Braid

door Vulpius

Braid Tekening

Braid Tekening

Niet meteen iets waarover je me veel ziet schrijven hier, maar ik heb me de laatste tijd goed kunnen amuseren met Braid, een computerspelletje gemaakt door Jonathan Blow. Jonathan is een beetje de enfant terrible van de spellenontwikkelaarswereld, en pompte bovendien ook nog eens een groot deel van zijn persoonlijk vermogen in het spel – je moet het maar durven!

Het spel zelf speelt als een platformspelletje “uit de goeie oude tijd”, met enkele twists. Zo kun je tijd manipuleren en zal de prinses “in een ander kasteel zitten”. Braid presenteert bovendien een prachtig geschreven verhaal, vol mystiek en metaforen. Lees zelf maar eens (de fijnste stukjes zijn vetjes gezet):

Chapter 1: (the last chapter in gameplay order – The Attic)
1a. At a cafe on a bright plaza, most customers sit back, feeling the warmth of the sun, enjoying their cold drinks.  But not Tim – he barely notices the sun, doesn’t really taste his coffee.  For him this corner affords a good view of the city, and in the teeterings of the passers-by, in the arc of a shop-girl’s hand as she displays tea to an interested gentleman, Tim hopes to see clues.
[Why is Tim looking for clues?  What kind of clues is he looking for?]
1b. That night at the cinema, fictitious adventurers lunge implausibly across the screen.  The audience here is mixed.  Some are patrons of the cafe, now sitting excitedly in the plush chairs, eager for another new flavor, for distraction from the boredom of their easy lives.  Other seats hold fishermen and farm-workers, hoping to forget their toils and rest their hands.
1c. Tim is here too, but he is scrutinizing the gloss on the lips on the screen, measuring the angle of the plume of a distant helicopter crash.  He thinks he discerns a message; when the cinema closes and most of the audience strolls down the plaza to the South, Tim goes North.
[What message does he discern from watching a movie in a public movie theater?
Does Tim represent someone or something other than the character in the game?]
1d. People like Tim seem to live oppositely from the other residents of the city.  Tide and riptide, flowing against each other.
1e. Tim wants, like nothing else, to find the Princess, to know her at last.  For Tim this would be momentous, sparking an intense light that embraces the world, a light that reveals the secrets long kept from us, that illuminates – or materializes! – a final palace where we can exist in peace.
[This is the first place (chronologically) that the Princess is mentioned.  Most people seem to agree that she is not actually a person, but a metaphor for something, representing some ideal in a figurative sense.  I’ve noticed that people have discussed MANY things she could represent with no real agreement or closure…
Notice the “intense light” that is mentioned.  This could relate to the nuclear explosion mentioned in the Epilogue.]
1f. But how would this be perceived by the other residents of the city, in the world that flows contrariwise?  The light would be intense and warm at the beginning, but then flicker down to nothing, taking the castle with it; it would be like burning down the place we’ve always called home, where we played so innocently as children.  Destroying all hope of safety, forever.
[Why would he care what the other residents of the city care about him finding the Princess?
This is the second place “intense light” is mentioned.]
Chapter 2: Time and Forgiveness (the first world you play in the game)
[The painting shows Tim and the Princess? drinking wine in the garden.]
2a. Tim is off on a search to rescue the Princess.  She has been snatched by a horrible and evil monster.  This happened because Tim made a mistake.
[So a lot of people thing that Tim is the “horrible monster” mentioned and I tend to agree as we see her running away from him at the ending level.  So could this be Tim trying to rescue her from himself?  In other words, trying to get back to how he was before he changed somehow?  Trying to defeat the monster within himself…
What mistake is this talking about?  Maybe Tim setting off the bomb?]
2b. Not just one.  He made many mistakes during the time they spent together, all those years ago.  Memories of their relationship have become muddled, replaced wholesale, but one remains clear: the Princess turning sharply away, her braid lashing at him with contempt.
[Here is an instance of the Princess being talked about literally, as though she has literal human qualities.  It’s things like this that make me wonder if she’s supposed to be a real person or simply represent something…]
2c. He knows she tried to be forgiving, but who can just shrug away a guilty lie, a stab in the back?  Such a mistake will change a relationship irreversibly, even if we have learned from the mistake and would never repeat it.  The Princess’s eyes grew narrower.  She became more distant.
2d. Our world, with its rules of causality, has trained us to be miserly with forgiveness.  By forgiving too readily, we can be badly hurt.  But if we’ve learned from a mistake and become better for it, shouldn’t we be rewarded for the learning, rather than punished for the mistake?
