Riverside, circa 2004.

The sun was bright in the dry heat, and the neighborhood was glowing in it, pulsating to the heartbeat of existence. I walked the familiar streets with a newly discovered awe and wonder, having become increasingly preoccupied with what I called the “metaphysics of video games,” seeing, with increasing intensity, the dynamics of two-dimensional interactive simulations overlaid upon the three-dimensional “reality” I inhabited. I had been buying old systems and games from pawn shops and garage sales: Nintendo 64, Playstation; gaming systems that had already been superseded by that time with a generation of more sophisticated ones. But these were the ones that interested me, as it was during their time that the first fully-committed, though still clunky and awkward, steps into the three-dimensional game world were taken. They were the ones that, seeing the rent in the veil, stepped through and didn’t look back. They simulated not so much fantastical, alternative worlds, but what it meant to have a body, which is really the soul’s mediator with the world, just as the video game controller is the mediator that lets the player enter the game. This idea of mediation haunted my waking hours. As I walked the downtown streets, I watched as objects revealed their perspectival planes to me as I passed them. Planes seemed to widen and contract, grow and shrink, depending on my eyes’ position relative to them; it was clear to me that I was seeing not reality as it is, but rather a sort of illusion of spacial depth represented on a flat surface: my retinas. These weren’t hallucinations so much as mind games I was playing with myself, mind games I sank deeper and deeper into, relishing the strangeness of perception, that most omnipresent of God’s gifts, and therefore the most neglected. I was looking at looking, and the so-called “obsolescence” of those old games was helping me to see, as the primitive graphics had a very real and fascinating honesty about them. They weren’t trying to fool anyone into believing they weren’t simulations. That would come later. Their polygons were as naked as Adam and Eve before the Fall.

June 17, 2017