Elden Ring

“Video games can be all kinds of different things, representing all manner of artistic ambitions. Most, however, share a common goal: to conjure a compelling fictional reality, filled with beckoning mysteries, enchanting secrets, and enriching opportunities to compete and collaborate. They aim to provide a liminal space in which a determined player can fix that which is broken, order that which is chaotic. By this definition, at least, Elden Ring is the finest video game yet made. Its final gift is the assurance that, whatever monsters lurk in a broken world, with perseverance and cooperation, they too can be overcome – all without losing the mystery and wonder that makes our existence beguiling, infuriating, and fascinating.”

-Simon Parkin, “Elden Ring review – an unrivalled masterpiece of design and inventiveness.” The Guardian. February 23, 2022

The funny thing is that the only thing I’d heard about Elden Ring is how they did not include an in-game journal. Some decided to deal with this practically, by creating an analog journal. Others decided to complain, “It’s 2022; why doesn’t your game have a journal?” The game company that makes Elden Ring is known for making difficult games. It’s an aesthetic choice. Same people prefer things with difficulty, like Spinoza’s quote: “Everything excellent is as difficult as it is rare.” Anyway, this five star review will put this in my game queue, and I’ll likely by it several years from now, when it’s below $20.

Where to Start With James Joyce

“But with this month marking the centenary of Ulysses and 140 years since Joyce’s birth, perhaps now really is the time to familiarise or re-familiarise yourself with the influential modernist writer.”

-Justin Jordan, “Where to start with: James Joyce.” theguardian.com. February 18, 2022.

The only Joyce I have read was Ulysses in tandem with Stuart Gilbert’s James Joyce’s Ulysses. The second is designed so that you could read a chapter to either explain what you are about to read or what you just read, and it will give you a much greater appreciation of why Ulysses is a great book. Without the explanation, many people might find Ulysses unreadable. It also helps to be familiar with the transcribed text of Homer – almost went with the original text there but it seemed wrong to say it that way. Anyway, worth a try. I decided to read the book based on the Joyce entry in Clifton Fadiman’s The New Lifetime Reading Plan, which I also recommend.

Oliver Burkeman’s Last Column: The Eight Secrets to a (Fairly) Fulfilled Life

  • There will always be too much to do – and this realisation is liberating.
  • When stumped by a life choice, choose “enlargement” over happiness.
  • The capacity to tolerate minor discomfort is a superpower. 
  • The advice you don’t want to hear is usually the advice you need.
  • The future will never provide the reassurance you seek from it.
  • The solution to imposter syndrome is to see that you are one.
  • Selflessness is overrated.
  • Know when to move on.

“If you’re prone to thinking you should be helping more, that’s probably a sign that you could afford to direct more energy to your idiosyncratic ambitions and enthusiasms. As the Buddhist teacher Susan Piver observes, it’s radical, at least for some of us, to ask how we’d enjoy spending an hour or day of discretionary time. And the irony is that you don’t actually serve anyone else by suppressing your true passions anyway. More often than not, by doing your thing – as opposed to what you think you ought to be doing – you kindle a fire that helps keep the rest of us warm.”

-Oliver Burkeman, “Oliver Burkeman’s last column: the eight secrets to a (fairly) fulfilled life.” The Guardian. September 4, 2020.