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fogandcastles

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A New End [May. 12th, 2008|04:30 am]
fogandcastles
I have been thinking of doing this for some time, now, and have finally decided to actually go through with it: I am discontinuing this journal.

This does not, however, mean that I am not going to continue to write blog posts: what it does mean is that I no longer feel the need to write a journal for others to read. As such, I have started a new account at fogandcastles.blogspot.com, for my thoughts and ideas to add to the great swirling cesspool of the internet, while largely keeping my personal life out of it.

I have yet to decide if my various scribblings of poetry and so on will be a feature of the new site; I expect I will figure that out as I go along.
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Iron Man [Mar. 5th, 2008|05:31 am]
fogandcastles
[Tags|]
[mood |angryangry]

Can't walk. Need metal bits. Argh!

Want to fight again. Want to RUN again.

That is all.
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Nobody Wins [Mar. 3rd, 2008|09:35 pm]
fogandcastles
[Tags|, ]
[mood |analytical]

So, in reading today's XKCD, I came across the comic which proclaims "You just won The Game! You are free now!"

Now, clearly, this is a piece of delicious trollery: since The Game is unwinnable, declaring victory can only result in a roundabout defeat.

Amused, I moved on to the XKCD forum, where I found a fascinating discussion taking place. There appeared to be three main sides, when all was reduced to its essentials. The first, betraying the least understanding of the rules of the mental construct that is The Game, consisted of posts something along the lines of "Thank you! I win! Now I can stop playing!" The second was the obvious "You can't win the game, so all this comic did is make us all lose." And the third was the rather obnoxious "I have never been playing the game (With a variation "I always win the game"/I made my own game which you win instead of losing"), and you are all mindless sheep for succumbing to this meme."

It is necessary to the discussion at this point to include the rules of the game in their simplest form.

1. You are always playing the game. Whether or not you believe you are playing, and regardless even if you are aware of the game's existence, you are in a perpetual state of playing the Game.
2. Whenever you think of the game, you lose. It is not possible to win the game.
3. Whenever you lose, you must announce your loss to those around you.

An interesting analogy for rule two is that of tetris: tertris is a game which it is not possible to win, only to beat one's high score (By avoiding losing for as long as possible). Similarly, it is possible to do well at The Game by avoiding loss for a long time, but it is not possible to actually win.

There are a few more things which are inherent to The Game that might not appear so at first glance:

- The Game is an arbitrary construct, like the rules of mathematics or the measurement of time. Thus, saying you don't play The Game is like saying that seconds do not apply to you. You may not measure time in seconds, but that doesn't mean that they aren't passing anyways.
- The Game is not, in fact, a game. For something to be a game, it has to use a voluntary rule-set. Since the game in its definition includes that the rule-set is not voluntary, it is better described as a philosophical or logical construct than as a game.

One of the more fascinating things about The Game is the amount of anger it generates when people are informed that they have lost. The following post from the thread puts it better than I could, I believe:


"What [The Game] shows me is that there are a lot of people who experience a reflexive hatred towards any [per]ceived failure. From a young age, people will take their ability to win or lose at any number of trivial contests or challenges far too seriously. It is impressed upon us that games aren't for playing, but for winning. So, when presented with any situation where loss is inevitable, they become enraged and will do everything in their power to convince themselves that they simply did not lose.

They'll accuse their opponents (if any) or cheating, say the rules are broken and need to be changed, that the field of play is imbalanced, or the referees are blind. And when things reach their worst, they'll break down and start screaming about how this game is stupid and they were never playing anyway. We've all done it at some point, and we've all seen others do it too.

This whole chain of thought is easily stirred up [by] something like The Game, which is ultimately little more than saying "You lose" to someone over and over again. Losing doesn't cost you anything, and not-losing doesn't gain you anything, so there's not reason to react to this at all. But it still gets people. They either try to impose a way to win, or take their ball and go home. But whatever they may try they'll still know it's there, that they're still losing this arbitrary and trivial game, and it gnaws at their souls."

