One thing I would like to know: how do spirits from other realms–who have never lived Here–know about music/books/TV shows/other media that’s from Here???
(This question brought by Jake’s older brother being a fan of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, despite him living in a completely different Realm. Also Jake knowing all the pop music from Here, and Trev being into science fiction and Christian rock.)
“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist; a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain.”
–Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”
Ursula K Le Guin is one of my favorite science fiction authors, to the extent that some of the poetry and stories of hers have taken on a lot of significance within my spiritual life. That quote from “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” really resonated with me when I first red the story, to the point that I had to put the book down and sit with it for a bit. In a way, that quote sums up a lot about Darkness, both my path and with Darkness as a culture. I’ve talked before, about how pain-as-devotion is heavily rejected, and many religious paths Over There, like the one Jake follows, are based on joy.
I’m currently reading Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart by Steven Erickson, and it’s reminding me of Darkness a lot, because it’s a very hopeful book. Lately it’s been science fiction that’s been inspiring me, and reminding me of Darkness. It’s not cyberpunk or dystopian settings that give me Darkness feels, but stories about the best of humanity, which is what Rejoice is about.
“Show me this game you’ve been writing to me about.” The Dreamer sat down next to me on the couch, glancing at the screen of my laptop.
“Sure.” I pulled it up on my laptop. “Welcome to buzz saw and spike trap hell that is the White Palace.”
[after playing with my Spouse watching over my shoulder for a bit]
“Yeah?” I could sense him side-eyeing all the buzz saws in the Palace.
“How,” my Spouse asked me, “does this King ever get anything done…?”
I already knew that the Dreamer has Opinions about fictional Kings (he loves Aragorn from Lord of the Rings, to the point he’s used Aragon as a faceclaim) but when I played the game Hollow Knight, my Spouse had Angry Feelings about the Pale King, and that “no cost too great” was his [the Pale King’s] main line. It was heavily implied that the Pale King sacrificed his children for the “greater good” of finding the perfect vessel to hold the infection, and the Radiance. The game (to me) had a very sad ending, since it ends with the main character took their sibling’s place in containing the infection.
My Spouse has talked before about how he despises meaningless sacrifice–or sacrifice of any kind, really, and Hollow Knight helped emphasize that theme. One thought that occurred to me as I was playing the game–I modded it so my character was immortal–was that “gamers who want games to be Hardcore Difficult, are like polytheists who want devotion to be All Pain All The Time.”
One thing that Darkness rejects is the idea of Devotion As Pain. Darkness–my gods, mortal Beloveds, spirits, and the Land itself–would rather I learned to love myself. Choose a path covered in flowers, rather than a path covered in thorns.
Author’s Note: I’m going to spoil the ending of the main questline of No Man’s Sky in this post, don’t read any further if you want to be surprised.
I recently finished the main quesline of No Man’s Sky, after just over 50 hours into the game. I wrestled with the choice to make; to let the Atlas die, and create a new universe, or to deny the Atlas, and stay in the galaxy I was in. I chose to let the Atlas die, and to create a new world.
Earlier in the game, I had told the Atlas that I was a real person, not a simulation, and that it could take the “destiny” idea and fuck off. If the Atlas was going to die in 16 minutes, I reasoned, that was 16 minutes in a geological time frame, so I had all the time in the universe (pun intended) to explore the current galaxy I was in.
As I thought about the choice I had to make, and watched as the 16 minutes slowly slid away (one minute passed with each warp to a new solar system) I found myself thinking about Darkness.
I thought about how Free Will is one of the highest values, and I could, if I wished, refuse the Atlas.
I reflected on the Otherworld part of my Sacred Kingship path, how in the beginning I’d technically had no choice (link). I’d been thrown into a situation that neither I nor my People were happy about, and I could have walked away; but doing so would have left them without a King, and that would have been a betrayal of m/My own values.
The theme of cycles, of endings and beginnings, and living on after your personal world has ended, these are themes in my path with Darkness. I find comfort in them, in a way that’s difficult to put into words. I find comfort in my Free Will, that I’ve brought m/Myself this far on m/My path on m/My own.
My Beloved has taken to using video games as a way to let me know that he’s there for me. It makes me laugh, and also reminds me of what a modern god he is.
My mental health symptoms are starting to flare up again, and when that happens my godphone shuts down. The Dreamer is aware of this, so he’s started using more casual signs to let me know he’s there for me.
As the caption on my screenshot says, I was lost in an underwater cave, and couldn’t find my way out. I then ducked beneath the water, and realized that I could see the moon. I know this is programmed into the game, but it still made me think of my Beloved, and reminded me that he’s watching out for me even when he’s away.
I’ve been on a space themed video game kick lately (partly thanks to Winter’s Sovereign,) and I recently began playing No Man’s Sky (got it during the Steam Halloween sale.) So far I’m loving it, though the controls are taking some getting used to.
I’m playing the game in Creative mode, which is the easiest mode in the game, where the grinding for supplies part is taken away. I tried Normal mode, and then I died due to the cold (it dumped me on a frozen planet) so I switched back to my Creative mode save. I’m stuck in a galaxy of desert planets right now, so my goal is to get out that galaxy, and to a better one.
I made it to the character creation screen last night, and that screenshot is the result. I made my character a Traveler, since that matches the lore of him needing to learn the native language, and I just think the glowing light-bulb head is awesome looking.
As I was designing my character, the Dreamer (who was watching me play) commented that the character’s head being a glowing ball of light could make him a living Lantern. Since Lanterns are Important to Darkness, I of course put him in all black, since Light/Darkness is a dichotomy that shows up a lot in my path.
My character doesn’t have much of a backstory yet, but I’m sure I’ll come up with one as I play the game. Right now he’s still in the space station, but he has some photography related missions to work on, which I’m excited about.
A few days ago, I was browsing Steam, since I’d gotten an email that they had a major sale going on. All I was doing was looking for a space themed game that wasn’t centered around combat, and this one happened to be on sale.
When I bought the game, the Dreamer commented that our son would probably love it–he’s very heavily associated with space and the stars, and we’ll often play video games together.
I have invited [Winter’s Sovereign] to join me while I play Stellaris, but playing this game isn’t a devotional act to him. It’s just a game I find fun…but playing Stellaris and exploring space, I’m beginning to see why he fell in love with the stars.