Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Dream-Diary of Mr. Zhang (Or: Exercises in Reciprocity)

Mr. Zhang lies deathless beneath the sea.

Through his cold mind flow alien thoughts.

He is dreaming.

In the dream, his perspective follows a girl - somewhere in her teens.

The girl is running. She sought something - hidden in a witch's house, possibly - but the witch discovered her, and now gives chase, holding a knife in her hand. She shouts something - perhaps, "If you succeded now, what story would there be left to tell?"

(This is a loose reference to Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces.)

The girl flees; but not quickly enough. The witch catches her, knocks her to the ground, and cuts her belly open. Guts spill out. Blood spatters everywhere. This is considered unfortunate, but not the end of the story.

(In the context of the earlier reference, the word ectype comes to mind.)

Another character appears - a man, slender in build, meant to be the girl's guardian. He is the Player Character. (Mr. Zhang is, for no reason clear to anyone, playing the upcoming Computerized Role-Playing Game Dragon Age: Origins. In his dreams. He has never heard of the game; nonetheless, its advent cast psychic echoes throughout time and space, transforming all of existence. Hence, its presence in his dreams.)

Mr. Zhang's character approaches the witch. The witch fears retribution; she makes excuse for her actions, describing them as "her nature", and makes reference to some history between herself and Mr. Zhang's character. Still spattered in blood, she attempts to seduce him away from his duty. Mr. Zhang's character, to his own slow horror, passively acquiesces.

Is he a false guardian?

What does this say of Mr. Zhang himself?

It says that he hasn't realized that Dragon Age's peculiar real-time dialog/interaction system requires him to take action without prompting - just like the real world of objects!

Luckily, he figures this out just before it would be too late.

A happy ending for Mr. Zhang, lying deathless beneath the seas!


(Room-mates and guests partying the night away - until, at the very least, 5:30 AM - does not make for pleasant dreams.)

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