In fact, it seems to me that those who claim to "win" the game are the ones who are losing the most definitively. By becoming irate at being told that they have lost, they have fallen for the trap of the game as a philosophical construct: an experiment in reaction to loss. To play the game "correctly," by following the rules, still results in loss, but it is at least a loss which can be treated with equanimity. Of course, by becoming annoyed at those who are unable to deal with losing a game with no penalties, those who insist over and over again that they *must* play The Game are equally guilty of poor sportsmanship. Where the "I am not playing" people are demonstrating an inability to handle losing, the "Yes you are" people are demonstrating an inability to lose if anyone else doesn't. Which, of course, is the same thing. If everyone loses, no one really loses, they reason, but as long as one person isn't playing, they feel that they are somehow inferior. After all, they're *losing.*

Aside from its uses as an experiment in thought association and suppression, and as a metaphor for self-defeating mental patterns (Both of which are discussions that took place in the thread which I will not develop here), The Game is an incredibly interesting social commentary. It demonstrated just how deeply the need to win is into our culture, to the point that people become incredibly vehement and argumentative over something which is, by its very definition, meaningless.
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His Flashing Eyes [Feb. 20th, 2008|02:29 am]
fogandcastles
[Tags|]
[mood |restlessrestless]
[music |It's My Life - Bon Jovi]

Life is a little like drawing, and a little like essays. People are always telling you to stay inside the lines, stick to the form, your career path, your perspective, your five paragraphs, or whatever other meaningless structural construct we have been given. "Thou Shalt Not," says the law, and we, like good little children of god, carefully stay inside the lines, keep our thinking boxed up and tied like a parcel, ready to be shipped off for grading and review.

I have never been good at drawing in the lines; when they show me a road to draw, I see a city around it, people living and breathing and sleeping and dying, and I never want to draw just the road. There's so much more out there than to stick to the path you're given. I have never been good at writing on theme, in structure, like the words were a math problem with no life or substance. I like math, but for the very reason that it is an escape: the cold hard lines of numbers, marching onwards to infinity, are as far as we can get from the brilliant flash of chaos and light that is our existence. So why constrain thought, that which makes us human, to something so alien?

What is it that the laws we follow accomplish, anyways? Stealing and killing are outlawed, but people die nonetheless, and as we outlaw crimes, we merely find newer ways to commit them. Nothing is so powerful as the genius of humanity for destruction and chaos, and that is more fitting than we might suppose. Fundamentally, it is our ability to adapt and change that makes us strong. Others have the strength, the speed, the armour, the claws and teeth, but we can learn, and our teeth are far sharper now than any tiger's.

Just once, I want to be able to break down the barriers, to run where there are no laws, or fences facing if I were to steal a phrase. The best phrases, after all, make little sense. It's not as if the milk of paradise is defined, graphed, charted, and no one cries beware at the sight of a rigid structure. Just once, I wish the injunction would be "Thou Shalt."
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Followed Closely [Feb. 5th, 2008|04:18 am]
fogandcastles
[Tags|]
[mood |awake]
[music |Greensleeves - Unknown]

Not sure if you will agree, but I think this is not a bad piece of writing. Why is it that I write better sad stuff when I am happy?

Should I keep my anger less inside?
Anger isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on,
The ink stains that the pen leaves as you press too hard
And forget what you were going to say,
Taking refuge in empty phrases, parroted from movies,
Stolen from Shakespeare and Broadway, tossed off and
Forgotten as quickly as leaves crackled underfoot.

I think loss is like a kitchen stove – a learning experience.
Touch it when it’s hot, once, and you’ll never
Touch it again. Sometimes, though, like with
Water, boiling – or salty, running down your cheeks –
You lose all the feeling once, and never get it back.
A harsher lesson than a stove-top, made harsher still
By songs and stories, seeming like a dirge written
For you and you alone. How egocentric.

