I learned to game by building networks of 2D, grid-aligned, sidewalks and amusement machines. I had never been on a roller-coaster. These games told me to become a Tycoon, but their real pleasure was just to watch the assemblage hum: the accumulation of bodies (the same sprite body, repainted) filling sidewalks and roller coasters, buying burgers and soda (from stores shaped like burgers and soda) to cash-register dings, screaming when a coaster leaves the belt and starts falling. When rain dashes the screen the sprites sprout umbrellas; outside the steepest coasters paths bloom identical vomit stains.
What fascinates me now about these games is the ways they start to play with, not hide, the workings and the material history of the hardware and software system that comprise them, from network logic, to industrial processes, to, yeah, extractive capitalist fantasy. The first two Roller Coaster Tycoon games understood that the screen’s visible pixelation, its isometric diagramming rather than eye-level detailing of a world, could be central to its pleasure and compulsion. This fantasy of controlling a territory with maps and graphs (from some office tower above) is about what is not made visible, as much as about what is. The power-trip of management games is not to be a chiseled supersoldier with a jetpack and no sense of pain, but to be a narrator’s eye without apparent body—rearranging a territory instantly with an immaterial hand. To hire a park employee you dangle them, legs-kicking, before dropping them onto a path.
The early-access game Factorio, despite it’s opposite surface—industrial grays and browns to RCT’s carnival, mines and factories to RCT’s Amusements—brought me back to that exact childhood fascination of linking up footpaths and coasters. In Factorio, playing an engineer stranded on an alien planet, you lay conveyor belts between factories to carry minerals to build bigger factories. In the complexity of its production lines and spatial puzzles, Factorio takes the underlying network logic of 90s-00s simulation games to such an extreme that the genre becomes or reveals something else. In Roller Coaster Tycoon you organize overlapping coaster tracks, sidewalks, bridges and tunnels, to carry guests around until they are sated and broke (then, past the ATM). In Factorio these networks expand across screens, into blueprints, and past the limits of memory. Belts proliferate stuttering ore and iron plates; mineral rivers fray into tunnels and spaghetti, which only their maker comprehends.
The screen surrounds a tiny sprite in a solitude only broken by bugs you build turrets to shoot. This is not a subtle colonial fantasy: the land is imagined uninhabited (despite signs of life), foreign or primordial (despite its earth-like plants and the 20th century industrial aesthetic), and its terrain is laid out strictly to be extracted from, emptied, and organized. It brings out the attraction, the loneliness, and the unsatisfiability of this desire to bring a territory into the confines of an expanding machine; I cannot tell whether this is intentional critique or symptomatic accident.
Conveyor belt sims show something of the pleasure and narrowness of mass-market video games themselves, thrilling and exploitative at once. Pass through the queue, pay entry, be tossed around, vomit through the exit, buy a soda, repeat. I buy into this messed-up fantasy because I want to see what happens when the next belt of copper fills a train; when the final S-bend closes the track by the path, and the painted cars start swallowing figures, then spitting them out again.
Content warning: sexual assault, in celebrity art/intellectual culture, questions about unlearning
It is so dark to be reminded that not only is power in this society publicly & plainly ok with violence, sexual violence, but that the first things I turned to as a teenager for wisdom or for help imagining alternatives to what seemed bad or drained of humanity were in several cases made by people acting with equal cruelty, maybe with guilt but without change.
Something I’m grappling with is the way I still hero-worship artists and intellectuals, as an alternative to the political / economic / cultural powers we know to be so cruel, when substantial parts of intellectual/artistic celebrity culture continue to be involved with, to enable, excuse, and aestheticize, sexual violence, and that this must be connected not just with their names but in what they said and their sense of immunity. I was thinking about this also when watching Nanette, and its remarkable, terrible discussion of Picasso and art history.
“Too-sensitive-for-this-world” David Foster Wallace, not just sexist and objectifying of female fans, but abusing stalking and threatening another novelist. I remember in college several times showing people classic movies I thought were my favorites, full of depth and awe, Roger Ebert 4/4 stars, and being surprised when they featured men assaulting women in scenes I barely remembered, not knowing what to say, not saying anything, pretending the movie, Good Art, was still supposed to be the thing that showed the world’s resonance to us. The contemporary cases are too many to name of course: John Searle, Junot Diaz, Sherman Alexie, Gopal Balakrishnan here, and Avital Ronell and her horrible letter signed by the leading ‘radical’ names (late, but I thought “On Power and Aporia in the Academy: A Response in Three Parts” was really good on this). A Pablo Neruda poem a structuring epigraph to my first large piece of digital writing: that Pablo Neruda was a rapist, but not only this, that he wrote his rape in the same style that he wrote his poetry, in his autobiography, and if he hadn’t written it no one would have known. And that this scene in which he raped a servant in Sri Lanka where he was an ambassador was not surprising or commented on for decades, and even after a cover story in a feminist publication wrote on it in 2011, I didn’t know until a classmate mentioned this in a class and I looked online, and the passage was crueler and more unrepentant than anything.
