Jesus called me yesterday and tried to sell me a 50% discount card, valid apparently at most of the best shops in the UK, including (He made a special point of telling me) Boots*. When I tried to find out more, He said he was going to put me through to His supervisor, at which point I rang off.
I can say no to Jesus without feeling too guilty – He is after all semi-human, and so gets that some of us might not actually need 50% discount cards, even if we do shop regularly at Boots – but I felt that I was risking lightning bolts etc if I turned down his boss, so thought it best to retire gracefully before this became an issue.
I do salute the practicality of His second coming tho’, and His very direct concern for those of us struggling in credit crash hit Britain. Perhaps I’ve also been misunderstanding all those robot phone calls offering me free holidays in Florida – could they be divine, too? Perhaps there is a frustrated choir of robot angels somewhere in Heaven, baffled as to why we persist in refusing their chirpily automatic munificence. Ah, the ingratitude of personkind…
Anyway, quite apart from religious visitations, I was – as regular readers will realise is completely unsurprising – going on about Ezra Pound the other night, having first been discussing the pleasures and miseries of being writing fantasy. But a fascinating comment from the person I was talking to. ‘Of course you like Pound’, she said, ‘you’re into D&D’.
Now that’s a really fascinating comment, because it reveals the previously unsuspected (at least by me) link between RPGs and certain Modernist / Post Modernist poetic strategies. Let me explain…
Key to much of the more interesting modern poetry is its demand that the reader becomes an active participant in creating meaning in it. The poem offers never quite enough information to finally resolve; the final decision as to any meaning(s) inherent in the text comes from the reader.
Remind you of anything? Yup, D&D and its ilk. RPGs aren’t narratives; they’re construction kits for narratives, a set of open fields, each demanding player participation to be completed, and each having no particular final meaning without that participation.
So, formally, there’s a really interesting comparison to be made there. And there’s another point of contact there too; RPGs and strange and strange and interesting modern poetry are very often sneered at in very similar terms.
They’re arcane; they’re esoteric; they’re the preserve of geeks; they have no real aesthetic credibility or worth, instead being little more than a self-indulgent waste of time that encourage flight from, rather than engagement with, reality.
Fascinating… and fascinating that a demand for action and engagement, rather than just passive enjoyment, on the part of the reader / player, should lead to such vituperation. Is not being told what to think by a text really so traumatic? Apparently so, at least for some.
As for me, pretty much all of the really interesting people I’ve ever met have either been dedicated RPGers or deeply into seriously odd and usually pretty incomprehensible poetry – so I know where my loyalties lie!**
*no, really, He did
** clearly if Jesus calls back and turns out NOT to be either an RPGer or a poetry geek, I’m screwed