The Death of Romance in the Shadow of the Colossus
|February 13, 2013|
Shadow of the Colossus, Team ICO, 2005
by Jesse Miksic
Myths have no life of their own. They wait for us to give them flesh. If one man in the world answers their call, they give us their strength in all its fullness. We must preserve this myth, and ensure that its slumber is not mortal so that its resurrection is possible.
- Albert Camus, Prometheus in the Underworld, 1947
We are drowning in myths.
Of course, I don’t mean myths like primitive folk stories transcribed in anthropology textbooks, transmitted in a way that no shaman could have foreseen. Those myths are under glass, specimens preserved for our edification and amusement. Some commentators – like the great Claude Levi-Strauss – didn’t bother acknowledging any other definition of the term.
I’m talking about myths in a more general sense… myths as stories that tie our random, noisy, contingent lives into meaningful narratives. These myths may serve as articles of faith, or as aspirations codified into archetypes, or as warnings to those who would repeat our half-remembered mistakes. I’m talking about myths as the semantic sinew connecting our individual identities with our groaning, patchwork collective consciousness.
Myths used to be in our verbal traditions, in our religious parables, in our folk songs. Now, myths are in our movies, our plays, our pop anthems, our cat videos, our comics, our television shows as they spin out over decades, our political sound bites and our corporate press releases. They’re coded into every kind of medium, art form, aphorism and anecdote. Some are disguised as history and theory; others masquerade as universal themes, woven into specific stories by force of habit and intuition. It is the repetition of these stories in all these forms, stubbornly reciting the tautologies of our collective past, that makes them indispensable, the tensile layer between our levels of awareness.
Myths are in our history books, complete with footnotes and citations.
And myths are in our video games.
This is an essay about how a particular video game – an acclaimed 2005 adventure game called Shadow of the Colossus – unmistakably echoes Romanticism (specifically, German Romanticism and its related movements). Quite a bit of second-hand research has gone into this analysis, and I’m ecstatic about the results, but the whole mess would have very little meaning if I wasn’t talking about something bigger than a particular reading of a particular game, according to this particular player at this particular moment.
So as you fall into this abyss of parallels and correlations, keep that central idea of the myth in your head… that shared story, embedded in our fiction and our recorded history… that lubricates the contact between our individual lives and the open-ended narrative arc that we all participate in, whether or not we know it.
When I refer to Romanticism, I’m talking about something huge – maybe too huge to simplify for the sake of a readable argument – the sizable chunk of Western history chronicled by, among others, Isaiah Berlin in his series of lectures, The Roots of Romanticism. These lectures, accompanied by selections from Charles Larmore, Lewis Hyde, Albert Camus and William Pfaff, will make up the bulk of my supporting literature. Their insights into history and culture have been indispensable to my understanding of Shadow of the Colossus.
Shadow of the Colossus was created by Team ICO, led by game designer Fumito Euda. It tells the story of Wander, a hero controlled by the player, as he travels to a massive sunken landscape called the Forbidden Land. He undertakes this journey because there is a spirit in the Forbidden Land called Dormin, and Wander suspects that this spirit can resurrect his dead lover, Mono, who has been murdered as a sacrifice by their home civilization. Dormin tells Wander that Mono will be resurrected if Wander destroys sixteen enormous monsters called Colossi, which are living throughout the Forbidden Land. Most of the gameplay involves traveling across the landscape searching for each Colossus in turn, and then figuring out how to slay it by exploiting its behaviors and striking its weak spots.
There are significant developments in the later stages of this simple fantasy plot, and if you keep reading this essay, I will eventually spoil them. If you can play Shadow of the Colossus, I wholeheartedly recommend it. Go ahead, get started… I’ll wait.