[Here’s the game in a nutshell.  Tim wants to go back through these past mistakes, past experiences, and fix his errors.  By fixing them, he can then continue on, being wiser from the journey.  Think of the game this way: If you could record yourself playing this game (mistakes and all) and then take out all the mistakes, only showing your perfect path through, no one would know you ever made mistakes (yet you would be wiser from making the mistakes, learning from them, adjusting your play and then erasing them and moving on).  Tim wants infallibility.]
2e. What if our world worked differently?  Suppose we could tell her: ‘I didn’t mean what I just said,’ and she would say: ‘It’s okay, I understand,’ and she would not turn away, and life would really proceed as though we had never said that thing?  We could remove the damage but still be wiser for the experience.
2f. Tim and the Princess lounge in the castle garden, laughing together, giving names to the colorful birds.  Their mistakes are hidden from each other, tucked away between the folds of time, safe.
[Here is another place where the Princess is expressed as an actual person… unless this entire experience is supposed to be a metaphor for something.]
Chapter 3: Time and Mystery
[The painting shows Tim raising a glass of wine, a woman sitting on the left side.]
3a. All those years ago, Tim had left the Princess behind.  He had kissed her on the neck, picked up his travel bag, and walked out the door.  He regrets this, to a degree.  Now he’s journeying to find her again, to show he knows how sad it was, but also to tell her how it was good.
3b. For a long time, he thought they had been cultivating the perfect relationship.  He had been fiercely protective, reversing all his mistakes so they would not touch her.  Likewise, keeping a tight rein on her own mistakes, she always pleased him.
3c. But to be fully couched within the comfort of a friend is a mode of existence with severe implications.  To please you perfectly, she must understand you perfectly.  Thus you cannot defy her expectations or escape her reach.  Her benevolence has circumscribed you, and your life’s achievements will not reach beyond the map she has drawn.
3d. Tim needed to be non-manipulable.  He needed a hope of transcendence.  He needed, sometimes, to be immune to the Princess’s caring touch.
3e. Off in the distance, Tim saw a castle where the flags flutter even when the wind has expired, and the bread in the kitchen is always warm.  A little bit of magic.
Chapter 4: Time and Place
[The painting is of Tim leaving or entering a room with a child in the bed.
A little about the painting: My take on this (based on the dialogue within) is that this is Tim leaving his old childhood room at his parents house – a glimpse into his past and it is a young Tim who is in the bed.]
4a. Visiting his parents’ home for a holiday meal, Tim felt as though he had regressed to those long-ago years when he lived under their roof, oppressed by their insistence on upholding strange values which, to him, were meaningless.  Back then, bickering would erupt over drops of gravy spilt onto the tablecloth.
4b. Escaping, Tim walked in the cool air toward the university he’d attended after moving out of his parents’ home.  As he distanced himself from that troubling house, he felt the embarrassment of childhood fading into the past.  But now he stepped into all the insecurities he’d felt at the university, all the panic of walking a social tightrope.
4c. Tim only felt relieved after the whole visit was over, sitting back home in the present, steeped in contrast: he saw how he’d improved so much from those old days.  This improvement, day by day, takes him ever-closer to finding the Princess.  If she exists – she must! – she will transform him, and everyone.
[This makes me wonder if the Princess represents perfection somehow…  Gah! This is driving me nuts what she represents!]
4d. He felt on his trip that every place stirs up an emotion, and every emotion invokes a memory: a time and a location.  So couldn’t he find the Princess now, tonight, just by wandering from place to place and noticing how he feels?  A trail of feelings, of awe and inspiration, should lead him to that castle: in the future: her arms enclosing him, her scent fills him with excitement, creates a moment so strong he can remember it in the past.
[It’s things like this that make me feel this game is a little to existential with its story and that bothers me.  I’m desperately wanting this story to have a definite meaning!]
4e. Immediately Tim walked out his door, the next morning, toward whatever the new day held.  He felt something like optimism.
[Ok so this chapter in a nutshell describes some of Tim’s past, and how he views it.  He looks back and sees how much he’s grown up since then, how much he’s improved; and that improvement somehow gets him closer to finding the “Princess”.  Maybe she represents consciousness or a zen-like understanding of the universe.  Maybe she is the universe… or nothing at all.]
Chapter 5: Time and Decision
[The painting for this chapter shows Tim (possibly as a teenager) leaving home, waiting at the airport.]
