Monday, August 30, 2004

China Girl is yet more proof that there's some simply wonderful about life. Don't think me insane, gentle reader.
I get the feeling that I ought to become more serious more often. Why? Because I'm turning into the boy who cried wolf. I suppose I use humour as a defense mechanism; but how defensive can you get?! Now it appears that most people rarely believe me if I say anything serious. In the moments that I realize this, I feel really small and insignificant, for a multitude of reasons, prime among them being the fact that someone else can never really know what you're like. This may seem tangential, but bear with me. See, the problem is that one can make deductions about another's thoughts, but I doubt that it is ever possible to do so with certainty. 'Twould seem that with people like me, who seem to suffer from violent mood and behavioural swings, such a thing is not good, because trying to convince someone that you suddenly want to be serious is all but impossible. And it leaves us helpless, helpless, helpless, helpless, ...

The issue here is that things would be so much simpler if others could see what I am thinking. Sounds kinda crazy, doesn't it? I suppose in essence I want the removal of all forms of verbal communication. If I were more of a trekkie, I would go all 7-of-9 on you and say something like "It is an inefficient use of one's time", but nah, forget that. I'm just wistfully thinking what it would be like in such a world. This is yet another time when it would be nice if people could look behind the mask and see what I really think, for then I wouldn't have to go to all the trouble of explaining myself. Having said that, I do enjoy this laborious yet ultimately pointless venture.

I wish now that I had made this blog anonymously. For without anonymity, can one truly confess everything? I think not. On the other hand, 'twould leave me with no readership. But what is the importance of that, really? Virtually none in my case, because I post nothing that engages or demands the reader, nothing that would benefit from comments. Not that I am dismissing you as worthless, gentle reader; it's just that I think it's all just ego-stroking for me.

But as to anonymity. There are things I would never write about anyway, be it under my name or under the clouds of an anonymous blog. Yet there are also other things which would definitely benefit from no-one knowing just who in blazes I am. Ah, quite a quandry I seem to have gotten myself into, eh? I'm not going to make a second "private" blog as some people like to do, no sir! I'm know there's an answer somewhere, I just have to find it.

Continuing from yesterday's theme, right now I wonder why it should be impossible that I am all-powerful (laws of physics and common sense aside, mind you).

Sometime has irritated me for a while now. There is a column at the back of The Syndey Morning Herald, called "The Heckler", where readers are invited to write about something that "makes your blood boil". It seems that 90% of the people who write in have this strange sense of humour that I find slightly cliched and somewhat ridiculous after a point. It's one of those intangible things that I can't quite explain - oh sure, I could analyze it and notice the juxtaposition of non-sequitur with abrupt paragraph ends and what have you, but I prefer to live my life in literary ignorance. Suffice to say, most people seem obliged to make their writing humorous, and this brand of humour is funny, but only in small doses, and I think it's loooong past it's expiration date!

Incidentally, I was reminded of this just now because I made a "joke" that fit into this pattern.

Since I seem to be throwing out references like nobody's business, I may as well point out that there's a Beach Boys reference in this post. As in, a line from one of their songs buried in one of the cryptic sentences. Happy hunting!

Sunday, August 29, 2004

A few days ago, I mentioned that it was amazing to be alive. Now I have much the same feeling. Only now it's different. I feel, dare I say it, God-like. As though I could do anything I wanted to. I suppose we all can, but actually feeling this way is remarkable, to say the very, very least.

You might wonder how one can feel like this but keep asserting one's failure. What can I say, I'm a marvel of nature. As my good friend Lou Reed put it,

"Yes, I am mother nature's son,
And I'm the only one,
I do what I want, and I want what I see
Huh, could only happen to me

It takes a special kind of genius to figure out what exactly I mean.

I am reminded of the bit in Ultima 8 where (SPOILER) you become the Titan of Ether, but you are merely greeted with the wonderfully subtle caption "You suddenly feel very powerful...". Ahh I love stuff like that.