Okay, ready? This analysis is broken into seven parts. In the first three, I’ll discuss the world of the game, its atmosphere and the secondary characters that populate it, to show how, taken together, they exhibit an unmistakably Romantic sensibility. In the next two parts, I’ll describe Wander himself, a sort of mythical Trickster, who embodies the heroes of the Romantic movement, and whose progress through the plot parallels the development of Romanticism through history. In the last two parts, I’ll discuss how the closing twists in the game parallel the eventual outcomes of Romantic thought in Western history, allowing the game to interrogate and critique the very ideals and impulses that have driven the player forward.
As you can see, there’s a lot to talk about.
I. One Movement, Two Modalities
In many ways, Shadow of the Colossus feels like a platformer, with its precarious jumps and enemies that act like multi-stage bosses from Ninja Gaiden. But it’s not paced like a platformer, nor like any other game in recent memory. You will not guide Wander through a field of faceless foes, nor acclimate your eyes to a repeated decorative background. In fact, about half your game time will consist in riding your horse across the deserted Forbidden Land, looking for your elusive enemies. It’s a lonely, meditative process, and it will give you time to fully absorb into the world, even as you ponder your purpose and feel yourself hypnotized by the vacant pastoral landscape.
This period of travel, which precedes every battle, is something I’ll call the journey. It gives the player time to acquaint themselves with this sprawling setting, whose tone is integral to the experience of the game. The journey roughly reflects the Romantic tendency toward detachment and indecision, an alienated sense of homelessness that infected the Romantic artists and philosophers. Charles Larmore, in his book The Romantic Legacy, calls this soaring detachment “Romantic Irony.” In his words, it is “the world-weariness that longs simply to get beyond the world [and] carries a wish to overcome the self as well” (78).
In Romanticism, Romantic Irony is paradoxically counterbalanced by an opposite tendency, which Larmore calls ‘Authenticity’, “a very different and essentially non-reflective way of being an individual, unabsorbed by a sense of belonging” (83). The habit of brooding, the sullen, introspective sensibility of some Romantic thinkers, was answered with a fiery impulsiveness in others, a rejection of the rational and structured self-possession of the Age of Reason. When the Romantics weren’t cloudy, they were stormy, acting out their passions, asserting their individuality, defending their homelands, and taking up the standards of their ideals, no matter the cost.
Morning in the Mountains, Caspar David Friedrich, 1821-22
This alternate mode of Romantic behavior is reflected in Shadow of the Colossus‘s other mode of gameplay, which I call the encounter. This is the combat, a ritual slaying of each Colossus in turn, which Wander undertakes to appease the demigod Dormin. In these battles, Wander isn’t just being practical, acting in patient pursuit of his calculated agenda. As the player gets lost in the excitement of the battle and each successive rush of triumph, so Wander loses himself in the emotional rush of catharsis. He releases himself to his passions, acting out his love for Mono and his resentment at her death.
These are the two modalities through which you engage the world of Shadow of the Colossus: In the journey, you are the lost soul; in the encounter, you become the lover and the warrior, carried by your passions into mortal struggles with the Colossi. These guardian monsters, your adversaries, fill in the emotional frame established by your travels through the Forbidden Land.
II. Colossi as Promethean Guardian Spirits
Your putative adversaries in Shadow of the Colossus are the Colossi, and their presence resonates through every aspect of the game. They vary in mass, from the size of large mammals to the size of skyscrapers; they do not roam or hunt, and only seem to stir when you approach their territory. They look like stone statues, gargoyles awakened to the light of day; they have hairy patches, but the hair looks like moss. They rage in defiance at your intrusion, but treat you like vermin, rather than as a legitimate foe. They all have small, glowing blue eyes that give a note of sadness to their primal tantrums.
There is something Promethean about these monsters, mostly in their slow, tortured emergence from the ground, as if they’ve been imprisoned there, made to stand watch. Lord Byron wrote a poem that could easily describe these Colossi:
What was thy pity’s recompense?
