Letting Go

A per­sonal piece about waking dreams, mys­ti­cism, and verti­cality in Scandina­vian theatre and video­games. I dis­cuss Henrik Ibsen’s The Master Builder and When We Dead Awaken, next to a spe­cial level from Nifflas’ Knytt Stories. […Read more…]

Ontological Geek Podcast: Episode 3 — Moral Bodies (+ Bonus)

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After a hiatus, we’re back with Onto­lo­gical Geek pod­casts again. This time, Aaron Gotzon and I had former editor-in-chief Bill Coberly and Amsel von Spreck­elsen as guests, and our main topic was bodies as a locus of mor­ality in games, par­tic­u­larly sec­tions where con­trol in taken away from bodies and they are des­troyed in a spec­tacle, which at the same time is the out­come of a moral judg­ment, such as at the end of a duel, like in Mortal Kombat’s ‘finish hem/her’ sec­tions. Besides that, we talk about Darren Korb’s music in Bas­tion and Tran­sistor, and a variety of other games. […Read more…]

Walking the Planes 1: Introduction

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As prom­ised, my series about Plan­es­cape and the Planes in Dun­geons & Dragons kicked off this month. The first in­stalment is only an intro­ductory piece, in which I set out my ideas for the future of the series. Hope­fully it will whet your interest; check back here or on The Onto­logical Geek soon for the second piece! […Read more…]

When My Ship Comes In

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I had been wanting to write some­thing about Cameron Kun­zel­man’s little game On August 11, A Ship Sailed Into Port for some time now, but recently I sat down to do it and it turned into a vague tex­tual and audio­visual medi­tation on death, choices, and get­ting by. It’s a bit of a loose, experi­mental column, but maybe you’ll enjoy it. Please do check out Kun­zel­man’s game, as it takes only five minutes, and if you’ve never seen Werner Herzog’s Nos­feratu before, here’s your chance to see some scenes. […Read more…]

A Chaotic Gift (for Chris Bateman)

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Dear Chris, You have recently returned from paternity leave, and have wit­nessed the birth of your second son, on which again my con­grat­u­la­tions! As you wrote on your own blog, you’d like nothing more from your readers as a gift than an open letter, so who am I to refuse? After I fin­ished reading the final draft ver­sion of your upcoming book, Chaos Ethics, some­where last year, I wrote to you in an email that I thought it would be an inter­esting idea to start a letter series on the topic of Chaos, in the broadest sense. It is not some­thing you touch upon extens­ively in your book—understandably so, since it is about ethics first and foremost—but knowing you slightly, I sus­pect you will have some addi­tional things to say on the concept. […Read more…]

Runic Escapades: The Ribe Cranium

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I wrote the intro­ductory post for a new his­tory blog founded by four colleagues/friends and myself. It’s about the Ribe cra­nium, an 8th cen­tury skull frag­ment with a runic inscrip­tion. The inscri­pion is (most likely) a healing spell to defeat a dwarven spirit causing ill­ness, pos­sibly a head­ache. The art­icle is part of an ongoing series “Runic Escapades”, in which I will present runic inscrip­tions in their cul­tural and his­tor­ical con­text. […Read more…]

On Norbert Wiener’s ‘God & Golem, Inc.’

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While reading Annalee Newitz’ intriguing blog post on io9 about the his­tory of the word cyber, I came across the name Norbert Wiener (not Weiner — get it straight, you Eng­lishers) who had intro­duced the term Cyber­netics as “the study of con­trol and com­mu­nic­a­tion in machines and living beings”. His other works include the book God and Golem, Inc.: A Com­ment on Cer­tain Points Where Cyber­netics Impinges on Reli­gion, and that title imme­di­ately caught my eye. Studies of the inter­ac­tion between sci­ence, tech­no­logy, and reli­gion always interest me a lot, as do Golems and Jewish folk­lore, so Wiener had sold it to me easily. […Read more…]

No Control: on The Wasp Factory

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Few novels com­pelled me as much to imme­diate­ly write my thoughts down as The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. Usu­ally I enjoy novels a lot while reading them (or not), but quick­ly dive into a new one after­wards. In this case, I felt the need to spend some words on it be­fore moving on. I’m pretty sure this means that the book has some sort of cla­rity and com­pact­ness of style that brings across its messa­ges very dir­ectly. I sure wasn’t the only one rea­ding The Wasp Factory this month. Banks passed away after a battle with cancer on June 9th, and a num­ber of my online friends and ac­quain­tances made a grab towards his debut novel, like I did. […Read more…]

Sanctifying Games

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This April was a religion-themed month over at video­game blog The Onto­lo­gical Geek. I wrote the final arti­cle in the series, and mused a little on how con­cepts of reli­gion, God, and par­ticu­larly The Holy, can be in­cor­po­rated into video­games. For per­haps ob­vious rea­sons, it’s easy for games to tackle and re­pre­sent the more mun­dane sides of reli­gion and faith, but they seem to struggle some­what when it comes to mat­ters more tran­scen­dent. In “Sanc­ti­fying Games”, I try to ex­plore why that might be. […Read more…]

2012: A Year in Books

Lori Nix - 'Library' (2007)

What did I read in 2012? I’ve found looking back at my last year in books helps me chart some themes and devel­op­ments in my (mental life), so I’ve decided to do it again this year. I read 92 books in 2012, a little fewer than in 2011, but they were bigger books, and my page total ended up higher. This doesn’t count all the art­icles I’ve read, but we’ve got to draw the reading ner­dage line some­where. It’s all slightly arbit­rary anyway. […Read more…]