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Author Topic: On RPGs and Text [LONG]  (Read 48703 times)
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #105 on: December 14, 2004, 09:42:38 AM »

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But if we have a clearer sense of what it is we're doing, by really delving deeply into mythic thought, we have a better chance of having our Sim games work actively (rather than what Ron calls "ouija board play," where you wait for "it" to happen).
No, see, if we have a "clearer view" of what's happening, then we're playing narrativism. That's precisely what Ron is saying here. Without an intent to create meaning, none is created.

Ethan, no, Sim isn't purer, it's not creating myth at all. That's what I'm trying to get at. Myth requires that the audience, the players in this case, recieve some sense of something like "place in the world" or the like. That's what I mean by "meaning" in this context - precisely what Myth is trying to get at. Which requires only creating the meaning, if you assume that the ritual space is already consecrated. That is, you can create myth with a low sim threshold (what would traditionally be called narrativism) as long as all of the participants agree that it's OK for players to do it in the visible metagame. Uh, call it "somewhat less sacredly" or something.

Sim alone I say doesn't or only rarely exists. What's called sim is simply a high respect for the "in-gameness" of the characters, and does not reject completely the player creation of meaning. But to the extent that it doesn't reject this, it's hybrid narrativism.

The "validity" criteria is sim, and the added meaning is narrativism. Sans all narrativism, you have the meaning only being created by the GM (if at all).

Mike
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clehrich
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« Reply #106 on: December 14, 2004, 10:22:10 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
First, it's not precisely inaccurate, but misleading to say that my version of the Beeg Horseshoe says that Sim is a fundamental part of Nar. What I say is that either Sim does not exist alone in a vacuum, and all play is hybrid, or Sim does not exist at all. To the extent that Sim does exist, it's as a support level for the "realness" of the game world, a threshold below which the player is not willing to go.
Yes, that's sort of what I meant.  Sorry -- I'm not using terms well.  As I understand it, if Sim exists at all, it's present in Nar and Gam, because it's a subsurface construct or process.  Right?
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Because I don't think that Sim creates meaning in, if you'll pardon me, any meaningful sense. You have it here:
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To put it directly, why do Sim games lend themselves to authoritarian GMs constructed as godlike?
Because the meaning element has to be added by someone. In sim play, the players do not add meaning, any more than one adds mythic meaning through day to day living. In sim play, the player rejects the metagame, and, sans some other controlling factor, all you get is a facsimile of life in another place.
But I think one does add meaning through day-to-day living.  What one does not as a rule do, however, is attempt to systematize that meaning.

For example, let's suppose I notice an eagle up in the sky.  So what?  It's just a thing in the sky.  But if I can classify and identify it, as an eagle (and not an ant or a crow or a person), I have imputed some preliminary meaning to it.  If I can further classify it as sacred or an avatar of the sky god or something like that, I have imputed human meaning to it, in effect linked the eagle to me by a process of thought.  Without this, it's just a thing up in the sky.

To take a more concretely recognizable example, consider ritual pollution.  Now that seems like something that we don't do very much, whereas of course it's quite big among tribal peoples.  But we do have this strong cultural sense of what you might call the "icky."  There are certain boundaries that we don't break, and there's really no practical reason not to.  For example, tell your wife or girlfriend or whoever about this one: some deer hunters, having realized that bucks are attracted by large mammalian pheromonal discharges associated with estrus, have discovered that if they take a used tampon or maxi-pad, carry it to the hunting site in a ziploc baggie, and then release it by rubbing the thing on a tree, it will attract bucks.  Now a very large number of women (especially) are going to react to this notion sharply: that's a boundary that shouldn't be crossed.  But why?  I mean, it's perfectly practical and all.  Well, because it just shouldn't.  That's what ritual pollution is: the imputation of a rigid cultural boundary not to be crossed onto natural objects and their place and order.  If you want another version of this, how about taking a dump in the garbage pail?  It's going to the dump anyway, so what's the problem?  Well, you just don't do that, that's all.  Now the point of these examples is that we have assigned a human meaningful framework to things that don't have such meanings.  Menstrual blood or crap or whatever are just things; they don't mean anything.  But we make them have a hell of a lot of meaning.  To add yet another example, how come sex is not a public activity?

What mythic thought does is to take that sort of material and weave it together into a larger system.  In one sense, that's a way of explaining why these pollution concepts (for example) make sense and are indeed natural and necessary rules; this is what I mean about validating the cultural system.  In another, it's a way of generalizing the principles so that when we encounter a new situation or thing, we know how to deal with it on the fly.