A silent suffering, and intense;
The rock, the vulture, and the chain,
All that the proud can feel of pain,
The agony they do not show,
The suffocating sense of woe,
Which speaks but in its loneliness,
And then is jealous lest the sky
Should have a listener, nor will sigh
Until its voice is echoless.
If the connection still seems too loose, consider that in Shadow of the Colossus, an eagle often accompanies you as you ride across the plain, alluding to the ravenous bird that eats Prometheus’ liver each day he is chained to his boulder.
Shadow of the Colossus is not the only story to draw on the Promethean myth. It has been repeated many times, by many authors, its metaphor relevant to many circumstances. Among them, Albert Camus and Lewis Hyde, both of whom I’ll get to later. We should take note right now, though that the myth of Prometheus undergoes drastic revisions in Shadow of the Colossus, which only contains a few traces of its original spirit. These Promethean Colossi may be chained to their territories, but they aren’t being punished for stealing fire. Here, they are protectors, guardians of some kind of dark essence, which enters Wander’s body each time he slays one. They are not the enemies of order, but its enforcers, and Wander is the true transgressor, destroying the matrix of stability that keeps the Forbidden Land in check.
III. Dormin as History’s Animus
So if Wander is a chisel, cracking open the calcified crust of the Forbidden Land, what will he find underneath? The answer to that question lies with Dormin, the disembodied spirit that Wander seeks out at the beginning of the story. It is only at the journey’s end, after doing Dormin’s bidding and destroying the Colossi, that the player discovers its true nature.
If you want to play Shadow of the Colossus spoiler-free, this might be a good time to stop reading.
Wander first hears Dormin’s voice in the Shrine of Worship, the temple at the center of the peninsula of the Forbidden Land. However, it turns out Dormin is everywhere at once… he speaks to Wander during the battles with the Colossi, and his black tendrils reach for Wander from the body of each defeated foe. Dormin’s consciousness is deeply entwined with the fabric of the game-world, and when Wander finally accomplishes his task, we discover that it was Dormin’s agenda he was serving.
This agenda reveals Dormin’s role in this narrative space: he is the purposefulness, the spirit of self-actualization, embedded within the Forbidden Land. He is the aletheia, the self-revealing, of the world that the player inhabits. As the narrative eventually reveals, the Colossi exist to hold this purposefulness in check, making the Forbidden Land a tomb for Dormin’s captive consciousness. This explains its eerie stillness, and it gives a whole new dimension to Wander’s quest to destroy the Colossi.
Dormin embodies history as a vast, self-interested organism, always striving toward self-consciousness. Isaiah Berlin attributes this view of history to the Romantic philosopher Schelling: “[Schelling] saw the world as beginning in a state of brute unconsciousness and gradually coming to consciousness of itself. Starting, as he says, from the most mysterious beginnings, from the dark, developing unconscious will, it gradually grows to self-consciousness” (97).
Berlin emphatically differentiates two opposing variations of this idea in his lecture “Unbridled Romanticism.” On one hand, the development of history to greater self-consciousness may liberate humanity and lead us to transcendence; this Romantic idea speaks to Wander, who hopes that Dormin will offer him a chance at redemption. At the same time, the player can sense Dormin’s darker nature, the dubiousness of his demands, suspicions eventually confirmed by the narrative. This reflects the darker, more cynical Romantic sense of uncertainty, which Berlin called “paranoia.” In this way, Shadow of the Colossus is very much like the Romantics, who “tend to oscillate between extremes of mystical optimism and appalling pessimism, which gives their writings a peculiar kind of uneven quality” (109).
As the narrative stretches on, the player is caught up in all those tensions that defined European Romantic thought: the tension between the journey and the encounter, and between redemption and destruction. And through these tensions, the player is able to discover Wander, his avatar: a Trickster, a Romantic hero, and the pivot point where passion turns into self-destruction.
