Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Streamlining the World: Questions on Artistically Rendering Difference (Enchanted Assemblages)

The ghost of a certain historical theorist haunts me...



Previously, I had remarked that part of my issue with creating this adaption was how I would render the world itself since the magic which was embedded in the world was to represent different theoretical viewpoints. I mused then that part of this difficulty was that I was not an artist; that, though I would be completing a sum of original artwork to scan into my adaptation, and that I may hire some local artists to help out with certain images, ultimately, I would be facing a limited number of pieces.

                I got to thinking: is there another way to render difference? I mean, a way which is not embedded in the image, but rather, embedded in the game world itself—the idea being presented by the text— or the adaptation’s actual text (as in writing style, dialog)?

                To render difference via the game world… goodness, talk about your neophyte philosophy there! Honestly, I am not even sure how I would go about that. I suppose that if select ideas which represented by certain key words, then those ideas could come to represent that worldly difference; so, for example, if I write “[apple]” and have that symbol indicate some kind of concept for Eco-criticism, then I could use such a symbol—“[Apple”]—to indicate a whole range of ideas whether they are in the Node which they originate or another Node, another fragment of the adaptation.

                The downside, of course, is that this would mean that a large deal of cross-overs would be present in each Node, and since each Node is concerned specifically with one theory, if players witness a symbol which they are not familiar with, then they will have no idea what to do with it (unless I create a hyperlink explaining the symbol). Additionally, a semiotic issue emerges—all words are symbols, so every word has meaning; should I create a dichotomy such as I am musing on, then what I would be doing is, essentially, creating a surplus-sign which embodies more or an idea than words in general. That could be problematic (though, it could also be a neat ‘meta’ way to sneak in semiotics).

                But, let’s muse on the other method—writing style.

                This would seem the more practical route. Writing style, the text itself, could be easily shifted during player interaction to indicate a specific kind of theory at play; this would create, in turn, a kind of density which would require players focusing themselves on the text at hand—in short, it would be like an exaggerated novel for them: whereas if they read a book they can feel free to simply read and plunder the texts for symbols later, here they have to focus specifically on how the text itself is rendered and what that rendering means (provided, the same issue as before comes up in regards to semiotics and whatnot, that the player would encounter theory which they have not yet encountered in its individual Node). But, perhaps that is not so bad since it could simply add re-playability? After all, a text is meant to be read numerous times over in order to gain mastery of its idea.

So, the issue? If I am going to include ten, or so, different critical theory approaches, then it becomes pretty burdensome to brainstorm ten different writing styles, each one supposedly connecting in some manner to a theory. Even if I abandon any kind of pretense toward creating  a prose (much less a ‘language’) for each approach, I still am left with figuring out how to textually alter my writing ten different ways so as to render something which could possibly mean a certain theory. This is something that I need to muse more on.

If I felt ambitious, I suppose that I could simply use both approaches to rendering difference. I would worry that the text would be too dense, too esoteric for normal consumption (meaning, that the player would look at what must resemble an experimental prose—with all the bracketed terms and odd methods of writing) and simply go—‘nope!’

I guess this encounters my other problem that since neither of these approaches exist outside of my text, the player is left on their own when they encounter a text not of my adaptation. Though I do intend the player being able to interpret the game world however they want, I feel that if they are forced to memorize what certain words or styles mean, they will take such cues too literally and be unprepared to interpret works on their own without my training wheels. After all, what I am talking about here is less theory and more world-building: the magic of this world roughly corresponds to a certain real world theory, but it is rendered through the devices of the in-game inhabitants, so the justification for its existence within the adaptation is that the inhabitants have deemed it a kind of magic which is only now being artistically rendered via bracketed signs or varying writing styles. The style or sign itself, in other words, is less about the player being able to recognize what a specific word or passage represents, and more with what it means in a broad, general sense—so, again, it is training wheels, little hints and clues which help them feel out the inherent facets of the text without locking that aspect into a pre-defined set: one could recognize the style for deconstructive magic, for instance, but when it comes time for interpretation, interpret it as meaning Queer or psychoanalytic or whatever they wanted; alternatively, they could interpret the style of symbol as being what it roughly corresponds to, but have their interpretation attempt to piece together why that style is where it is or the intent behind its inclusion and how its inclusion effects the signs and styles around it. Same for the approach concerning bracketed words.

*takes a deep breath*

So, all of that being said, I guess I need to think some more. Back to my fortress of solitude.

Boethius's The Consolation of Philosophy (Notes:54)

Born into a wealthy Roman family in 480, though Boethius had lost his father at an early age, he was adopted by an even more prominent fami...