And so I think that Sim is mythic thought in this sense of explanation and generalization.  The basic objects and structures are handed to us by the setting, the source material, and the mechanics, but they're just isolated bits, pregnant with meaning perhaps but not woven together cohesively.  What we do in Sim play is weave it all together.  Thus the longer we play a campaign, the more everything hangs together and feels "real."
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To the extent that you insist that all creation is, in fact, meaningful, you agree with me that all play of this sort is actually narrativism. This is why I come to Beeg Horseshoe from Ron's theory. When it comes down to it, narrativism is about players creating meaning of some sort from what I can tell.
Well, no, because I think Nar is about players creating a particular sort of meaning, just as Gam is.
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Here's where you and John Kim have always had a problem with the theory, because you rightly don't see any play by the players as being devoid of meaning. So all play that you, he, and I observe is narrativism to some extent. The only question is to what extent power is given to the players to do this in a somewhat metagame way, or to which they are required not to be storytellers, but merely the interpreters of the acts of characters inside the game.
I don't get where the metagame thing comes into it.  On the one hand, there's my claim that this is the importation of higher-order constraints in Gam and Nar, constraints that do not come from within the game-world but from us as players deciding what sort of meanings we'd like to create.  On the other hand, you seem to disagree with this, so I'm a bit lost.
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What I can see are thresholds for these things set at such levels that play of one player will still annoy play of another player. So the model still has predictive power just as it did before. And still, IMO, explains the problems of incoherent play. My "adjustement" to the model is only to get people to understand that narrativism never, ever does with less than complete plausibility. The only question is whether or not the players have powers that make them not only actors in the otherworld, but also "gods" like the GM.
See to me, this is a red herring.  I think it's very common to think that Sim doesn't permit this kind of meta-manipulation because it's a violation of the game-world constraints.  From my perspective, that's backwards: Sim requires exactly this, but it needs to claim that the meta-manipulation is actually interior to the system.  That's because myth naturally tends to sprawl out and take over cultures and lives.  Sim wants desperately to claim that this isn't so, that the game-world is fixed and constrained and not the same as real life.  The thing is, all of this manipulation of structure and symbol is necessarily meta-manipulation or else it wouldn't be meaningful in any sense -- you wouldn't be saying or thinking anything but just doing what Walt calls zilchplay, kind of rolling along.  I think we're saying the same thing in opposed ways: I'm saying that Sim does construct meaning by using meta-manipulation, and you're saying that if that's so then it isn't Sim but Nar.  Ultimately that's a categorical definition difference I'm not sure we can get over, because you're asserting that meaning doesn't happen in Sim, whereas I think that if that's the case then Sim really doesn't exist at all because it's completely pointless -- which is of course why you say that all play is hybrid, and around and around.  So long as we can communicate despite this strong disagreement of category, I suppose it doesn't really matter, does it?
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Gamism and narrativism can be completely as plausible as sim. Where they differ is in the maintenence of the illusion that the player is in-game, and that in-game world has some "real" existence. That is, as soon as a player starts making myth, he's no longer the character only, but a god as well. To the extent that this is obvious it may step over the sim threshold.
Well, yes, I'll buy that.  But the thing is, people in tribal cultures create meaning through myth and don't become gods in the process.  So I'm not sure why when we do it suddenly that's a problem.
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To put this all in another perspective, if we say that sim can create meaning, then what is it that nar does? Your argument is that it "textualizes" or makes more like literature the myth being created? Well, I simply don't see it that way, that's not my experience at all. Nar is about how obviously metagame the player's power is to create meaning.
Ah, see now we're getting at the real heart of the problem.  For me, what Ron is talking about as Story Now is about story -- and he has this little definition which I agree is rather vague but to my mind seems clear enough in general terms:
Quote from: Ron, in Story Now
All role-playing necessarily produces a sequence of imaginary events. Go ahead and role-play, and write down what happened to the characters, where they went, and what they did. I'll call that event-summary the "transcript." But some transcripts have, as Pooh might put it, a "little something," specifically a theme: a judgmental point, perceivable as a certain charge they generate for the listener or reader. If a transcript has one (or rather, if it does that), I'll call it a story. ...
    [*]Establishing the issue's Explorative expressions in the game-world, "fixing" them into imaginary place.
    [*]Developing the issue as a source of continued conflict, perhaps changing any number of things about it, such as which side is being taken by a given character, or providing more depth to why the antagonistic side of the issue exists at all.
    [*]Resolving the issue through the decisions of the players of the protagonists, as well as various features and constraints of the circumstances.[/list:u]
    Now to my mind, what Ron is trying to get at here is a rough-and-ready sense of "story" that more or less fits the usual sense of a story in our culture.  It's got some sort of plot, it's about something, and something happens through conflict and comes to some kind of resolution.  If it's really a story by Ron's definition, it's not just one damn thing after another, but rather it has what I think is usually called narrative meaning: it's a story that goes somewhere and is about something we care about.

    Now this is not particularly the case with myth.  As you saw with the Bororo thing, that's a myth which I think Ron would classify as a transcript that doesn't also have a story.  So although we cannot tell from a transcript whether it was played Sim or Nar or Gam, we know that if the Bororo one was played Nar, they probably weren't very happy with it.  What I'd argue, though, is that the Bororo myth does have a lot of meaning – just not narrative meaning, which is to say that it's a myth but it isn't a story.  You can have both together, but they're independent.

    So what I'm saying about Nar is that Nar wants to create stories, and it does so in a mythic medium.  The thing is, this means that Nar can be perfectly successful if it doesn't create much in the way of myth so long as it does create story; I think it's most successful when it does both.  But Sim creates myth without regard for story; in some cases, of course, it may generate both, but that's not the point.  And what I think is most striking about this for me is that it explains a weird phenomenon about Sim, which is ouija-board play: Sim players often seem to want Story to happen but they don't want to do anything to make that happen.  It's just supposed to fall into their laps.  This is, I argue, because Sim is set up to create myth, not story, and if story happens through the process that's just icing on the cake; to manipulate or constrain the mythic thinking in order to produce story violates basic Sim presuppositions – but that's exactly what happens in Nar.
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    So I see you as shifting the GNS paradigm here in a way that's confusing. Separating meaning from how meaning is created vis a vis the metagame seems intuitive to me. Saying that they're both creation of meaning, but that one then goes on to make that meaning specialized in some way seems to be creating definitions that weren't there before, and, worse, lose GNS it's predictive powers.
    I don't see it that way, I'm afraid.  For example...
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    That is, the use of GNS is in predicting incoherence. If we go with your model, we now have to suppose that the players in sim somehow reject the "textual story" that's created by narrativism, because they want to create myth instead. Well, again, if that's the case, then all of the power that I've given to my players has been used to create myth, and my players are all sim. In fact, there are no players who play using narrativism that I've ever seen.
    First of all, the prediction of incoherence is only one purpose of GNS.  But beyond that, if your players have been creating stories, and they want to do so, then that's narrativism.  It seems to me that the Impossible Thing Before Breakfast only arises because so many people do want to create stories.  Who wants to create myths?  If a lot of folks did, it wouldn't be mostly dead as a form in our culture.  I think people usually want to create stories and tell stories and get their meanings at that narrative level.  That's narrativism.  Sim is, as Ron notes, a fringe interest; it's a recapitulation of a largely lost art, constrained in a weird and paradoxical manner, in order to generate layers of meaning that are explicitly formulated to be irrelevant outside of the game itself.  What the hell is the point of that?  I think pure Sim is extremely rare.
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    Again, this shows where you and John have a problem understanding narrativism, because you both assume it's something that you've never seen, when, in fact, you have. The people who claim to play narrativism don't sit around the table saying things like, "It would be really cool to end the story with a Faulkner-esqe twist, so let's try to maneuver things so that we can accomplish that." Making a protagonist out of a character merely means making him someone who creates meaning for the players. And nothing more than that.
    Setting John aside because I don't speak for him, I think you're entirely wrong here.  I mentioned in another thread running right now that I think the current game I'm in is straight-up Nar.  I think most of the games I've really loved have been Nar, and that that is why I liked them: I really liked having the events and so forth come together in an increasingly story-like fashion, and I went to some effort to help them go that way.  That's Nar, surely?  I think somehow you're reading all this stuff about myth as some kind of defense of why Sim is the "real thing".  No, not at all.  As far as I'm concerned, the basic problem with Sim is that it's trying to do something completely impossible.  Myth cannot be created in a box; it's pointless unless it has access to everything, because the whole point of myth is to totalize the system to account for everything in the universe through a vast harmony.  But Sim is precisely about myth in a box.  So either you have to let it out, and let it take over your life, in which case you get very strange subculture behaviors where people basically treat their games as real life and try desperately to pretend that their real lives are irrelevant and unimportant, or else you keep it firmly in a box and set yourself a completely impossible goal.  If you want to create myth, you have to let it totalize the universe.  Most sane people don't want to do this these days, for a lot of reasons, so I think Sim is playing with fire; they're playing at myth, which means they're not generating myth.  When they get strong glimpses of it, they're thrilled, but they don't know how to recapture that moment because what they're doing is so alien to them and so basically incoherent.  I think it makes a lot more sense to wake up, realize that myth's procedures have mostly shifted over into narratives and stories and so on, and go create some good meaningful stories.  Nar just seems a lot more healthy to me.
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    Where I agree with you and with what John has pointed out so many times before, is that RPGs are not literature, or other media. What they create is, in fact, more mythic than these things, from what I can tell.
    Yes, I think that's true.  But I also think that Nar and Gam harness that in a direction that is workable and coherent.  It's a smaller set of goals, but at least they can be achieved.  Sim, it seems to me, strives for Myth with a capital M, and I think that causes a lot of heartache.