IV. Being Wander the Trickster
I was led to the writing of this essay by a series of cosmic coincidences, starting with my own play-through of Shadow of the Colossus. It just so happened that, at the same time, I was reading a book called Trickster Makes This World, by Lewis Hyde, about the trickster figure in literature and folklore. I had beaten five or six Colossi in the game when I ran across this remarkable fragment of folklore in Hyde’s book:
There the death spirit came to him and said, ‘Coyote, do you pine for your wife?’—‘Yes, friend, I long for her …’ replied Coyote. ‘I could take you to the place where your wife has gone but, I tell you, you must do everything just exactly as I say; not once are you to disregard my commands and do something else.’—‘Yes,’ replied Coyote, ‘yes, friend, and what could I do? I will do everything you say.’ There the ghost told him, ‘Yes. Now let us go.’ Coyote added, ‘Yes, let it be so that we are going.’
“They went. There he said to Coyote again, ‘You must do whatever I say. Do not disobey.’—‘Yes, yes, friend, I have been pining so deeply, and why should I not heed you?’ Coyote could not see the spirit clearly. He appeared to be only a shadow. (82-83)
This folk story echoes Wander’s journey to an uncanny degree: the death spirit, which lingers as a shadow, supervising a foray into the land of the dead, for the purpose of reuniting the protagonist with his lost love… the demands of unconditional obedience, the fraught pilgrimage through a lonely, spectral landscape. Through this collision of my reading material and my gaming material, I discovered Wander the Trickster, and that’s what sparked the flame that became this essay.
So, how is Wander a Trickster? I’ll start with some simple themes. Lewis Hyde emphasizes the natural placelessness of the Trickster figure, its aimless disposition, which allows it to dwell on the margins and bear both the privileges and the burdens of its outsider status. This is Wander’s defining feature, as his namesake suggests. He is truly an exile, an outsider in the Forbidden Land, and in his encounters with the Colossi, he uses this to his utmost advantage.
If Wander is an adaptable outsider, the Colossi are inextricably embedded, massive animals of habitat and instinct. Lewis Hyde has seen this conflict before, in other Trickster stories, which “seem deliberately to set Trickster’s aimless wandering against beings that are anything but aimless, beings that are situated in space by their nature” (41). As Wander, you spend the whole game using this difference to your advantage, employing the instincts of the Colossi against them. In one case, you climb up columns and entice the enraged Colossus to knock them down; in another case, you strike parts of the Colossus’s body, prompting it to reach across itself to protect those sensitive areas, so that you can jump from one appendage to another. In virtually every case, you observe the Colossus’s behavior, and use its patterns to access its weak points. You play the role that Lewis Hyde calls “the technician of instinct” (45).
In destroying these sixteen idols, Wander shows himself to be a Trickster in another important aspect. Guided by Dormin, Wander is not just adventuring aimlessly, he is acting out an arcane ritual, repeating a cumulative pattern of gestures to bring about a cosmic change. He is desperate for the return of his love, but he is able to sublimate this desperation into a warrior’s purposefulness, carrying out a series of sacrifices with some obscure mythical significance. In this way, he fulfills the Trickster role that Lewis Hyde calls Inventor of the Ritual.
Of course, deferring immediate gratification and inventing a cathartic ritual is not inherently noble. It is ultimately selfish, both for Wander himself, and for the whole lineage of mythical Tricksters, as Hyde explains in regards to Hermes, the Greek Trickster god: “I think it is correct to say that Hermes invents the art of sacrifice and that he does so out of a struggle over appetite” (37).
V. Being Wander the Romantic
In questions of desire and appetite and narcissistic love-sickness, we find the gray area between the Trickster archetype and the Romantic sensibility. In Shadow of the Colossus, Wander plays a role that the Romantics deeply identified with, the role of the amoral protagonist. He is not a hero of virtue or altruism or social advancement; he is a hero of defiance and immoderate commitment, a slave to his passions. Isaiah Berlin speaks of this idealism in the Romantic age:
“The very notion of idealism, … that is to say the state of mind of a man who is willing to sacrifice a great deal for principles or for some conviction, who is not prepared to sell out, who is prepared to go to the stake for something which he believes, because he believes in it – this attitude was relatively new. What people admired was wholeheartedness, sincerity, purity of soul, the ability and readiness to dedicate yourself to your ideal, no matter what it was” (9).
