vidya report: Raven Shield

I occasionally play computer games like a degenerate.

I began with an Amstrad CPC 464 in the 80s; it often malfunctioned: the cassette-loaded games wouldn’t work properly, and I spent many a Saturday sitting by the computer listening to this. It often progressed nicely until about an hour then suddenly stopped working and I was left in a state of extreme misery and/or rage. Then I got an Amiga, which at least didn’t suffer these mishaps and had some sehr cool games, my favourites often being the free ones bundled with Amiga Power magazine.

When I started reading Serious Literature I came to despise the ways of the lesser man, however in my 3rd year at university I was introduced to Delta Force and Quake 2 and loved them. In my 4th year, I wasted many an hour on Baldur’s Gate, and then after graduation, consigned to NEEThood, I played Rainbow Six Raven Shield for hours.

In the Plague Year 2021 I decided to revisit the game, found it on Steam for something like 50 cents, and had a grand old time. The Rainbow Six series are first-person shooters like Quake or Wolfenstein but as with Delta Force they aim for some measure of verisimilitude. While you can just charge into an enemy area, shooting a machine gun Jesse Venture style from the hip, it likely won’t end well. Where Delta Force was mostly outdoors action, Rainbow Six focuses on oil refineries, hotels, underground tunnel complexes, car dealerships; it was also, as far as I know, the first to incorporate some measure of tactical planning. You could just accept a pre-programmed plan and operative load-out, but it was more fun for me to select the right operatives (each with their own statistics for e.g. Assault, Stealth, Demolitions, Sniper),

equip them as seemed best, and then plan their route with go codes, as I took charge of one team, or sometimes hopped back and forth from team to team since the AI was occasionally retarded. But in theory you could plan out every move and then sit back and watch the game on observer mode.

The original Rainbow Six (from 1998) was fiendishly difficult: even on Recruit settings the enemies had Jelly Bryce reaction times and went for headshots nine times out of ten, rendering armour useless. Basically, the only way to win was to memorise their locations and patrol routes and shoot them in the back or flashbang or frag them round a corner.

The sequels, Rogue Spear, and Raven Shield (2003), were significantly better, with the introduction of snipers and much more realistic AI shooting skills. Raven Shield also had much better graphics: I remember playing it on multiplayer, shooting an adversary then watching, mesmerised, as his body fell down the stairs, his head banging on each stair, until someone else then shot me.

This time I only played single-player as I couldn’t find any decent servers and I’m too old and slow to play against 12-year-olds who’ve never done anything but play vidya. There were some great, atmospheric maps; I especially enjoy wintery missions so enjoyed the Swiss chalet ones very much. I was a bit disappointed that you can’t play Rogue Spear anymore, as it had some fantastic, atmospheric locations like a ruined Kosovo and an Inception-esque arctic base, but there it is.

Raven Shield has a good range of weapons, from standards like the M4 and G36 to the more esoteric Steyr Aug (used by tall blond Karl in Die Hard, incidentally). I would have preferred even more operatives, as I liked to use the British and German operatives but was limited to two SAS men and three Hun. It would have been nice to have had e.g. some Welsh SAS or SBS operatives with names like Dai Davies and a background in sheep rustling.

As far as I know, Raven Shield was the last game to feature tactical planning. It’s a pity, as I enjoyed the unique combination of chess-like tactical planning and reflex-driven shooting. I suspect that the planning phase could be reintroduced in future games, to rejuvenate the genre; while it’s not a new feature, it would be new to most gamers and was never fully developed by the designers.

I also feel the designers could have made more of the operatives’ unique characteristics, e.g. I tended to pair the two SAS operatives, as I just felt they would naturally work together better than with e.g. a South Korean or American operative. Of course it made no difference to their performance but I naturally invest significance in character; and I think this would be a good avenue for future games: so e.g. Russian operatives would perform better in colder, more Russian-like locations, the Brazilian better in hot humid environs; and the German and British operatives would work well in one team, having cross-trained. It would make personnel management more interesting, and make the game more meaningful. It would also be good to have different character responses to stress or injury or fatigue, with some just stoically taking it, others notably slowing down or collapsing, and the Muslim operatives could suddenly turn on their Western colleagues, screaming Allahu Akhbar! and then blowing themselves up.