    I'm going to get back to the whole heroquest/visionquest thing when I have time to think it through.  I think you're starting to move Gam more toward ritual activity, which makes good sense to me.
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    Chris Lehrich
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    « Reply #107 on: December 14, 2004, 10:33:30 AM »

    Quote from: Caldis
    Quote from: clehrich
    One solution is the cargo-cult, but Hainuwele is another.  Through myth, we think it through, and we come to a solution.  The gifts are shit (thus excreted), and not valuable, so we don't owe the Dutch anything.  And if we use the gifts for other purposes (such as trading with our neighbors), we can make them into yams (thus the planting of the body and its turning into yams) which do have value, therefore getting something for nothing.  The trick is thus to transform shit into food, and in order to do that we have to refuse direct relations with the shit-givers.
    My question is one of process.  When would the myth be created?  In this example you seem to be saying that the myth is created and used to help make the decision on how to use the Dutch trade goods.  That would seem to be narrativistic to me, using the created 'story' to make a point.
    Well, I guess to me this doesn't seem particularly narrativistic because the story itself isn't much of a story.  I mean, it doesn't seem to have much narrative meaning.  You get this chick born from a coconut, and then she shits trade-goods, and then we kill her and get yams.  Eh?  I don't think this is really what Story Now is about.  But at a deeper level of symbolic meaning, what Levi-Strauss calls mythic thought, there is a negotiation of the real world happening here, and that has meaning and implications.

    Where I think the problem is coming up is that in real myth, like this, the implications and sources are the whole culture, whereas in Sim we're doing myth in a constrained box, Ethan's terrarium.  Looked at from one end, Sim is more like pure myth because it doesn't necessarily generate story -- only systems of meaning.  Looked at from the other end, Nar is more like pure myth because it's not constrained and can get at meanings within our actual lives.  Real myth is both of these things.  The thing is, I don't really think we can do real myth anymore, because of a whole bunch of cultural and historical factors.  I think RPGs tap into mythic thought as a process, but I very much doubt that any game can really do myth in the pure sense.
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    On the flip side you've mentioned that two entirely different stories can be the same myth, "rotting lizards and exploding grandmothers".  It seems unlikely that both could have been used at the same time to make the decision so it would seem likely that they were created after the fact as an oral history.  This would seem simulationist to me, with only the gm knowing how the story works out and the players taking the part of the meaningful players in the story.  They are expected to act as the symbolic thing they represent, warrior, healer, scoundrel, vampire, etc.
    I don't quite follow the part about the GM and so on, but the clause I've underlined is precisely incorrect.  The thing that makes myths so goddamn difficult to understand is that both can be used at the same time, because to the natives it's obvious that these are the same thing.  Of course, each also slots into different other parts of the culture, but the core meaning relevant to the myth directly is identical: these are the same relation expressed in different terms.

    This is what always causes confusion among ethnographers, you see.  The natives think wey're stupid for not seeing that the lizards and the grandmother are the same, sort of like you might think someone a little dim or hard of hearing if you heard two different jazz riffs on some old standard and the guy couldn't see that they were basically the same thing.
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    Chris Lehrich
    clehrich
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    « Reply #108 on: December 14, 2004, 10:44:45 AM »

    Quote from: contracycle
    Quote from: Mike Holmes

    Simulationism - validation of the ritual space in which the myth is created (consecration)
    Apart from general agreement with your post, this looks very juicy to me.  I think it can be expanded somewhat to explain to the auteur-GM role as well; just as in most cases where an object or space is rendered sacred by some form of ritual specialist, one could see the game space being rendered 'live' by the game-specialist.
    Huh, interesting.  Myself, I'd say that Sim requires this "consecration" (nice term, Mike!) particularly strongly, but that such consecration is not the sole identifier of Sim.  We're mixing levels here: myth and ritual use many of the same processes, but I don't think they're the same thing.  Nevertheless, I'll buy that if (as in Sim) you need an especially firm consecration in order to keep your mythic work within boundaries, then it makes good sense to ascribe that power to an authority who can by fiat decide what is and is not within the guide-rails.  That frees us, the players, to think more freely and play with what we like in terms of systematic meanings, because we don't have to simultaneously think about this weird imposed constraint.  

    That makes very good sense, actually.  I think something just clicked for me.  Basically I've said in a couple other posts that Sim is bizarre and paradoxical, because it's trying to construct myth in a box -- but myth doesn't make sense if it doesn't take over everything because you lose the whole total system aspect that makes myth have a real purpose in the first place.  So how can we keep doing this and not realize that it's intrinsically incoherent?  Well, we make ourselves like the natives, in a sense, by allowing ourselves as players to take on and play with anything we want.  And we hand over the job of keeping this afloat, the impossible task of making the myth stay in a box, to some other guy.  That's a huge responsibility, and it requires constant policing.  So the GM becomes increasingly an auteur doing "welcome to my world" so that we can be freed to play in it.  If as in Nar we were willing to let ourselves grab anything from anywhere and make meaning out of it, we wouldn't really need this; we'd be telling stories together instead.  So the strong GM role thus keeps the ritualization, what you're calling the consecration, intact so that we don't have to recognize the incoherence of what we're doing.
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    And actually it occurs to me further that this insight and knowledge are themselves alien, possessed of an even greater super-legitimacy than that of the presiding officiant simply by virtue of existing as published work, as being From Afar, as being handed down by a Higher Power - the designer.  The GM is moses come down from the mountain.
    I don't know that I buy that one, but it's an interesting idea.  Any takers?
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    All of which makes the cargo-cult phenomenon of RPG seem inevitable.
    I don't get that.  Where do you see cargo-cult?
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    I'm not going to comment on the gamist angle just yet but I'm champing at the bit.
    I wish you would, though.  It's really bugging me.
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    Chris Lehrich
    clehrich
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    « Reply #109 on: December 14, 2004, 11:10:24 AM »