Originally, this post was intended as a throwaway, but now see how miraculously it has transformed itself into one of the best entries of recent memory.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

I think Norm McDonald is under-appreciated. Maybe it's just me?

"Our top story tonight comes from the O.J. Simpson civil trial, where this week it was revealed that in his first interview with police, Simpson had refused to take a lie detector test. His reason -- it detects lies."

"The FDA has approved a drug used for anti-depression to help people quit smoking cigarettes. Although it should be noted, the drug is crack."

I seem to be one of the only people who finds his stuff funny!

Friday, August 27, 2004

A terrible paraphrasing of a Simpsons moment I found hilarious:

Lisa: Lenny and Carl? You're Buddhists?
Carl: Yeah, if I didn't have inner peace, I'd go psycho on all of you!
Lenny: (gasp) Richard Gere! The world's most famous Buddhist!
Carl: What about the Dalai Lama?
Lenny: Who's the Dalai Lama?
Carl: You know, the 14th Reincarnation of Buddha?
Lenny: Who's Buddha?

Unfortunately, I've botched it totally, but alas, I can't remember exactly how it goes. My memory ain't what it used to be, that's for sure! Rather curiously, I wasn't able to find a script for the episode on the net. I guess I didn't look hard enough.
Sometimes, things are so ridiculous that I feel the people behind them must have taken Mohammed's Radio too far.

This post was a shameless attempt to squeeze in the most obscure reference to something ever. I wonder if there is anyone in the entire world who can figure out what I mean. Hmm.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

On another serene trip home, I had the pleasure of experiencing my mind leaving my body. Not an out of body experience, mind you - the mere prospect of something that dramatic is frightening (perhaps second only to lucid dreaming). No, what I experienced was, for a few minutes, the complete dissocation between body and mind - as though I was existing in the purest sense of the word, with my mind opening up to the endless possibilities of imagination.

Naturally, I was not conscious of this at the time. I don't know that it is possible to reach such a state and be aware of it. I am reminded of how an old teacher talked about Zen to me. He gave the example of "The man shoots the target" being transformed into "Shooting happens". It's hard to condense the feelings this conveys - indeed, I am not blessed with the gift of insight and expression, but it is no big disappointment. Although I may not be able to convey the euphoria to you, gentle reader, 'tis a feeling that I can somehow capture perfectly without thinking too much about what it is exactly. And isn't that what it's all really about?

It sort of gave me the feeling that this body of ours really is a shell, but a shell that houses something that perhaps very few of us can comprehend. It is something greater than this mass of neurons and electrical impulses, for one. Some of you may be familiar with a Japanese movie called Ghost In The Shell. I haven't seen it, nor do I have the foggiest idea what it's about, but I was, funnily enough, reminded of its title when pondering such matters. Perhaps the ghost is our soul, although I wonder what symbolism lies beneath such an association.

Would we be all-powerful were we not restricted by our body? Does such talk even make such sense? I fear not, and so I shall stop rambling.

All this talk of body-mind dissociations reminds of a Grateful Dead song title, Mud Love Buddy Jam (a cute play on "Your Mind Has Left Your Body Jam"). I still remember those summer afternoons I spent reading endless amounts of track listings over and over, for no real reason. I suppose it gave me something to do, and again, irrational though it may be, I enjoyed it. Life's strange that way, isn't it?

I mentioned earlier that I felt like doing something life-changing. Of course, such things are not feasible unless carried out in baby steps. I think I shall try something different this week, although I'm not exactly sure what. I suppose essentially my goal is to do something out of the ordinary, to break the routines that I've so firmly set up for myself. I normally love order and precision, but perhaps there is value in going against them (once in a while, of course). I fear that otherwise my life is heading for a supremely sedantry path, a path that I am not sure that I really want to go down. Or, at least, not while I still have the ability to choose not to walk down it.

