TotD: Written On the Body

I’d nev­er heard of Writ­ten on the Body by Jeanette Win­ter­son (or of the author, at all) until I was brows­ing through some of the quo­ta­tions at Gaia1 a while back. This bit is too long for my quo­ta­tions file, but I love it too much to just delete it.

Written On the BodyYou’ll get over it…” It’s the clichés that cause the trou­ble. To lose some­one you love is to alter your life for ever. You don’t get over it because ‘it’ is the per­son you loved. The pain stops, there are new peo­ple, but the gap nev­er clos­es. How could it’s The par­tic­u­lar­ness of some­one who mat­tered enough to grieve over is not made ano­dyne by death. This hole in my heart is the shape of you and no-one else can fit it. Why would I want them to? I’ve thought a lot about death recent­ly, the final­i­ty of it, the argu­ment end­ing in mid-air. One of us hadn’t fin­ished, why did the oth­er one go? And why with­out warn­ing? Even death after long ill­ness is with­out warn­ing. The moment you had pre­pared for so care­ful­ly took you by storm. The troops broke through the win­dow and snatched the body and the body is gone. The day before the Wednes­day last, this time a year ago, you were here and now you’re not. Why not? Death reduces us to the baf­fled log­ic of a child. If yes­ter­day why not today? And where are you? Frag­ile crea­tures of a small blue plan­et, sur­round­ed by light years of silent space. Do the dead find peace beyond the rat­tle of the world? What peace is there for us whose best love can­not return them even for a day? I raise my head to the door and think I will see you in the frame. I know it is your voice in the cor­ri­dor but when I run out­side the cor­ri­dor is emp­ty. There is noth­ing I can do that will make any dif­fer­ence. The last word is yours. The flut­ter­ing in the stom­ach goes away and the dull wak­ing pain. Some­times I think of you and I feel gid­dy. Mem­o­ry makes me light­head­ed, drunk on cham­pagne. All the things we did. And if any­one had said this was the price I would have agreed to pay it. That sur­pris­es me; that with the hurt and the mess comes a shaft of recog­ni­tion. It was worth it. Love is worth it.

After read­ing about the book, I was sur­prised to find that it isn’t about the obvi­ous sort of loss. The nov­el is described as an erot­ic homage to a lover’s body, but one of the intrigu­ing aspect is that the author nev­er gives the nar­ra­tor a gen­der. I’m going to try to find it to give it a read.


1 Yes, I’m Tech­noMom there, like most places.

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TotD: Robin Laws on Roleplaying Games

I hadn’t ever thought of it this way, but I think the man is on to some­thing.

“One of my pet the­o­ries about the pop­u­lar­i­ty of role­play­ing games goes like this. Role­play­ing is fan­ta­sy shop­ping for guys. That is, men would, as a group, be more inter­est­ed in shop­ping if a) it meant nev­er hav­ing to leave the house and b) they were shop­ping for super-pow­ers. In that case, the typ­i­cal role­play­ing rule­book is like a Nie­man-Mar­cus cat­a­log for super-pow­ers. Depend­ing on the game sys­tem and char­ac­ter type, these extra­or­di­nary abil­i­ties might be called feats, spells, schticks, dis­ci­plines, skills, high tech gear, psion­ics, or what­ev­er. For lack of a a bet­ter all-encom­pass­ing term, I refer to these things as crunchy bits.”
Robin D. Laws, Robin’s Laws of Good Game Mas­ter­ing

Secrets of Good Game Mastering cover

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TotD: Bruce Chatwin on Possessions

And do we not all long to throw down our altars and rid our­selves of our pos­ses­sions? Do we not gaze cold­ly at our clut­ter and say, “If these objects express my per­son­al­i­ty, then I hate my per­son­al­i­ty.” For what, on the face of it, enhances life less than a work of art? One tires of it. One can­not eat it. It makes an uncom­fort­able bed­fel­low. One guards it, and feels oblig­ed to enjoy it long after it has ceased to amuse. We sac­ri­fice our free­dom of action to become its priv­i­leged guardian, and we end its impris­oned slave. All civ­i­liza­tions are by their very nature “thing-ori­ent­ed” and the main prob­lem of their sta­bil­i­ty has been to devise new equa­tions between the urge to amass things and the urge to be rid of them.

But things have a way of insin­u­at­ing them­selves into all human lives. Some peo­ple attract more things than oth­ers, but no peo­ple, how­ev­er mobile, is thin­g­less. A chim­panzee uses sticks and stones as tools, but he does not keep pos­ses­sions. Man does. And the things to which he becomes most attached do not serve any use­ful func­tion. Instead they are sym­bols or emo­tion­al anchors. The ques­tion I should like to ask with­out nec­es­sar­i­ly being able to answer it is, “Why are man’s real trea­sures use­less?” For if we under­stood this, we might also under­stand the con­vo­lut­ed rit­u­als of the art mar­ket.,
Bruce Chatwin Anato­my of Rest­less­ness

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