Coded green.

Wednesday 23 May 2001


Pic of the day: Darksong Rising by L.E. Modesitt Jr. Yes, it is that good.

Pleasure overload

"Oh, the sins of the flesh are too much to deny..." wrote Chris de Burgh in his somewhat disturbing song Brother John. I suspect that he may have rued those words later, but that's neither here nor now. What nags at me is that everyone and their golden retriever seems to agree that the sins of the flesh are really powerful. Not that I disagree in principle. But what about the sins of the soul?

I tend to think that the most delicious physical sensation that can be stretched out over a long time would be the scratching of an itch. I've accidentally found that with a detachable shower with the right pressure, you can automatically scratch all of the itch at once with the shower, and it just goes on and on for a long long time. It is such a pure sensation of delight that it is easy to almost lose all other awareness. But even so, it's not something I'd keep up for literally hours.

Enter a guilty pleasure of the soul: Computer games. Rather than going to bed early like a good worker, I stayed up half the night playing Black & White. It is much more fun than it sounds. Then again, it sounds like something you'd find in the attic. A black & white TV, an album of black & white photos, and a black & white computer game. What fun!


When I eventually headed for bed, my vision was swimming with the characteristic movements of the game. Most notably the orange blobs of fog that rise whenever you impress the villagers, and the accompanying yellow numbers that indicate just how impressed they are. But also some similar visual effects.

These moving images are a natural part of the learning process. I remember having them after training such skills as volleyball and touch typing, and they are also common after skiing unless you are jaded enough. I have seen these called "intrusive memories" and I guess they can be. Evidently it is the brain's way of adapting. According to Psychology Today, they disappear after a sleep cycle: A descent into deep dreamless sleep (deltasleep) and then back up to vivid dreams (REM sleep). One such cycle typically take ca 90 minutes. But after four and a half hour's sleep, I still had some of them.

The visions that were planted in my brain, still remained around lunch time, but they were practically faded by the end of the day. Even so, I think this is a new personal record. I guess the expression "pleasure overload" can be fitting here. They say that too much of a good thing is delicious, but I'm not so sure. I prefer to retain a bit more control of my brain. Going to work with orange blobs rising all around me is kind of disconcerting.


Another guilty pleasure of the soul is long and intricate lies, known as "novels" for short. I have always had a complicated relationship to fiction, from my early childhood. On one hand, I think lies are bad and truth is good. On the other hand, I voraciously devour works of fiction. (Uhm, that means I eat it up. Just trying out some fancy words here.) And eventually of course I have ended up writing thousands of pages of fiction myself. Probably tens of thousands, now that I think about it. I still consider myself basically a truthful person, but there is this big grand exception right here. Is there a real difference, or am I like a honest man who steals only from red cars?

Whatever the ethics of it, I have lately been enjoying Darksong Rising, the third Spellsong book by L.E. Modesitt. It is a surprisingly addictive book, considering the fact that it builds heavily on the two preceding books which I haven't reread for the occasion. You can read it on its own, as there is a lenghty list of the enormous cast. I must admit that I have trouble rememering all the less important characters, but luckily there is enough magic, battle and emotion to carry the story anyway. I suspect the book may be written with a female audience in mind. They are better with remembering social networks, as I understand it. (Also I think it is a heavy clue that the only main character is female and has to eat and eat all the time to keep from starving. It is the strangest "cost" of sorcery I have ever seen, that I can remember.)

And as usual I have some fantasy project of my own brewing. They never get anywhere, as you may have noticed. In my current story, I am taking the full plunge and sending a seriously religious person to a world of magic and myth. I am really intrigued by the possible conflict there. I know that I would have been very much in doubt about what to do with magic if it were plentiful and socially accepted. Then again, a person from the year 1600 would probably view light switches and cars with absolute horror. If magic worked reliably, would it not be science?

(Actually I think there is a difference between magic and sorcery, in that magic (magick) is basically psionics, using one's own spiritual power, whereas sorcery involves drawing on the power of other spiritual entities. But the distinction is blurry at best. Don't try this at home, kids.)

But back to the reading and writing of fantasy. When it comes right down to it, the reason I do it is nothing great and noble. It is just so much fun that I find it hard to resist, especially since the police won't come and take me away. Of course if I keep up the pleasure overload, eventually the men in white may come to take me away ...

"The blobs! The orange blobs are everywhere! Muahahaha!"

(Oh, and the silly online comic where I grabbed the title for today is Eternal Caffeine Junkies by the unofficial leader of the Pajamas Liberation Front, the incredible Elvengrrl. :)

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