I was harassed on the street recently. Let’s just say I was staring at the wrong convenience store’s two dimensional food imagery for a few seconds too long. At a less nice street in a good neighborhood. Near the wrong person in a mainly innocuous street.
Showing the wrong body language in a state of hunger for food, perhaps. Not ready to be given a weirdly indirect and mildly assertive “fuck off” by somebody who clearly wasn’t having a great day.
The way I was caught off guard is what’s important here. I keep my eyes peeled for unpleasant strangers no matter where I am. But I had no clue I would be briefly shouted at by the guy just standing in front of the store. And he could tell I didn’t expect him to do it.
I was far from expecting him to do or say anything. I was literally looking at the food on the wall and considering getting some. It was also barely for 3 or 4 seconds.
I can’t say I wasn’t a bit traumatized. It’s been years since I’ve been…..made to look like an ass…..with my responsibility for it near zero. It really hurt, I mean it.
But I can also say….I wasn’t shocked or confused or made to despair too hard….that I lived in a world where such things could happen. It just made me want to keep on explaining it.
Because I know it doesn’t come from a place you could simply call dumb, or mean, or idiotic, or malicious.
It’s deeper than that. It’s purer than that.
It’s more powerful-feeling than that. It’s more insightful than that.
To catch somebody off guard in a way that feels intricate and unusual, to go forward with it in a way that other people could easily hate you for, is exemplary of having a strong heart. You could even call it proof of the need to show you have a sharp wit.
Kind of like the way you feel when delivering friendly insults, doing small pranks, and especially when playing embarrassing games.
Like it or not, you have the passion for catching people off guard. You have that spice inside of you.
Chances are, at any point in your life when you were called toxic or obnoxious and didn’t feel that way, you had this very feeling, that you weren’t trying to have power over others, that you mere merely displaying that you actually had a bit of power at all.
That you weren’t trying to hurt anyone, you were just trying to get some healthy satisfaction against the pain of being too nice.
What a spicy feeling, right?
[an interlude, before the metaphor]
It’s at this point I planned about bringing up the philosophical concept of The Will to Power, and how this time, I’ve been accidentally discovering it on my own, and expanding on it quite intricately. And the near crying level of happiness I felt what I found out about that concept and how I was matching it with my explanations about what makes the mind feel sharp and the heart feel pure. It can be summarized or interpreted as a bizarre and ever prevalent need to not simply be powerful, but to prove that you posses power and can exhibit it extravagantly, in order to feel real happiness.
(I swear I never read what it was despite having heard the term, you’ve just got to believe me when I say I’ve been following my heart and not plagiarizing anyone)
Since the theme of this is comparing difficult human behavior to joyful states within games, and I’m planning on sticking to it, we’ll leave my references to The Will to Power at that, or something more brief, in the future. Feel free to read about it and think about it in every single one of my posts, and especially in the term “invoke yourself”.
And, uh, one more thing before I deliver the metaphor as per usual. I could also explain things in terms of “the human spirit of playfulness” and other similar concepts. “Play theory” being applicable to games as well as social situations is something other people have actually picked up on before. I read about this recently on a Reddit post, and filled with the hot juice of validation, like drinking from a packet of CapriSun left too long in the sun. Like some kind of in utero feeding, like something I’d already felt.
I remember hearing about “play theory” in terms of trying to explain humor and comedy to people, but I honestly conjured the games-to-social-interaction comparison without anyone’s encouragement.
I vaguely remember hearing about the way animals play with each other is part of what makes them good hunters. But it wasn’t any specific article that inspired me to describe that people have a hunter-like disposition in the moments where their behavior feels beautiful, insightful, and worthwhile.
To try and expose great-feeling actions as feeling like the passion of someone on the hunt, as someone merely try to play a good game, that is what I have been doing.
I firmly believe it’s mine or somebody’s destiny to bring these two concepts together like a socket and an outlet.
Or rather, that this is the only way for things change as long as humanity still walks!
Read the past 5 seasons, and you’ll get it. You’ll totally get it.
All of this stuff we can’t stand about each other but can’t find the words for
is what happens the mysterious and heart-wrenching need to prove we’ve had human strength fuses together with the confounding and exhilarating sensation of acting creatively and interestingly, and at a point that feels incredibly, absolutely appropriate to display that feeling which has happened to us.
When other people admire us for doing this, and it resonates with them, it becomes part of their lives as well. When they share that feeling enough with others, it becomes part of their culture. It becomes a version of proving your strong heart and sharp wit that others can’t help but latch onto.
When witnessing others having that such feeling detests people, and sickens them, and it feels “off” to them, and it just plain reminds them of unpleasant actions they’ve never loved and never could…
that is where a higher kind of hatred for other human beings arises.
And of course, feelings more in the middle, when you don’t know if you love or hate somebody completely, but you’ve gotta talk about ’em.
People can sense each other having those moments where you feel like you’re….
a playful badass.
And that inspires them to incorporate that into their culture as well, so that someday people somewhere can invoke their inner strength in a similar way, defy that which feels just like that but unpleasantly different.
But in the end, culture kind of doesn’t matter right?
People are still the same without a culture, right?