When we look with clear eyes at Wander’s emotional dimension, it is melancholy and lovelorn, but also, and perhaps more importantly, it is vindictive. Mono’s sacrifice seems to have awakened a certain nihilism, a moral recklessness, that drives Wander to find ecstasy in his acts of destructive ritual sacrifice. Wander, and through him the player, is only really able to lose himself when he is struggling in mortal combat with the titans of the Forbidden Land, and he seems to relish these battles and their bloody conclusions. The catalyst for this whole violent ritual is Mono’s death, which appears to have planted the seed for Wander’s destructive impulse.
There is something in these seizures of violence, alternating with periods of melancholy stillness, that mirrors the development of Romanticism as a movement, and in this conceit, Mono’s death takes on great significance as a founding event. This event has a precise historical parallel in the Thirty Years War, a conflict of unparalleled destruction, visited upon Germany by a host of foreign forces. According to Berlin, this caused such instability in German culture that the population reacted emotionally and viscerally, falling back on “a very frequent form of spiritual retreat in depth, into a kind of inner citadel” which was accompanied by “an intense inner life, a great deal of very moving and very interesting, but highly personal and violently emotional literature” (35-37). This is how Romanticism sprang to life in Germany, and in Europe as a whole.
Thus, Mono’s death is Wander’s Thirty Years War, a crushing blow that casts him into throes of resentment and destructive catharsis. This is the shock that makes him vulnerable to Dormin’s manipulation. It is that tragic, submissive relationship that leads to the final, downbeat resolution of Shadow of the Colossus: Wander, in his desperation, willingly enthralls himself to Dormin, who instructs him to carry out the wild mission of Romanticism against the forces of order and rationality. To escape his grief, Wander commits a sin that Berlin identifies succinctly in his third lecture:
When the Olympian Gods become too tame, too rational, and too normal, people naturally enough begin to incline towards darker, more chthonian deities (46).
VI. Wander’s Wrath and the Great War
Shadow of the Colossus isn’t the first video game that begins with a maiden laid out on a stone altar, waiting for you to resurrect her. If you played Zelda II: The Adventure of Link on the NES, it should have been a familiar scene.
This is, of course, just the modern echo of a great many myths and fairy tales. Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, sleeping the slumber of death, both waited to be saved by a young prince. What’s strikingly different about Shadow of the Colossus is the eventual conclusion. For Wander and Mono, there is no salvation, no redemptive defeat of some wicked queen. Instead, there’s gradual corruption and a fall from grace, leading to the edge of a catastrophe, barely averted by the same forces of order that you, the player, have just spent fifteen hours trying to defy.
Read as a fairy tale, Shadow of the Colossus is a surreal revisionist clusterfuck, a wholesale rejection of the picturesque idealism that makes up that Disney fantasy. This is because mass-market fairy tales are pure Romantic ejaculate, unencumbered by historical consciousness or self-awareness. Shadow of the Colossus, on the other hand, is a hero story that’s been contextualized according to the lessons of history. It is not a naïve story of Romanticism’s triumph, but a savvy retelling of its rise and eventual collapse.
We’ve looked at the beginning of Romanticism, its contrarian emergence from the seeds of rationalism and the Thirty Years War. Now, we must look to the end of Romanticism, its consequences after a long century of growth and mutation. Its consequences and aftermath are covered in depth by the cultural historian William Pfaff, who explored its perverse ramifications in his book The Bullet’s Song: Romantic Violence and Utopia. In the early chapters of this biographical anthology, Pfaff explains that Romanticism led people – young men, soldiers, artists and intellectuals – to indulge in the pursuit of honorable violence. Informed by Romantic idealism, they adopted a reckless faith in purity of passion, loyalty to the human will, and proof of character through war. This, they believed, could be justified by the principles of loyalty and chivalry, which was still considered an effective constraint before the First World War.