So, all in all a jolly good way to kill time.

film report: Collateral

I’m currently going through Michael Mann’s decent films with a friend who only knows the Miami Vice television show. Thus far, we’ve seen Heat and Collateral, both excellent, and I persuaded him to watch the Mann daddy, Manhunter on his own.

Not much to say on this 20th rewatching for me, save that Collateral certainly stands up to repeated viewings and the passage of time. In many ways it’s a companion piece to Heat, seeming to exist in a similar universe (the last scene location is the opening of 1995’s Heat). As with many Mann films, at least from his golden period (from 1981’s Thief to 2004’s Collateral), there is a strong focus on the professionalism, tradecraft, of the main characters. Cruise brings a special touch to his hitman Vincent: his professionalism often manifests as irritation – irritation at those who thwart or impede his work. Other actors tend to recycle certain mannerisms, e.g. DeNiro’s grimace, but Cruise perfected a look of annoyance for Vincent as he goes about his work. There’s a particularly amusing moment in the Korean club, where Cruise has to save Jamie Foxx’s taxi driver Max from some Mexican killers, and after shooting them stone dead he gives Max an irritated glare.

Coincidentally, Anonymous Conservative recently mentioned the film:

I do not know if this will work for everyone, but it will work for a few here. Think of this as an exercise in amping up your amygdala in a way that promotes K-type action. If work gets boring, and you feel yourself slowing down, take a look at this movie clip I stumbled across recently, from the movie Collateral.

The scene begins as Cruise enters the nightclub with Fox looking for the Asian gangleader who is his next target. Cruise then breaks off from Fox, enters the crowd, and begins his process. The artistes may notice the quality of a lightning fast mag change at the end just before the coup de grace, which I am pretty sure was a professional-shooter-double in a wig. If you practice, that is what you should be working for, and the sound of the mag drop, mag insertion, and slide release is flawless as a target to guide you toward that speed. The psychological effect of the clip seems to get better with a third and fourth watching. I find after watching it, I am more focused and work a lot faster and feel more motivated. 

Now some thoughts on the scene and why it does what it does. I think this scene has this effect, because it actually contrasts the ephemeral, transient, pointless nature of r with the permanent, exhilarating permanence and purpose of K – and your brain instinctually sees the contrast. All around Cruise are the mindless plebes, living in the moment, blissfully unaware of anything but waving their arms to music. On TV screens in the club, dreamy-eyed girls look like they are euphoric on drugs as they writhe to the music. In contrast, Cruise is oblivious to it and cuts a bloody swath through the crowd. He is actually making permanent changes to the world. Your mind sees that difference, even if you do not. And although he is technically on the side of darkness in the movie, for the moment Cruise just happens to be taking out the trash along the way, doing good, and you process that too. You’ll notice how the vibe dies when he shoots the cop at the end who tries to rescue Fox, and Cruise’s path diverges back to purely dark. I have taken to stopping the scene at its apex as he walks out after capping the gang leader, for maximum brain-hacking effect. All of that data about r and K, and good and evil, is being processed subconsciously in your mind, in an almost hypnotic effect, and the result is, when you come out of it, your mind will be calibrated with the difference between r and K, and it will be driven to act in a more focused K-fashion. I find it interesting how these changes happen in your brain, using media-inputs we are not even aware are having these effects as they happen. You can see how a studied understanding of the effect, mixed with a full control of our media, could alter the very nature of our society, and its destiny.

the zeal of the SJW

At university, twenty odd years ago, I knew a baby boomer ex-professor who had most of the standard Leftist opinions; we got on fairly well because I was more or less apolitical and like me he was generally very conservative about literature, abhorring Literary Theory in good measure. He was also quite brave, in that the university was then relatively conservative, so he was very much swimming against his immediate current.

His great moral touchstones were Hitler and sex, the former being the most evil man of all time, the latter being the only thing worth doing. So, typical r-selected hedonistic boomer. He had a habit of returning to the Holocaust, Nazis, and Hitler at the drop of a small hat, so when I was once ranting semi-seriously about chavs as a degenerate form of human life, he squirmed uncomfortably then expostulated grandly, “The Nazis said exactly the same thing about the Jews.”

I stared at him, thinking, And?

