Diviner’s sorrow

I’ve been reading a lot about Salvia Divinorum since trying it on the 31st and I’m becoming very enthusiastic to try it again. However, this is not unbridled enthusiasm. I’m still afraid, but curiosity is beginning to outweigh timidity (especially since the effects only last a few minutes). Despite my insatiable curiosity I may decide that I am not ready to delve into this aspect of my psyche.

In particular I am becoming fascinated and quite anxious about the very fabric of the universe. I’ve never really thought much about it before but I’m permitting deep thoughts to trickle into my consciousness. These thoughts are fascinating but utterly depressing.

On my way home from work yesterday I was nearly brimming with sorrow at the intangibility, ergo pointlessness of existence.

I read many experience reports and was quite interested to find that many people experienced one or more of the same… manifestations as I did. However, some people experienced enhanced realities while others were transported to wholly other dimensions.

What really struck me deep down was the consensus that the reality we perceive is just a tiny slice of what’s out there – our bodies are mere matter and matter is one all-encompassing thing, not one piece of matter per item:

At the peak of the trip I was completely merged with the surface of reality. I felt like I was one with everything, yet unable to discriminate between an individual objects or occurences.

I don’t know where I am. But I do, because this is all there is. There is no where. This is it. But how can that be? This room is all there is? Room. What is “room”? This isn’t a room… this is existence.

It makes sense to me that matter cannot be created nor destroyed if objects are just projections of one polydimensional surface.

The ramifications of this thought alone is what made me sad. It’s so simple, and we humans are so self-important that we, present company absolutely included, make up all kinds of stories to prove to ourselves how great we are. But we’re not. We’re no better than dust.

I abandoned traditional religion some time ago but I playfully conjured up theories in place of monotheism. For instance, I argued that if an almighty omniscient god created humanity, then humans are gods themselves because they too have the power to create, and what is godliness if not the ability to invoke one’s will on reality to create something that never was before?

This is just masturbation. We transform things that already are, like building a sand castle, and the things we build are no better or worse than we ourselves. I see these self-crafted beliefs as no more than the antithesis to the ancient religions from which most of humanity still ignorantly dangles, so they are no more credible.

Then again, I don’t necessarily believe that psychedelic experiences are THE truth and sober lucidity is false. Perhaps what humans create is not matter but something intangible. But is that even creating? Is that special? Or more self-important masturbation?

I also feel sorrow about death, which I’m beginning to realize is extremely stupid. The concept of being one with all matter is weighty indeed, but I understand that though matter is malleable it strives to return to its original shape. It will not be created nor destroyed, but it persists in a neverending state of polymorphic flux. If time is constant as we humans are doomed to perceive it, then nothing can exist unless it is changing, decaying, dying. I should be grateful for death because death means that something is happening.

I can’t believe I’d never realized that this was my existence. Why did I have to find out now? I wish I had never realized. Ever. I would have been much happier existing this way and not knowing it. It’s so meaningless, so repetitive; so, so nothing. But this is how it is. And how it always will be. I can’t change it. Oh God, I can’t change it.

I don’t watch the news because I know from great experience that ignorance is bliss. I am unwittingly ignorant in many ways, and willingly so in many more. However, as I die a little each day I surmise how limited my sentience will be, and so I suppose I’d best divide the essential from the ancillary.

Today’s lottery winners and murder victims and stock market figures are worthless drivel to me. So is pretty much everything I do in a day and everything anyone will ever do, I suppose. This is a secret that everyone knows and everyone denies.

So what, I ask, is worthwhile?

Is it noble to seek the boundaries of human perception? Is it wise to expand my horizons only to see the borders of my ideological island like pinpointing Fiji from outside the Milky Way?

Why do I wonder? Why do I care? Why do I insist?

I don’t know. But I do.

Is that the spark of humanity? Is that what makes me special from other matter? Is that me being a narcissistic twat again?

The concept of the mobius comes to mind. There are two sides of the strip, and those sides intersect and swap somewhere. There is always paper separating the sides, yet there would be no sides without the paper.