It’s not really something I’m a survivor of – but what to make of the (common) possibility of being maybe damaged or traumatized by a thing that you’ve also in the past, separately from art, went along with or internalized aspects of? I could try to say some positive things about what trying to unlearn casually inherited rape culture is, some reassurance in the possibility of kinder ways & communities with less ominous assumptions. I do believe it’s possible to learn different models & stories
2 Translations of the Yoneda Lemma
Theorem stated by Nabuo Yoneda, and translated by Kavi Duvvoori
Note: all metaphors are to be used at the reader’s own risk. The translator takes no responsibility for any harm – social, academic, emotional, ethical, financial, physical, or otherwise – caused by improper use of the over-large generalizations and unjustified associations made here.
Let C be any locally small category, i.e. a class of objects Obj and a morphism Hom function from the class of objects squared to the class of all sets of sets, a composition operation on adjacent morphisms, and an identity function Id from the class of objects to the class of sets.
Let F be any functor from C to Set, the category of sets as objects with maps as arrows.
Let A be an object in C. Then, the covariant hom-functor at A is a functor from C to Set defined as follows: Hom at A of a morphism f from an object X to an object Y is taken to the map between the hom-set of A and X and the hom-set of A and Y that acts by precomposition of f.
The Yoneda Lemma states that the set of natural transformations between the covariant hom-functor at A and F is isomorphic with F of A, and this isomorphism is natural when both sides are considered as functors from the category of functors from C to Set cross C to Set!
First, learn cartography. No one changes road-signs. Trains leave on time. Flights follow their scheduled routes and blink their positions along monitors over your head and you try to sleep. Ships are registered with the proper authorities. Camels walk where they’re told.
There is language, call it Set. People turn words into words. Authors write encyclopedias, news reports, self-help books, and nursery rhymes which can be found in basements or the Library of Congress.
You start somewhere, C. Look around.
The things around you arrange themselves in terms of old words, remembered hallways that you can walk around the corners of when you close your eyes in the right weather. That house is green and boarded and wooden and high like your neighbor’s, which you walked into once and wished you hadn’t. The city is made out of streets arranged in a grid like you’ve seen in foldout and googled maps, made out of rectangles that you learned the name and shape of with wooden blocks that fit into each other in your Montessori pre-school. You see the way branches rise as the explanation your mother gave about photosynthesis when you, loud and fragile, asked how plants grow (or maybe what she told you about tree spirits waving to meet the running sun.)
You have a children’s dictionary, or an atlas, or a bird watching book, or a Guidebook for the Budget Traveler – F. It says some things.
Go somewhere. Pick something up, A. See how the world holds it. Consider what this billboard or bird or 11th story window, or cloud, or left sock sees. Call what it says A’s Hom, type it up, and put it on a shelf somewhere.
Now hold the stories side by side. Look at one, and then the other. Your left sock tells you about an earthworm experimenting with air, deciding on things, and now you step a little to the left. The book prefers the history of the sidewalk, the experimentations of the early family-run concrete companies, the century old firmness of the stone marked and dated by Herbert & Co, which a foot rests on.
Write an essay comparing and contrasting (but mostly comparing) A’s Hom and F. Make some bubble charts. Notice characters overlapping motivations, and influences in structure and worldview. Try out thesis statements, and support with well-cited examples your properly ordered topic sentences.
Now you’re drowning in a forest of metaphors but look around (says Yoneda). Make some maps – your wrists and fingers feel coastlines turning smoothly forward, then a sudden cutting back. Make islands play off of islands, trace names hovering around the bends in rivers which come out of your mouth like the way the water pumps forward, and which keep sounding right when you step in them. Consider the coastline of a chin or palm or democratic constitution. See how to get from here to there, what this says about that. The maps make matching shapes; they’re the same place. Maybe as you look you know where you are, how you got here.
Family Leadership Summit 2015 imperialism drinking game: drink every time the speaker calls America the greatest civilization in the history of the world. Chug when speaker compares the state of America today to the fall of the Roman empire. Warning: extremely, extremely unsafe.
