Alone in the Jungle

“Capitalism will deplete you, while letting you think you have the means to improve your lot. Indeed, it will attempt to force its therapy on you… Anxiety, and especially depression, as the late social critic Mark Fisher noted, often have social causes, but we are led to believe that we suffer individually and must struggle alone. Fisher’s point is that we are prevented from even considering such conditions as social. The treatments on offer, the most common ways to discuss recovery—therapy and pharmaceuticals—are essentially solo journeys that patients undertake. Against this hyper-individualist vision of psychic healing, we do well to highlight Fisher’s core insight that the tools we are given skew how we understand the world and our place in it. Language, typically the most essential method by which we articulate our affective life, can be a most insidious means of our own oppression if co-opted by those who would exploit us.”

—Miya Tokumitsu. “Tell Me It’s Going to be OK.” The Baffler. No. 41. October 2018.

The law of the jungle appeals most to people that don’t live in the jungle.

Interactive Fiction & Text-Based Games

Interactive fiction is text-driven games and stories most commonly associated with the dawn of the computing age and games like Zork. Depending on one’s definition, you might be able to stretch the category to include games like Nethack.

Today, it is a thriving sub-culture with new works being created by independent creators. The Interactive Fiction Database is a good way to find great games or genres. The Interactive Fiction Competition a good place to look for new works. For a gentle introduction, try one of the many guides available.

Play Now

The game 9:05, playable via the link, is a commonly referenced entry point to interactive fiction and is also used by English as a Second Language teachers to teach basic English vocabulary.

If you’d like to go old-school, some have been made playable in a web-browser. Want to play Zork without installing any software? Now you can.

Or, if you want to get a feel for these types of games but still want some graphics, try Nethack, a dungeon exploration game with permadeath which has recently been updated. Easy to learn to play, but very difficult to master. “Internet user needs food badly!” Best played cold, but it is also interesting to play if you read the spoilers.

Anonymous Sessions on 3:AM Magazine

“Another function of these civilizational trances is the inoculation of the masses from outsider disturbances. This is achieved by hardening the audience to them, administering small doses of carefully excised and polished versions of their rabid and incomprehensible accents, smooth postcard images of toxic wastelands, little commercial apocalypses for atrophied imaginations.”

—Cergat Boş & Elytron Frass, “Interviews with Anonymous Personas.” 3:AM Magazine. September 4, 2018.

Break out of your civilizational trance. Open up to outsider disturbances, and exercise your atrophied imagination.

Reading through these interviews, on one level, there are ideas I haven’t seen before, such as xenofeminism and the possibility of cyborgs as a vehicle for transcending gender and patriarchy. On another level, I keep getting whiffs of word salad, as if there’s a coy game going on in the background. Is it that I’m just not getting this part because I lack the basic intelligence or worldview / theoretical framework? Is this meaningless word salad? Is it something else? All of which is part of the fun.

The casual mention of various books and authors keep sending me down unexplored paths in the literature jungle. It can take some time to cut through the thicket of the conversation and the references providing some context for it. But, it makes for an interesting journey.

In short, delightful. Recommended.

Reference: Anon is Not Dead: Towards a History of Anonymous Authorship in Early-Twentieth-Century Britain

Hamonshu: A Japanese Book of Wave and Ripple Designs (1903) – The Public Domain Review

“…a wonderful selection of wave and ripple designs produced by the Japanese artist Mori Yuzan, about whom not a lot is known, apart from that he hailed from Kyoto, worked in the Nihonga style, and died in 1917. The works would have acted as a kind of go-to guide for Japanese craftsmen looking to adorn their wares with wave and ripple patterns.”

Hamonshu: A Japanese Book of Wave and Ripple Designs. PublicDomainReview.org.

Too Broke to Be Woke

“Though it might grant social and professional benefits to members of the elite liberal class, engaging in scholarship and activism that demonizes men, white people, or heterosexuals doesn’t make the world more just, nor does providing students with empirically-unsupported implicit-bias training and “toxic masculinity” workshops. These practices bake the seeds of prejudice and discrimination into educational experiences that are supposedly focused on fighting prejudice and discrimination. In fact, the use of divisive and hateful language in the name of social justice is a red flag: Those on the front lines know there is too much at stake to burn bridges and attack others. They want allies, not enemies.”

—Clay Routledge. “Social Justice in the Shadows.” Quillette. September 14, 2018.

Social justice is a fine idea frequently undermined by its strongest proponents. It’s a rare good idea that doesn’t have this problem.