Thursday, March 30, 2017

All About those Nodes: Eco-Criticism (Enchanted Assemblages)

If I remember correctly, this quote was taken straight from a textbook I read...

Now that a lot of the minutia of the adaptation is out of the way, I thought it time to delve into the nuance of the Nodes which I keep on yammering about.

                As I remarked, there will be one Node for each lens of Critical Theory; additionally, on top of the primary Nodes, which are largely educational, there will be perhaps two or three ‘Challenge Nodes’. These test the player’s abilities and are composed of numerous bits of theory.

So, now it is merely explaining how each Node… you know, is.

The Node I want to focus on first is the Node which teaches Eco-Criticism.

As a discipline, eco-criticism is an emerging lens of critical theory. Though theorists have been critiquing the ways in which writers and thinkers use landscape and the environment for decades now, it is only recently that enough of a core has been concentrated for numerous perspectives to develop a concentrated idea of what it means to be an eco-critic.

You will be pleased to know that I am not going to spend an elaborate amount of time in explaining the specific theory which will be immanent to the Node; primarily because, that theory is revealed in the Node itself, so it would be largely redundant.

The Node is one centering on deconstruction.

In the game, the player happens upon the Node as a large, ruined castle. Cobbled stone streets missing chunks of granite interspace the drooping arches of a wildly overgrown vegetation. With a river running close by, under different circumstances, it would be idyllic; but as the river is a noxious green toting a powerful sickly scent, the landscape is hardly pristine, or so it seems.

Wandering around the outskirts of the castle, you encounter hordes of shambling skeletons; animated by an unknown magick. They make no attempt to harm you. They merely wander aimlessly seeming to search for something they lost; perhaps, a missing contact lens, assuming they had eyes. But this is not the only notable fantastical construct you see—for, on the castle’s highest still standing tower, you glean a ferocious dragon. It appears to have noticed you long before you noticed it. Happy that it seems to make no effort to eat you, you continue your investigation of this locale.

It is a surreal place to visit.

This is the background: the castle is actually a testing and production facility for various chemicals and fertilizers; the toxic run-off was dumped right into the river, turning it a pale blue. The skeletons, meanwhile, were once the inhabitants of the small surrounding town who succumb to the poisonous effects of the lethal sludge. Animated, mysterious, by the unquantifiable properties of the commodities produced, the dead—once buried in a mass grave—rose with new vigor and continued with their lives as they once left them off.

However, one day, our Green Knight fellow, encountering this sordid sight, and acting on behalf of the site’s new investors, transformed the ‘scary’ into harmless, or, more aesthetically pleasing, forest critters; the idea being that forest critters instead of reanimated dead, would raise the property values on the site and encourage people to move back in again, thus allowing the company to resume their morally ambiguous tests.

Yeah, there is a lot of elements here.

Centrally, the idea behind the forest critters is to deal with issues of anthropomorphism, animal studies, and the pathetic fallacy. The dragon, meanwhile, is the sign for Deep Ecology. The chemical tests conducted by the company is supposed to be how the player will interact with issues of ‘Environmentalism of the Poor and Rich’ as well as the notion of a Climax Community (the river, in fact, is non-poisonous in its green form). The company which conducted the tests, meanwhile, were heralded by aristocratic males, hence how I will work in issues on gender and its complicated relationship to the land.

Keen readers will pick up on the fact that the Green Knight’s interpretation is one which returns the land to normalcy, but is far from an ideal point: the river is nauseous and unpleasant, the skeletons, instead of resuming their normal lives, live in a stupefied state, while the entire area still bears the marks of damage. Whether or not it will ever recover—and if recovery is even demanded since that possibly invites corporate interests to once again come in and lay waste to the land and lives, is left up to the player.

With the different strands and infusion of issues, I hope that this is enough material to give readers enough to work with for the purposes of offering an interpretation. Though I worry that some of these threads may not be obvious enough, I do have Merlin Explains to reveal the obvious, so that should provide every one of all skill levels with content. After all, the minimum that I am asking for is only a few hundred words, or so (though, one can write lengthy interpretations if they so wish; in fact, I would be delighted if the player did so as it really shows dedication to fidelity).

Of course, each of these concepts have alterations for when the player performs a close reading and de-familiarization, but those, like all of these Node explorations, are better left for when you play the game itself. As it stands, I feel that this Node is very solid as it stands. I will be sure to make some changes as I actually make the posts associated with the Node, but in terms of the basic concept, I am very satisfied with the Node.

The House of Islam (Notes:53)

Just two decades after the end of hostilities between the Persians and Byzantines, the Persian Empire would be destroyed by the Arabs, whil...