Anyway, one day I will not be able to resist the siren of curiosity. I’ll report back. Maybe by peeking through the crack I may taste that which is beyond matter.

Enough for one day.


We Live Katamari has just published the first of a three-part critique of the underlying messages conveyed in the Katamari Damacy game series. While I’m disappointed that I have to wait to read the other two parts of this critique, I’m glad it’s being posted at all. This is a game worth in-depth analysis.

One of my favourite aspects of video games is the representation of the real world. Many people are enthusiastic about this aspect of gaming but most don’t share my take on the subject. I wouldn’t be a card-carrying nerd if I wasn’t wowed by pixel shaders and bump mapping and advanced AI, but what really fascinates me is the artistic representation of reality – the statement made about our world facilitated by creative use of limited resources.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is one of the greatest contenders in this field as its depiction of a fictional California-esque state is totally astounding, replete with buildings, streets, varied geography, natural wonders, rolling landscapes, and all juxtaposed by a pissed-off populace.




There’s a great scene in Lucasarts’ Grim Fandango where Manny Calavera, protagonist and reaper, travels to the realm of the living to collect the souls of recently poisoned fast food patrons, and the real world is quite a ridiculous caricature that is completely alien through the eyes of residents of the land of the dead.




Katamari Damacy is unique in that the protagonists are not human at all, but permanent residents of deep space. To The King of All Cosmos and The Prince, Earth is one planet of millions, but it is not just any planet. The Earth is populated by excitable little people who have absolutely littered their entire planet with stuff, and it is this stuff that makes Earth a suitable place to collect materials to repopulate space with stars.




Stuff here, stuff there, stuff everywhere! Not only can anything smaller than your katamari be rolled-up and added to the clump, but every collected item can later be examined replete with a concise but innocently baffling description in the limited omniscient of the space-faring royal family. Some such descriptions of the hundreds upon hundreds of ordinary objects and creatures include:

Coconut Crab — “A crab with strong claws. It doesn’t look anything like a coconut at all…”
Peach — “A butt-shaped fruit that is more tasty than butts.”
Faucet — “Hot and cold water comes out of the same place. We are amazed.”
Loud Momma — “Her voice is loud and when she laughs, babies start screaming.”

This is why the game is deserving of critique – because the game itself is a critique of urban civilization. It patently points out how much more complex and frivolous and ludicrous our lifestyle is compared to the orderly motion of the galactic ocean.

Furthermore, this analysis goes to show how effective the game is at alleviating stress! Consider all the things you worry about in a day – the cost of living, pollution, rush hour traffic, long lines, crime, the environment, the fact that you’ll never visit all the places you want to see, etc. All these things become insignificant in Katamari Damacy. You needn’t worry about any issues – any objects – larger than your katamari until later on because for now they are simply obstacles, and anything smaller is all but an insignificant bump. To The Prince, ignorance is bliss. All that matters is to keep on rolling. Put your frustrations aside, block out all unneccesary data, and just keep on rolling. Just push and push, your katamari grows and grows, and before you know it you’re towering over people and cars and buildings and mountains until the very curvature of the planet is a minute detail of the great cosmic tapestry.

There are a million possible interpretations of this depiction of reality. One could argue that the game is an advocate of Buddhism, declaring earthly luxuries as mere white noise. Or perhaps the katamari is the embodiment of Taoism, illustrating that one must flow along the path of least resistance, allowing nature to be your guide. A pessimist may choose the perspective of this virtual Earth’s hapless citizens, declaring that you must always be prepared for disaster because you never know when you’ll get rolled up next to a winged whale’s blowhole.

In the end, the beauty of Katamari Damacy is the fact that so many concepts are introduced but no questions are answered. Perhaps this is the true meaning of the game – simply focus on the little things and the big pieces will fall into place.

When you look into the world of Katamari Damacy do you see yourself staring back?

— edit —

Here are parts two and three of Katamari Damacy: A Critique by Ryan Stancl. I was quite disappointed by this series. It felt very clinical and lifeless. I much prefer the fungineer omniscient.