What truly puts the butterflies in your mind and the plasma in your heart isn’t simply your opinions about other people, it’s about witnessing and engaging with the ability to overcome terrible and unusual situations.
That’s what really lies at the core, isn’t it?
That’s at the molten center of the person “being a dick for no reason while standing on a sidewalk” isn’t it?
It’s that spicy fucking vibe.
It’s that irresistible need to be a bit of a Karen.
That sense you are being merely human in a higher, deeper level.
[end of the interlude, here comes the metaphor]
Have you seen Squid Game or As the Gods Will?
One is a live action drama with daylight horror vibes.
The other is a long-ish manga that got a movie adaptation.
Both series focus on people playing deadly children’s games,
and being eliminated in large numbers
so that some individual or small group can win a great reward.
And, perhaps by coincidence or not,
both series open up with a game of Red Light Green Light.
Well, actually, they’re both different versions of the game,
and in both, the leader sings a short line rather than merely saying “red light, green light”,
and different character and story elements are involved.
But as an American, I’ll stick with our version.
You know about the rules, right? In the game, you have to sneak up on somebody who willingly turns their back. They’re the “traffic conductor”.
They say “green light” and turn their back, and you are allowed to move forward.
Then they say “red light” and turn around.
If they see you, you exit the game and hope for the best next time.
Or just get embarrassed at losing. Maybe both?
The general flow of the game is typically that some players will end up getting spotted while doing their best not to move,
and that others will try to learn from the other player’s mistakes,
and learn to read the leader’s habits.
The leader will do their best to keep the sneak-ers off balance,
and will typically try to read the personalities and tendencies of their adversaries
so that they can win.
Naturally, it’s not too hard to explain why your mind feels hot and your heart feels big while playing Red Light, Green Light.
You have to read people. You have to control yourself. You have to defy other people. You have to synergize with other people for your own benefit.
It’s an incredibly rich state to be in.
But to leave it at that make you make you more like a smart animal than anything.
What makes the game truly pleasant, and not just interesting or satisfying is that there’s a friendly and civil element to it, which has to be defied and navigated in order to succeed at the game.
And that’s a really fucking good metaphor for what makes society how it is, isn’t it?
And why it’s so hard to call any anybody creepy or menacing?
Why nobody feels like the biggest dick or bitch in the world when enforcing their personal views about how to act,
or when making things difficult and confusing for others in any social situation.
Civilized life is about comprehending and obeying rules while warping and defying them.
For the watcher to truly win the game, they have to obey the vocal chanting rules of the game, and must be honest about what they saw. And yet also be very swift and clever in those razor-thin moments when they turn around
They have to catch you off guard. It’s all about thinking about how to make people become off guard, and following through with it.
Who would call that a “bad vibe?”
Who’d call being sneaky and clever and playful some kind version of purely ugly human presence?
Who’d fail to smile at least a little at these games?
Surely not you when you were a kid.
Surely not the oldest folks either.
You get what I’m saying now?
You have to wake up from the nightmare that is wanting your presence to feel fucking great.
And……as for the sneaking people to win, they must not move when seen, they need to figure out how to be quiet, and they must respect the presence of the person playing the watcher.
These people more closely resemble the person being harassed, in my metaphor. They’re not trying to eliminate anyone, but are rather just proving they can survive the game.
And show off their stealth under harsh light. Prove their steadiness when stumbling. Make it out of there with their heads held high. Make the master of the game look just a little bit stupid for counting on their failure.
That’s a state not too different from the player of the game, though, eh?
All those sentiments and machinations that go beyond mere sadism or craving for victory.
You starting to get the cycle of difficult human behavior now, aren’t you?
Just who in the hell can say
which one of the two sides in a game
is the spicier one?
Who’s really the more salacious and spiteful of the two?
The aggressor and the survivor start to become like siblings or lovers, don’t they?
All you can really say is that both the watcher and the sneak’er get a massive fucking high
from feeling like they’re in the head of the other.
Like they sense the strength of the heart of the other.
Like they know what it really means to BE the other person.
Is that not the spiciest form of empathy there is?
Tell me, do you feel spicy right now, reading this?
That’s you contributing to the cycle of human conflict.
It’s not you getting cranky, or moody, or vengeful that makes you, a human being, of any type, so dangerous.
It’s you feeling like the spice inside is at just the right level.
The perfect level for doing something objectively GREAT FEELING,
something undeniably playful and powerful at once,
like forcing others to play a game they don’t want to be a part of,
but will find valor and purpose inside of,
or surviving a game you want no part of,
but you’d love to win and prove strength beyond it in.
The next time you watch a battle royale series, focus on that.
Focus on the weird sense of empathy that comes from being someone who makes situations difficult for others,
and the odd feeling bordering on affection that you feel
for those committing that very act.
It might help you control that force you have yet to admit
has been the problem this whole goddamn time.
Or at, it might help you least tolerate the nightmare of
wanting to have a good, awesome, interesting, powerful, playful, profound presence
that’s possessed by you and others
just a little bit more easily.
Until then, we’ll just keep playing the game of
Darumasan Ga Koronda
until everyone explodes.
Somebody has to something more than just try and stop these games.
You need to control what makes us love them in the first place.
You need to help end the nightmare
by turning off the sensation of
“my presence feels just right!”