Sunday, February 16, 2014

Old Ri and the Million Souls

I saw this book on the ground at the Inn at Halfhill the other day and it made me think a little about what is real.

Old Ri and the Million Souls
Late one autumn evening, two good friends sat on the deck behind the Lazy Turnip Inn. Below them slumbered the quiet farming town of Halfhill. The midnight air was cool on the skin. A thin misting fog had begun to coat the green hills of the valley below with dew, and the spire of the Imperial Granary stood out as a dark shadow against the brilliant canvas of the stars overhead.

And evening of good food and many hours smoking the native herbs had put the two friends in a contemplative mood.

Zhi - the younger and more tightly wound of the two companions - suddenly asked a very pointed question: "What if none of this is real?"

His old friend Ri, who had until now been leaning back with his hat over his eyes, lifted up a straw brim to peer at his friend. "A serious question?" he said, his brown eyes gleaming intently.

Zhi swept his arm over the horizon, indicating the whole valley. "What if we are just images, drawn into someone's painting?" he asked. "What if we are characters in a book!"

Old Ri hugged his belly with both hands and bellowed a deep, contemplative laugh. He took the smoking pipe from his friend Zhi and set it aside.

"Behind the eyes sits a person's soul," Old Ri answered at last. "Their essence: the thinking, loving, emotional core of the being. My soul makes me real, as does yours."

And now Old Ri rose to stand beside his friend. He put his arm around Zhi's shoulder and drew his attention to the valley below. "See there below us, to our right? The farmer's market?" In the cool autumn darkness, the Halfhill Market was like an island of warm yellow light amongst the dark undulating hills. Colorful flags rippled in the chill breeze, and figures could be seen moving amongst the stalls, buying supplies or bartering the fruits of their labor. The sound of their voices and laughter, indistinguishable from one another but unmistakably alive, could be heard all the way to the inn.

"Those figures moving about, each of them has a soul," Old Ri continued. "And together, we share this space. Millions of souls, sharing one place together. Our place! Halfhill is real, so long as you and I are here together to enjoy it." Satisfied, Old Ri returned to his seat and motioned to the innkeeper for another drink.

Zhi lingered at the edge of the patio, resting his weight against the rough timber of the pillar. He breathed in the cool air, and watched fireflies dart amongst the waving starlit grasses of the fields below. "Ri," he said at last. "Painting or no... if our souls are to share a place, I would share no other with you."

Old Ri tipped his hat back over his eyes and answered with a warm rumble of agreement.

The sounds of the crickets mixed with the lively bustle of the market below lulled the two friends back into a blissful silence.


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My character may not be alive, per se, as she can be described as a collection of pixels, a character in a game, but she is not sentient, nor autonomous in movement or thought.  She is real in the sense that she exists in game, that I interact with, and through her, I interact with others.

Our interactions within it ARE real - as our avatars are extensions of ourselves. We make them go where we want them to go, we fight together with people because we choose to.  When we ourselves are spread all over the world, what other place can we all come together but in the online one, in World of Warcraft? Truly, the game has brought us closer then a bunch of strangers ever thought possible.

For the non-believers, none of whom read this blog, the online world can be as richly rewarding as the real one.  There is soul behind every character, and there is heart. Nobody who plays this game and writes about it, can dispute that.


7 comments:

  1. Beautiful, Navi.

    Dahahka mentioned my poetry was a bit too abstract, and that may be true, but the line: Me, little me, is about my mirrored self in Azeroth, and the love I feel.

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    1. Dah said that? Now I find that funny :P from one creative mind to another - I tend to think of your poetry as full of hidden messages! Just like your stories!

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  2. Agreed. When I first met Disco, I hated him, and he hated me. A few years later, by sheer fluke, our avatars met in-game and through that common interest, we fell in love.

    Is our love less real because it was through a video game that we properly connected? No way! As you say, our avatars are an extension of ourselves. It's just a shame that we're nowhere near as hot as our human avatars were :P

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    1. From hate to love and kids? Now THAT is a big step! LOL I often think that of our avatars (ie hotness) - except I don't think I want to be as hairy as mine :P

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    2. LOL yep, he thought I was a stuck up b*tch and I thought he was a creeper. Turns out we were both just immature :P

      Hm, no, I imagine not! Not only would you have an epic waxing bill, but you'd also have a hell of a time fitting through doors or driving a car!

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  3. In my case I have multiple personalities in game. Cat's nicer than I am, Cim's meaner, Liwu is cheekier, Zor's quieter and I think Sasche might be the closest to the real me. But they are all the real me!

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    1. They are all aspects of you! Just depends which part of you that gets to dominate right? :) Oh no, that sounded very multiple personality disorder...

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I hope these comments work! Not sure why people can't comment lately, it makes me sad :(