|January 8, 2013|
3D Monster Maze, J. K. Greye Software, 1982
A videogame corridor is possibly the simplest way to create epistemic suspense through spatial engineering. You can look down the corridor, thanks to games’ adoption of scientific perspective (the ‘firstperson’ view), but you don’t know what lies on the other side of the door at the end, or around the corner (as with the trailblazing corridor-horror 3D Monster Maze), or perhaps the end of the corridor is shrouded in sable shadow or cordite smoke. Corridors are inherently mysterious – in Resident Evil as much as in Gothic fiction of the 18th century, with all its dark, secret passageways in cursed ancient castles. Even more suspenseful are corridors with covered skulking points or several entrances feeding in from the sides. It’s no surprise that a whole genre came to be described as the ‘corridor shooter’, although if any bright digital satirist has made a game where all you do is literally shoot the corridors, I am tragically unaware of it.
The corridor is inherently authoritarian, seeking to corral unbounded biological movement into unnaturally linear paths. Early man did not grow up in corridors but on wide savannah plains, which is posited by some evolutionary anthropologists as the reason why our field of vision is wider than it is tall. To put a human being in a corridor, then, is to create a tension between our sensory equipment, tuned to one environment, and the artificial new surroundings. It is to say to us, with a sneering challenge: ‘Adapt to this!’
The phenomenon in videogames of what I like to call the ‘jungly corridor’, then, may be taken as a sophisticated joke about man’s struggle to negotiate modernity using his woefully inapt primate heritage. What looks like lush, natural rainforest or tropical island vegetation turns out to be a series of corridors no less soul-destroying than your local council offices. The Uncharted series has lately taken the jungly corridor to new heights (or at least new lengths), and the newest entry in that series’ inspiration, Tomb Raider, showed a competitive playable level at the Expo: a one-way limp through an extremely jungly corridor, punctuated by scripted scenery breakages and a bit where you have to walk carefully across a log. (When was the last time you had to walk carefully across a log in a videogame and thought, ‘Wow! This is really fun! I hope I don’t fall off’? No, me neither.)
Merleau-Ponty’s Child Psychology
As much as death signals the end of the self, birth is just as mysterious. Both extend out to infinity and signal the brevity and contingency of our lives. As mysterious are those first few years of life that one does not have access to as an adult, I know I existed before my earliest memories. I know I interacted with others, I learned to walk and talk. I was willful from my parent’s tales.
William Pope.L: Reader Friendly
William Pope.L is famous for (among other things) carrying a business card that identifies him as “The Friendliest Black Artist in America.” It’s a clever gag because it makes itself true, in a way, every time it draws people closer. The card must be especially useful when Pope.L does business with people who dread Black men or Black artists.
10 Things the NSA Has Seen Me Do
One winter in my early twenties myself and some good friends — a merging of art, music and literary ladies of New York, full-grown girls aspiring to be women — got together, had a lovely dinner, some wine and delightful chat. Then we decided to spend an hour practicing “Teach Me How To Dougie”. NSA — can you teach me how to Dougie? You know why? “Because all my bitches love me.”
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Saturday afternoon, I took the train from Astoria to Prince Street. Navigating East, through the brick wall to brick wall Soho throng, I crossed that little cement slab of park that bisects the Lower East Side to Rivington Street, past the haunted (still exotic) dereliction of the Rivington Street Synagogue.
I came to John Berger's Ways of Seeing through the back door. About a decade after the four-part series on the BBC (1972) had excited attention as a scrappy response to Kenneth Clark's staid Civilisation (1969), I read the book because the title was so often cited. I confess that I was left wondering what all the fuss was about. It was a little, murkily grey book that seemed to make rather obvious points about how the Old Masters had reinforced orthodoxies to which we no longer subscribe.