Is there inherent value in change? Does such a question make sense in the first place? I suppose it's too broad to be really answered, but I wonder whether I yearn for this change simply for change's sake, and whether this talk of a "sedentary life" is just me trying to kid myself. It's often amusing to try to figure out this little dilemmas I create, but right now I just feel like screeeeaming!
After watching a true God among programmers do his stuff today, I became somewhat interested again in working on my music catalogue program. The trouble is, as you may recall, that All Music Guide have completely redesigned they site, thereby yielding a lot of my inelegant code even more useless. This means that I will yet again be forced to try and figure out some patterns to the HTML that's behind each of their pages, which is oh-so-ugly. Ah, the perils of programming.

The new AMG site is actually being nearly universally criticized for being a great example of poor design. I must confess, I don't think it's all that bad, but apparently they've fixed a lot of things now, and previously it used to be much worse. They seem to still be using the old amg.dll, and in fact the URLs have become seemingly even more obscure. Heavens to mergatroid, whatever shall I do?! I can't imagine giving up on the program, not after seeing how far I can take it! In fact, the state it is in now is great on the surface, but it's the internals that really bug me (Freudian slip? There probably are a fair few bugs lurking underneath).

I find myself trudging through most of the day, for it would seem that I really need more sleep. I think dropping out of uni would prove to be the best option.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

I've found this site [RPG Codex] that has lots of news stories on new computer RPGs, and discussions about them and what have you. Very nerdy stuff indeed! What's interesting is that there is a deep-seated hatred of Bioware, especially of Neverwinter Nights, which is one of their more famous and acclaimed games of the past few years. I went in expecting to find lots of pleasant praise of Baldur's Gate, but imagine my shock when what I found was lots of diatribe! There are lots of posts about some site naming game X "one of the best RPGs ever", followed by a snide remark about how moronic the author of the quote is.

I suppose it is frequented by purists, who are interested in the role in role-playing, and if anything it has made me re-evaluate some of the RPGs I've played, and I must concede some of their points are valid. I now accept that perhaps some of the RPGs I've loved are perhaps not great examples of "true" RPGs, in that the role-playing element is maybe not exploited to the fullest, but I'd like to think they're great examples of games. The distinction does not particularly bother me, but then again I'm not really into gaming (or role-playing, for that matter) and so it would be foolish to dismiss the site's complaints. One is perhaps tempted to point their anger as squarely stemming from a sense of jealousy or resentment due to the success that Bioware games have received, but I don't believe that would altogether capture the picture (perhaps I am too naive?). No, I think they do have valid points..having said that, there's something that makes me angry too.

I hate smug, elitist, snide comments. What I mean is, snide comments made by an elitist/purist who is smug in their view that they are better than someone else. I speak from experience. I am a prime discriminator on the basis of musical taste, and there was a period a few years ago when I was smug in the delusion that my tastes were better than everyone else's, and loved coming up with denouncements (in my head, never out loud!) of fans of any artist I considered inferior. I bring this up because I see a flood of such comments in the site; then again, maybe I see this because I don't like conceding they are right without salvaging onto something? I can excuse the occasional one, but after a point it really gets on my nerves.

The fact that their attitude irks me may not be altogether interesting to you, but it's interesting to me, and like I mentioned before, this blog is primarily for me!

Incidentally, this is post #200. Here's to another 200 posts that make no sense!
I'm in the sort of mood where I feel like making life-changing decisions. Actually, not just decisions, but actions. Odds are, of course, that none of them will ever come to light, but I suppose that's the story of my life.

I'm always in the mood for remembering songs (kudos to any remarkable soul who can tell me the song name that's hiding in the previous paragraph!). I suppose now is as good time as any to reflect on some Bruce Springsteen:

I get up in the evening, and I ain’t got nothing to say
I come home in the morning, I go to bed feeling the same way
I check myself out in the mirror I wanna change my clothes my hair my face

A bit close to home, that one. Lately I haven't been too happy with a lot of things, but I won't bore you with them because, quite frankly, I'm not particularly happy at the direction this blog is taking. I seem to be talking too much about what happens in my personal life, which happens to be most uninteresting and not to mention most unsatisfying. I yearn for the holidays, where I was able to have pseudo-coherent and intelligent thoughts about various subjects that were, if nothing else, interesting (well, to me anyway).