    Quote from: Mike Holmes
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    But if we have a clearer sense of what it is we're doing, by really delving deeply into mythic thought, we have a better chance of having our Sim games work actively (rather than what Ron calls "ouija board play," where you wait for "it" to happen).
    No, see, if we have a "clearer view" of what's happening, then we're playing narrativism. That's precisely what Ron is saying here. Without an intent to create meaning, none is created.
    I don't buy that.  It seems to me to imply that if we think about what we're doing, we're automatically doing Nar, that Sim is not self-aware.  I don't see why that should necessarily be the case.
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    Ethan, no, Sim isn't purer, it's not creating myth at all. That's what I'm trying to get at. Myth requires that the audience, the players in this case, recieve some sense of something like "place in the world" or the like. That's what I mean by "meaning" in this context - precisely what Myth is trying to get at. Which requires only creating the meaning, if you assume that the ritual space is already consecrated. That is, you can create myth with a low sim threshold (what would traditionally be called narrativism) as long as all of the participants agree that it's OK for players to do it in the visible metagame. Uh, call it "somewhat less sacredly" or something.
    Well, now wait a second.  I think once again we're mixing levels analytically.  As I said a post or two back, Nar is more like pure myth because it draws on and feeds back onto the total cultural system around it to make meanings for us in this world.  But Sim is more like pure myth because it imposes no constraints about how that works or what shape the meaning-construction should take.  If we're interested in creating meaning for our real lives, then Sim is not the best way to do it; if we're interested in formulating hideously complicated and intricate meaning-systems in part for the sheer hell of it and in part in order to generate a total sense of how all the symbols of the game-world hang together rigorously, then Sim is a better way, because it's not limited by narrative constraints.
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    Sim alone I say doesn't or only rarely exists. What's called sim is simply a high respect for the "in-gameness" of the characters, and does not reject completely the player creation of meaning. But to the extent that it doesn't reject this, it's hybrid narrativism.
    I'd agree with you that pure Sim is extremely rare, but I think you continue to construct a sense of "meaning" that is so large as to negate all possible subdivisions.  Narrativism it seems to me does have a narrower sense of what sorts of meanings and stories can be told.  It's an agenda, a plan of action, in which we make a concerted effort to create a particular kind of meanings in a particular type of way.  Simulationism releases that constraint entirely; it says that so long as the whole thing hangs together rigorously, all meanings are legitimate.  It doesn't matter a damn whether we tell a story.  The thing is, I think most people do want stories, which is why they get unhappy with Sim.

    I just think you're defining your way into a corner.  You're setting it up so that if there is any sort of meaning whatsoever, it's Nar.  Well, if that's the case, then is there no difference between a story and a myth?  Because I think there most definitely is.  If you look at the Bororo myth, that's not much of a story.  Same with Hainuwele.  The meanings of those myths lie at a different level and are expressed in a different fashion.  To lump all that together, call it meaning, and say, "Yes, that's Nar by definition because it has meaning" seems to me pointless; further, it denies the very real difference between myth and story.  What you're doing I think makes good formal sense, that is it is quite logical and cohesive, but it seems to me that the data (myth, story, literature, etc.) are against you: myth is strangely unlike these other forms, and it's a misreading to claim that this difference isn't there.

    To put it directly, I don't think that Narrativist gamers want to produce things like the Bororo myth or the Ceramese myth of Hainuwele.  Certainly that's not been my experience, and it seems very much at odds with what Nar Actual Play accounts are about.  MLwM, for example, imposes strong narrative constraints in order to tell stories about love and anguish and redemption and so on.  And what I see in Actual Play accounts is that this is what makes people happy about these Nar games.  What I don't see a lot of is people transcribing bizarre series of apparently meaningless events and explaining that actually, underneath it all, there was a weirder deep meaning about the reasons for not taking a crap in a garbage can.  I think that if that happened, Nar players would not be thrilled; it might be meaningful, but it's not what they're looking for.

    I do think that a number of Sim accounts set up as "great play" (and you don't see a lot of those, actually) really do sort of work that way.  If you think about Jay's very long post about his Tolkien game, what he emphasized was this amazing moment where all that meaning-creation suddenly coalesced into a story, but what seems to have been extra-exciting about this was that there were all these natural 20s flying around and such.  It sounded to me like there was a very thoroughly developed world of meaningful systems that all those players had created together over the years, and at a moment like this suddenly everything kind of "clicked" and made a story out of seemingly nothing.  To me, that's exactly what's so confused about Sim: it's basically really about the rest of the game, the parts where people are tooling around doing their thing and interacting and setting up all these complicated systems, so that whenever something happens you can slot it in and make some kind of coherent sense of it -- but without that particularly telling a story.  And then, in this case, the whole machine of bricolage got hooked up to particular bits and pieces and railroaded them into a resolution that they emphatically did not want, which was the death of some big character, Glorfindel or somebody.  This made something of a story, I suppose, but the main thing is that it proved conclusively that the system, the world of meanings that they had constructed, was indeed an operative and valid world, in the same way as the Hidatsa hunters "prove" their myth by actually going and getting some eagles.  At that moment, the myth stops being a complicated thought-experiment playing with meaning and becomes concrete reality.  And it sounds to me like Jay's group had that experience: they caught an eagle.  No wonder they were thrilled!  But I think if they had wanted to tell stories per se, i.e. play Nar, they would have been less excited about the fact that the system of meaning in a sense made the one character kill the other.

    Am I getting any clearer here?
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    Chris Lehrich
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    « Reply #110 on: December 14, 2004, 11:11:32 AM »

    Quote from: clehrich
    One thing I could see coming out of this is in mechanics development.  Instead of working strictly on causality and "realism" sorts of issues, it might be worth trying to build mechanical models that guide bricolage.  This would allow one to construct myth sort of with a net, which helps in a society that's less familiar with the process as a basic activity.

