META-NOMAD

A Real LARP

There has been many accusations of LARPing (on Twitter) of late, and in their accusatory tone, I found an odd cultural symptom that begs articulation.

A live action role-playing game (LARP) is a form of role-playing game where the participants physically portray their characters. The players pursue goals within a fictional setting represented by the real world while interacting with each other in character. The outcome of player actions may be mediated by game rules or determined by consensus among players. Event arrangers called gamemasters decide the setting and rules to be used and facilitate play. – Wikipedia

The sphere within which I find myself, online and intellectually, is full of people who attach themselves to political movements, philosophical movements and neologisms as a way to form an identity. I don’t think this is a bad thing, far from it. Someone telling me they’re an ‘Anarcho-Capitalist Duginite’ is far more helpful than saying they are left or right wing, or God forbid, liberal or conservative – those terms are so far gone, that for all practical purposes they’re meaningless. But the question of LARPing is a strange one, wrapped in fiction, fact and identity. Let’s take this definition apart.

A ‘role-playing game where the participants physically portray their characters’. We’ve all played DnD, pretended to be the jacked Warrior Dwarf, or sly Elf etc. It’s fun, but there’s no real commitment, not in terms of one’s life. Yet, people are accusing others of being LARPers with regard to their real beliefs. The current assault is largely on traditional Catholics (trad-Caths) and other factions of the ‘traditional right’ (think Evola) and on ‘tradition’ in general. This comes as no surprise to anyone paying attention. Now, one reason I see that people are making accusations of LARPing is that modernity inherently disallows an original or fundamental belief system to be attached to one’s being or self. From the get-go modernity strips you of practically everything it can so you can be re-modeled into an atomized lump, who now has the ability to jump from belief to belief in a contradictory malaise without any repercussions.

This brings me to the question of fact and fiction in relation to both modernity and belief. See, the problem with modernity is that anything outside of its systematic forms of atomization is seen not as different, but as a fault, as incorrect…a glitch. Not believing in Democracy isn’t an opinion, it’s just plain wrong. Wanting a King is not seen as a legitimate idea, but has been subsumed into the world of Fantasy. Even Futurist ideas are being subsumed into the idea of fiction, everyone has become so complacent that this exact present is all they ever want, and anything else seems so odd and strange to them, that it comes across as incorrect, a fracture in the way reality should be.

As I see it, this is an assault on difference, it is an assault on belief, and worst of all, it’s an assault on sincerity. Let’s take the traditional Catholic as an example. The traditional Catholic believes in a multitude of things which are in complete opposition to modernity. No sex before marriage, subtle ascetic ideals and general sacrifice. The trad-Cath example reveals exactly what it is modernity loathes about all ideas other than itself, the individual is altered from the stereotypical cliche idea of the individual into something more sincere.

Modernity’s individual is not sovereign, even though they think they are. They are a 2-dimensional machine of consumption and production whose individuality is related entirely to what one consumes and what one produces. The actual sovereign individual, the one which modernity hates, is one wherein their chosen belief system is consciously targeted at something higher, better, greater or beyond themselves, which of course means, their feats aren’t targeted solely at the improvement of their own physical comfort, which, if you’re a materialist subsumed into modernity, is practically you’re only outlook.

This brings me to the fictional part of LARPing, the part which allows modernity to decimate and belittle all other beliefs. See, modernity is actually pretty simple. Machinized libidinal desires are assimilated into an auto-catalytic system of assumed infinite progress unconsciously vectored towards pseudo-Utilitarianism. At least, that’s what man gets. Anything that doesn’t fit into that is either destroyed, deconstructed and brought back into the system or taken as a fiction. This last one is actually the most difficult to retrieve anything from. Destruction allows a rebirth, that which has been deconstructed can be reconstructed; but that which has become a fiction when it used to be fact, how does one retrieve that which is no longer – apparently – real? The atomized customers of modernity – its citizens – make accusations of LARPing, because that which they perceive is (to them) outside their perspective, and as such becomes a fiction.

To modern man the idea of not having rampant, thoughtless, promiscuous sex is so alien it leaves the world of sincere ideas and becomes fiction. He cannot stand that someone would adhere to such an idea so much that his only conclusion is that is must be fiction. These beliefs, traditions and cultures, in transforming into fiction, lose a lot of their potency. They can now be taken alongside children’s ideas and silly stories. Their sincerity is removed, and any actual partaking in these ideals is now seen as an ironic gesture.

Whenever you see someone make an accusation of LARPing, all you’re really seeing is someone come into contact with a belief or ideal which is more than 50 years old, which to them is ghastly. So ghastly in fact, that they simply cannot believe it can be or could have ever been ‘real’, and as such, they assume it’s fiction, and the person believing in it is LARPing.

There’s a way out of this of course, it’s actually quite simple. Believe your beliefs, stick to your principles and think about what it is you actually want, for yourself.

Are you a real Catholic?‘ is a meaningless question, for the person asking it already doesn’t understand what belief is if they have to ask such a thing, so forget about them, there’s only one answer that matters, the one you know to be true.

“Are you a real-”

“Let me stop you there. This entire conversation is now reliant on your definition of real and by extension, reality. Which is more than likely synonymous with the majority of people’s reality. A brazen, systematic, calculated and hyper-rationalised materialist lie, which is the metaphorical equivalent of someone smothering their senses and praying to their TV.”

Are you a real Catholic? – Yes.

Are you a real Druid? – Yes.

Are you a real Occultist? – Yes.

