It’s been years since I was a diehard gamer, and I’m finally starting to dip my toe into those waters again. When I was a preteen, they were basically all I thought about. I passed the summer by playing games all morning (after lunch, I would at least try to find something to do) and when I hung out with friends, it was mainly just to play computer games. I never owned a console, but that was just because my parents had some weird prejudice against them even though they were totally okay with computer games. I’m giving Skyrim a try, because I liked Morrowind a lot and thought Oblivion was okay, so this seems like a good place to (re)start. I also downloaded Braid because Steam was offering it for only $2 at one point. I’m not sure where I’m going with this. I guess I just wanted to say that even though I had what, to a child, might have seemed like all you could ask for, I definitely wasn’t all that happy. And it wasn’t my love life, because at the time, I was too young to have sex. No. Something else was going on.
I haven’t yet figured out where the balance between creative and non-creative, geeky and non-geeky pursuits is. There is a part of me that still sees Faulkner as somehow “higher” than Tolkien, and that’s bullshit. But I do find Tolkien more fun to read, so maybe the problem is that I have some internalized prejudice against having fun. I’ve always had this problem of being afraid that if I don’t keep going out of my way to see my friends, they’ll just disappear. Thing is, that’s actually happened once or twice. I have not seen or spoken to one of my best friends from college in over two and a half years, and it’s not because I haven’t reached out to him. I just hung back a little, waiting for him to reach out and ask me how I was doing. And he never did. From what I can gather on Facebook, he is living in Seattle and still hasn’t accepted my friend request. I could delete it, but I choose not to. Because frankly, I think he deserves to be reminded of what he decided to pass up.
It’s funny. I’ve had friends who’ve drifted away, but more often than not, they slam the door in my face (metaphorically). I know that very few people are with you all your life, and even then, I think I could be doing a hell of a lot better than I am right now. I’m digressing a little, but I have to say that while I normally agree with John Green, I think he really misses the mark in this video. He basically says that his success is undeserved and that the reason his bestselling novel has been made into a surefire hit movie is because he’s lucky. I haven’t read The Fault in Our Stars and I probably won’t see the movie, but I think that’s bullshit. The reason that John Green is where he is is because he wrote a book, people liked it, and it all just kinda snowballed from there. Whether or not it’s any good is besides the point (I know some people who liked it, although it doesn’t sound like my thing); what matters is that while “deserve” is certainly a loaded word (and I agree with him that rich people need to stop acting as if they’re where they are because they’re just better than the rest of us), the fact remains that you have to fight for good things if you want them to happen to you. Nobody “just” gets lucky.
It is now time to talk about vengeance. The internet exploded after the latest episode of Game of Thrones, because it contained what is arguably the series’s most gruesome and nihilistic moment yet. I’m getting into spoiler territory, naturally, so navigate away if you haven’t seen it yet.
Essentially, my problem with Prince Oberyn’s death is that it doesn’t make sense. Some have argued that he grew cocky and obsessed with avenging his sister, which caused him to let his guard down and allow the Mountain to strike a fatal blow. I don’t buy that. People let their guard down all the time. Why is it that the only people who are ever punished for doing so in George R.R. Martin’s world are the good guys? Why not include a scene in which the Mountain does something stupid and careless and gets punished for it? People will argue that the cynicism and grimness of the story makes it that much deeper, but this isn’t cynicism so much as nihilism. And it’s obvious that the deck is stacked in the bad guys’s favor. Oberyn didn’t just slash at the Mountain’s heels, he put a fucking spear through the guy’s chest. There is not a single human being anywhere in the world who could survive that, let alone still have the strength to smash their opponent’s skull with their bare hands. Why are there no “good guys” on the show with that kind of strength?
The closest thing to a takeaway that I can find in that scene is that even though Oberyn died, he did get the Mountain to confess his crimes before doing so. That might go a little ways towards shifting people’s opinions against the Lannisters. After seeing what scumbags they are and what scumbags they employ, perhaps other powerful people will be less inclined to ally with them. But philosophically speaking, this series and I have just parted ways. I am not an optimistic person. I do not believe that everything will work out for the best. Sometimes, the bad guys get away with it and life just sucks. And still, I think that the trial by combat scene was so ridiculous as to border on surrealism. Seriously, the Mountain took a fucking spear through the chest. That should have been enough to end him. Yet I will continue to watch and read this series.
People have been comparing Oberyn to Inigo Montoya. Mandy Patinkin once said that vengeance is pointless, and he’s right, but the funny thing about Montoya is that for a guy who has spent the last twenty years of his life obsessed with vengeance, he seems to have turned out alright. At the end of the movie, he has made some good friends, become a master swordsman, rid the world of a truly detestable human being, and might have a bright future in piracy ahead of him. So keep that in mind. Because I liked Oberyn. And it’s not the Mountain who killed him in the sickest and most sadistic manner imaginable, it’s George R.R. Martin.
Here’s something inspiring.