5a. She never understood the impulses that drove him, never quite felt the intensity that, over time, chiseled lines into his face.  She was never quite close enough to him — but he held her as though she were, whispered into her ear words that only a soul mate should receive.
[The “she” that is being referred to here I don’t believe is the Princess.  I believe it is either Tim’s wife or mother.  The only reason I say mother is I believe she is mentioned in the Epilogue but I’m definitely leaning toward wife at this point.]
5b. Over the remnants of dinner, they both knew the time had come.  He would have said: ‘I have to go find the Princess,’ but he didn’t need to.  Giving a final kiss, hoisting a travel bag to his shoulder, he walked out the door.  Through all the nights that followed, she still loved him as though he had stayed, to comfort her and protect her, Princess be damned.
[Okay, so in this part, I believe Tim is leaving his wife.  His wife wants him to stay with her and protect her, but he leaves to “find the Princess”.  His wife obviously doesn’t care about the “Princess” (or whatever it is Tim feels compelled to find).  He is described leaving in exactly the same way he is described leaving the Princess in 3a – picking up his travel bag and walking out the door.]
Chapter 6: Hesitance
[The painting shows Tim in a crazy city and it looks as though he’s thrown his wedding ring in the garbage.]
6a. Perhaps in a perfect world, the ring would be a symbol of happiness.  It’s a sign of ceaseless devotion: even if he will never find the Princess, he will always be trying.  He still will wear the ring.
[I believe this could be talking about Tim’s obsession with his work.  Even though he’s a work-aholic, obsessing over finding the “Princess”, he is knows he has a devotion to his wife… maybe…  But the way this is worded, also makes it sound like the Princess could be within his wife… “even if he will never find the Princess, he will always be trying. He still will wear the ring.”]
6b. But the ring makes its presence known.  It shines out to others like a beacon of warning.  It makes people slow to approach.  Suspicion, distrust.  Interactions are torpedoed before Tim can open his mouth.
[This almost makes it sound like Tim is out trying to find another woman, but his wedding ring gives him away…]
6c. In time he learns to deal with others carefully.  He matches their hesitant pace, tracing a soft path through their defenses.  But this exhausts him, and it only works to a limited degree.  It doesn’t get him what he needs.
[What he needs… another woman?  Maybe Tim cheated on his wife and the “Princess” he once knew has vanished.  Maybe that’s the mistake he made (or one of them anyway).]
6d. Tim begins to hide the ring in his pocket.  But he can hardly bear it — too long tucked away, that part of him might suffocate.
7. Epilogue:
[Each screen of the Epilogue contains one red book verse and one singing verse (SV) which is usually hidden behind a rock when the red book is open.  I have included both and call them out respectively.  It seems as though the red book contains things from Tim’s perspective, and the singing verse is from the Princess (or a woman).]
7a. The boy called for the girl to follow him, and he took her hand.  He would protect her; they would make their way through this oppressive castle, fighting off the creatures made of smoke and doubt, escaping to a life of freedom.  The boy wanted to protect the girl.  He held her hand, or put his arm around her shoulders in a walking embrace, to help her feel supported and close to him amid the impersonal throngs of Manhattan.  They turned and made their way toward the Canal St. subway station, and he picked a path through the jostling crowd.
SVa. His arm weighed upon her shoulders, felt constrictive around her neck.  ‘You’re burdening me with your ridiculous need,’ she said.  Or, she said: ‘You’re going the wrong way and you’re pulling me with you.’  In another time, another place, she said: ‘Stop yanking on my arm; you’re hurting me!’
[So here it seems we have two seemingly different versions from each of them.  Two sides to this story.  To him, he has her best interest in mind.  To her, he’s being too overbearing and leading her poorly.  …Maybe it was she who left him.]
7b. He worked his ruler and his compass.  He inferred.  He deduced.  He scrutinized the fall of an apple, the twisting of metal orbs hanging from a thread.  He was searching for the Princess, and he would not stop until he found her, for he was hungry.  He cut rats into pieces to examine their brains, implanted tungsten posts into the skulls of water-starved monkeys.
[Here’s the first time (I believe) that we know what Tim is.  He is a scientist, apparently.  This mentions “finding the Princess”, and he’s doing it through science.  Why would Tim be able to find her this way?  It’s leading up to something in a little bit…]
SVb. Ghostly, she stood in front of him and looked into his eyes.  ‘I am here,’ she said.  ‘I am here.  I want to touch you.’  She pleaded: ‘Look at me!’  But he would not see her; he only knew how to look at the outsides of things.
[Here’s another great segment that wants to shout that the Princess is a metaphor for something.  Still don’t know what.]