The Great War was the epic disillusioning event that signaled the beginning of the end for European Romanticism. William Pfaff describes this in terms that are nigh apocalyptic:
Before 1914, it was plausible to plan to become a hero, and men did so. Winston Churchill had sought ‘the bubble reputation / even in the cannon’s mouth.’ No one who took part in it finished the First World War with anything remotely resembling so innocent a view of heroism. [Poets and novelists of the era]—all might have said what Junger subsequently wrote: that this war had proved man ‘the most dangerous, the most bloodthirsty, and the most goal-conscious being’ on earth, and that ‘the dynamic of the cosmos exists in battle, tension, and unrest’ (24-25).
This dire historical juncture can’t be fully understood by anyone… historians, political scientists, archivists, or even those soldiers and intellectuals who lived through it, whose lives William Pfaff diligently chronicles. Even so, some tiny cross-section of its significance is captured in that unexpected moment when Wander, the lost lover of the Forbidden Land, finally encounters Lord Emon and his men at the end of Shadow of the Colossus. At that moment, there is a jarring inversion of the entire Romantic premise of the narrative: Wander is not celebrated by his kingdom, nor greeted by a lover reborn on a stone alter. Rather, he is condemned as a traitor, and murdered as a transgressor, crippled by an arrow to the leg and impaled with a spear through his chest.
VII. Wander: Resurrection and Destruction
Like Wander, Romanticism was to rise ominously from the ashes of the First World War, an inflated, morally compromised reflection of its former idealism. Romanticism shed its hopes for freedom and transcendence, leaving only the “heroic” desire for unification of national character. The will of the great leader became the will of the collective, sublimated into a violent, submissive, militaristic society.
This is Fascism, and many great historical thinkers implicate Romanticism in its creation. This comprises a large part of Pfaff’s thesis; it’s also the subject of a short but significant passage in Isaiah Berlin’s lectures:
The hysterical self-assertion and the nihilistic destruction of existing institutions because they confine the unlimited will, which is the only thing which counts for human beings; the superior person who crushes the inferior because his will is stronger; these are a direct inheritance … from the romantic movement (145).
In Shadow of the Colossus, Dormin exhibits this unlimited will in his desire to unify the disparate elements of his body, and to manifest himself in the world. Wander’s rebirth as a demon is a reenactment of Fascism’s emergence from the body of Romantic ideals. The themes are miraculously consistent… a violent reprisal unleashing a destructive force, the will to power, the sudden, irrational aggression, and the unification of scattered parts. Wander and Dormin are playing out a drama that was performed, at an incomprehensible scale, on the world stage at the beginning of the twentieth century.
As long as we’re considering the Promethean themes running through Shadow of the Colossus, we should note that Albert Camus, writing during World War II, saw the corruption of man as a moment when he turned away from Prometheus, like Wander, turning away from the Colossi he had destroyed and accepting Dormin’s dire historical nihilism:
History is a sterile earth where Heather does not grow. Yet men today have chosen history, and they neither should nor could turn away from it. But instead of mastering it, they agree a little more each day to be its slave. Thus they betray Prometheus, this son ‘both bold in thought and light of heart.’ This is how they revert to the wretchedness of the men Prometheus tried to save. ‘They saw without seeing, heard without listening, like figures in a dream’ (140).
And though we don’t need to follow this metaphor to the bitter end, it’s worth addressing: Lord Emon must chain Dormin to the Shrine of Worship, like the Allies – forces of order and rationality, pluralistic and humanist and more self-aware, if only by a degree – prevailing over the raging aggression of the Fascist juggernaut, binding the demon for eternity. Wander becomes a monster that can only be vanquished by a higher moral and spiritual authority, closely aligned with the very symbols he fought so hard to destroy.
