vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
Further yet again to my garbled... garblings (as clearly there was no muse inspiring me in any of that), here is something by people who have done a much better job. Content warning: endorsement traditional Christian views on gender and sexuality, which may well include the ones you, the reader, consider terrible and hateful, or make you think of same )
There's a lot more and to quote all the good stuff would be to quote almost all of it. Little of it may make much sense outside of Christianity, or at least it won't make sense within modernity (while possibly making a good deal of sense in some pre-modern pagan societies).
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
A rewrite of this, as a response to this.

Next: After some more exposition, a random encounter ends in violence.
Whoever is not in his coffin and the dark grave, let him know he has enough.


The sleepers dig unclothed in the pit. Naked and unashamed, they span the little abyss with their forms, waist deep in mud. Groundwater and rot, all too easily smelled by the masked men behind. They have been digging for a few hours now: one could see the tiles, the cobblestones, the foundation and a few old soil layers, then where the water table begins and the sleepers slowly work against boulders and packed clay.

A banner is erected on the ledge behind them: the rich azure, silver and gold of the Empire flickering in the wind, warning off any who dare intrude into the business of the Atharan crown. Atop rests its eye: blinking imperceptibly in the early afternoon sun as it stares through the air around them, the psionic scanner picks up only a few crows, as they occasionally dodge a bored Imperial soldier's slingshot. Its display is perched on a convenient boulder propping up the flagpole that the sleepers had dug up early on, and is not very ergonomic in any way; but whoever had put it there, it seemed wrong to move it afterwards.

It is before this little altar that the men's leader stands bowed, sun-crossed blue cape limp over his shoulders as though asleep, half watching, half staring blankly past, the ethereal screen. Nothing bigger than a crow for miles, save the squad and the one in black standing next to him directing the sleepers. The one in black occasionally asks him for an update; he tells her about the crows. They have long since tired of trying to speculate about what had happened to this place - at least until they have found their buried quarry.

For the past hour there has been nothing worth being seen. Then the one in black grimaces, rubs her temples and walks closer to the sleepers. There is a small commotion as the one in black redirects them, cursing something unintelligible about boulders.

The sleepers dig around it. Another two hours pass as the pit must be widened. After much repositioning and straining and three attempts at a haphazard pulley system set up by the squad engineer, it is lifted up.

It is not a boulder.

Read more... )

*(Potentially) Relevant setting fluff*

Read more... )
vaecrius: The infamous cartoon of Darwin's head on a chimp's body, superimposed with a MSPainted Nazi armband. (are you a monkey)
(This had been in my notes backlog for a while - might as well post it now since it also relates to the whole writing-about-stories kick I've been on (or rather Fr. Stephen's been on and I'm just following him).)

Given a sufficiently large number of people, whenever theories about what makes a good game are discussed, you're sure to run into some ignorant hack who will proudly declare, "I know! A game is good because it is Fun!" and act like he's found some perfect insight that would blow away everything. It shows a contempt not even worthy of being called obscurantist, but it does invite a certain reality check: your theory of what makes a game good must address the preferences of those who are wholly ignorant of your theory, or what you are doing is groundless and pretentious (in the sense of pretending to things it lacks the authority for).

Between the Skinner box approach, the feminist critiques and my own buying/modding habits, I think I've boiled down to the following that a game must do:
  1. Engage
  2. Emulate
  3. Edify
If your game does all three, and they do them in a way that does not offend the player, that player would probably think your game is "fun" on some level.

Engagement is simple enough: the game must provide some kind of stimulus-response-"reward" interaction with the player's input that gets dopamine running. It does not matter if any pleasure is involved (though pleasure may be necessary to get the player started): rage, self-righteous zeal and simple "need" to keep going are all sufficient.

Emulation generally takes the lion's share of the work and is the most likely one to be noticed at the game-buying stage. This may include the game's world-setting and story, as the word may suggest, but participation in a fictional world is not necessary. Emulation may also include the social context of the intended player: whether in collaboration or competition, with friends or strangers, in person or online, whether the game should be a "safe space" for any given identity group. In other words, it is everything in a given game that draws the player into participating in a given narrative or social arena, be it the study of a living ecosystem, glory in combat, or (ostensibly) happy competition with family and friends at a gathering.

Edification has seen a resurgence in discussion in recent years, mostly for negative reasons. Whether any explicit thought is put into it, an activity that sets up a behavioural reward system within the context of getting a reader to participate in a specific narrative of human conduct by definition must be drilling some moral or ethical message into that reader's mind, in a way that is much more easy to implicitly accept - or, rather, much more onerous and unrewarding not to accept ("win the game" as opposed to "type in some cheat codes and fuck around for hours in places the player was never meant to go") - than in a book ("read the book" as opposed to "read the book and scribble long notes in the margins and between the lines with a fine red pen detailing every reason why you think the author is full of shit").

