Current Times 8/18 – 8/24

I am abandoning the current system of Current Times numbering to go with a week system. That doesn’t mean that the things I am linking to were written in this week, but rather that I accrued the links during this time frame.

For past Current Times, look here.

1. Ontological Geek has a post up titled “RPGs and You” that delves into the connection of RPG leveling mechanics and their ties to the classic American Dream. What I got out of it was that this is a clear explanation why the plotline of most RPGs, be they Japanese, American, or European, are pure shit.

Look at the myth of the self-made man who grew up with nothing and achieved everything in the field of his choice. It’s an especially American tale; we’re obsessed with class fluidity, even if our systems are less successful at facilitating it than they might be. This same narrative is expressed in every RPG mechanic. Nobody starts at level 20; everybody begins at level 1, on the same basic level, and they will often make meaningful choices as they grow and develop that will determine their identity and long-term success. Most expressions of leveling up are nothing less than the American ideal – World of Warcraft is a better expression of America’s social values than America has ever been.

2. Maria Popova has an essay at Brain Pickings where she reads through  the new Children’s Picturebooks: The Art of Visual StorytellingIt is a brilliant romp through the history of visual representation geared toward kids. I am totally buying the book.

3. Neil Rivas has made an art show that combines superheroes with the cultural narrative about illegal aliens in the United States.

4. Rob Clough reviews Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller over at The Comics Journal. It is a comic adaptation of Helen Keller’s early life, and I think the graphic representation of that is interesting.

5. Chris McMahon buys generic landscapes and paints monsters into them. I’m probably going to buy a print soon.


6. Laurie Penny has written an account of when she was raped. There is a massive, massive trigger warning to that. These narratives need to be shared, and the perspective she has on the event leaves me lacking in words. Read it. 

7. I was cited here. Clark writes the essay that I should have.

8. This is David Byrne talking about makeout parties. There’s something beautiful about the whole thing, especially because Byrne seems so confused about the entire thing. He was so caught up in it, and it makes so little sense, that he just has to smile. (via Biblioklept)

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