7c. He scrutinized the fall of an apple, the twisting of metal orbs hanging from a thread.  Through these clues he would find the Princess, see her face.  After an especially fervent night of tinkering, he kneeled behind a bunker in the desert; he held a piece of welder’s glass up to his eyes and waited.  On that moment hung eternity.  Time stood still.  Space contracted to a pinpoint.  It was as though the earth had opened and the skies split.  One felt as though he had been privileged to witness the Birth of the World…  Someone near him said: ‘it worked.’  Someone else said: ‘Now we are all sons of bitches.’
[Now we’re being told that Tim is basically responsible for developing the nuclear bomb used in the Trinity test (I believe).  This is a pretty big deal.  Get ready for the kicker:]
SVc. She stood tall and majestic.  She radiated fury.  She shouted: ‘Who has disturbed me?’  But then, anger expelled, she felt the sadness beneath; she let her breath fall softly, like a sigh, like ashes floating gently on the wind.  She couldn’t understand why he chose to flirt so closely with the death of the world.
[And holy crap.  So it seems that the Princess is showed to exist within the nuclear blast.  This doesn’t mean that she’s the bomb (like what some people seem to be saying online which I don’t believe is the case – you can’t give names to birds in a garden with a bomb :-).  So I’m still desperately trying to give meaning to the Princess.  I know it sounds lame that I still can’t come up with what the Princess actually is, but all-in-all, ever time I think I have a general idea of what the Princess is, something else in the story or dialogue contradicts it.  It seems like there is TONS of contradiction going on within this story as to what the Princess is, etc.  I hope that’s not the case.]
7d. The candy store.  Everything he wanted was on the opposite side of that pane of glass.  The store was decorated in bright colors, and the scents wafting out drove him crazy.  He tried to rush for the door, or just get closer to the glass, but he couldn’t.  She held him back with great strength.  Why would she hold him back?  How might he break free of her grasp?  He considered violence.
[Now some people seem to think that this is Tim’s wife and child but I don’t think so.  I believe this is yet another moment within Tim’s childhood, showing who he’s going to shape up to be.  Find out why in the singing verse:]
SVd. They had been here before on their daily walks.  She didn’t mind his screams and his shrieks, or the way he yanked painfully on her braid to make her stop.  He was too little to know better.  She picked him up and hugged him: ‘No, baby,’ she said.  He was shaking.  She followed his gaze toward the treats sitting on pillows behind the glass: the chocolate bar and the magnetic monopole, the It-From-Bit and the Ethical Calculus; and so many other things, deeper inside.   ‘Maybe when you’re older, baby,’ she whispered, setting him back on his feet and leading him home, ‘Maybe when you’re older.’  Every day thereafter, as before, she always walked him on a route that passed in front of the candy store.
[So it seems Tim’s mother is restraining him from going after what he really wants.  Maybe it’s all women in his life – his wife not understanding his need to create the atom bomb.  From this, I take it to mean that there are so many things he wants to learn and achieve, that are just beyond his grasp of understanding, just beyond his potential – “maybe when you’re older”.
And on to the final message…]
7e. He cannot say he has understood all of this.  Possibly he’s more confused now than ever.  But all these moments he’s contemplated – something has occurred.  The moments feel substantial in his mind, like stones.  Kneeling, reaching down toward the closest one, running his hand across it, he finds it smooth, and slightly cold.
[This passage gives me the impression that Tim is dead and the game is of him contemplating his life experiences, and what he could have done differently to make things right in the afterlife.]
7f. He tests the stone’s weight; he finds he can lift it, and the others too.  He can fit them together to create a foundation, an embankment, a castle.
[Here it shows the castle made out of the blocks which are each level you’ve played through so far.]
7g. To build a castle of appropriate size, he will need a great many stones.  But what he’s got, now, feels like an acceptable start.
[So he’s building a castle out of experiences he’s learned from.  Maybe when he’s finally finished, his princess will no longer be in another castle.]
[In summary:
So I think that the Princess may represent multiple things; if this is the case, then this story could be even more confusing than it already is.  Many things lead me to believe the Princess represents peace, or inner peace – a sort of zen state.
Things the Princess could represent:
– Ambition
– Perfection
– Obsession
– Absolute Power
– Nirvana
– Peace
Things the Princess is not:
– A Princess
– His wife (the princess cannot be his wife since there is dialogue mentioning him leaving her to find the princess, and she says “princess be damned”)
– His mother]

