Category Archives: Existentialism

Things

Let me tell you some things I’m just now figuring out. They’re things I wish I could have known five years ago, but I suppose that’s the point of personal growth or whatever you call this unsettling, slightly raised discoloration. I’m not sure where I’d be had I begun reciting these mantras then, but it’s probably not working at the help desk of the library of the University where I earned my first, “practice” Bachelor’s and am now collecting a second, plus some more debt, all of it a mere 30 glorious minutes through cow shit and unfinished landscape paintings from my childhood abode, where I vacay on weekends to do laundry and resume my high school job because, oh yeah, I’m filthy, stinking poor.

So that brings me to my first Thing, which is sort of rote and tired but still probably isn’t actually heard enough: stop regretting things. As the great (or so I’m told) 20th century philosopher Alan Watts explains in the super-good Her, the “us” that was “we” twenty seconds ago no longer shares that “usdom” that makes “we” “us.” In a more science-y way that I don’t fully grasp, it’s the idea you heard from that dick at work who gets all his trivia from podcasts guest-starring Neil DeGrasse Tyson and feels spiritually liberated from the material plane because he smoked weed twice (everyone knows it happens after four): we are not composed of the same atoms that composed us a minute ago when we thought we had sneaked that fart. Even that fart is an entirely new fart from moment to moment. Every day, we are fresh farts. So don’t be so hard on yourself, because no one was seriously hurt and she’s almost ready to forgive you.

herstill

Feels good, man.

You’ve taken a series of increasingly colder showers, finished that whole six pack of wheat beer by yourself (good job!), and the Council has seen fit to absolve your sins. It’s now safe to proceed to my second Thing, which is actually the primary Thing this post is concerned with, other than the necromancy of this dead, dead blog.

Do rather than watch. Do, create, engage, interact: okay, I know my verbiage is edging dangerously close to a presidential fitness campaign or a corporate PowerPoint slide, but there’s a kernel of truth wedged somewhere between Michelle Obama’s pearly teefers. And this is a painful truth to grapple with for me personally because I love watching. Bad TV, good TV, Netflix, Serious Film, video games, people in and out of their natural habitat. There’s a lot to learn from just hanging back and absorbing information and, as a wealth of blogs and serious criticism suggest, there are new perspectives to be gleaned from all that entertainment we binge on, too. That last assertion is the entire crux of this humble project of mine, after all. There is good work to be done with pop culture.

However, even if pop culture is your work, it shouldn’t be your everything.

Love you, Roger.

Love you, Raw Dog.

I’m overusing the second-person pronoun and, it occurs to me, sounding a little preachy. Let me just ‘fess up like the reverend’s daughter: this is squarely my own problem and any resemblance shared with a problem of yours is unintentional and purely coincidental.

That said, you’re on the internet right now. So.

It’s a sentiment I’ve heard echoed by several creative individuals I respect very much: one mustn’t be defined by consumption. By “consumption,” I don’t mean tuberculosis; in fact, I’d be morbidly curious to see a person defined by tuberculosis.

Go be that.

Before you get real stupid and start licking toilet seats (that’s not even how you contract TB, dummy), consider more productive activities. You know that guy, possibly the same guy from before, who corners you at work and proceeds to summarize the third season of Felicity at you until you’re dead? No one wants to be that guy, primarily because he licks the handicap stall clean at night like a thorough mama cat, but also because of the Felicity thing. That guy is boring. I’ve nearly been that guy, bathroom hangup notwithstanding.

Don’t get comfortable with the same old mediocrity. Try to fail at something new every day.

I’m a work in progress. Am I a writer? Sort of. Game designer? I’ve got a notebook. Every endeavor I’ve pursued in life has spawned infinitely many sub-goals; sometimes it becomes a point of frustration. I feel like the football player who crosses the field by taking half the remaining distance with each attempt. Maybe no one ever “gets there,” to a point where they can sit back and say, “yeah, that’s the final passage of my novel, now I can finally eat that bullet and go to heaven.” That’s mostly because it would be a really weird thing to say before you killed yourself, but it must be at least partially due to the fact that humans invented the concepts of inferiority and jealousy, or maybe dolphins did. We all want to be other people, or have other people, or have what other people have, or have what other people don’t. We’re busy looking at the next guy or girl or dolphin, thinking “what a desirable blowhole, wish I had that blowhole,” thinking “that blowhole will really fill a gap in my life,” committing this fallacy of perceiving life’s possibilities as finite, like a 500 piece puzzle or the radius of a dolphin’s blowhole. Make your own fucking puzzle. Drill your own blowhole. That geyser of blood means you’re livin’, dude! 

dolphin

Also, here, I’m not a doctor but I have a few rolls of Charmin Ultra soaked in Windex and you can just jam those up there and I think pray to a god. Next time, get that done professionally. I know a dude who flunked out of veterinary school and likes to look at small animals from the inside-out in his treefort. He built it last year. It is pretty sick. And slightly unstable because this dude’s no carpenter, but he can tell you absolutely everything about Felicity, including Keri Russell’s current home address.

Maybe you’re a failed dolphin, but at least you tried. What’s important is that you keep the dream of self-inflicted, transhumanistic mutilation burning inside. 

I’ll keep writing.

