Media-ing

omg, my head is exploded.

I don’t usually media (which I’m going to use to mean “consume media” here). The reason is that media-ing makes me feel like I’m unimportant, that there are all these other things in the world that have absolutely nothing to do with me, and that I don’t know a shred about. A more practical reason I could give (but not the gut reason) is that it feels impossible to get anything done afterwards.

The media ecosystem/food pyramid has many layers. The plankton at the bottom – the daily happenings, raw, unexplained – I don’t read that stuff. Obviously there are many reporters, and they’re doing a super-important job – but if I read about a shooting here, a economic crisis there – how will that do anything besides instill anything in me except hopelessness? Let me be honest – I’d want to media to be more knowledgeable about the world, and reading things that seem to have happened before and will happen again, and forgetting them ten minutes later, hardly qualifies.

So instead, what do I do? Get my information filtered. Go to the blogs at the top (that feed on sources below them that feed on sources below them… all the way down to those plankton-reporters oh so far away) – those that synthesize recent histories, make sweeping statements about the state of the world, leave me feeling that I understand some kind of Big Picture, curate a lot of hyperlinks so I can click and keep reading at my leisure. One can make a career as information gatherer. Be curious, ask questions, do research, and blog about them, explaining things previously held jealously by experts to the general public. Hyper-hyperlink your posts.

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Whisper of a Rose

theend

I finished playing Whisper of a Rose.

I’m sad that it’s over. All the places still seem live in my mind. Why did this game capture my imagination so much? I haven’t really played RPGs at all. It feels so first-person. Books and movies tend to be through a screen. Ron and Hermoine aren’t your friends, they’re Harry’s friends. But playing as Melrose, I feel like Hellena, Diamond, and Christina are my friends. It’s more experiental.

The story is amazing. The characters have strong personalities, ways of talking. Games are a bit different from writing a novel, because you don’t get to put in detail and looong conversations, you have to get to the essence.

What’s the essence here? In a gloomy world in the near-future, Melrose is a girl who loves to dream, of worlds where flowers are as large as trees. The story starts with her narrating a story about a knight saving someone from a dragon. But the associated memory is of her trying to save a ladybug from a bully; the bully slapping her and then setting the ladybug on fire with his lighter. (Later on (SPOILER), she meets a ladybug, Diamond, in the dreamworld, and has to save his villagepeople, who had their village burned by the trolls.)

Story isn’t about escapism. (Sometimes people are apologetic about this – oh, x is just an escape for me. I don’t think so! That’s just “completing the pattern.” Here’s another pattern: stories make us feel the important things in life.) This kind of realworld-fantasy link is to me what underlies the best stories. Goodness isn’t just to be taken out when someone has been kidnapped by a dragon (because dragons are Exciting), but even when a lowly creature is being hurt by a playground bully. Story is about enchantment. A dragon and a bully are the same thing.

Melrose is a dreamer (she stays after school typing her story, then goes to the museum). After getting into her rhythm, the real world abruptly intrudes (plot twists here), and it is pretty ugly. The story is emotionally driven. She has a strong personality; her history has made her callous/distrusting, but this changes gradually over the course of the adventure. The dream landscapes start from childhood-like and grow more mature/sinister (My favorites are Lekora the Tree Village and Vestryka in the volcano, accompanied by heroic music.), and things in the dream world correspond to things in her actual life.

Friendship is Magic

I started watching My Little Pony recently. It helps to chase away the emptiness in the morning at breakfast time.

From http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/11/understanding-the-cult-of-my-little-pony.html:

Twilight Sparkle is like Bilbo Baggins, a reluctant traveler dispatched by a powerful mastermind to parts unknown. She is also like Hermione Granger, an overachiever with a condescending side, and like Dorothy, she is caught in a quarrel betwixt magical rivals. But for all these comparisons — and all the other knowing winks to Blazing Saddles, The Music Man, King Kong, Citizen Kane, The Big Lebowski, The Commitments, and the final scene from Star Wars: A New Hope­ — the show that My Little Pony really resembles is Friends. It is about a friendship among six very different characters, and the safe universe they create through their ­loyalty to one another, a kind of intimate paradise that transcends family ties, job responsibilities, and affiliation with other tribes. This is a vision of friendship that articulates a preteen’s deepest yearning and at the same time evokes a memory, perhaps rose-colored, among adults — preoccupied as they are with their relentlessly present-tense lives — of an age when minutes, hours, whole days, and weekends could be lost to imaginary play, joint projects, and the total abandonment of self to the clan that claimed you as its own.

Like all catchy aphorisms, “Friendship is magic” works on a couple levels. For one thing, it is actually kind of true. As Scott-Henning puts it: “When you have people around you who protect you and relate to you and are your close friends, that does appeal greatly.” Also, it’s aspirational. Nobody ever feels quite full of friendship, and everybody wants more of it, even if it’s embarrassing to admit. But talk to the Bronies and the Pegasisters and they’ll point to something else, too, an ideal so dangerously earnest that it risks universal derision, but visionaries throughout history — Jesus and Lenin, Mohammed and Joseph Smith — have staked their lives on it, the idea that a small, committed band of friends can change the world, can give hope to the hopeless and justice to the suffering.

I like My Little Pony, but to really love it I have to really believe in its message of friendship. What’s the problem? I have too many acquaintances rather than friends? Can I not be friends with people if I’m always like Twilight Sparkle, thanks but I’m going off studying now? I have to really enjoy friendship, and not just like friendship when it’s between cute ponies on the screen.