I sometimes think that this blog is very much a selfish creation, in that I am only concerned with what I find interesting, and give no heed to what others think of the material. Is that a problem? Considering the decidedly low readership, probably not, but I don't think that's the issue here. It's the principle of the thing that makes me think whether I am a selfish person at heart. To which the answer would be yes. I am a conniving serpent, in that I only look out for myself but I try to project an altogether different image. You'd think this should bother me greatly, no? The thing is, I don't know that it does - all I feel is a sense of awareness, but I think I've truly become desensitized to the very many things that are wrong with me. Ah well, huzzah, the chase is on (a little bit of randomness introduced for your reading pleasure).

The last few days I suddenly remembered a song I heard probably 10 years ago, "What's Up" by Four Non Blondes. In particular, as I replay the lines

Twenty-five years of my life and still,
I'm trying to get up that great big hill of hope,
For a destination

in my head, I am amazed at the fact that I soon turn twenty, which puts me in the same ballpark as the singer's age (back then, at any rate). I must have been 8 years old when I heard that song, and to think back on it now makes me feel rather old. Of course, there's the fact that I can now sort of relate to the sentiment being expressed, whereas back then I was just taken by the catchy chorus (the ending is particularly delightful - it ought to be a blueprint for how every song should end). How quickly we grow up. Yet again, I sense this sending me into a spiral of nostalgia, so perhaps I'll leave the matter here.

Sigh, I don't have too many songs from my childhood, or at least not too many that I care to remember. I suppose that's what one gets for using MTV as one's music source! The song from your childhood phenomenon is one that I absolutely adore, which I suppose means that I've been trying to squeeze every last drop of my (relative) childhood and use it to its fullest.

I notice that I have an odd tendency to write things in a fairly haphazard manner. One may think that I am writing this towards the end of my post, but in fact I've only got a couple of paras written up so far; all I've done is planned for this one to go at the end. I find this quirky I suppose, which is good, because I can use all the quirkiness I can get.

And finally, gentle reader, some Woody Allen that I happened to come across sometime this morning: "You know, there's a word for people who think everyone is conspiring against them." "Yeah - perceptive!".

(If you're bored, spot the two references to King's Quest VI that are buried here. They're easily the most obscure references ever, but if you're that bored, well, better start memorizing the game dialogue!)

Thursday, August 19, 2004

The book Eats, Shoots And Leaves is lying somewhere in my house, but I don't think I'll be reading it anytime soon. I remember going through the introduction, and the author is a self-confessed pedant, who says that the book is for other pedants. That is something I am not, at least when it comes to the use of the English language (should the 'e' be capitalized in 'English'? I guess that shows you my level of expertise). I can understand the frustration at the decline of the language, but I find the level of pedantry that is sometimes employed by grammar Nazis to be, well, annoying. Perhaps the "it's 'it's', not 'its'" style remarks are well-founded (although they do get annoying after a while), but I suppose I fall into the camp that believes that expression of intent is the goal (or rather is the primary goal).

I remember Ms. Truss saying something about cave man getting the point with their grunts, and her belief that language was more than getting your idea across. Although I can see her point, I wonder when exactly pedantry becomes pedantry.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The fact that I obsessively check websites (chief among them blogs) for updates twice, thrice, maybe even four times a day, serves to show me that I really ought to find better ways to spend my time, but also gives me a bitter taste whenever I find there are no updates. I get this cheap thrill when there's something new and fresh to read, but otherwise, the stale taste of yesterday's news is a big let down. I suppose I always feel like the world revolves around me (well, it ought to), and so I take it as something of an insult when there is nothing new on a site. As though the author is obliged to keep me entertained 24 hours a day!