“And sometimes they were right!” he continued, then looked baffled at his own rather odd and (I suppose) anti-semitic remark, before continuing, huffing, “But this kind of language, this is exactly how Hitler referred to the Jews!” and then glared triumphantly as if to say, “I just likened you to Hitler: game, set, match.”

The Reductio ad Hitlerum is by now so common a tactic as to warrant no lengthy explanation; however, I often wondered why my boomer acquaintance would head unerringly and absurdly for a Nazi/Holocaust/Hitler reference, e.g.

Johannes Q: I forced myself to read this ghastly Lit Theory book, I ended up hating it so much I wanted to burn it, but –

Boomer: Johannes, the Nazis burnt books.

Johannes: Oh. Yeah. I guess.

Boomer: Then they burnt Jews.

Johannes: Oh yeah. Sorry. I wasn’t actually going to burn it. I was just –

Boomer: This kind of language is what enabled the Holocaust.

And so on. He was animated by an aggressive zeal to stamp out anything that in any way reminded him of Nazis, an attitude that seemed a bit odd to me at the time, but is now the norm among the twittering elites. I wondered why exactly he was so agitated, so highly-strung, as if he’d gone back in time to 1930s Germany and was just waiting for the jackboots at the door; when in fact he was living in a Leftist paradise of ever-increasing degeneracy and nihilism.

From the moment I met him, in the late 90s, he talked as if the State security services would soon take him away because he was a dangerous dissident who could well bring down the Government; I just assumed he had good cause to think so, since I tend to believe people, but over the next two decades nothing at all happened, the police did not kick his door down and give him a good drubbing, MI5 did not pop him in a sack and dump him in a reservoir, an old school friend did not pop by to gravely warn him that his name was causing terror among the elites, and he should leave the country immediately. Nothing happened at all. He just continued likening everything to the Holocaust, and everyone to Hitler, and occasionally intimating that he would certainly be executed or at the least imprisoned by the State, and the last I heard he’s still doing it, undisturbed by what he (predictably) calls “the Gestapo”.

Why, as the Joker would say, so serious?

Of course Leftists are usually emotionally damaged to begin with, demonstrating Borderline and/or Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but all the same, the frenzied zeal and sense of mission and fear about the Boomer struck me as misplaced and odd. Turning it over in my mind, I recall that his father was wounded in World War 2, and the Boomer grew up in the 50s, no doubt bombarded with war and post-war propaganda about how uniquely moral it had all been, the fight of the good guys against the Ultimate Evil, on behalf of the Ultimate & Forever Victims. Growing up in this atmosphere, knowing that you would never get to fight in such an operatic, allegorical conflict, against so superbly evil an adversary, must have left some curious marks upon his psyche.

He and his generation were trained to think in terms of good vs evil, with evil unambiguously represented by white men who care about their people, their race, their land and their culture. This Manichean worldview left the Boomers with a sense both of a mission, and of being born too late to fulfil said mission. All they had left was to shriek “NAzi! HitleR!!!” and feel, momentarily, as heroic as their soldier parents and grandparents. Like a dog trained to fight an animal that no longer exists, all they can do is maul soft toys and play make-believe.

on allegory and David Lynch

I recently saw Red Letter Media’s take on Twin Peaks 3. Although I enjoyed their review, I was a little taken aback by one of the geeks saying he’d started watching Twin Perfect’s 4 hour analysis then dismissed it as ridiculous and simplistic; or rather, I was taken aback when he said that and then went on to echo many of Twin Perfect’s themes. I would agree that Twin Perfect oversimplifies; he here evinces what one could call an allegorical kind of mind.

Many years ago, when I first encountered Medieval allegory, I came to share Tolkien’s “cordial dislike” for the form. If a character is called Good Deeds, then surely that means he walks differently from a character called Courage, that he stands, blinks, breathes in a “Good Deeds” kind of way. Allegory must be absolute or it is not allegory.

But it is impossible to fully render allegory in fiction, as Dante found with his very humanly complex Commedia; so one could read the first cantos of Inferno as Dante learning how to write the Commedia, just as The Lord of the Rings begins like The Hobbit Part 2 and then becomes something very different, as Tolkien learnt how to write the book he was writing, in the process of writing it.

