If you are one of those 22 people - CHECK YOUR EMAIL.
Bad News - Christmas kicked the shit out of me and has apparently completely destroyed my ability to write coherently, form an argument, or even really form a question.
This is a conversation I had with Scrap some time around Christmas and which she was too cool to make a blog post about, even though most of the cogent points are hers;
"SP - Did you watch adventure time to the end?
PS - no I think I gave up a few years out, maybe when Ward left? Not sure. Felt like quality was dropping and also pirating became more difficult
SP - i down loaded the last 2 seasons to try and finish it and just..couldn't care
SP - not sure what it was
PS - yyyep
SP - like..the random wackiness and escalating world building felt off
they kept building on what I didn't care about
PS - it was Ward leaving, like when that one guy left the Simpsons who didn't seem to do much but after he was gone it slowly, then quickly started to spiral
SP - and adding wacky poor designed characters at the wrong times
PS - Ithink it was James L Brooks who insisted the simpsons be related to as human and all the edgy clever men in their 20s and 30s gave hims shit because he got in the way of their invention and galaxy brains
then he left and all you had was clever men
and so the spiral begins
ideas that impress rooms of clever men
SP - fucks me up seeing the simpsons using smart phones
PS - you need at least one Full Human in the room
SP - maybe it was less Ward being there than having one person being the direction everyone had to work around
like a lodestone
you don't have to always go that direction but it's good to know where it is
PS - magic
SP - without him maybe it just would dive too deeply into extended plots or building on boring characters
like Magic Man and Simon aka Ice King
they were good as wacky dudes
and then a little depth to them
but 10+ episodes building on them and connecting them to the fundamentals of the world
PS - oh no, did they do a deep lore dive?
because that's what stories need
SP - oh yeah so much so
PS - more lore
dum fucking nerd men
SP - i feel like there's lore and there's world building
world building means you have a text that one can get into at any part of it
PS - yes
SP - while lore means you need to be following a time line or narrative to make sense of it
obvious fuzzy borders
because so world building :
" what is that thing , oh it's a wuzzy tree. Munky squirrels eat their screaming nuts. What's a Munky Squirrel? Oh it's .."
"why are they fighting? Oh because he turned his sister into a fountain . Why did he do that? Because their dad gave the ebon throne to him instead of him. What's that ..etc"
Like .. world building invites further questions but more or less can have the questions wait
While lore has its parts feel hollow without further context which requires further context
But also that depends on how its presented
like the first star wars has stuff that became lore but at the time it honestly didn't explaining
sorry didn't need explaining
because it was framed so you had all the essential bits right there
while the prequel star wars often have scenes that require outside context to give a shit about it"
A key thing here seems to be the difference between linear justification or fulfilment and a more global or networked thing where each individual fragment can in a sense stand alone, either in relation to each other or as a seed for an entirely new imagined reality.
I'm imagining the difference here between adventure paths and Josph Manolas exploded pathfinder adventures where the sequence of events has been transformed into geography.
Perhaps that’s a poor analogy.
Maybe more like the difference between learning maths and learning History. As with History, and all of the Humanities to some extent, even if you miss a lesson you can always find a way into a subject, because everything relates to the Human Lifeworld, but with maths, if you miss a lesson, or don't really understand a concept then you are fffffucked, because you will absolutely need a precise and accurate understanding of exactly that concept to progress, so if you were fudging it, or not really getting it, then way down the line you are screwed.
MY OWN RELATIONSHIP WITH LOOOOOORE
For a man with multiple pseudohistories about imaginary places and events on his shelves, and who's entire career and leisure time in some way revolves around the creation of imaginary worlds, I am surprisingly ambivalent about Lore.
The Word is Death, in many cases.
This causes me to investigate myself; am I the Horseman of my own apocalypse? Not in like a cool edgy way but just in a crap grey way?
A thing that's come up in Discord conversations is how something that’s a crutch at one point can become fulfilling at another point. Sometimes an obsessional interest is something you need to get you through a bad and lonely time, sometimes the same interest can be like a lead weight, not protecting you but dragging you down and preventing you from interacting with others in a fulfilling way.
That same interest can be a form of connection which helps you reach out to and interact with others.
But it’s the same thing, the same obsession, just cast differently in different roles.
People want depth and they feel like they want answers, but what they end up getting, when they demand these things, is information. And often its dead information.
I'm looking for a world of the imagination where the images or fragment burn like they do in dreams and where it feels like there is a world of possibility. And I do find fragments of it, but not in the overculture, which seems to me like a graveyard of images.
Is this an experience that other people have?
As usual when I pretend to myself that I'm doing analysis, in reality I'm just listing things I don't like, then hopefully trying to understand the difference between what I do like and what I don't.
A few things that stick about Lore
- 'filling in'
- arguments over uninteresting ephemera
- psuedo-clever conspiratal bad takes
- the tendency of nerd-culture imagined paracosms to annihilate themselves through detail
- the willingness of the market to buy stuff because it has *details*
- "we killed a character"
- "everything will change" (nothing will change)
- "writers room" writing, like when in Battlestar Galactica, characters started referring to the missing Cylons as "the final five" which, as well as being average mystery box stuff extended waay too far seemed also to me like an artefact from the writers room which characters in the drama suddenly started speaking.
But even so;
- The Star Wars expanded universe had a whole book called 'Tales from Jabbas Palace' in which a bunch of comedy and fantasy writers wrote the backstories to each individual alien wierdo in those scenes. And I liked it.
- Even with conspiratal lore bad-takes, I'm often half-interested.
- I'm only half a shade outside that culture, which of course, means I react even more strongly against it.
- Wilrow Hood.
An idea that I had when I was creating the Eldritch Foundry stuff (I know no-one is interested in this = shut up), was to make Lore like islands, a little like Scrap describes above.
The idea was to give people 'intellectual Lego', concepts and tools they could, in fact that they would *have to* put together themselves, and that every world they created would be built from the same original pieces but that each one would be unique and valid within itself.
A kind of multiverse.
And that there would be little absolute history or imperishable central text to which people could appeal to make the products of their imagination valid.
This is a tendency in people of which I despair. The idea that something outside your own experience, that some agency or structure or guru or system can give your imagination validity, to make it 'canon' or 'real'.
I'm exactly as vulnerable to this thinking as everyone else. Which, typically for me, has not restricted me in judging others for it.
We want to be recognised, more than anything. And I think that’s what people are really selling on Kickstarter or Patron or through Parasocial Youtube relationships, more than any particular product and more than any particular ideology, its recognition. The sense that you have been seen. That you are valid.
My idea was that if you created a system that encouraged people to play games with each other, rather than to collect Lore, that was both a strong prompt *to* play, and also was almost incomplete without the action of play. A system where you complete it yourself by playing with others.
I'm pretty sure I haven't actually done that. It would be an intellectual and creative challenge too great for me. Instead I simply went about things in my usual way. But that was the idea at least.
Here endeth the post.