All the World’s a Stage 3

“The Virtual Disappearance of Miriam” has two obvious crossovers between “real” life for the narrator and an alternative setting.  The second is the movie in part 3, where even the format of the text looks like a script or screenplay, and the first is a video game, beginning with the first lexia (?) of part two, with the note on the door letting Luther know that he is “at Level Sub-Zero.”

The narrator describes the sensations of being “in two places at once,” at his desk reading an email and literally at this pink door.  This crossover between a “real” and cyberworld is reminiscent of cyberspace from the works of William Gibson, which is unsurprising given that “gibson” is listed in the narrator’s choice in books.

From here out, the tropes of video games are overt in the text.  There is a digital clock counting down on the wall, like the stage timers used to create a sense of urgency and excitement.  Luther gets to the penultimate area of part 2 and has to fight someone to advance, like an end-of-level boss.  After beating her, there is a floating, spinning key icon, reminscent of the coins, rings, weapons, items etc that glow, spin, twinkle etc to attract the player’s attention in so many video games.  The description of his “run-up across the room” and his high leap to grab the key might as well describe Mario building up speed and leaping across a chasm.  Even Luther’s search to find the missing Miriam reeks of a quest to save the princess.  And of course, there is the ever-familiar notice of failure, the pulsing Game Over.  Later, Miriam tells Luther that he’s “in the game that isn’t a game . . .Welcome to Reality I, Level Max,” before she clicks and drags him into the trashbin, or out the window to his “death” (barring post-modernist endings).

What does it mean if life is a game?  Miriam seems to consider this a negative thing, as if Luther is trapped in an endless existence of  “get to the next level” and therefore is worthy of nothing more than destruction.  Luther naively believes that Miriam will be the answer to his problems, that if he “saves the princess,” he will have “won,” when really this girl is done with him.  The office building with its ascending floors equates the corporate ladder with progressive stages.  Those that “stand in our way,” like our girlfriend’s annoying friends, are end-level bosses.  Rather than offering simple escapism or enjoyment, video games have become metaphors for some of the more unpleasant realities of life.

– Zack Manko

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~ by gottgeist501 on April 11, 2010.

3 Responses to “All the World’s a Stage 3”

  1. The presence of games does seem to have become overwhelming in these latest pieces. It looks as though one can either consider the gameness part of the text, in a reading like this, or as the primary function of these pieces. (I keep using the word “pieces” because I am really unsure of what to call them otherwise. ) At what point do we stop considering this writing “literature” and start labelling them as verbose and highly referential “games”? Also I wonder whether the metaphoric relationship you refer to at the end of the post is not driven more by the explosion of electronic gaming. Are the games representing daily life-struggles or are they indicative of the influence video gaming now enjoys in our experience of the real?
    Is a gaming mentality responsible for the almost unbearable morbid and over-indulgent self-importance of so many of these e-writings? Haha. Yea I guess it’s pretty clear that I think the answer is yes.. to an extent at least.

  2. I didn’t think of it this way, this interpretation is great. With the call to the friend it makes even more sense. To be Continued

  3. I didn’t think of it this way, this interpretation is great. With the call to the friend it makes even more sense, due to the parallels between our own experiances that are similar. To get to the end of a goal one has to overcome numerous obstacles, just like over coming a boss at the end of a level only to come up against another one after finishing the next level.

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