It leads me to believe that I have some sort of obsessive compulsive disorder. I remember vividly how an old friend was sitting in the library in my old high school, (back in the backwaters of Madras, as I often like to say), old Reader's Digest in hand, and with a grave face. He had read an article about OCD, and became convinced that he was an obsessive compulsive. Once he described the symptoms, I thought it not altogether impossible that I too was an obsessive compulsive, although at the time I didn't pay too much attention to it. For some reason, I remember that mini-conversation we had, as though it played a significant part of my life. I love little slices of the past like this; things that, by themselves, probably appear to have little value, but in a wonderfully holistic way combine to create that swirling, intoxicating stream of senses in our head that we fondly recall as the past..sigh, what I wouldn't give for the innocent days of my childhood. The prospect of growing up has never scared me, but that's because I've never really paid much attention to it. I suppose if there is a thing as being stuck in the past, I exemplify it in some sense; by all means, it's probably a bad thing, but at times like this, I really don't care.

Escapism is my drug of choice!

Friday, August 13, 2004

Last night, there was a blackout. At the time, I was channel-surfing and had temporarily nested on the Imagine movie (about John Lennon). At the time it happened, Lennon was playing Imagine on a piano to his friends. It was kind of strange that the blackout should happen right then, I thought. I'm not quite sure why; perhaps I draw some metaphorical interpretation where there is none. Darkness descending right when someone dreams of a better world, as though smothering the prospect, that sort of thing. I suppose I just have an over-active sense of melodrama, and I revel in placing meaning on inherently meaningless things.

What's funny is that for a minute or so, I chose to sit in the darkness, and made no motion whatsoever to go to bed or figure out what was wrong. I have no idea what compels me to do this every time. Of course, there is the fact that it's pitch black and I cannot see a thing - there wasn't even the pale light of the moon in the room, 'twas as black as my heart as it were. But I think I also find some pleasure in sitting all alone, shrouded by darkness, for it makes me realize how strange we (mankind) are. Don't ask me why, I'm not sure myself, but there you have it.

All this talk about the dark reminds me of something very strange. I watched parts of In The Mouth Of Madness when I was much younger. I remember one scene where there is a group of children playing, and we can't see their faces. When Sam Neil's companion takes the ball away, one of the girls starts spouting some stuff about her being their mommy. Her face is that of a demon-child, with fangs and all, or so it is in the image in my head. I guess it spooked me at the time, for I think it has given me some deep-seated problems. F'rinstance, sometimes when I walk down the stairs in my house, I sort of get the feeling she's standing at the top of the stairs. It's peculiar, really, because I can't imagine how I could have such a specific association (because it doesn't seem to happen anywhere else). There is also the matter of why I think this girl is there, even when I haven't even watched the movie in its entirety, and that I probably saw it some 6 years ago. How did I get reminded of it?

And now that I've written this, I've got a bad vibe. Cue scary music as I uncover some evil secret. As though by talking about this, I've awoken evil, blah blah blah. I shouldn't watch horror movies, I'm obviously far more sensitive to their subject matter than I think.

Oh gosh, am I ever messed up!

Sunday, August 08, 2004

At times, when I wonder what the point of everything is, music really cheers me up. That's too weak a phrase though, "cheers me up" - what I experience nothing short of exhilarating, really. There are times when I feel totally overwhelmed by a song, and these are the times I really look forward to. It reminds me of the quote from American Beauty: "Sometimes, there's so much beauty in the world
that it overwhelms me and my heart feels like it's going to cave in".

I sort of revere some songs, which is perhaps unhealthy, but if it gives me satisfaction in some strange way, then I suppose it doesn't really matter. I suppose it's the one thing that has the potential to keep go going on, although it would be doubly sweeter if I could get really involved in music somehow (such as playing an instrument). But that's not happening any time soon, now is it?