Are you a real [insert anything other than mindless hedonistic consumption here]? – Yes.

Virtual Reality – Thoughts

“So look as the internet grows in the next, 10, 25 years and virtual reality pornography becomes a reality…we’re going to have to develop some real technology inside our guts to turn off pure, unalloyed pleasure” – David Foster Wallace, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, 2009, (talking in 1996)

Foster Wallace talking to David Lipsky in 1996 at the end of the tour for his magnum opus Infinite Jest; which itself had a lot to say about the dangers of entertainment and ‘unalloyed’ addiction. I find it quite ironic however that he mentions it is we who are going to have to develop the technology, that’s if the current rate of technological advancement continues, which it most likely will. And I do truly hope that when technology does reach the point of pure unadulterated escapism we don’t all fall into some hidden evolutionary state of hedonism.

I am commenting on virtual reality, on the Oculus Rift, on the possibility of Ernest Cline’s OASIS from Ready Player One becoming a literal reality. One might add that Cline’s naming of RPO’s virtual reality system (OASIS) is rather poignant. I’ve picked two reasonably contemporary examples of virtual reality there, however the idea of virtual reality has been around since the 1930’s and has become a common topic of speculative and science fiction, perhaps because of the noticeable possibility that it may, or has perhaps, already become a reality, it is yet to become a reality as far expanding as that of popular sci-fi novels, though we’re not far off.

I’m not trying to tackle this issue from a romanticist perspective, I played plenty of video games in my youth and still do, they’re a new art form and an extremely unique/expressive form of media, as is literature, film etc. In fact, video games in terms of virtual reality is not my particular area of interest, as virtual reality in terms of video games only works to heighten something and not become something on its own, as in, it’s only to be used as a tool to make a game more interactive and interesting, and not to replace a notion or idea.

This is where the troubles begin, as Foster Wallace mentions the idea of virtual reality pornography, the idea that one could return from their mundane tax official, eight hour a day job and plug themselves into their ultimate fantasy, every day. Virtual reality pornography replaces an arguably vital part of human life, which is to emotionally connect with other human beings, have meaningful physical and emotional contact. You could argue that within a virtual reality system that is literally life-like and 3000FPS and perfect in every way could replicate this, however I have faith in uncanny valley to prove this wrong (Uncanny valley is a hypothesis in the field of aesthetics which holds that when features look and move almost, but not exactly, like natural beings, it causes a response of revulsion among some observers.) I would argue that however advanced we get in terms of virtual realities, there will always be something within us that will be able to tell a simulation apart from a ‘real’ human; we’re not going to get into what is and isn’t real here as it’s not particularly apparent within this essay. Virtual reality pornography possibilities could include making love/fucking as many women/men as you like, whomever you like (celebrities etc.) all kinds of gadgets and gizmos to reflect said person’s ‘junk’ are all within the realms of possibility. Let’s not forget that it’s often porn companies that pioneer new technology (See: Internet).

This is all very well and easy to address, the fact that humans currently have a pre-occupation with escaping the reality before them, as the fact is, we have more information in our hands than ever before (of course) and it’s all readily available and easy and kind-of ‘done’ in a lot of people’s minds, so what’s more is another reality altogether, these aren’t always unhealthy, and someone who is literally stuck within a mundane 9-to-5 job because, well, that has to happen to the majority of westerners living within a capitalist society, that’s just the way it is. One thing such a society hasn’t removed however is human’s ability to think and feel and love, and perhaps the danger of contemporary virtual realities, which could easily become as accessible as the internet, is that they would destroy the remaining remnants of anything sincere and homely and emotional. Everything would become static and materialistic, beyond what is already apparent.

There is of course the potential for these developments to awaken us into a new state of emotion, in which due to the sudden accessibility of our wildest sexual and emotional desires we become mentally saturated too quickly, as if we were to win the lottery…every day. Not only would one become bored extremely quickly, they would (hopefully) come to the conclusion that there is more to life than money, or explicit perpetual sexual desire and perhaps what’s missing is a touch of emotion and good ol’ human awkward interaction. This may become a surprising afterthought of virtual reality, as for a long time people will become engrossed and addicted, in the way that within contemporary society children now have access to technology from a much younger age, something I would argue is pretty unhealthy in terms of development, due to the un-strenuousness of it all, everything is there for them immediately, a certain materialistic and cultural solipsism. I’m no technophobe, who’s saying that children shouldn’t learn to use technology that will definitely be present in their later life, however they shouldn’t become dependent on it as a form of actually being alive. It should be a secondary to real life.

And John arrives home from work, 5PM, his visor with him at all times (work permits him to access HAVEN on his lunch break, John is one of the few humans who still commutes). He puts on his visor and enters into his premade virtual reality, he’s set it so his house looks like the house from Animal House, except not as dirty, this is achieved by a very easy to use ‘dirty-ness’ slider. In reality John is walking into a 10’ by 10’ box room is an apartment complex with a floor that is made from multiple treadmill like conveyors so he can run and move as far as he wishes in any direction; his bed comes down from the roof electronically when needed. So he enters into some battlezones, and fantasy worlds, and space battles, and becomes president, and wins his loves. This happens nightly, or weekly dependant on the way he sets up the contraction, this is all up to him, and if he fails it is only because he set that as a possibility. And so the bed comes down the ceiling, John selects the NSFW option from the menu and a flesh-like vacuum comes out from the end of the bed, this is John’s stimulation device and so he selects whomever he likes and gets on with his night. He wakes up, visor on until he arrives at work, the visor is then set to work settings as he enters the building.