    Make a thread for this (either in RPG Theory or in Indie Games, depending on whether you want to develop it for publishing) and I will be right there.
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    Mike Holmes
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    « Reply #111 on: December 14, 2004, 11:14:43 AM »

    All I can say, Chris, is that you're reading into Ron's statement a whole lotta stuff that isn't there. Ron has specifically said on more than one occassion that "Story Now" is merely the creation of meaning by the player at the moment it happens. It seems to me that all of the other constructs of literature or "story" are added on afterwards, making play like this, if it exists, a subset of the whole of narrativism.

    Sim is not about "classifying" or any of that. Exploration does that on a basic level before we ever get to sim or nar. Sim is just the appearance or lack of it, of metagame (or any other such "disbelief suspension" breaking thing). This is why in the 3D model, the only question is that of control of "theme". That is, who's making it.

    One purpose of GNS is in discovering GNS incoherence, or rather how to understand the issues so that you don't have a text that promotes such incoherence. It may do other things, too, but it has to do that, or it's not GNS anymore, given that the "mutual exclusivity" of the modes is what makes it a valid theory. Making it adjust to fit your view of it, so that it loses this capacity is, to me, essentially creating an entirely new model that addreses other issues entirely.

    Mike
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    clehrich
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    « Reply #112 on: December 14, 2004, 11:36:37 AM »

    Quote from: Mike Holmes
    All I can say, Chris, is that you're reading into Ron's statement a whole lotta stuff that isn't there. Ron has specifically said on more than one occassion that "Story Now" is merely the creation of meaning by the player at the moment it happens. It seems to me that all of the other constructs of literature or "story" are added on afterwards, making play like this, if it exists, a subset of the whole of narrativism.
    I'm going to have to call for Ron to weigh in on this one, because I think you're misreading.  Somebody's not getting Ron -- maybe both of us -- and that's screwing up this whole conversation.
    Quote
    Sim is not about "classifying" or any of that. Exploration does that on a basic level before we ever get to sim or nar. Sim is just the appearance or lack of it, of metagame (or any other such "disbelief suspension" breaking thing). This is why in the 3D model, the only question is that of control of "theme". That is, who's making it.
    I'll buy that basic classification and construction of mythemes happens in Exploration, but it seems to me that the weaving of these things together into a completely cohesive and predictive system requires something more, some actual meaning-construction work to be done.  And I think one way of doing this is through story, and another is through myth, which I would ascribe to Nar and Sim, respectively.  But this again hinges on my understanding of what Nar meaning is -- and I need Ron's input on that one.
    Quote
    One purpose of GNS is in discovering GNS incoherence, or rather how to understand the issues so that you don't have a text that promotes such incoherence. It may do other things, too, but it has to do that, or it's not GNS anymore, given that the "mutual exclusivity" of the modes is what makes it a valid theory. Making it adjust to fit your view of it, so that it loses this capacity is, to me, essentially creating an entirely new model that addreses other issues entirely.
    While I don't have a problem formulating a totally new theory, I do think that the analysis of GNS incoherence works quite well under a mythic rubric.  

    By my reading, Sim incoherence is most likely to happen when you get a conflict about whose systematic constructions dominate a particular instance.  So for example, in Jay's Tolkien game, you'd have incoherence when it turns out that one player has been saving up special rolls so as to make the sequence of events not determinate from system but from his exterior choice to work toward a story-like resolution.  This asserts that the internal self-regulation of the system is less important than the shape of the final product, which is very much not a Sim claim.  I'd expect that in this case, the Sim players would see this as "cheating."

    Nar incoherence might happen when there is disagreement about what sorts of stories we want to tell, or which parts of the system are malleable and which aren't.

    But this is a weird way to do things, since incoherence isn't within one CA -- that's the point.  My point is just that I read these as very much distinct agendas, drawing on mythical thinking resources in quite different ways for quite different purposes.  This entails that when you have disagreements at this deep level, you get incoherence.

    Another way of seeing incoherence is within game design, of course.  And I see this all the time in Sim design; I keep harping on the Impossible Thing Before Breakfast because it seems to me emblematic of the Sim problem.  Basically since Sim is really about myth, not story, truly coherent Sim design should either toss out story entirely or suggest that it's not very helpful except under certain constrained circumstances.  But what happens is that people aren't very clear on myth as distinct from story, so they think they're going to tell stories, but they're going to do so with total control from the GM and complete freedom for the players and it's all going to magically fall together if they all just play by the rules and nobody cheats to make it so.  That is a fundamental Sim incoherence, a misunderstanding of what one is doing.  If you want these effects, go with Nar.  If you want this process, go with Sim.  But to have it both ways will happen very rarely, if ever, and should be taken as a fascinating an exceptional event that cannot be repeated or predicted.
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    Chris Lehrich
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    « Reply #113 on: December 14, 2004, 03:49:52 PM »

    Quote from: clehrich
    Well, I guess to me this doesn't seem particularly narrativistic because the story itself isn't much of a story.  I mean, it doesn't seem to have much narrative meaning.  You get this chick born from a coconut, and then she shits trade-goods, and then we kill her and get yams.  Eh?  I don't think this is really what Story Now is about.  But at a deeper level of symbolic meaning, what Levi-Strauss calls mythic thought, there is a negotiation of the real world happening here, and that has meaning and implications.


    It may not be much as a story but it is an arguement for how the people should act.  So if at the point the Dutch showed up and offered the trade goods someone stood up and created this story to try and influence the other tribesmen, it would be like narrativism.  They are trying to give the story a moral meaning, teaching others on what is the correct action.

    Quote

    Quote from: Caldis
    On the flip side you've mentioned that two entirely different stories can be the same myth, "rotting lizards and exploding grandmothers".  It seems unlikely that both could have been used at the same time to make the decision so it would seem likely that they were created after the fact as an oral history.  This would seem simulationist to me, with only the gm knowing how the story works out and the players taking the part of the meaningful players in the story.  They are expected to act as the symbolic thing they represent, warrior, healer, scoundrel, vampire, etc.
    I don't quite follow the part about the GM and so on, but the clause I've underlined is precisely incorrect.  The thing that makes myths so goddamn difficult to understand is that both can be used at the same time, because to the natives it's obvious that these are the same thing.  Of course, each also slots into different other parts of the culture, but the core meaning relevant to the myth directly is identical: these are the same relation expressed in different terms.