Friday, August 06, 2004

I wonder if you have experienced the utterly confounding gap between reason and passion (for lack of better words; I am motivated by a Dostoevsky quote, "Reason is the slave of passion"). I've lost count of the number of times I've sat down and looked at a situation rationally, deciding on a course of action, only to have my emotions make me act in a completely opposite manner. The first few times, it's interesting, and sort of funny. After a point, however, it's just bizarre and frightening. Invariably, such realizations come to me on the train ride home, as I move further away from the dreaded institute. I have bittersweet feelings towards those rides. I'd be lying if I said I thoroughly enjoyed all the self-reflection I do, because ultimately a lot of it involves me coming to the typical teen musings (I'm a loser, a failure, I hate everything, ... you know how it goes!). But, at the same time, I think I'd happily take the good with the bad, on the whole anyway. It's sort of like taking out the garbage in my head, if that analogy makes even the slightest bit of sense.

Now, although I have lots of self-reflection, I sometimes have odd bohemian tendencies, where I feel for some reason I'm really special and complex, and where I convince myself that I genuinely don't care about what other people think. When this happens, I sometimes tend to let the masochist inside me awaken too. Hey, when it rains, it pours. So in such times, as though to prove to myself that I truly don't care about public opinion, I try to put myself in an awkward situation to see if I can deal with it without for a second worrying about what other people think. Sounds twisted and messed up? It certainly is, but I suppose these are the games I must resort to, what with the universe having given up on me and all. Only half-serious..!

Now onto the meaning of life. Actually, I don't have the time to elaborate on this right now, or rather I don't have the energy. But I will mention that I've read that the purpose of our existence is to help humanity as a whole ascend to something greater. This was interesting to me, because I previously was bound by a ego-centric mindset that life must have some immediate, all-serving purpose that specifically involved me and my destiny or what have you. It never occured to me that perhaps we were all created with a role to play in a larger team, as it were. Not to say that that's what it's all about, of course; rather, it's the very fact that the idea was able to show me the limitations of my previous mindset that make it memorable.
"Memorable to you, perhaps", I hear you say, and that's true; a lot of what I ramble on here probably isn't as interesting and thought-provoking as I sometimes like to think it is.

In other news, I finished the Star Wars game with the dark-side ending, and so I have finally taken over the galaxy. Gee, it took only a week to finish the game, which is sort of disappointing. I think the problem is that it was made with a strong focus on the Xbox, not the PC. Hmm not that I have any experience with console games, but for some reason I feel that's why it was relatively short (compared to, say, Baldur's Gate).

Tomorrow may prove to be an interesting day for a couple of reasons. I don't really know what they are, but I'll be sure to let you know of any drama and mystery that unfolds, gentle reader.

You have my apologies for a meandering post, dear reader. It is far too late for me to try to say anything meaningful, but I feel like I must, because I simply don't get any other time to write such reflections these days.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Visual Complex Analysis excites me, which is good, because I could use the excitement these days. I've only gone through the first chapter, but I really enjoy Needham's style and love the fact that he actually tries to look at some of the motivations behind great mathematical ideas. F'rinstance, the bit about "Bombelli's wild thought" (on the motivation for complex numbers arising from the intersection of cubics and straight lines) just made me feel really, really happy. Inexplicable, really, but I felt as though there was something to cling onto in my life. Even if the whole universe comes crashing down tomorrow, I will have this memory. This I think is another example of the very essence of something being enough for me; I'm sure if one asked me the specifics of the matter, I would draw a blank, but it's the very principle of the thing that I admire, m'boy.

I don't normally talk about what happens to me in real life, but today I'll make a brief exception. We had to introduce ourselves in one of my classes today, and were supposed to say something interesting about ourselves. I chose to say that I like mathematics. I hope I don't get laughed out of the class next week. I gotta say, I realized that I am hopelessly a nerd through and through. Not that I mind, and not that I didn't already know this, but it's kinda funny to be reminded.

Lately I've been giving some (possibly frivolous) thought to transferring. I'm not sure whether I would transfer to a different university or to a different degree, but lately I've been feeling like nothing has been cutting it. I don't feel motivated at all, and it seems like my only purpose has been to whinge about how bad things are at uni. Not exactly the most constructive use of my time, eh? I suppose one is supposed to be self-motivated, and do things by themselves; I've come to the bitter-realization that university is not the fountain of knowledge that my naive former self thought it was. More than anything, it seems a test of whether you can endure 3/4 years of different lecturers, each with their idiosyncracies, and purely arbitrary assessment mechanisms. If you can survive this torture, you can make it in the real world.