As far as appeal and getting people to play goes, I suppose edification can be subsumed into emulation. Or perhaps emulation is too broad to be a useful category and edification too narrow. I will revise once I get another alliterating trio.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
First, Fr. Stephen's post about something not directly related to stories* at all (though, of course, all things are at least indirectly related to stories*):
Someone commented with a recommendation for John C. Wright,** which led me to this blog post:
Meanwhile, Fr. Stephen posts the following:
Characters in good stories (particularly good children’s stories) are more than simple individuals with complex and unpredictable behavior. Such individuals would be of no more use in training a child, than reciting random numbers is for teaching math. What we want in a character, is, well character. We need them to be a certain kind of person (or dragon, etc.). People, including children, make sense of the world through the stories they know. Children without stories are forced to stumble through the world without a clue.
The underlined portion describes the modern approach to fiction we are all too familiar with. It speaks well of us that most of us fail miserably. (I am thinking particularly of the anti-Mary-Sue pontifications that I'm sure anyone reading this already knows - which tend, if followed literally, to produce characters as described in the underlined portion.)

In the comments, someone comments with a link to this:
Which includes an excellent example*** of how to write fiction in imitation of Scripture. (Dr. Guroian didn't have time to mention Psalm 68(67):23; there's bound to be other stuff in there.)

The above led me to read the following two book synopses, listed in the order I read them. One left me feeling nothing; the other had me immediately searching for a copy.,_a_Life_in_the_Woods
The former tries to stand for so much, but nothing in the story does so - it's just a bunch of stuff that happens. In contrast, every moment in Bambi is fat and heavy with meaning just being there. (Interestingly, the Bambi synopsis has no separate "Major themes" section; such things are irresistibly inferred through both the plot and the book's reception.)

And now for something completely different:
Basically the literary equivalent of playing an FPS.** *****

*I had typed "fiction writing" and then moved on, then came back to add the parenthetical thinking I had typed "stories", then corrected what I previously typed accordingly. Maybe that's the problem: we're (I'm) not even trying to write stories anymore.

**Yes, I am aware of both these authors' involvement with certain recent controversies. I do not make this post with the intent to endorse their positions on such matters and I am endorsing their work inasmuch that I am willing to read past their real and perceived flaws, as one must always do when reading anyone.****

***In other news, misleading description of the day: Cinderella: a young girl uses her mad freerunning skills and commands an army of dinosaurs to secure her reign as queen and execute vengeance upon her enemies.

****Re: flaws, more Wright than Correia. The latter's explanation of the Sad Puppies movement makes a lot more sense than what (admittedly little, but Correia describes it accurately) I'd been reading before getting his side of it. The former's explanation of his stance re: enemies, taken at its best, is indistinguishable from a pagan perspective despite the claims to Christianity, and the best thing I got out of it was the realization that Christ's admonition to Peter about swords could also be read as a prophecy about what would happen with the Western Church over a thousand years later.

*****2015-11-01 19:14 EDIT:
But we have to be taken back to when Parker was fourteen years of age to fully understand what moves him throughout the story. In that year, at the fair, Parker set his eyes on a tattooed man whose entire body, from head to foot, was covered with images. O’Connor writes: “Until he saw the man at the fair, it did not enter his head that there was anything out of the ordinary about the fact that he existed.”
I was able to finally see the Guardian. He was a giant of a man. Every inch of his skin had been covered in strange tattoos. The ink lines moved like living things. He looked right at me across space and time.
...a perfect arabesque of colors... (this song was one of the first that had randomly come up as I read the essay)
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
In response to this comment:
I’d be very interested in the atheist-to-orthodox “take” on this sort of discussion.
I'm not even sure if I count, since I was brought up as a Christian before I became an atheist (de facto in my teens, explicitly in my twenties), but it did get me to try to articulate just what might've been going on in my head in the months leading up to my visit of St. John of Shanghai Orthodox Mission on the evening of February 1, 2014.*

Read more... )

*a date that I've always remembered as January 30 or 31 until I checked the day of the week just now. The reading of the life of St. Brigid I remember more distinctly.
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
A co-operative board game similar to "Sorry!" or snakes-and-ladders but where the goal is to endure as long as possible. Mostly inspired by Killing Floor.