David Lynch’s films attract allegorical interpretation. So much as I dislike allegory, I had mixed feelings about Twin Perfect’s 4-hour long allegorical analysis – briefly put, he says Lynch identifies modern television as a metaphysical evil, so the battle between good & evil is a battle between the older, more worthwhile & human kinds of television, and the debased modern garbage. Twin Perfect is a good critic, marshalling evidence and explicating his theory in immense detail.

While I felt he sometimes stretches, I think he came close to Lynch’s authorial intent. The Red Letter Media guys felt that this kind of allegorical reading spoils the pleasure of the show, das Ding an sich, but I felt, peculiarly, that this was not so. Lynch is one of these rare makers, who can craft an allegorical work but so obscurely that it defies easy unriddling, without the obscurity ever seeming pointless or incidental. There are not many such creators; I could name the anonymous poet of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Kafka, Borges, Dante – where the evident weirdness invites allegorical interpretation, while remaining, as it were, das Ding an sich. I could say, echoing Wallace Stevens, that the creation “must resist the intelligence, almost successfully”.

I feel very friendly about David Lynch. Unlike Steven Spielberg, Tarantino, and other dubious types, I find Lynch to have a very human and gentle face. Perhaps I am wrong and he is a child rapist; but I doubt it.

For one thing, he clearly likes MILF and women of class.

“We are like the dreamer who dreams, and then lives inside the dream.”

The essence of Twin Peaks, as with True Detective Season 1, is the battle between good and evil as played out both in the world and in each individual soul.

Lynch I think began with the paradigm of good vs bad television; the former inspiring thought & self-examination; the latter offering mindless entertainment; but as a true creator Lynch fashioned resonance chambers of his personal concerns & fears & loves, so even without caring about such affairs the attentive viewer could nonetheless sense the pulsing evil at the heart of this conflict,

and the goodness it opposes. Thus, a heavily allegorical, almost encrypted work will fascinate those with the intellectual & emotional capacity; those who sense the primacy of good and evil.

Some wonder that David Lynch could work in what Vox Day calls the Hellmouth, Hollywood. Well, I would agree with Twin Perfect: one could plausibly see Mulholland Drive as Lynch’s disgust at Hollywood – not merely the financial corruption, but also the real evil at the heart of it, the sexual abuse and human trafficking.

Those more on the Right like to criticise anyone who doesn’t call out the, uh, well, the particular demographic category that often overlaps with such evils as we perceive it. I suspect Lynch is fully aware. In Twin Peaks, it seems that the root of the evil is an entity called “Judy” and while we are told this comes from Chinese, well, uh, umm, yeah. Let’s just say that anyone who speaks German, contemplating [redacted] and [redacted], and [redacted], and noticing certain commonalities, might wonder if Judy as the supreme evil might mean something else; hence Agent Phillip Jeffries, David Bowie’s nervy “I’m not going to talk about Judy, in fact we’re not going to talk about Judy at all”. What exactly is it, in Hollywood, that cannot be discussed?

And if one must keep silent, then all the more reason to develop an allegorical imagination.

future war

In Christopher Nolan’s opaque gem, Tenet, the future is attempting to destroy the present. From what I could understand, in the future environmental degradation endangers the human race; so the men of the future decide to destroy their ancestors, i.e. us. The idea seems to be that by sending signals back in time to Kenneth Branagh’s Ukrainian villain Andrei Sator, they can arrange a temporal reversal which will basically wipe out everything that has existed up until the future, leaving the future humans intact but presumably unmoored from the past and able to remake their planet or something.

It’s pleasingly complex. Sator seems to refer to the Sator square:

I note also that George Tenet was CIA Director from 1997 to 2004, perhaps relevant in such a film as Tenet. Certainly, there is a mysterious note to Christopher Nolan, a memetic resonance; thus the odd prescience in his Batman trilogy.