The shrinks would say this is displacement activity
And maybe it is. After all, we all need to feel displaced,
Sometimes, when we tire of our little carved-out
Niches in this grinding stone we call
Our world. Or do they mean displace my pain?

Whatever. After now I’ll give myself to life and laughter
Just not love – at least for now – because I’m
Tied up like a captive in the most obscene of wars.
Pretend that you will see my face, that we might sit
And see the trees, branches touching, listen to each
Other, tears and wind and passers-by, who look with
Jealousy on two who found each other, never knowing
That that wasn’t truly who we were, we two, who lay
There silently, and watched, as watching passed us by.

---------------------------------------------------------------

As a side-note, all entries have tags now. Isn't that exciting?
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A Touch Of Cold [Jan. 23rd, 2008|05:45 am]
fogandcastles
[Tags|]
[mood |awake]
[music |Ghetto - P.O.D.]

Not sure why, but this piece feels unfinished, somehow. Still, thought I might as well put it up here.

For the first time
In a long time,
I'm frightened.
I'm frightened.
The world in which I'm living
Just doesn't seem to care.

I remember when I was younger
There were monsters in the darkness.
And I fought them off with music,
And lasers,
And a fortress made of blankets,
And an army in my mind.

But now I am older. More weight on my shoulders.
And the monsters just don't follow those same familiar rules

They come from
The shadows
To prey on the unwary.
The sad and the lonely,
And the ones who fall to fear.

Because of course if you are human
There's evil inside you.
We've all felt the impulse
To be just a little cruel.
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A Mote In God's Sky [Dec. 14th, 2007|04:43 pm]
fogandcastles
[Tags|, ]
[Current Location |Ottawa!]
[mood |ironic]
[music |Leaving on a Jetplane - John Denver]

Flying is fun. You're up there, and you're like "Man, from up here, the world looks like a toy."

Then you realize that it is.
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Procrastination Precludes Position Paper [Dec. 9th, 2007|05:52 pm]
fogandcastles
[Tags|]
[mood |busy]
[music |Killer Queen - Queen]

Funny, or serious? I am not certain.

I’ve said that I love fire, rum, and history,
And swords, and silver bracelets,
And those awesome fried potato things
Filled with butter, cheese, and bacon.
So really, why was I surprised when
Just I love you didn’t cut it?
When the same word that I used for you
Can mean computer games or sex or laughter,
Drugs and drunkenness and the touch of raindrops?

But then, why shouldn’t it? You should be honoured
To be like fire, rum, and history.
I would love to think of myself as
A hot shower in the morning, music
In the evening, parties, friends, and even
Like those awesome fried potato things
Filled with butter, cheese, and bacon
There’s a certain nobility to being
One among the things I love

So when you say that I don’t love you
Because I say the same thing about everything
Maybe if you realized that it’s true
About everything. Everything.
You’d understand that I love you
For the same reason I love apples,
French fries, silk, and leather jackets;
For the same reason I love dragons,
Dances, pancakes, and waking up
Before the sunrise and then going
Back to bed. Even, yes, the same reason
As those awesome fried potato things,
Filled with butter, cheese, and bacon.

It’s because, like everything, you make me
Feel that I’m alive. Like the entire world
Is at a party, and just for once, I’m not standing
In the kitchen, hoping to snag the dregs
Of rum, and French fries, and maybe, if I’m
Lucky, a moment of conversation or an
Awesome fried potato thing,
Filled with butter, cheese and bacon.

No, just for once, with you, and fire, rum,
And history, I’m in the spotlight, dancing,
Running, like the storms I’ve said I love.

So why the jealousy? Why begrudge me
All the things I love? It’s not as though
They hurt you, or make me love you
Any less because of chess and sunshine,
Grass and bare feet and dripping candle wax.
It’s not even as though, between the two of us,
I was the more likely to run off with someone else.

