual worlds as avatars of the future human. Both initiatives are necessary – but only one is a force of creation.

This Lesser Divide is found in every culture, but I’m specifically turning your attention towards what I suppose you could call “Geek Culture”. I’ll now wax philosophically by bludgeoning you with a muddled sci-fi treatise on the Lesser Divide that inappropriately compares the incongruous heroics of Herbert’s Tyrant, Leto II, with Card’s Ender Wiggin:

There is the Ender-type geek, and there is the Tyrant-type geek,  Ender Geeks are aggressive and though typically physically docile creatures, they are “terrible” warriors of the mind. Berserker fanatics of the intellectual elite, Ender geeks will crush you at chess, and own your scrotum in the virtual universes of online gaming. They are in it to win it, but don’t realize (typically) that they are impeding the progress of the species just as devastatingly as a power-hungry politician or a greedy corporation. They are fierce competitors and, more often than not, fall to the dark side of geekdom. They seek to be the best, and typically are.

Look for Ender Geeks to play Call of Duty and other first-person shooters, and to be the MMO junkies you love to hate.

Then there is the Tyrant Geek. Though the label sounds more power-hungry than the former, be aware that Leto II’s ignominious posthumous moniker is a reflection on the rest of humanity’s ignorance as to what the Tyrant actually did.

Typically, you’ll find the Tyrant Geek to be a hybrid of the deeply intelligent logician and the expansively creative visionary. They are the thinkers and planners of the gaming community. You won’t find them in a first-person shooter unless they are fully enacting the personalities of their created characters. For a Tyrant Geek, the virtual world is an arena for full immersion. They vehemently eschew pre-made characters, linear mission progression, enclosed storylines, and games that have End Credits. They are “terrible” indeed, but you must separate them from the Ender Geeks in that their supreme goal is to have been true to their own creative impulses, which may or may not be total dominance.

A Tyrant Geek is the gamer who bemoans the direction video games are taking away from the massive and towards the miniature. He wants to play 13 seasons of NHL 12. He never runs in GTA, unless he’s running from someone. You can find him pompously pacing in the Pig ‘n Whistle pretending to prefer the perpetually private penetralia, when really he desperately wants someone to seduce into his masterpiece Golden Path of a roleplaying epic, but won’t step out of character to engage in conversation.

The Tyrant Geek is a world builder, a roleplayer, a dungeon master, a god emperor, where the Ender Geek is the epic hero, bent on the achievements and glory of conquest, conflict, and competition.

In a future where creativity is valued over the ability to manipulate and generate wealth and power, the Ender Geek will be the hero of the Transcendent Human Race, where the Tyrant Geeks will be the strategists. A Lu Bu to the Zhuge Liang.

I was ridiculed recently for suggesting that the Apple path of technology is the path to stagnation. What good is your technology if you have no grasp of how to manipulate it? What frontiers can you breach when your technology is proprietary and non-customizable? What pinnacles can the human race reach when the cutting edge of technology is only as sharp as profit will allow?

However, at this juncture, there is no alternative. Apple is a House Richese in the absence of Ix. Thou SHALL make a machine in the likeness of a human mind – open and infinite, free and interminable, adaptable, customizable – not capable of yearly obsolescence.  Speak thou ill of Apple? VERILY I DO! MAY THOU BE CONSUMED BY THE WIRES THAT MADE THEE!

Palpatine was a Tyrant Geek. Follow that pop culture tendril, oh frantic one.

And still, I long for the leporine aspect of professional manufacture.

My girlfriend makes me play video games. To her, it is like watching a movie. She loved Mass Effect. I played the generic John Shepard Soldier and chose the synthetic/organic hybrid path … of course I did, haven’t you been reading this post? Sometime soon, maybe this week, I’ll start the fem-shep renegade path for her and ride me some Garrus. Skyrim is just massive enough for a Tyrant Geek like myself. I finally caved into the quest to see the Greybeards, but i finally justified it through my Wood Elf’s natural curiosity. I still refuse to ride a horse and my feet are tired.

We cannot defeat the power that the new social medium is giving to the Plasticene Auton of the masses, a giant monstrosity of conformist drones under a skin of thin technology. Therefore, we must create its antithesis. With the combined might of the geek collective and the artists of the world, we can build the Epic Human – a juggernaut of technological triumph encased and driven by the infinite creativity of the most intelligent of the human race.

Let the writers, the painters, the musicians, the sculptors, the creators be those of us who are elevated to positions of influence. I put it to you that only this future is the Golden Path.

And my dog smells.

How does he smell?

With his nose.

What a “terrible” variation on a old joke.

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