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Off to Daventry

Monday 4/8/19

Composed the second essay of the day. This is messed up at this point. This is so far beyond messed up at this point. I think I am deep into the realm of post-believability, yet all occurs within the prison of anonymity. But if people ever knew? And when they do come to know, if they come to know, how will they explain it?

I believe it was this past weekend that many people who lie to themselves about being writers went to a convention they have once a year. At this convention, they trade favors for the lowest of stakes. Inclusion in magazines that are not read, that are not seen, that do not pay. They talk about things they're writing that they're not actually writing. They talk about things they will never write. They gossip about each other. Wait, they do write--they post endlessly on Facebook about their conference, as the have been for months in advance of it. That they do do. They do a lot of that kind of writing.

They mount fake cheer for fake people so that they can have fake relationships. This is called being a Literary Citizen. They pay money to fly to this conference and stay in hotels. It's very important to them, which speaks to how little importance is actually there; if this is a notable point above sea level for you, your world grows no higher than a mushroom. When they speak on a panel about something very exciting and hugely significant--like, say, the problem with foregrounded privilege in short-shorts that are oriented around the second person--you know, the stuff that makes society tick and can improve the quality of culture and the world--they post about this, and 435 of their fake friends who also do fake things can hit the like button for fake likes. And that's a lot of all that this is.

O, I forgot something--they hate people who are productive. Who are actually creating, and creating well. Creating at a rarefied level. Because there is no greater enemy, no greater inducer of terror, no bigger trigger, than that which is legitimate and real. Anyway. I wrote a 2000 word essay today on King's Quest, after doing the one on the painting from 1819. This is not the personal essay I wrote on King's Quest--the one that was 4000 words long--a couple weeks back. This was a deadline one for quick cash. So, lots of journal entries, an entire humor book from start to finish, an op-ed, two essays, and all of the letters in nine days. Definitely nothing to see here. It's funny that there's a thing called a genius grant, isn't it?


But then there was King’s Quest. If Oregon Trail was akin to a box your brain was in, this was the brain box-breaker, the boundless possibilities of fiction which made history seem, oddly enough, foreshortened. Limited.

The game was created by Roberta Williams, who is only sixty-six right now. So she was very young when she started making computer games that hold up well today. She had no training, was unable to program. But she was a regular reader, someone who loved stories. It’s that love that underpins King’s Quest, and it’s a very shareable love.

The game was made for Sierra Entertainment, and this was the title that put them on ye olde map. You, dear player, embody that bravest of knights, Sir Graham. He’s not dressed like we’d expect a knight to be dressed, but more like a gamekeeper who has just beat some pheasants out of the bush for his lord to have a shot at. He’s summoned to the castle—and I love this bit—because the kingdom of Daventry is all out of cash. The king, though, has a get-rich-quick scheme, that will pay off Daventry’s debts.

What the hell did these people get themselves into? The box packaging almost made it sound like the king is an inveterate gambler. Or maybe that was my youthful imagination leaning that way. The king has heard—perhaps courtesy of a magic bird—that there are three treasures scattered in the Daventry environs, and if his best knight—this being Sir Graham/us—can round up the treasures, the king can sell them, and Daventy will be solvent once more. So off we go!

The first time I made the Sir Graham character walk towards the edge of the screen and touch it—and he peregrinates like the most confident knight in all the land, certainly—and a new vista, bog, glen, meadow, rill-bank, rush-patch, began to load, I felt like I was no longer in a computer game. This was richer, more immersive, its hold cyclonic. I felt like I was in a book the best way you feel like you’re in a book when you’re reading a great one. You have no conception of the act of reading, but instead of “being,” if you will—as in, a part of something else, an interlude in your life that you’re experiencing, or an interlude in someone else’s that you’re witnessing as part of yours.

This had partially to do with the way Sir Graham moved. If you passed him behind a tree, he’d disappear, just like we do in the real world, and then just as quickly pop out again. If he walked in front of a rock, the Sir Graham-sized portion of the rock wasn’t visible for the duration of that passage.

Sounds simple now, but this was brain melter at the time. Subtly. You found a lot of useful implements inside of hollow tree stumps—a dagger, for instance—and when you met creatures—a dwarf—you typed in commands to interact with them. You supplied the words. It’s like when we meet anyone. What will we say? What makes a favorable impression? What might get us what we are looking for?


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