One fine Monday Morning in 2003.

My Forge joining date

Three years ago last Friday I joined The Forge, a community for independent game designers. Two years ago, I did book design for Dogs in the Vineyard with Vincent. Last year I released Under the Bed and designed the book for The Mountain Witch. This year, my name is in: Under the Bed, Shock: Social Science Fiction, Dogs in the Vineyard (though Vincent has moved on to a different and better page design), The Mountain Witch, Kwaidan (assuming we get it printed in time), The Prince’s Kingdom, and The Shadow of Yesterday.

I never looked back. This is a great experience for me. It’s the most excellent thing you can imagine, to be making work of your own that does what you want it to do, and working with other, brilliant, wonderful people who are doing the same thing, each in their own, unique, passionate, and contradictory way.

The Beats

We’re making something good, you dig? It’s like the fucking Beats (with less serious drug problems) or Parisian Bohemians circa 1890. We’re making something new, something that changes the way people see. We’re making art and the art is good.

Right now, Vincent is off in Berlin with Ron Edwards at a convention, organized by Ron, of Cold War spy geeks. He’s made a game, Spione, that is part of the broad activity he’s encouraging. He’s breaking new ground and a lot of us are watching closely to see what he unearths. I’m happy with him taking the risks on this; if he’s right, there will be plenty of gold pie to dig up and everyone can have a piece; if he’s wrong, it costs me nothing to learn from his mistakes.

A Scanner Darkly

I just got back from A Scanner Darkly last night, thinking about how well it worked as a Philip K. Dick story; the paranoia, the floaty perspective on reality. I read the Wikipedia article on the book and it really got me thinking: What did it cost Dick to write that story? For Del Rey to publish it? A few thousand dollars? Tens? And this movie, which took years and years to make (and it paid off. It’s great.) cost hundreds of thousands or millions. And they say the same thing. Naturally, the book is more subtle and the movie is more visually impactful.

What did I learn?

Storytelling is fucking cutting edge. What we’re doing now, making systems for storytelling, is the application of actual social technologies directly to our nervous systems. The effects we generate, the gnarliness of the stories themselves, the bang:buck is huge. Maybe Ben Lehman is right: maybe our society has crippled our ability to tell stories. Maybe Ron is right, that a lot of us are brain damaged because we’ve learned systems that deprived us of our storytelling tools.

But I think what we’re doing is new ground. We’re opening fresh wounds in the hide of the mediocrity that sells itself to us, that would purport to sell us meaning. We’re making our own fun, making our own meaning, making our own reality.

It’s like drugs that we’ve made out of our friends’ relationships with us. We all get to share the hallucination and learn from it together. We learn things about ourselves, each other, and the world. It’s a psychedelic experience of the best kind, where set and setting pre-approved, your friends at hand urging you to new arenas and you returning the favor.

The last three years have taught me a lot about art, a lot about craft, a lot about friends and mutualism. I raise my cup to Luke, Vincent, Clinton, Ron, Keith the mutherfucker, and my other companions in this Great Work. I wish your art power, your lives passion, and your deaths meaning.

12 thoughts on “One fine Monday Morning in 2003.”

  1. Dammit, I want A Scanner Darkly to get here already, but then again, I also need to go and watch Over the Hedge, Pirates of the Carribeans 2 and Superman Returns, oy!

    Check out “The Science of Discworld 2”, we still tell stories, everyone does. Humans work on Narrativium, we work mainly on overt storytelling as an activity for the sake of itself.

  2. Over the Hedge? Man. That looks butt.

    And, sure, we tell stories. But what we’re doing is structuring the process, making it a technology of mind.

    The convention is one that Ron set up in Berlin for Cold War espionage buffs. It’s over now — it ended yesterday — and Vincent went with him (his first time out of the country beyond Niagara Falls).

    Ron’s idea is to build a subculture around the subculture wherein part of the activity of that subculture is to play a game — he’s calling it Story Now — with the intention that it be recorded. The recordings are then posted to the Spione fora and people — whether or not they, themselves, play — can listen to the recordings, like a radio play. There’s a wiki of spy stuff, from Ian Flemming to the Rosenbergs, Our Man Flint to the NSA.

    This is the first get together for these folks and Ron’s hoping that they are a market as well as comrades in interest.

  3. Cool! I didn’t know about that! We’ll just have to check that out in August.

    I can’t wait to see the Contested Ground Crew. I love those guys.

  4. Always glad to be a bearer of cool news.

    I also await this game, though I think it’d take me about a year to get all the games coming from now till the end of August…

  5. Oh rock on Josh, the Ann Coulter of the gaming world has taken notice of your post here:

    http://www.xanga.com/RPGpundit

    Hooray for RPGPundit’s Hate Porn! Man, I never get tired of this shit. It’s as titilating as reading http://www.stormwatch.org

    (pssst- be careful to not read back a post, where Pundit basically invites the only girl who would ever read his blog to “Come down to Uruguay so that we can FUCK!”

    He rubs his weenie with glee like the retarded soldier from The World According to Garp, and it’s not pretty. You don’t want to see that. It basically makes his calling you an ’emotional retard’ look like someone in a glass house firing an M-60.)

  6. Yeah, I noticed that from the huge number of hits he sent my site.

    I don’t really have a response. I’m busy actually getting my publications set for sale. Speaking of which, I gotta do a post about that.

  7. Oh yeah, “cjh”. Cute, even better.

    “Hey, this one guy’s blog post reminds me of X. I really hate X. All participants of X are pretentious whiny gasbags. Fucking makes me sick, that X. X folks are always putting us down, the way they say “we don’t get it”. X totally pisses me off”
    (psssst: This Blog is Not X, Doesn’t Say X, has NOTHING to do with X, so nice fucking tangent that has nothing to do with fucking anything)

    I am tired of the preening. I am tired of the self-aggrandizing attacks against those who “Don’t get it.”

    Nice, gasbag. Keep banging that drum about X. When you come to your senses after you’re done jerking off, might want to read this journal post again, and how like he says nothing that you’re implying. No “don’t get it”s, no “you’re deluding yourselves”, none of that shit.

    Way to build a strawman out of his own baggage.

    BTW, this is the same guy who keeps jamming up craft threads on RPGNet, saying “I’m a *great* GM. I don’t need advice or rules to help me run my games, and therefore nobody else should either”. Whatever.

    There’s nothing to read over there; If I want to watch people see shit, then go off on that shit because it “reminds them of X, and I fucking hate X”, I’ll go to fucking Stormfront and read the real retards do it with style.

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