Chapter 1:  The Attic

1a. At a cafe on a bright plaza, most customers sit back, feeling the warmth of the sun, enjoying their cold drinks.  But not Tim – he barely notices the sun, doesn’t really taste his coffee.  For him this corner affords a good view of the city, and in the teeterings of the passers-by, in the arc of a shop-girl’s hand as she displays tea to an interested gentleman, Tim hopes to see clues.

1b. That night at the cinema, fictitious adventurers lunge implausibly across the screen.  The audience here is mixed.  Some are patrons of the cafe, now sitting excitedly in the plush chairs, eager for another new flavor, for distraction from the boredom of their easy lives.  Other seats hold fishermen and farm-workers, hoping to forget their toils and rest their hands.

1c. Tim is here too, but he is scrutinizing the gloss on the lips on the screen, measuring the angle of the plume of a distant helicopter crash.  He thinks he discerns a message; when the cinema closes and most of the audience strolls down the plaza to the South, Tim goes North.

1d. People like Tim seem to live oppositely from the other residents of the city.  Tide and riptide, flowing against each other.

1e. Tim wants, like nothing else, to find the Princess, to know her at last.  For Tim this would be momentous, sparking an intense light that embraces the world, a light that reveals the secrets long kept from us, that illuminates – or materializes! – a final palace where we can exist in peace.

1f. But how would this be perceived by the other residents of the city, in the world that flows contrariwise?  The light would be intense and warm at the beginning, but then flicker down to nothing, taking the castle with it; it would be like burning down the place we’ve always called home, where we played so innocently as children.  Destroying all hope of safety, forever.

Chapter 2: Time and Forgiveness

2a. Tim is off on a search to rescue the Princess.  She has been snatched by a horrible and evil monster.  This happened because Tim made a mistake.

2b. Not just one.  He made many mistakes during the time they spent together, all those years ago.  Memories of their relationship have become muddled, replaced wholesale, but one remains clear: the Princess turning sharply away, her braid lashing at him with contempt.

2c. He knows she tried to be forgiving, but who can just shrug away a guilty lie, a stab in the back?  Such a mistake will change a relationship irreversibly, even if we have learned from the mistake and would never repeat it.  The Princess’s eyes grew narrower.  She became more distant.