So tell you what: believe me
When I say I love you
And I’ll believe you
When you say you think it’s true.
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Final Cause: Awe [Dec. 1st, 2007|08:43 pm]
fogandcastles
[Tags|, ]
[mood |enthralled]
[music |Heart of the Sun - Pink Floyd]

Today, I looked at forever.

Outside my window, through the snow and the clouds, I can see a single star from over the Dalhousie campus. And it struck me, looking at it, that what I was seeing was not the star, but the light of the star from a hundred or a thousand or a hundred thousand years ago. The star I am looking at as I write this could still be there, unchanged, or it could be gone, long since having spent the last of its terrible fire in a cataclysmic death. For that matter, it could be just now going nova, bursting into a fountain of light. God's little game of dice with us, his creations. Will I, like the star, burn for millions of years after my end?

It seems to me that we live in a perfect universe.
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Makin' Morphy's Magic [Nov. 22nd, 2007|12:47 am]
fogandcastles
[Tags|, , ]
[mood |awake]
[music |Norwegian Wood - The Beatles]

Once more we make our foray into the BOARD, where the game is as ever ongoing. Advantage has passed back and forth to either side for many turns, and the position is becoming complicated beyond reason. White is perhaps up a piece at the end of the combination lines, or perhaps black will take a pawn and gain initiative. Analysis at present is unclear, and open to brilliancies from either side.

Introducing, once more, the cast of characters. Some have been captured, but new pieces have entered the BOARD to take up the struggle.

The OLD GUARD:

The WHITE KING
The BLACK KING
The RED KNIGHT
The SABLE ROOK
The BROWN ROOK
The GREY KNIGHT
The VIOLET PAWN
The BLUE PAWN
The SCARLET QUEEN
The GREEN BISHOP
The ROSE BISHOP
The WHITE QUEEN
The EMERALD QUEEN

The NEW PIECES:

The ORANGE ROOK
The BLOOD ROOK
The GREEN KNIGHT
The SKY QUEEN
The DARK ROOK
The SILVER KNIGHT

In the middle part of the game, the BOARD has changed shape entirely. It appears almost as a new BOARD completely. Old alliances have faded, to be lost forever or replaced by new ones. The following has changed in the last few moves:

The WHITE KING has become what the ORANGE ROOK terms a "stranger." The SABLE ROOK and the RED KNIGHT have become closer to the ROSE BISHOP. The SABLE ROOK no longer has reason to be angry with the WHITE QUEEN. The WHITE QUEEN is in trouble. The GREEN BISHOP and the SCARLET QUEEN appear happy. The WHITE KING is happy. The BLACK KING is unhappy. The BLACK KING is working too hard, or perhaps not hard enough. The BLOOD ROOK is frighteningly like the EMERALD QUEEN. The DARK ROOK is at an impasse, one which is not easily solved. The GREY KNIGHT vanishes, hopefully to return. The BLUE PAWN is broken. Heart? Record? The BROWN ROOK is levelheaded. The ORANGE ROOK is much like the BROWN ROOK. The GREEN KNIGHT is unhappy, but makes everyone else happy. The SABLE ROOK is a coward. The SKY QUEEN is confused and confusing. The SKY QUEEN is overly self-deprecating. The SILVER KNIGHT is not involved in the main action, but is nevertheless a strong presence on the BOARD. The SABLE ROOK misses the RED KNIGHT perhaps the most. The RED KNIGHT misses the SABLE ROOK and the WHITE KING, and is fretting over nothing. The SABLE ROOK, the BLOOD ROOK, and the SKY QUEEN are spending all their time together. The BLOOD ROOK has ceased to confuse. The ORANGE ROOK is slightly upset by the SABLE ROOK and the SKY QUEEN, but refuses to show it. The ORANGE ROOK misses spending time with the SABLE ROOK, and vice versa. The EMERALD QUEEN resurfaced, briefly, only to disappear once more. The SABLE ROOK needs to give things more effort.

And, once again, that I leave you with.
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