Monthly Archives: May 2019

Heroic Phase

I think that the heroic phase of narrative peaks at about thirteen years old and is in decline after that.

This came to mind while wandering through shops with toy departments, observing the objects there and the reactions they provoked in parents and children. If I had been presented with two action figures at ages up to that theoretical peak age, I would have thrown the two of them into conflict. They would have zoomed and kapowed and generally had a Mahābhārata of a time around the kitchen table.

Somewhere I grew out of that phase.

Given those action figures now, I would probably examine how they were constructed, what sort of articulated joints they had been given, and how well they stood up on different surfaces. I might spend some time online looking up different iterations of these figures; how they looked in the 80s and 90s. After I had extracted all possible interesting information from them, I would probably leave them in a compromising sexual pose in the fruit bowl.

Which, oddly enough, is almost exact how I am now inclined to treat narrative.

Sunday Drivers

If I was to take an interest in computer game design, which I can’t really imagine because I never play them, it would be a matter of perfectly simulating the manoeuvering strategies of drivers in Walthamstow on a Saturday morning.

I don’t hate computer games. Don’t be like that about it! I played them when I needed another career, but I don’t really need one right now. I like a lot of things about how they look and their interfaces and what they represent, but I really couldn’t imagine playing one.

Anyway, forget that self-justifying diversion: we were talking about drivers in Walthamstow on a Saturday morning. They manifest in awkward corners of the district, pulling slow deliberate three-point turns (or are they five-point turns? I’ve never driven!) while you try to understand their motivation and rationale.

Pointless. They have neither. They manifested at that moment. They don’t know where they are coming from or where they are going. They find themselves in the view of the player characters, and on this basis they need to act as if they are real people. They execute a reverse to the right, and then brake, open a door a little, and light a cigarette.

If they are very lucky the players will leave this corner of reality in the next few moments, otherwise they will need to find something else to do, to give the impression that they are real.

Oh God! They’re pulling their trousers down. Oh God!