Cmrn Knzlmn Presents Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea is the finale of my trilogy of “water games” of On August 11 . . . and 2015: A Year in Review. They’re all, in one way or another, about inevitability, and they follow a pretty familiar pattern of mine where I pick some arbitrary mechanic that drives home a point of futility. I feel like there’s something rhetorically powerful in the small/micro game format that I’ve been working in for the past little while, and the feedback that I’ve received (positive and negative) makes me think that the reception I’m trying to get is definitely what’s being felt by players.
Why “water games”? When I was working on Epanalepsis, I was reading a lot of interviews with Lars Von Trier, a director who works in what is broadly called “European art cinema.” Most of those interviews were about specific projects contextualized in his body of work, and he continually referred back to trilogies of work that had not been planned as them (the Europa trilogy, the USA trilogy, and his most recent depressive trilogy are all in there).
So, in that always-retrospective model, the three games I mentioned above are the Water Trilogy. I didn’t make any of them with the others in mind, and yet they cohere into something particular. It’s always a view from the side, and only in the latest one is there a glimpse into the water.
The first time I saw the ocean I was probably thirteen or fourteen years old, and the horizon just stretched out forever. It was this weird, 2D plane, and I saw in the sand and just looked at it for hours while the people I was with got progressively more annoyed at my lack of interaction with the landscape. I didn’t, and don’t, care to be in the ocean. The minute I got out to my neck and realized that I could just be swept out to sea was a hairline that I’m not willing to approach again. I didn’t spend much time in the ocean.
I haven’t thought about any of that until just now, the moment of writing, but there’s something about that teenaged moment of looking at the flatline of whatever is out there that has stuck with me. It’s the line that the boat waits on, headed toward the shore, or at least headed to somewhere. It’s a line that could give way unto anything, and yet so much can just rest on it.