Sometimes I feel there is something very wrong with the real world. I don't look forward to the prospect of having a steady job for 30 years or something. Partly because I don't look forward to having a commitment every single day for the next 30 years. There's not enough time to do so many things - apart from whining, there's no time to figure out just what in God's name we are all doing here, and why one shouldn't just give up tomorrow and do something totally bizarre that goes against all social norms.

I am reminded of a dilemma posed in a computer game (Ultima 8, to be specific). (Don't snicker! Some games can make you think). It was in a book, where the narrator asked what reason there was for us not to wake up the next day and go poison the town water-supply. Abstract away the reprecussions of such an action in modern society (that is, assume there is no police force that will arrest you, and so on). The narrator is then doubtful of the view that some God will incur his wrath on you if you harm others. Interesting, if nothing else.

Actually, this reminds me of something else (as you can see, my mind is very strange. I have lots of associations that tend to go nowhere). There is a bunch of really interesting philosophy games here. Well, interesting if you're like me, anyway. These games basically involve you answering some interesting (again, that darn subjective word) philosophical questions about God, morality, and everything else those crazy Brits who run the site could think of. I recommend the "Battleground God" one, although I don't particularly agree with some of the game's responses. There are some real gems here, like this:

"A charity collection takes place in your office. For every UK£10.00 given, a blind person's sight is restored. Instead of donating UK£10.00, you use the money to treat yourself to a cocktail after work. Are you morally responsible for the continued blindness of the person who would have been treated had you made the donation?"

I think I should do philosophy. It has to be better than whatever rubbish I'm doing right now.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

I mentioned previously that I was playing Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic, this time as a dark Jedi. I find that RPGs are the games with most replayability, and of late the choice to play as a good/bad/neutral character have made them even more replayable, and hence enjoyable.

Anyway, while playing as this totally evil Jedi who mocks everyone and does nothing unless it benefits him, I started to reflect a little on the darkness in man's heart. (Perhaps your initial reaction is to question whether I cannot tell fantasy from reality?) The game lets you be as bad as you want, and in my case, evil beyond my naive expectations. (SPOILER) One example that comes to mind is on the wookie world of Kashhyk, where you are sent to kill a "mad chief", who just so happens to be the father of one of your companions. There is an unavoidable duel with him, after which he surrenders and asks that you strike him down so that he may die with honor. The light side option is of course to convince him that you mean no harm, and that you seek his help. The dark side option, perhaps predictably, is to go "Chundar sends his regards. Now die!", after which you proceed to kill this invalid wookie. Not without protest from party members, of course - but the evil response to this is something along the lines of "I'm in charge here, so just fall in line, or else!".

It may not seem like much, but for some reason once I did this I felt like I shouldn't have, as though it was wrong even if it was just in a game. It gets worse though, because when your companion asks what happened to his father, the dark side response is "I slaughtered him. Got a problem with that?". At this point I really felt like I did something wrong.

I suppose it is a bit silly to feel bad about your actions in a game. Or is it? Games are fundamentally a means of escapism, and allow you to do things you wouldn't normally do. That's understandable enough I suppose, in real life I obviously wouldn't go around slaughtering civilians for no reason. But what's murkier is that at times I laughed at some of the responses; I'm not sure whether this was just at how heartless a character I was creating, or whether I actually enjoyed what I was doing. I think there is a darkness in man's heart, a dark side to everyone that most of us keep tamed. By finding pleasure in some of the evil responses, I think I was appealing to this dark side that was not unlike the character I was creating.

This was probably the biggest reason for my feelings of guilt, because in split-seconds I felt that by laughing I was mocking my own darkness, as though believing I was in firm control of it. I don't know that we always are, for certainly I've had times when this alter-ego took over.

I feel as though I had an important point to convey, but I've lost it in the mess I've created here. I'll try to think about it a bit more and see if I can wrap things up here.