Reflecting on Tenet, one could say that for the last few decades we have been at war with the past. Most of the Leftists I know would quite happily annihilate everything before they were born; indeed, they usually know nothing about the world before their birth, what they think they know being simple-minded propaganda about slavery and patriarchy and evil Christianity. They grow up watching TV shows like Channel 5’s upcoming Anne Boleyn, starring, well, this as the title character:

The average Leftist, granted access to a time travel machine, would use it to go back in time and kill everyone on the planet. I dare say the Leftist would begin with white men, but then even women in the past are guilty of Wrongthink, so they have to go too; and since Leftism is inherently & necessarily destructive, after wiping out all white people in the past, the good Leftist would need to kill more people, and since the white race apparently evolved from Africans, the only way to be sure is to kill everyone on the planet. And since Africans apparently evolved from apes or something, the apes would need to be exterminated. And so on.

Leftism is often criticised as “utopian thinking”. However, I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with utopian thinking, provided it is modified by contact with reality. Right- and Left-wing utopian thinking can be distinguished by motivation and the measure of pure imaginal content. Right-wing utopian thinking is either about some glorious sci-fi future (Millennial Woes’ One Hour from Now speech) or a wish to return to an earlier time; but it’s mostly the latter, meaning it can draw upon real societies as they recently were, instead of imagining a future wholly different to the present and past.

In addition, most of the Right-wingers I’ve met are motivated by love for a certain form of life (the quiet, safe, homogeneous societies of their youth; or a form of life that ended before they were born) and they are only secondarily hostile to that which would destroy this. Every single Leftist I’ve got to know has turned out to be a venomous reptile, motivated by hatred for European culture and European peoples. In reality, their utopian fantasies of the workers’ paradise are incidental to their hatred for white people and European civilisation and culture. The hatred comes first. Hence, the Leftist makes war upon the present and the past, and the utopian thinking is etymologically so – utopia meaning nowhere; for the Leftist is fighting to destroy the present in order to create nothing and nowhere and no one – utter non-being, the paradise of all such haters.

Ich bin der Geist der stets verneint!
Und das mit Recht; denn alles was entsteht
ist wert daß es zu Grunde geht;
Drum besser wär’s daß nichts entstünde.
So ist denn alles was ihr Sünde,
Zerstörung, kurz das Böse nennt,
Mein eigentliches Element.

I am the Spirit that Denies!
And justly so: for all things, from the Void
Called forth, deserve to be destroyed:
‘Twere better, then, were naught created.
Thus, all which you as Sin have rated,—
Destruction,—aught with Evil blent,—
That is my proper element.

the eternal Boomer

Some historical periods are more defined than others, and produce a more clearly-delineated cohort. The Baby Boomers, those born roughly between 1946 and 1964, are one such. I would adjust the starting date, as I know one classic Boomer born a few years earlier; the crucial thing seems to be – did they grow up, or experience their early adulthood in the West during the 1960/70s? If so, Boomer.

They share certain characteristics:

1. They typically either have no children, or left their children to fend for themselves. They were themselves taught basic life skills (how to cook, change a tire, etc.) by their parents, but assume their children will just absorb this knowledge without effort on their part; far from acknowledging his/her parenting failure, the Boomer will blame the children for having no idea of how to maintain a car.

2. They effortlessly found work after leaving school, and think that a university degree is a passport to a 6-figure salary.

3. They not only own their own homes, they were able to pay the mortgage off within 5 years.

4. They believe everything they read in a newspaper, everything they hear on the radio, everything on TV. It is impossible to convince a Boomer that mainstream media is mostly propaganda. Even if a Boomer can be dissuaded from one mainstream media site, they will immediately find another in which to repose their blind faith.

5. They are obsessed with Nazis and Jews. For the Boomer, Adolf Hitler represents all that is evil, and thus Jews and Israel represent all that is good. For the Boomer, the worst possible insults are: anti-semitic, racist, Nazi.

Boomers demonstrate classic r-selected behaviour. According to r/k life strategy theory, r-selected creatures (e.g. rabbits) develop in a resource-abundant but unpredictable environment, where grass is ample but a predator could appear at any moment; k-selected (e.g. wolves) develop in a resource-scarce but stable environment. r-selected creatures are basically hippies: conflict avoidant; bearing no loyalty to their group; fucking everything that moves and investing no energy in their offspring. Rabbits are the hippies of the animal kingdom.

For Boomers, the crucial factor is resource availability. The Boomers grew up post-war, and even if they went through 1950s rationing, they were young enough to be formed by the degenerate “anything goes” 60s.