    But both would not be created at the same time is what I was getting at.  They both may tell the same story but they are kept as oral history, retellings of what happened without value judgement.  They were not both brought forward at some tribal meeting as arguements on how to treat the situation.  They are artistic endeavours to retell what happened in an interesting way unlike the greek myths that told stories designed to highlight cultural beliefs like valour and courage and show the dangers of pride and arrogance.  Those are more like narrativism.

    The parallels that I see with simulationism is that players take on characters that act as the symbolic elements in the myths.  They become the icons that stand for something else, brave warriors, wizards, healers.  Some games develop huge source books to detail what it is the characters stand for, clan books for vampire.  The players try and accurately portray the meaning of the character as initially designed.  The gm is the real myth maker and it's his job to bring in symbolic elements such as monsters and bandits in such a way as to create the artistic version of what really happened.  Of course there is no what really happened, it's all imaginary, in the gm's mind and it tells a real 'story' at his whim.  Of course the problem becomes if peoples ideas of what certain things mean doesnt mesh with the others then no meaningful tale can be told.

    My parallels may be off but the point I was trying to bring up and that I feel is still causing a lot of confusion here is that the stories themselves are not meant as tools to make a meaningful statement.  The elements within them have meaning and together they tell what happened but they aren't intrinsically designed to say whether this was good or bad.  They are artistic documentaries, oral histories.
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    clehrich
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    « Reply #114 on: December 14, 2004, 04:15:33 PM »

    Quote from: Caldis
    It may not be much as a story but it is an arguement for how the people should act.  So if at the point the Dutch showed up and offered the trade goods someone stood up and created this story to try and influence the other tribesmen, it would be like narrativism.  They are trying to give the story a moral meaning, teaching others on what is the correct action.
    Yes, that makes sense to me, I guess.  My sense is that people don't do this, i.e. get up and create myths to make arguments quite that way, but it's a fine distinction that's probably not worth getting into here.
    Quote
    But both would not be created at the same time is what I was getting at.  They both may tell the same story but they are kept as oral history, retellings of what happened without value judgement.  They were not both brought forward at some tribal meeting as arguements on how to treat the situation.  They are artistic endeavours to retell what happened in an interesting way unlike the greek myths that told stories designed to highlight cultural beliefs like valour and courage and show the dangers of pride and arrogance.  Those are more like narrativism.
    Yes, and furthermore they link up one set of circumstances with a whole bunch of other cultural systems so that it all hangs together.  Unlike Greek myths, as you say.
    Quote
    The parallels that I see with simulationism is that players take on characters that act as the symbolic elements in the myths.  ... The players try and accurately portray the meaning of the character as initially designed.  The gm is the real myth maker and it's his job to bring in symbolic elements such as monsters and bandits in such a way as to create the artistic version of what really happened.  Of course there is no what really happened, it's all imaginary, in the gm's mind and it tells a real 'story' at his whim.  Of course the problem becomes if peoples ideas of what certain things mean doesnt mesh with the others then no meaningful tale can be told.
    Well, I don't think this division is intrinsic.  It's usually how it gets done, but I don't see any reason in principle that players cannot do all the work.  Indeed, I think mostly they do that anyway by responding to all this stuff the GM throws at them.  But they may think of it as the GM's story, which is an interesting issue right there.
    Quote
    My parallels may be off but the point I was trying to bring up and that I feel is still causing a lot of confusion here is that the stories themselves are not meant as tools to make a meaningful statement.  The elements within them have meaning and together they tell what happened but they aren't intrinsically designed to say whether this was good or bad.  They are artistic documentaries, oral histories.
    If those phrases work for you, I'm cool with them.  I'd just call that myth and have done, but whatever.  But it does seem to me that the implication of your argument is that Nar, unlike Sim, really does try to construct stories that make meaningful statements.  In Sim, it's about making the elements have meaning and link up cohesively.  And I don't see that as the same thing.  I guess you might say that I see it as a distinction between meaningful statement (= story = Nar) and system of meaning (= myth = Sim).  It seems to me that a story in the Nar sense has to say something; a myth (or a Sim construct) has to be its own meaning and (part of) a system of meaning; in real myth, the two end up going together because we want to put the meaning we've discovered into practice, but this is largely denied in Sim because of Ethan's terrarium, or the consecration, or what have you: the wall between in-game and out-of-game is conceived as impermeable.

    Are we on the same page, or am I misreading you?  Sorry, I'm just a little lost.
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    Chris Lehrich
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    « Reply #115 on: December 14, 2004, 05:31:24 PM »

    Summary

    Okay, so let me see if I can sort of wrap up the current GNS debate and see where we are.  It's time to evaluate whether this thread should keep going, whether we are getting somewhere, or whether we've started to slip into round-and-round stuff.  I do think we're getting somewhere, but I think we're starting to get sidetracked.  My hope is that we'll all take a breather and think about it for a day or so, then come on back and go for the next big push.  I'm not the moderator or anything, but I'm planning to keep quiet for about 48 hours on this thread, starting now.

    I started this all off by talking about Nar and text (remember text?), and I don't think I ever made particularly clear what I was on about.  I still think that some of Shklovsky's terms might be useful, but I'm going to set that aside.  Then we got on to Sim and myth, which for me was intended largely as a contrast from Nar and text.  And we've been hammering at myth ever since.

    So basically here's where I think I stand at the moment, and then maybe you guys can tell me where you all stand, and we'll take it from there.

    On the basic GNS divisions, I think Mike and I are not going to agree, so I'm just going to lay out where I stand and Mike, you take it how you will.  If we're pushing for mutual clarity, that's cool, but if our definitions are just not going to meet in the middle we've gotta pass on that one.

    Narrativism and Story

    Narrativism, Story Now, is easy-peasy.  We tell stories all the time, we read them, watch them on TV or at the movies, and so on.  We've grown up with them.  I don't think Story Now means some peculiar sense of Story, but rather the exact same ordinary off-the-cuff sense that some Joe walking down the street would mean.  So if said, "Hey, you saw Terminator, how'd you like the story?" I would expect him to answer me in exactly the same sort of sense as Story is meant in Narrativism.  You know, plot and character and stuff happening that leads up to some kind of climax and so on.  And stories grip us, maybe because we care about the characters, or maybe because the issues seem important, or whatever.  But at any rate, it's a totally normal thing.  RPG discourse has gotten rather wound about this, for a lot of complicated historical reasons, but at base there is nothing peculiar whatsoever about Narrativism.  It's just playing a game such that you tell stories with it.

