February 18, 2007

There are other places too, other constructions, each of which has more or less autonomy. Paragonia was an early favourite, a land full of friendly folks and jumping monsters. I based a lot of it on early role-playing games. People would roam through each others houses at will, all property was communal and lovers would spend the nights sitting on simple hills whose weather depended on location – Crab Mountain was always sunny and lightly sprinkled with snow, ibexes would leap around you at fairly regular intervals and twin moons, one a velvety purple and one dark green, would circle the world over half an hour, close enough to see their cratered surfaces spin, their orbits intersecting in the east at about 90 degrees above the land, each occasion they nearly touched marked by a slight, nerve-wracking gravitational wobble. Cloudbursthill was all rain and rainbows, all the time, clouds sometimes accelerating like time lapse photography, spraying water and coloured light everywhere. The lake was full of rainbows, you could jump in and swim into the seven coloured streams of light, and at the bottom of the lake was the golden glow of an open treasure chest, precious orbs flinging strawberry syrup and creme-de-menthe through the clear water.

I still have the place somewhere, folded away. It would be ragged now, tatty, like an old photo, or one of those old games: ‘the graphics are worse than I remember’, I’d think if I went back. I’d have to touch it up, add some coherence, some narrative. I didn’t realise at first that worlds need narrative if they are to have character. I made a lot of static places, and couldn’t understand why they felt so alienating to me. Narrative is sad too, though; narrative usually means things ending, sooner or later.

You have to tend it to keep it alive, like a soap opera – you have to keep the narrative circular, or rather spiral, because if it becomes completely looped you’re back to an unchanging world, and narrative is then only an illusion brought about through living in a small timescale. You have to keep nudging it off its course, adding an intrigue here, a bit of wisdom here, a few special events, a bit of magic realism. Eventually it just takes off. You can come back next week and they’ll be having a festival or a war, or they’ll have learnt to fly. Sometimes I’d return and they’d all gone. Maybe into worlds they’d created, I don’t know what happened to them, even though sometimes they did leave a note.


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