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Questions about Pokémon: Blue Version

  1. Do the different versions represent alternate universes? Are these Red and Blue versions only a sliver on the vast rainbow of existence?
    1. Does each version represent a reality in which urban development endangered the habitats of variable species?
    2. If so, are humans the true Pocket Monsters?
  2. How do Potions work? They just spray on your Pokémon and somehow heal burnt, cut and frost-bitten flesh? Do they sting?
    1. How does a move named “Guillotine” cause only fainting? Perhaps Pokémon necks are especially resilient.
  3. How do Pokémon die, anyway? They obviously do: there’s an entire memorial tower dedicated to Pokémon corpses.
    1. Does everything become a Ghastly? Do humans become Ghost Pokémon if they lead really shitty lives?
      1. There is obviously some set of spiritual beliefs held by the people of Kanto. What is it? How do skeptics feel about the apparently confirmed existence of the paranormal?
  4. If Pikachu is the Mouse Pokémon, does that imply the existence of regular animals in Kanto? How can Pokémon be named after animals from our reality if those same animals didn’t at one point exist? Are there a bunch of normal animals hanging out in Kanto that everyone just ignores because they don’t shoot lightning?
    1. Are Pokémon an invasive species that killed all the regular animals by shooting lightning at them, probably?
  5. How do TMs and HMs work? So they’re compact discs? Are they DVDs? Do they fit into a portable DVD player and play instructional videos on how to use Fire Blast? Who is making these discs (Silph Co., probably?)?
  6. How are Pokémon converted into digital media? What is their file type? Do they retain virtual awareness? How does time pass inside a PC? Is it like Narnia? Do Pokémon live entire lives inside of Bill’s PC?
    1. A common question: what goes on inside a Pokéball? How does that work? If certain Pokémon enjoy certain types of balls more than others, does that mean that a regular Pokéball is sort of like a low-rent apartment?
  7. Why are Pokémon trainers in Pewter City so much worse than trainers in Fuschia? Was it providence that you just so happened to begin your journey in the perfect place to accommodate an ideal difficulty curve?
  8. Why doesn’t Team Rocket just shoot you with a gun? Aren’t they criminals?
    1. Did the existence of lethal creatures discourage military development? Do guns even exist? War?
  9. Why did it take three years for the sun to set in Kanto? Did everyone just shuffle around in a sleep-deprived daze spouting instructional information before that? Is nighttime a technological innovation in the Pokémon world?
    1. How can there be a Pokémon Daycare if there’s no distinction between night and day in the first place?
  10. Why is Kanto’s infrastructure so shitty? City limits are marked by gigantic Duplo blocks, transportation is restricted by a hegemony of HMs (which seem to be in scarce quantity) and vital trade routes are completely shut down by obese Pokémon and obstinate security guards (whose thirsts, however mighty, should not impede public good).
    1. Did Kanto lift an Isolationist policy between the first and second set of games? Where did that passage to Johto come from?
      1. A lot of change occurred in Kanto between Pokemons Blue/Red and Gold/Silver. Industrial revolutions are usually spurred by an initial discovery or innovation. Was there an influx of technology inherited from Johto? The gulf in technological sophistication between Kanto and Johto is enough to fuel a study of its own.
  11. Is Oak omniscient? More likely, has he bugged your Pokédex? How does he know when you’re attempting to ride a bike indoors? Why is it any of his business where you ride your own damn bike?
    1. Where do you keep that bike? In your backpack?
  12. If the Pokédex is already pre-loaded with a complete catalog of information on every Pokémon, why is it even necessary to “catch ’em all”? Is Professor Oak pulling your dick?
    1. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, perhaps the Pokédex is a highly sophisticated piece of technology that observes and instantly records data on a Pokémon the moment you catch it. That seems doubtful, though.
  13. Why were you ever friends with Gary?
    1. Is it possible that you did something to deserve his loathing? Think.
      1. It’s probably your fault.
  14. Why does the population of Kanto suffer from a severe combination of tunnel vision and nearsightedness?
    1. Maybe it’s an unforeseen effect of Potion waste in the water system?
    2. Alternatively, maybe strict social norms are in place which prohibit breaking one’s line of vision.
  15. How do I get Mew?

Nothings adds up: Kanto is a strangely composed, sparsely populated world in which the central phenomenon, the Pokémon themselves, is presented without question. It’s like convincing science fiction.

Ditto

Or perhaps it is science fiction.

From beginning to end, Pokémon  revisits one motif: virtual reality. After an interview with Professor Oak, the player shrinks into an avatar. It’s cute, but what if your new form is more than a simple aesthetic touch? The world outside Pallet Town seems as if it was designed around Red’s success; life’s obstacles fold magically as you sweep the Pokémon League (a feat which absurdly stands as the objectively greatest achievement known to Kantokind) and foil the country’s only criminals. The digital and the biological flirt in a nonsensical fog. Occasionally, however, you are made privy to your fantasy’s underpinnings:  you trade.

The room is clinical, white. You’re unsettled to notice a familiar face sitting opposite the Exchange Module. It’s your own. Suddenly, before you materializes a cable and something called a Game Boy and everything makes sense. Playing Pokémon is to play a game about a player playing a game. You trade Magmar for Electabuzz.

After returning to the lobby of the Pokémon Center, the virtual entity known as Nurse Joy is oblivious to your epiphany. She can’t know that she beholds God.

You fire a knowing glance and mount your bike.

OAK:  PLAYER! This isn’t the time to use that!

You pedal hard.