2d. Our world, with its rules of causality, has trained us to be miserly with forgiveness.  By forgiving too readily, we can be badly hurt.  But if we’ve learned from a mistake and become better for it, shouldn’t we be rewarded for the learning, rather than punished for the mistake?

2e. What if our world worked differently?  Suppose we could tell her: ‘I didn’t mean what I just said,’ and she would say: ‘It’s okay, I understand,’ and she would not turn away, and life would really proceed as though we had never said that thing?  We could remove the damage but still be wiser for the experience.

2f. Tim and the Princess lounge in the castle garden, laughing together, giving names to the colorful birds.  Their mistakes are hidden from each other, tucked away between the folds of time, safe.

Chapter 3: Time and Mystery

3a. All those years ago, Tim had left the Princess behind.  He had kissed her on the neck, picked up his travel bag, and walked out the door.  He regrets this, to a degree.  Now he’s journeying to find her again, to show he knows how sad it was, but also to tell her how it was good.

3b. For a long time, he thought they had been cultivating the perfect relationship.  He had been fiercely protective, reversing all his mistakes so they would not touch her.  Likewise, keeping a tight rein on her own mistakes, she always pleased him.

3c. But to be fully couched within the comfort of a friend is a mode of existence with severe implications.  To please you perfectly, she must understand you perfectly.  Thus you cannot defy her expectations or escape her reach.  Her benevolence has circumscribed you, and your life’s achievements will not reach beyond the map she has drawn.

3d. Tim needed to be non-manipulable.  He needed a hope of transcendence.  He needed, sometimes, to be immune to the Princess’s caring touch.

3e. Off in the distance, Tim saw a castle where the flags flutter even when the wind has expired, and the bread in the kitchen is always warm.  A little bit of magic.

Chapter 4: Time and Place

4a. Visiting his parents’ home for a holiday meal, Tim felt as though he had regressed to those long-ago years when he lived under their roof, oppressed by their insistence on upholding strange values which, to him, were meaningless.  Back then, bickering would erupt over drops of gravy spilt onto the tablecloth.

4b. Escaping, Tim walked in the cool air toward the university he’d attended after moving out of his parents’ home.  As he distanced himself from that troubling house, he felt the embarrassment of childhood fading into the past.  But now he stepped into all the insecurities he’d felt at the university, all the panic of walking a social tightrope.

4c. Tim only felt relieved after the whole visit was over, sitting back home in the present, steeped in contrast: he saw how he’d improved so much from those old days.  This improvement, day by day, takes him ever-closer to finding the Princess.  If she exists – she must! – she will transform him, and everyone.

4d. He felt on his trip that every place stirs up an emotion, and every emotion invokes a memory: a time and a location.  So couldn’t he find the Princess now, tonight, just by wandering from place to place and noticing how he feels?  A trail of feelings, of awe and inspiration, should lead him to that castle: in the future: her arms enclosing him, her scent fills him with excitement, creates a moment so strong he can remember it in the past.

4e. Immediately Tim walked out his door, the next morning, toward whatever the new day held.  He felt something like optimism.

Chapter 5: Time and Decision

5a. She never understood the impulses that drove him, never quite felt the intensity that, over time, chiseled lines into his face.  She was never quite close enough to him — but he held her as though she were, whispered into her ear words that only a soul mate should receive.

5b. Over the remnants of dinner, they both knew the time had come.  He would have said: ‘I have to go find the Princess,’ but he didn’t need to.  Giving a final kiss, hoisting a travel bag to his shoulder, he walked out the door.  Through all the nights that followed, she still loved him as though he had stayed, to comfort her and protect her, Princess be damned.

Chapter 6: Hesitance

6a. Perhaps in a perfect world, the ring would be a symbol of happiness.  It’s a sign of ceaseless devotion: even if he will never find the Princess, he will always be trying.  He still will wear the ring.

6b. But the ring makes its presence known.  It shines out to others like a beacon of warning.  It makes people slow to approach.  Suspicion, distrust.  Interactions are torpedoed before Tim can open his mouth.