    Now where I was going about text is just that these narrative forms I think of as primarily textual, mostly for historical reasons.  And I think syuzhet and fabula are useful concepts to analyze that with.  But I think that at this point going back to the problem of text and orality would just confuse matters; I'll do my deconstructive take on all this some other time, OK?  (And, no, before you start, I haven't even gestured in that direction here.)

    Simulationism and Myth

    Simulationism, however, is extremely peculiar.  We just don't really have anything quite like it in our culture these days.  It's very much rooted in mythic thought, which died out quite a while back, largely with the advent of writing.  Myths aren't at a surface narrative level necessarily about anything, and what they seem to be about often isn't what they're really about.  It seems like the myth of the wolverine marrying our distant ancestor and teaching us how to kill eagles maybe sort of means something as a story, but really it's not about that at all.  It's about how wolverines are symbolically analogous to the hunter going after an eagle in a precise ritual hunt.  It's a way of explaining how eagle hunting works, and why it has to work that way, and also of influencing the hunt to make it actually work practically.  None of which is apparent from the story-level content of the myth.

    The musical analogy is one of Lévi-Strauss's many attempts to force us to recognize just how strange all this is – and yet how familiar.  To us, it's very strange to talk about a narrative form as though it were a fugue, because it seems like it should matter what exactly we say, word by word.  But it doesn't matter a damn.  All that matters is that the wolverine and the eagle and the rabbit and the blood and the pit all line up and make a good chord progression.  The rest is largely incidental.  This is why Lévi-Strauss insists on calling this stuff "savage": he never wants you to lose sight of the alienness of all this.  Because if you do lose sight of that, you start turning the myths into stories (à la Narrativism) and transforming what they do into what we do.  You're in effect trying to tame them, to take their myths and bring them home and tidy them up and make them not dangerous or threatening or freaky any more.  They're just a bunch of silly tales told by a bunch of foolish primitives.  But Lévi-Strauss is trying to say that these things are nothing of the kind: they're a sophisticated kind of philosophical work that is immensely difficult and demands our intellectual respect.  The fact that some myths are also things we can respect aesthetically, even without a lot of experience, just proves the genius of the savage mind.

    Now I maintain that Sim is quite close to this central conception of myth.  The problem is that we're really not very good at it, and we keep wandering off the mark.  So a number of factors get brought into Sim play to keep us focused.  These can and should be understood in ritual terms, as a number of you rightly pointed out.  And they tend to lead to such things as authoritarian GM's, intricate and overdetermined rules systems, enormously complicated background worlds, and so forth.  I think there's a great deal more to be said about this, particularly with respect to mechanics, but we've barely started that conversation – which is a pity in part because I'm convinced that this is where somebody's going to crack open Gamism.

    Mytheme and Code

    As I try to put all that together, I find myself staring at a problem we raised some pages back, which is what mythemes are.  Caldis notes that PCs can be mythemes, and while I think that makes sense I think they're a somewhat unusual example.  I'd tend to think that any recurrent object or object-type would be a mytheme, like a gold piece, a sword, a goblin, a dungeon, a 10x10 room, and so on.  The trick is that these things mean something a lot larger than themselves, because they are embedded in systems, especially mechanical ones but also historical ones.  So for example a gold piece is also worth 1 x.p., which because we know it is relevant.  A dungeon and a 10x10 room have a lot of historical weight: they're parts of the classic history of our art form, and so when we walk into a 10x10 room we think,"Oh, I know where we are," even if of course we don't.  We just associate a lot of things with it.  How long is the wooden pole with probe for traps with?  10', obviously.  Paladin?  "Detects evil! <ha ha ha>" All of this is incoherent nonsense to any normal person, but to a long-time gamer this stuff is like a vast network of in-jokes and inside meanings.  And in hard-core Sim, the point is to develop exactly that network so strongly and cohesively that every damn thing that happens in-game is a signal, a code, that can be interpreted by the culture (that's us, around the table) to have enormous meaning and significance.  So what you want is to ride around that bluff: "You see a tall, armored man on a white horse."  "Oh shit!  Does he cast any shadow?"  "No."  "Oh my god, it's HIM!!"  Now none of this means anything to anyone but the crew of the game, but to them, that's meaning.  And it's not a story – it's just a thing, a mytheme.  A story might, obviously, stand behind it, or be made out of it, but it's just a thing.  In Sim, that's where meaning really happens, just like in myth.

    To put it directly, I'd contrast story with code.  I was re-reading some Lévi-Strauss trying to figure out what we're all talking about, and I noticed that distinction.  He doesn't always stick to it, but for our purposes I think it's very useful.  Basically if Nar is Story Now, Sim is Code Now.  If that helps, maybe?

    Mechanics and Structure

    The next question would be what the structures are, and this seems to me the crucial and insanely difficult problem.  Certainly mechanics are extremely important structures, but so are a number of other factors about the way we play, the way we talk, and so forth.  And I think that the fact that so much of this procedure is so damn difficult for us encourages us to want rigidity and rigor in our structures – which prompts the development of increasingly determinate mechanics.  Another point about this is that it divorces the mythic structures from the ritual structures; that is, if the GM authority is a way of keeping our free play within constrained bounds, that's a ritual constraint, but the structures of how combats work or whatever should be structures operative at the mythic level.  In order to keep those apart, we formulate rules-systems that we at least claim to interpret as determinate and not up to the GM – he just interprets and arbitrates.  So his job is to keep the ritual boundary impermeable; the mechanics' job is to provide us with the structures we need to do our myth-telling.  But I really think this is the biggest and hairiest problem to crack: how precisely do mechanics really work to formulate and manipulate mythemes to construct coded meanings?  The Lumpley Principle tells us that they do, and that everything that happens in negotiation is part of mechanics or system, but how precisely that works is I think quite another matter.

    GNS and Meaning

    On the broader GNS question, I think that there has been a confusion of different kinds of meaning.  I think it is certainly true that Nar-style stories have meaning (story), and that myths have meaning (code), but I maintain that these are not the same thing.  To assert that they are is to claim, as did early scholars of myth, that the natives are just bad story-tellers.  They tell these incoherent and confused stories, because they're stupid and aesthetically primitive.  Because if what you want is story-meaning, you're not going to be happy with a lot of myths.  But if you accept that myth really works at a different level, and that it can only really be judged at that level, then suddenly you're talking about something very different from story.  And to my mind, that entails that Nar and Sim are really not at all the same thing, although of course they have common roots and lots of overlaps in actual practice.

