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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Presents / Self Defense

Channukah is called the festival of lights. Light has always symbolized good; darkness has always symbolized evil.

It's not really so clear cut, you know. Too much light can blind. Light in the wrong place can distract. I hate it when someone turns on a light in the computer room- suddenly there's a glare on the screen, and I can't make out the pictures as easily. Or some Shabbats I might be trying to read a book while lying on the couch as the lights on the ceiling shine right into my eyes. Light can be bad.

And I don't know about you, but I love a good amount of darkness. Shadows add mystery and atmosphere; uncertainty inspires the mind. Back when I used to play on an electronic piano in an empty room as a matter of routine, I loved to shut the lights off altogether, to free myself from any distractions, to focus on the sounds. In the dark, one can appreciate the fine nuances of color and movement and sound. The light is empty by comparison.

You might try to be more specific: Light makes information visible- the light of truth. But that's still oversimplifying. If you want to see the bigger picture, to see the stars far away and understand how we fit in with them, you need darkness. Light may give knowledge, but only darkness gives wisdom.

And then we get presents. Where does this fit in? Well, I'm quite sure I don't know. As far as I can tell, the only connection to the Light/Darkness theme is that when the present is wrapped, the inside is dark, and when it's unwrapped, the... oh, never mind.

The presents I've gotten so far this year have shed a lot of light on my parents. On the first night I was graciously given the Star Wars: Episode III DVD. Excellent movie, best of the series, in fact. Only problem is the acting and the dialogue and- what's that? Oh, you're right- this has nothing at all to do with what I was saying. In any case, you can see that this is a most agreeable tradition.

So what was I saying again?- Oh, right!- the presents I hadn't specifically asked my parents for. The first was a wallet. I didn't know quite what to make of that. I already have a wallet, and I'm rather fond of it. Why would my parents demand that I change wallets? Are they really so desparate to feel like they're doing something to change me? Of course not, of course not. It was a mix-up, nothing more. I shouldn't read too much into it.

Then I opened a pair of slippers. My father hates it when I come to the dinner table on Friday night barefoot, and I love to go barefoot. They actually got me a pair of slippers last Channukah. I never wore those because they were uncomfortable, because I preferred to go barefoot, and because the backs were open, which led to them constantly falling off. Well, they got me another pair, as I said. Guess what!- It's almost exactly the same as the old pair! Just as uncomfortable, and these too have open backs. I was annoyed, and didn't do a very good job of containing it, but at the same time I felt sorry. Obviously my parents had looked hard for something they could get me, and they didn't remember that I had no desire for slippers, least of all those kind of slippers. They made a simple mistake, right? No need to punish them for it.

Today my father came home with a dresser. My parents both hate the way I throw my clean clothes into a giant pile where they're all easily retrievable. My father's been looking into getting me a dresser for a long time now. For every time over the past few months he's asked me what kind of dresser I'd like I told him three times that I would like no dresser. I hate that kind of trick question, don't you? Anyhow, he brings home this dresser and proceeds to assemble it in my room. My mother explained that it's not really a dresser because it's ridiculously high, and because it looks so hideous it demands the attention of everyone in the room, and because it has open baskets with bars which remind me not so pleasantly of the bars of an elementary school window. Actually, I added in those reasons myself just to give some hint of a valid theoretical excuse for not calling it a dresser. It is a dresser. And I really don't want it. And my father's already moved all my clothes into this monstrosity.


But why should I care about all that? I'm the only one in the house at the moment. The wallet will stay out of my pocket. The slippers will stay off my feet. And the dresser will stay out of my room. My parents are out right now. For the moment, darkness prevails!


Let's talk about something more important- I have an idea for a game that I could conceivably pull off! I'll call it "Smilie", because it'll be a virtual character which is a smilie! Sounds cool, right? The trouble before was I was looking for possible games from the enlightened perspective of the current Industrial philosophy of gamism, but those aren't really worth making unless they have some deeper artistic purpose- you know, some hidden meaning or something. Something to subvert the light of others to reflect my own inner darkness. But why bother trying? I don't need their Forms and their approaches- I can do my own things! If I can pull this off (and I think I can!), "Smilie" will be completely unmarketable, completely unorthodox, very short, and will impress no one. No deeper meaning here- just an adorable character given life.

It'll be a completely innocent character- like kittens! It won't understand, for instance, that the cursor is not something to be eaten. And it won't care what you want from it- it'll do its own thing. That kind of innocence is the ideal, no? Now all I need to develop is a language of interactivity to express this ideal. I'm starting on that now. I think if I were to look up into the dark sky right now, I'd see my smilie winking at me.




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