Family Leadership Summit 2015 heterosexist/transphobic biblical reference drinking game: drink every time the speaker quotes Leviticus on Man lying with Man or Deuteronomy on Man dressing as Woman. Same warnings apply.
Yes, Steve King, representative for Iowa’s 4th district, the SC ruling on marriage is definitely comparable to the Dredd Scott decision. The comparison between a decision not restricting marriage on the basis of orientation and a decision calling a group of people not human beings and giving them the legal rights of objects is a comparison between two things that share properties and have a non-zero resemblance to one another??
Marco Rubio: Yes, let’s exclusively ask the one Latino candidate opening questions about illegal immigration. We’re all totally blind to race & ethnicity here.
“How many Greek scholars do we really need in America? Or in the world even?” F*** you Marco Rubio. In-depth scholarship on the narrative structure and stylistic features of the mathematical text is totally necessary for the future of America, and you should totally pay me for it
Presentations by anti-abortion / Morality organization people are just fucking terrifying and too disturbing to even mock, and I don’t have a uterus. Ultrasound pictures just freak me out, and not in the way they’re supposed to. Luckily, we have Donald Trump to lighten the mood up
“I know what a crazy is. Believe me, I know all about crazies.” -D. Trump
“He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” -D. Trump
“He’s wearing my brand of tie.” *points to moderator* -D. Trump
“Since my children were two, I would say, no drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes. Ivanka would say, why do you keep saying that? She was four, she didn’t even know what drugs are. But I wasn’t going to let my children do drugs” -D. Trump
“A lot of the really successful people always want more, more. They have two billion, they want six billion.” *said, I still don’t understand how, with no self-awareness whatsoever* -D. Trump
“What is your relationship with God?”-Moderator
“I’m a businessman. I’m very successful, I made some of the great deals, I own some of the greatest properties. God helped me, giving me a great brain. I was born with a certain intellect..we need somebody who can make deals, who can take our jobs back from China, who can take our jobs back from Mexico.” -D. Trump, on how his relationship with God is having lots of money
Mega-church advertisements are pretty funny – I didn’t realize it was such a competitive industry.
Moderator to Ben Carson: “I want to ask this in the most careful and respectful way. It’s relatively easy for many of the people in this room to call themselves conservatives. But if you look around – there aren’t many people of color. So – why are you here? I ask this in the most respectful, even spiritual way. Why are you here, and not at Cedar Rapids [where there was a democratic event]”
“You called them black pastors, not African-American pastors. Why did you use the word “black” and not “African-American” Yes moderator, just ask the one black candidate coded questions about race, and don’t let him speak about any other subject. We are all blind to race & ethnicity here.
Answer: They’re not really American if they’re welfare-crack-royalty-criminals-who-don’t-solve-their-own-problems-and-leave-their-wives-or-get-teenage-pregnant-depending-on-gender-and-then-vote-for-Democrats-and-think-Republican-politicians-are-maybe-sometimes-a-bit-racist
Ted Cruz’s speech is like 70% him complaining about things and people standing up and screaming with righteous anger. One thing I will give these conservatives is that they are very very good at righteous screaming.
“The Supreme Court’s decision was naked judicial activism.” -Someone. Now I’m imagining the Supreme Court giving their decision naked, and somehow that seems appropriate.
Family Leadership Summit Speaking Suggestions: Slowly pronounce Arabic names in order to convince you people are terrorists. Describe activism for cis-herero-marriage as a civil rights movement, then describe anti-slavery + civil rights as movements lead by [white] conservative Christians. Claim the fate of contemporary American Christians who want to fire their LGBTQ employees for being LGBTQ / feel forced to sells cakes for the purpose of eating at Gay Weddings follows directly from, and is entirely comparable to that of the Original Christians being thrown to lions in ancient Rome.
“While we had Baltimore, and Cleveland, and Ferguson, we also had Charleston. While in those places they had offense, in Charleston they had forgiveness, and that was so powerful
We don’t have a skin problem in America. We have a sin problem in America. ”
– M. Huckabee.
“He can’t bless our nation as he would love to, if we do not repent .. Maybe that’s not very politically correct” – Gary Bauer, who is a rascist, violent asshole
At this point I am just not even capable of finding this insanity funny, rather than being utterly terrified that a double digit percentage of people in this country could want one of these people to become, arguably, the most powerful person in the world.
Things at this friendly non-campaign related policy gathering are getting pretty heated, one could even say a bit feisty
“We can’t have a strong economy without having strong families. If we want strong businesses, well families are the smallest businesses. Every family is a small business.” R. Santorum How..touching?
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