I should probably rename my RPG tag... )
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
[Include this paragraph if there is any chance that someone may believe you are heretically praying for the salvation of the animal's personal soul. Which is usually.]
I do not know, Lord, and am unworthy to inquire, what plan of salvation you may have for this creature. But I beseech You, who in Your unfathomable wisdom have made even Your sinless creation subject to futility in hope of salvation from corruption into Your glorious freedom, to extend all such mercy You have planned for that with which we have had this privilege of sharing Your gift of life.

[Include this paragraph if we were responsible for its unnecessary death.]
Forgive us, Lord, in our haste and our brokenness, poor and unprofitable stewards of these Your gifts, and ever guide us to repentance that we may do all things in accordance with Your will.

Lord Jesus Christ our God, bless this Your creature in accordance with its kind, as it returns to its dust whence it had been brought forth from Your living earth, that all your creation may be restored to the joy of Your salvation, O Resurrection and Life, in Your everlasting mercies with Your unoriginate Father and All-Holy, Good and Life-Giving Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

[Written for want of anything remotely resembling such an occasional prayer in either the little red Antiochian prayer book or the green Ancient Faith prayer book, and the total inappropriateness of attempting to use any existing prayer for the dead as a base.]
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
Suppose you had a red circle and a blue circle of equal size.

Then shortly after the circles are taken away and you see what looks like a dark purple circle, the same size as the first two.

It is labeled "woog".

There are 3 interpretations of what woog means:

1. A third circle that is dark purple in colour, made from the original two circles.
2. A third circle that contains both the original two circles.

Now you have some people who insist that what we're seeing is
3. The original two circles overlapping each other.

These people never, ever use the word "woog" to describe it.

Each group thinks the following: )

Without reading the cut text if possible, does the second interpretation mean the same thing as the third, and, assuming you can't move any of the circles or look at them from the side or otherwise measure depth, how would you be able to prove it either way?
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
n. Someone who purports to say something in jest, when in fact he has left the listener no reason to believe that what he is saying is not what he actually believes in his heart, but who nonetheless strives to convince the audience, to varying degree of success, that what he are saying is acceptable because he is - or can reasonably be said to be - ironically making fun of it. Especially if involving rape or murder.

v. The above act of feigned jest.
vaecrius: The infamous cartoon of Darwin's head on a chimp's body, superimposed with a MSPainted Nazi armband. (are you a monkey)
And so we trudged along the frozen waste.
We found a wall of stone, ten feet in height,
Rough from wear and carelessness, easily clomb.
Stains, and a great stench, covered it--
Rotting, sulfrous protein, slime and shell.
Bubbling I heard: not below, but unseen.

Read more... )
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)

This is an excellent video for anyone who wants to know what goes on during the Sunday morning service in an Orthodox church.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
Following up on these garbled musings after a night's at least two nights' sleep.

This gets BADLY rambly. There is no organization because I do not even know what my thesis is, which is one of the implicit questions I am struggling with, and thus cannot delete something as irrelevant to such a thesis. )

2015-07-12 EDIT:
The distinctive role of the person of the Theotokos in God’s plan for the salvation of humanity is the source for the empirical, typological symbolism according to which the liturgical function of women in the plan of divine οἰκονομία is parallel to the work of the Holy Spirit, while the liturgical function of the male is parallel to that of Christ.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
First, a passing thought:
A good design is seamless, unified, harmonious, whole. A bad design is fragmented and arbitrary, its elements stuck together ad-hoc with no consideration as to how one flows into the other. When the intelligent design researchers (and what they do is genuinely, legitimately research - I say this as a barrister and solicitor) look for signs of design, the usual formula is to isolate a harmonious design, deny the existence of its effective cause within creation, and conclude therefore that God must have done it. This is to deny that the effective cause is part of the harmonious whole, and to claim that there has been some kind of unnatural severance within creation. In other words, the signs of flaws and corruptions of the unified design of the original. If these are the signs of the Designer we seek, then that designer is not the One who designed causation for our use, Who is everywhere present and filling all things, Whose designs are at all friendly to us.

And now, have some cave worms (note: taxonomically not worms) to cleanse the palate.

According to this study, if you're white, male, well-educated or in the scientific "in", you are more likely to believe GMOs are safe. Or, rather, distrust increases the further you move out of this inner elite circle. There appear to be no controls for socioeconomic class. Am immediately reminded of Lewis' critique of Man's power over Nature being ultimately the mere power of some men over others.

Relatedly, I'm not the first to compare our economic system to a Paperclip Maximizer. The only real debate is just what is analogous to paperclips - mammon itself, or consumer products.

And now for some less short-form reblogging...

Fr. Stephen Freeman posts a trilogy of posts about sex and gender.