6c. In time he learns to deal with others carefully.  He matches their hesitant pace, tracing a soft path through their defenses.  But this exhausts him, and it only works to a limited degree.  It doesn’t get him what he needs.

6d. Tim begins to hide the ring in his pocket.  But he can hardly bear it — too long tucked away, that part of him might suffocate.

7. Epilogue:

7a. The boy called for the girl to follow him, and he took her hand.  He would protect her; they would make their way through this oppressive castle, fighting off the creatures made of smoke and doubt, escaping to a life of freedom.  The boy wanted to protect the girl.  He held her hand, or put his arm around her shoulders in a walking embrace, to help her feel supported and close to him amid the impersonal throngs of Manhattan.  They turned and made their way toward the Canal St. subway station, and he picked a path through the jostling crowd.

SVa. His arm weighed upon her shoulders, felt constrictive around her neck.  ‘You’re burdening me with your ridiculous need,’ she said.  Or, she said: ‘You’re going the wrong way and you’re pulling me with you.’  In another time, another place, she said: ‘Stop yanking on my arm; you’re hurting me!’

7b. He worked his ruler and his compass.  He inferred.  He deduced.  He scrutinized the fall of an apple, the twisting of metal orbs hanging from a thread.  He was searching for the Princess, and he would not stop until he found her, for he was hungry.  He cut rats into pieces to examine their brains, implanted tungsten posts into the skulls of water-starved monkeys.

SVb. Ghostly, she stood in front of him and looked into his eyes.  ‘I am here,’ she said.  ‘I am here.  I want to touch you.’  She pleaded: ‘Look at me!’  But he would not see her; he only knew how to look at the outsides of things.

7c. He scrutinized the fall of an apple, the twisting of metal orbs hanging from a thread.  Through these clues he would find the Princess, see her face.  After an especially fervent night of tinkering, he kneeled behind a bunker in the desert; he held a piece of welder’s glass up to his eyes and waited.  On that moment hung eternity.  Time stood still.  Space contracted to a pinpoint.  It was as though the earth had opened and the skies split.  One felt as though he had been privileged to witness the Birth of the World…  Someone near him said: ‘it worked.’  Someone else said: ‘Now we are all sons of bitches.’

SVc. She stood tall and majestic.  She radiated fury.  She shouted: ‘Who has disturbed me?’  But then, anger expelled, she felt the sadness beneath; she let her breath fall softly, like a sigh, like ashes floating gently on the wind.  She couldn’t understand why he chose to flirt so closely with the death of the world.

7d. The candy store.  Everything he wanted was on the opposite side of that pane of glass.  The store was decorated in bright colors, and the scents wafting out drove him crazy.  He tried to rush for the door, or just get closer to the glass, but he couldn’t.  She held him back with great strength.  Why would she hold him back?  How might he break free of her grasp?  He considered violence.

SVd. They had been here before on their daily walks.  She didn’t mind his screams and his shrieks, or the way he yanked painfully on her braid to make her stop.  He was too little to know better.  She picked him up and hugged him: ‘No, baby,’ she said.  He was shaking.  She followed his gaze toward the treats sitting on pillows behind the glass: the chocolate bar and the magnetic monopole, the It-From-Bit and the Ethical Calculus; and so many other things, deeper inside.   ‘Maybe when you’re older, baby,’ she whispered, setting him back on his feet and leading him home, ‘Maybe when you’re older.’  Every day thereafter, as before, she always walked him on a route that passed in front of the candy store.

7e. He cannot say he has understood all of this.  Possibly he’s more confused now than ever.  But all these moments he’s contemplated – something has occurred.  The moments feel substantial in his mind, like stones.  Kneeling, reaching down toward the closest one, running his hand across it, he finds it smooth, and slightly cold.

7f. He tests the stone’s weight; he finds he can lift it, and the others too.  He can fit them together to create a foundation, an embankment, a castle.

7g. To build a castle of appropriate size, he will need a great many stones.  But what he’s got, now, feels like an acceptable start.

Wat denk jij dat de prinses voorstelt? Ambitie? Absolute macht?

Mensen die het spelletje zelf eens willen spelen kunnen hier terecht.

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