    A final point is that I maintain that Nar is a functional and reasonable approach to dealing with mythic material in modern times.  You do much the same work, but you use it to tell a story, which is basically what Aeschylus or Shakespeare or whoever did.  That makes good sense to me.  But Sim is basically impossible, as got discussed in Sim-Diceless Thread Search some weeks back.  What I mean by this, in terms of myth, is that we can't do myth like this.  Myth doesn't work like this.  It can't be constrained, and it can't be done on the fly without a cultural "net" to bounce off of, and it can't have someone deciding by personal fiat whether it's OK or not.  Myth in a box isn't myth; it's messing about.  But I think that Sim wants to do myth, and I think that's in a sense a noble goal.  Unfortunately, I think it's also one doomed to failure.

    Still Hanging Fire

    Where does Gamism come in, anyway?  I think it's all about structure instead of objects, but I'm really no further forward on that one.  Contracycle?  You still champing?  C'mon man, I'm waiting with bated breath!
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    Chris Lehrich
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    « Reply #116 on: December 14, 2004, 09:14:55 PM »

    Quote from: clehrich
    Are we on the same page, or am I misreading you?  Sorry, I'm just a little lost.


    Yup. Same page.  My inquiry was an attempt to get clarity on how myth worked, you've answered that and it is as I initially assumed very different from narrativism.  I think you've covered this fairly well in your summary so at this point I have nothing else to add, just a lot to re-read and think over.
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    Michael Brazier
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    « Reply #117 on: December 15, 2004, 02:41:34 AM »

    This is somewhat late, and the central discussion is clearly winding up, but nonetheless ...

    Quote from: clehrich
    Quote from: Michael Brazier
    If there is no invention, no work of construction, involved in an endeavor, its result cannot, I think, be called "art".  And in an inquiry, no matter what medium or form one uses, one wants as little invention as possible.  Any structure in the final product that is not an image of the thing one was examining, is a mistake.  So, if myth is an inquiry in narrative, it isn't art, because inquiry in general should not be art; it's a category error to judge inquiry as if it were art.  
    As in the Michelangelo example, it really depends on what you mean by "invention"; he certainly invented something new, but not a single element in the Pieta is new.  As to inquiry, I don't know why we wouldn't want invention in any medium; surely the whole point of inquiry is to find something new?


    No, the point of an enquiry is to find something we didn't already know.  What we find is new only to us.  What we make is new absolutely; if not for us it would not exist.  Michelangelo did not find his Pieta, he made it; he was, to be sure, guided by previous artists' pietas, but if he had not chosen to attempt that subject the Pieta would not exist.

    Quote from: clehrich
    If you mean that we don't want invention but rather discovery, I'm not at all convinced that these are completely at odds; Einstein's discovery of relativity certainly also had an element of invention, of creating something new.


    Not at all.  Einstein developed special relativity from two observed facts: from within a closed system one can't tell how fast or which way the system as a whole is moving; and, light moves at a uniform finite speed, whatever its direction.  Special relativity is a pattern, expressed as a mathematical equation, which accounts for these facts; it's the result of an enquiry, a thing found, not a thing Einstein made.  Which reminds me:

    Quote from: clehrich
    Scientific work starts with rules, theory, and whatnot, moves down to things in the actual world, and then comes back up to more theory. [...] what makes scientific explanation really valuable, its ultimate criterion of interest, is the implications for a larger range of questions. This isn't about an explanation's validity, which just has to do with the explanation of the thing itself, but of its value, which is the implications for more theory.


    This is not true.  Scientific work starts from the concrete facts, things in the real world, and builds up from there to theories, rules, and principles.  The criterion of interest for a scientific explanation is its implications for things in the real world, not for its influence on other theories.  The cycle starts with facts and returns to facts.  A real scientist is what Levi-Strauss calls a bricoleur, never an ingenieur:

    Quote from: clehrich
    mythic thought [...] starts with things, moves up to theory and rules, and then moves back to things in the end. So the validity of the myth, we might say, is again the adequation of theory to object. But the larger value, which is mostly aesthetic rather than practical, is the other things manipulated in the process. The goal isn't, you might say, to explain anything (since the whole process presumes that explanation is possible without significant change to the system) but to connect things satisfyingly.


    The real differences between a modern scientist and a mythmaker are, that the scientist (being literate) has access to far more facts than the mythmaker; and that (being educated) he knows that cosmological systems that were wholly adequate to the known facts have come to grief on new data, and therefore cannot presume that explanation is possible without significant changes to his present system of thought.  The basic agenda of mythic thought and scientific work is identical: the "adequation of theory to object".

    Quote from: clehrich
    Quote from: Michael Brazier
    Also, in what way -- other than the difference of medium -- does Sim differ from a play of Oscar Wilde?  Or a Marx Brothers film, another of my examples?
    On Oscar Wilde, the primary difference it seems to me is that myth is not art for art's sake; it's art that is highly functional, and for which in fact some of the aesthetic standards are functional ones.  As to the Marx Brothers, I'm not quite sure what you mean to point to with the example; again, my sense is that those films are pretty much entertainment (art) for its own sake, whereas myths have a deep functional dimension.


    You answered the wrong question.  How myth differs from "art for art's sake" is obvious; what I asked you was, how Simulationism differs from "art for art's sake".  For I'm not at all convinced that Sim is about creating myth -- on Levi-Strauss' account it can't possibly be about that.  I am a complete amateur in this field, but it seems to me that any theory of the motives behind Sim has to be parallel, or cognate, to a theory of the motives for composing and experiencing "entertainments" in other media.
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    Mike Holmes
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    « Reply #118 on: December 15, 2004, 06:26:10 AM »

    It's interesting that I once said to Greg Stafford that Science was simply another religion, and he corrected me. Science answers "What?" and religions answer "Why?"

    Science can never help us explain our place in the universe - it doesn't even try. That doesn't make it pointless; it makes it something else.

    Mike
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    contracycle
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    « Reply #119 on: December 15, 2004, 06:50:41 AM »

    Hmm, I may have given the false impression that I had lots to say, when what I mean rather is that I have a lot of nebulous things that have not crystallised and I am looking forward to others input.

    But there are some thoughts to raise.  Firstly I recall the explicit bounding that occurs in games - the chess board is finite, we draw lines around the football pitch.  We mark out spaces and attribute significance to those spaces in accordance with a formal system.

    So yes I am interested in structure, although it might be better to discuss process rather than structure, because the hallmark of games are that they are venues for Doing, rather than appreciating.
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    Impeach the bomber boys:
    www.impeachblair.org
    www.impeachbush.org

    "He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
    - Leonardo da Vinci
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