This blog contains effusive rhetoric and profligate diatribes. Read at your own risk.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

RPGequired RPGeading

While I am chronically something of a slow reader these days, finding it difficult to apprehend text without carefully digesting virtually every word on the page in a painstakingly methodical process that tends to self-discourage, I've been convinced of the value of books for too long to ever stop trying no matter how frustrating the process of devouring them grows. Lacking any other time in my current schedule when I find myself wanting to deal with printed material, I've taken to reading on the bus; usually fantasy novels are the dish I serve myself, but at the moment my meal ticket is the core system book for the 'Mage: the Awakening' Role-Playing Game. (If you don't know what an RPG is, or think it stands for Rocket-Propelled Grenade, I recommend that you get your butt over to Wikipedia and educate yourself on the topic, because I don't feel like spontaneously composing a clone of "Dungeons and Dragons for Dummies" to get you up to speed before you can continue listening to me talk about things I consider interesting.)

I love roleplaying setting books in large part because they are stories without a plot or a main character - I feel that these things as often limit the story as provide it with definition. A plot grows old and tired long before a setting does; watching a movie like "Ninja Scroll", I tire of the story trying to surprise me when I already know how it ends, but I still burn with a desire to know more about the Eight Devils and the other ninja clans, with their many bizarre and wonderful special abilities. It would please me greatly if at some point Hollywood or Tokyo would experiment with creating a movie or TV show that is purely descriptive, not having a sequence of events but simply a lavish audiovisual-motion depiction of things that are cool enough to be stared at like statues in a museum, with no expectation that they should act out some probably-derivative plotline.

So, while I possess enough works of literature that I'm never likely to run out of new things to read, I still treasure the Mage book and other RPG supplements for the fact that, having no plot and no suspense, they can be appreciated indefinitely without regard to where you are in the storyline. I don't even have to keep re-reading the books; once I've consumed them, the worlds they describe come alive in my head, and play themselves out in various permutations anytime I'm bored enough to daydream (such as while I'm at work). In essence, while reading "The Lord of the Rings" lets you thrill to the adventures of Frodo and Aragorn and the various other protagonists, a Middle Earth RPG book simply tells you about the orc-filled mines of Moria, the Ents of the Fangorn Forest, the blasted wastes of Mordor or the palaces of the Elves, and lets you explore any and all of these settings inside your own mind. That, my friends, is adventure that never ends.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

And so, it begins....

Alright, it's about time I quit screwing around and got on board with this blogging thing; I've been doing basically the same thing for years, only in a horridly disorganized fashion and without telling anyone about it, so I think it's high time I tried to get my act together.

What have I got going for me? Why should anyone pay attention to my blog, instead of to Otep Shamaya's or Jared Von Hindman's? Well, bluntly, you probably should read those first (as should I, having only sampled both); I can't really compete with the level of fevered genius on display in places like those. But I do think I have a fair bit of my own to offer, and while I know that 90% of everything is dreck and the intelligent surfer needs proof he isn't wasting his time, about all I can say for now is: I'm pretty much all over the map, I think three or four unique thoughts for every one that an average person has (assuming you buy that there's any such thing as an average person, which I suspect neither you nor I should, but it's too tempting a shortcut to easily stop using), and so you never know what I might come up with to say next. You might find what I say silly, bizarre, infuriating or worse, but I'll be more than a little surprised if you're bored (for any reason other than my not being able to update with terrible regularity).

Though I prefer to defy easy categorization, it would probably be accurate to describe me as an ultra-liberal with Libertarian and Green/Progressive leanings. I am a natural iconoclast, with an inclination toward spirituality but a thorough distrust of organized religion (mostly because of the "organized" part), and I treasure art and literature while disdaining sports and economics, among many other things. I am a dreamer, a sybarite, a sloth and a judgmentalist, and I am many more things, some of which directly contradict each other, and I've even gone so far as to claim that this is to my benefit. That description only scratches the surface of my general weirdness, so like I said, hopefully you at least won't find me boring.

Actually, that segues nicely into some actual content for this intro, rather than just me babbling about myself. Like I said, I think that my capacity to contradict myself is totally awesome - within a few minutes I can be caught advocating completely opposite positions, and I truly believe in the rightness of both of them. But this isn't just me; I'm firmly convinced the entire world, right down to the laws of physics, does this on a regular basis, and should be applauded for it. Radical dualities and impossible combinations surround us, alternating and iterating in a dizzying spiral of confusing potential; Douglas Adams said something to this effect, and I think he had a point. This is a world where things can be valued for their worthlessness, cursed for being too enjoyable, or contrasted sharply against minor variations of themselves. Being given the choice between such fascinating, mind-boggling complexity or a world which is simple and straightforward, I will take the kaleidescope of peculiarity any day. I feel that in seeking to understand a universe that seems to actively resist being understood, we human beings are doing something truly spectacular, and that the whole point of there ever being a universe can be found somewhere in there, where the truth lies and the answers are questionable. At the very least, it keeps us busy and keeps us on our toes, and that's certainly a good thing; otherwise, we might get bored.

Quote of the whenever-I-get-around-to-it:
"The wind seemed to whisper softly: Oh, son...don't wait for the seas to part or messiahs to come; don't sit around and waste this chance, to see if love will overcome."
--from the song "Sparkle" by a band confusingly named Live.

Random Thought of the day (I definitely have at least one of those every single day, though they won't all get posted here):
Time is money, and money is the root of all evil. Therefore, Time is the root of all evil, and so you can only be perfectly virtuous if you never actually existed. (Arguably, God may have managed this trick, and proves that it doesn't prohibit having a relevant effect on the world, though it may well prevent the satisfaction of knowing you did.)

(Warning: this blog will contain a fair smattering of profanity from time to time, so fuck off if you can't handle that shit. This is born not from a desire to be foul mouthed but simply from a need to exercise my freedom of speech to the absolute, or as close as I personally wish to venture; I refuse to censor myself for the sake of others's small-minded preferences, which are totally okay and I'm aware that I'm being something of an asshole by looking down on their frailty, but that doesn't seem to stop me. Not trying to be confrontational here, I just figured I'd get this out of the way, to save me and the clean-speech cluckers a whole lot of time failing to convince each other.)