“Make love not money” only works in an affluent society, with no risk of starvation. As a slogan it could only have arisen in an environment of not merely abundant, but easily-obtained resources. Free love means you don’t have to exert any effort to get it; and that it has no value.

I know several Boomers who drifted for years, somehow surviving without a job, and then effortlessly got work as journalists, academics, etc. – work for which you now require a PhD and a decade’s unpaid experience.

One need only compare those born between the 40s and mid-60s in the West, with Eastern Europeans, to see the difference – it is a question of resource availability, the Westerners being Boomers Supreme, the Eastern Europeans hard-bitten turnip-eaters.

The Boomers were conditioned, by abundant resources, to behave like rabbits: feckless, selfish, open to other cultures, unable to understand basic loyalty, unable to value their own family, let alone their culture or nation or race.

Boomers grew up after World War 2, and so their founding myth was that of the Holocaust. Where other cultures trace their origins back to a god man or a heroic war, since 1945 those who arbiter society have insistently pushed the Holocaust as the central axis of the West: so George Steiner often wrote of pre-1939 literature as clackety-clacking on the train tracks to Auschwitz, and of course everything thereafter must be forever an anguished lament for the holy six gorillion. For the Boomer, the worst thing that could ever have happened is the Holocaust, and the Boomer’s parents either took part (if German) or fought heroically against it; the Boomer, alas, was born too late to take part in either gassing Jews or shooting Nazis, and so grew up feeling both privileged (rabbits in evergreen meadows) and as it were culturally posthumous; the only thing left for the Boomer was to create a new reality, based on opposition not merely to the Holocaust but to everything that could be construed as Holocaust-lite: nationalism (except for Zionism, of course), Christianity, especially Catholicism; Germans; European history; Europe; white people; even the very mildest anti-semitism (to the point that some Jews are accused of being “self-hating Jews” because they don’t fully subscribe to the narrative).

Thus the tiresome self-aggrandizement of the Boomer, bellowing about their pet topics. There are plenty of exceptions but in general those who grew up, in the West, in the affluent 60s and 70s, were forever ruined by their environment, their myth.

book report: 1900 or the Last President, by Ingersoll Lockwood

A book I wouldn’t have read, save for Ingersoll Lockwood’s memetic resonance. Briefly put, he wrote children’s books with a hero called Baron Trump, back before the First World War. As Barron Trump (aged 14) now towers over his father, resembling nothing so much as a genetically-enhanced Astartes, it seems increasingly likely that Lockwood had visions of a future where Barron has indeed become a kind of godlike figure.

1900 or The Last President is, by contrast, a rather dry and tedious little book about the dissolution of the United States with a charismatic, well-meaning President who manages to fuck everything up. It has, however, memetic echoes; for example, as the new President, Bryan, is elected:

In less than half an hour, mounted policeman dashed through the streets calling out: “Keep within your houses; close your doors and barricade them. The entire East side is in a state of uproar. Mobs of vast size are organizing under the lead of Anarchists and Socialists, and threaten to plunder and despoil the houses of the rich who have wronged and oppressed them for so many years. Keep within doors. Extinguish all lights.”

There’s also a curious foreshadowing of the recent silver rush (writing in February 2021):

The first year of the Silver Administration was scarcely rounded up, ere there began to be ugly rumours that the Government was no longer able to hold the white metal at a parity with gold. “It is the work of Wall Street,” cried the friends of the President, but wiser heads were shaken in contradiction, for they had watched the sowing of the wind of unreason, and knew only too well that the whirlwind of folly must be reaped in due season.

The country had been literally [sic] submerged by a silver flood which had poured its argent waves into every nook and cranny of the Republic, stimulating human endeavour to most unnatural and harmful vigour. Mad speculation stalked over the land.  […] Every scrap and bit of the white metal that they could lay their hands upon, spoons hallowed by the touch of lips long since closed in death, and cups and tankards from which grand sires had drunken were bundled away to the mints to be coined into “people’s dollars.”

I was also amused by this, very much of its time:

The black man, ever at the heels of his white brother, set to rule over him by an inscrutable decree of nature, came forth too in thousands, chatting and laughing gayly, careless of the why or wherefore of his white brother’s deep concern, and powerless to comprehend it had he so desired.

I plan to read the Baron Trump novels next, which promise to be more engaging, and even more memetically relevant.