In case the blog is ever moved and the pictures are lost again, here are the pictures the accompany each:cut for spoiler - their best impact is when you read each article itself )

All three are well worth reading. That said, one quote struck me in particular:
In all discussions of our gendered existence, Christians must remember that male and female are eschatological images – they are images towards which we are moving, not givens according to which automatically live. The male who is not self-emptyingly male, is not yet what he shall be nor what he should be. The female who is not self-emptyingly female, is not yet what she shall be nor what she should be. And, of course, our situation is still more tragic and broken. For some, the experience of the energies of our nature is changed – whether through the brokenness of genetics or nurture. They are not yet what they shall be nor what they should be. We share a tragedy that is common to all humanity.
This is incomprehensible without an understanding of what Blessed Mother Maria Skobtsova was getting at in her reflection concerning the emulation of the Mother of God. It also provides, in my experience possibly for the first time, a framework for how we should approach masculine and feminine identity and prescription, in a way that finally relates to the theology of kenosis and the Cross (beyond the way in which all suffering so relates).

This leaves, of course, the content open: just what is male and what is female kenosis? Mother Maria's analysis is tantalizing, providing enough to offer a start to the dialogue but leaving nothing close to a clear, yes-no-depends method of recognizing either or both in another.

I'm starting to understand how Thomas Aquinas felt.

One possible answer: the distinction, outside of biological functions, is more descriptive than prescriptive in that if we simply follow the Way the means of that expression will make themselves known. But why then are there any commandments aimed at consciously maintaining the distinction?

Then Dana comments on Part 3 referencing a book called "Flight From Woman", and another hint suggests itself: every known effort to create a genderless society has only succeeded in creating a misogynistic society. Whatever the reason for it, it just happens that in our civilization the male is unmarked and the female marked, and to try to reform society such that everyone conforms to neutral the obvious thing to do (given the mindset of the revolutionary who is typically also an iconoclast) is to purge that which is marked. The requirement to maintain the distinction - especially in the New Testament where the early Church was going up against the gnostic heretics - may be (inter alia) a safeguard against that evil, which would be toxic to (again, inter alia) anyone who would otherwise have sought salvation through the feminine route.

I say "anyone" at the end of that paragraph. I do not believe in a strict individual (lit. individuus) binary where being on one side on one thing necessitates being on that side on everything else to the exclusion of the other. To believe in such exclusion would be to deny that any woman can carry her Cross, or that any man can be pierced to the heart by the sorrows of another - a denial both theologically monstrous and obviously untrue in experience. One of the most liberating and beautiful things I've found about Orthodoxy compared to Western theology is that to say X is Y is not to imply, in the absence of a genuine contradiction, that X is not Z.

But then how are we by (prescriptive, theological) nature male and female, but not all androgynous (~male and female created He every one of them~)?

Perhaps to all these statements should be added "without limitation", as the lawyers do. Are we each created, then, to find only the highest fulfillment in only one of the paths, however great our works may be down the other? We might, instead, speak not of paths but aspects, or abilities and potentials, or differing gifts of grace, or even statistics in an RPG (tempered, of course, by the constant remembrance that without God our works are nothing).

Or perhaps another test question is: which is worse off: a woman devoid of the feminine and a man of the masculine, or a woman devoid of the masculine and a man of the feminine?

I offer a very crude example.

The former (failure of own gender's virtue):
  • a group of men. One suffers emotional turmoil. The others lash out angrily and bitterly, say all manner of evil against whoever they feel may be responsible, fail utterly to bring consolation or solve the problem.
  • a group of women. One suffers emotional turmoil. The others do not know how to handle it and leave in shame.

The latter (failure of other gender's virtue):
  • a group of men. One suffers emotional turmoil. The others do not know how to handle it and leave in shame.
  • a group of women. One suffers emotional turmoil. The others lash out angrily and bitterly, say all manner of evil against whoever they feel may be responsible, fail utterly to bring consolation or solve the problem.

If both are equally bad, then this gives us no reason to believe that humanity is not fulfilled by total positive androgynity; if the former is worse, then that supports what we are taught.

This is increasingly becoming a matter of "I'll know it when I see it", without any ability to formalize what is going on. The Thomist understanding frustratingly remains.

Will hit Post for want of a logical conclusion.
vaecrius: A round squishy plush lobster bursts out of the blue. (cock lobster)
In which someone plays Hideous Destructor without having read the manual.

In which two of the new generation play Doom for the first time.
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
The main difference is that his is actually worth reading. (If somewhat bare of Heavy Weapons Guy references, but that's probably related.)