From Art Into Meaning
As I ride my rhetorical steed into the denouement of my analysis, I should pause a moment to address the implications of this reading. Am I saying Shadow of the Colossus is an intentional, transparent allegory, à la Animal Farm and the rise of Bolshevism? Certainly not… for one thing, Orwell himself confirmed this reading of his novel (334), whereas Fumito Ueda has left his masterpiece to stand on its own. My reading falls infinitely short of true closure; my intent was merely to open up one of many understandings, to unlock a single world among the innumerable universes contained in the game.
And as I have attempted to do for the game, so the game has done for me. Shadow of the Colossus has opened up all these worlds to my own apprehension, illuminating the lonely world of European Romanticism, entrusting me to a melancholy Trickster, and dramatizing the collapse of idealism that afflicted the early 20th century. Throughout this matrix of significance, certain themes repeat themselves: Prometheus bound to the earth, the search for authenticity in solitude and violence, the clash of chaos and order, the angst of submission to an ambiguous historical will. The deeply-rooted connections attest to the enduring, adaptable power of our myths, which repeat themselves ad infinitum in poetry, in literature, in the tides of history, and now in video games.
I’ve been a spiritual vagrant and a vengeful exile, a Trickster fighting titans, a surveyor of the landscape of the Romantic imagination. Thinking I was chasing redemption, I’ve followed a chthonian god into the abyss, only to be cast down as he crawled back out. I’ve sold my soul and my sword, opened my arms to the dark turning of the fascist engine, and I was only saved by the grace of the order I was so desperate to spurn.
And sitting in front of a television, playing a video game from 2005, I lived one of the foundational myths of my culture. A myth which, whether remembered as history or fiction, is unmistakably concerned with truth.
Berlin, Isaiah. The Roots of Romanticism. Ed. Henry Hardy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2001. Print.
Byron, George Gordon. “Prometheus.” Works. London: John Murray, 1832. The Poetry Archive. 2002. Web. 12 Oct. 2012. <http://www.poetry-archive.com/b/prometheus.html>.
Camus, Albert. “Prometheus in the Underworld.” Lyrical and Critical Essays. Ed. Philip Malcolm Waller Thody. Trans. Ellen Conroy. Kennedy. New York: Vintage, 1970. 138-42. Print.
Hyde, Lewis. Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art. New York: North Point, 1999. Print.
Larmore, Charles E. The Romantic Legacy. New York: Columbia UP, 1996. Print.
Orwell, George. George Orwell: A Life in Letters. London: Penguin, 2011. Print.
Pfaff, William. The Bullet’s Song: Romantic Violence and Utopia. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004. Print.
Ueda, Fumito. Shadow of the Colossus. Japan: Team Ico, 2011. Computer software.
Miyamoto, Shigeru. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Kyoto, Japan: Nintendo Co., Ltd., 1987. Computer software.
About the Author:
Pale Youths in Love
I remember when I was a pre-teen and they moved into a loft across the street from me in Tribeca, where I lived. And an older neighbor friend told me they were living in her building, on the top floor. I saw him at my corner deli, and on the street smoking, but never her. At night, I sometimes looked up at their windows and saw their lights on. He was not very impressive in person. Cute, but no big deal.
What is Work?
Without a written record, we cannot know with certainty how the earliest humans thought about work, but the importance of sharing food and other resources means that prehistoric work embodied at least an element of serving the needs of a community rather than just those of an individual and his or her immediate family.
Genesis: A Supreme Fiction
It occurred to me that Genesis is such a supreme fiction, or perhaps it is the supreme fiction in western culture, which begat many others. For thousands of years this book has been the mirror or lamp that reveals what reality consists of – regarding the nature of human existence, the cosmos and God. Or, to put it differently: the meaning of life, the universe and everything.
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