Two articles worth mentioning:
A ‘free’ China, for him, is emphatically not ‘free’ in a bourgeois capitalist sense, nor even ‘liberated’ in a Marxist sense. It’s fascinating to see an intellectual, reckoned a ‘leftist’ in Chinese discourse, defend certain non-teleological and anti-modern Confucian political ideas and understandings as necessary for China’s continued ‘modern’ reform and development. Dr. Wang himself is likely quite aware of the irony; the reason he eschews the term ‘left’ to describe himself, after all, is because he feels a terminology imported from a Western revolutionary context has very limited traction in a Chinese one. ...

My own interest in China stems from the fact that an immensely long body of civilised tradition – a body which goes back, with few interruptions, for 3200 years – is brought into a constant, disruptive and disorienting contact with the most frantic, brutal and unvarnished forms of modernity. And unlike in other nations – like Japan or Korea – no serious attempt is made to paper over or downplay or explain away these violent juxtapositions. No soothing political noises are made to the effect that one can have a society grounded in Confucian values that is at the same time fully integrated into a value-demolishing global economy. Tradition has not yet been reduced to an ersatz of itself in the service of modern ideologies.
This dovetails well with some cultural observations I've made myself over the years, including where Chinese capitalism seems to avoid certain Western vices while exacerbating a few others. (Glaring example: the sometimes hilarious disjunct between the concerns of modern, updated Canadian estate and family law, the product of two generations of jurisprudence from post-industrial, post-sexual-revolution liberal gweilo litigants, versus what goes on on the ground with the majority of Chinese clients of similar socioeconomic status.)
Like Solovyov, Mencius recognises that human beings have the distinction of moral feelings to separate them from animals. And Mencius’s account of the ‘four beginnings’ bear an uncanny resemblance to Solovyov’s basic moral feelings. Mencius’s ‘sense of shame’ (xiu’e zhi xin 羞惡之心) and Solovyov’s are identical. His ‘sense of compassion’ (ceyin zhi xin 惻隱之心) is directly analogous to Solovyov’s moral feeling of ‘pity’. And his ‘sense of modesty’ (cirang zhi xin 辭讓之心) is somewhat culturally-coded into a Chinese mentality, deferring honours and rewards out of a knowledge of one’s place in the social fabric, but there’s enough of an analogy within that cultural coding to be drawn to Solovyov’s feeling of ‘reverence’ to be, at the very least, interesting.

(this last one is not the best quote by a long shot. The entire thing is well worth reading.)
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
It occurs to me that we've just passed the 5-year mark for when we moved to Burnaby and my parents finally ceased living under the same roof.

Also, I really should get that notary they used (now retired IIRC) a big gift basket or something out of both thanks and apology for us having subjected her to a back-to-back purchase/sale at the end of April. I would never, ever have agreed to such a thing myself now.
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
describe 2 people marooned together and their relationship after 5 days, 5 months and 5 years, in 300 words.

Read more... )

(originally posted on tumblr; posting here for archival reasons. another take by [personal profile] vorzac, sans 300-word limit, here; [personal profile] helarxe's fulfilment of both of these here)
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
(Just as I attempt to start preparing this to post on DW, a courier comes in to pick up a cheque for these guys - the motto is, of course, a play on moving mountains, while "move mountains" is itself a priest spell from the original Exile series that... well, let's just say it gets you into houses to let you move things out of them.)

Context: I've got stewing in the back of my mind (and a few text files in my hard drive) for a while now an idea for a reboot of Jeff Vogel's Avernum setting, with a mind to play up all the wonderful and utterly missed and squandered opportunities at exploring the ecological and cultural ramifications of living in such a completely different environment as a magic-powered endless underground maze. The gameplay, if I ever got to that point, would be a very random roguelike with very little in the way of game-stat optimizing or trying to "win" things by clearing everything (in fact you would be ostracized by everyone for wiping out all large animals in a cave, for example) - the exact polar opposite of the sort of games Spiderweb make, so there would be no competition. (EDIT: And quite possibly Linux-only, to underscore the point.)

One recurring feature of the Exile/Avernum games' magic system is to have 2 classes of spells: "mage" spells that rely on your usual fantasy magic; and "priest" "spells" that... well, mechanically they are identical to mage spells except in the particular effects available, though they are described as prayers rather than incantations. You run into occasional NPCs who explain certain points of doctrine, but as far as I've ever played this has had no systemic effect on the spells available and the general feel is as though one bought a church, removed all the icons, replaced the crosses with ankhs and never opened the books except for a couple fake props where the viewer never even gets a fleeting glimpse of the contents.

I figure if I ever get this underground-roguelike-Avernum-knockoff game off the ground, I should probably do something along these lines, but with more meat to it. So... )

I know this

if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.


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