What The Player is able to do is hold up the formal structure of a story without actual content. It anticipates the audience holds that form together in their minds. Whether innate and archetypal, or structurally etched into our minds by years of Aristotelian plotting and three-act structure, the form of story itself is most of the battle creating story.
The thing is, and it’s puzzling why few admit this, that if the audience gets the ending they are anticipating, they’re always disappointed.
There’s something deeply cynical about the entire culture of instant evaluation. Turning everyone and everything into an instant judge, a cybernetic node in a gossip-hungry cyber mob.
What is one to do in this unsinkable snake oil society? Sometimes our first instinct is the correct one.
Exit Woodward and Bernstein, enter Jack Bauer. We’re in fantasy land now: all the president’s men can put Humpty Dumpty back together again. We’ll stop those bullets. We’ll put Jack’s skull back together. We’ll restore our timeline. We’ll recriminate. If only in fiction.
All of our thoughts and lore of Bigfoot center on a basic question – but is it real? This is the key concern here. Not Sasquatch, but Reality. The key concern is a test of science. The questions we ask are more in line with forensics. Hair. Footprints. DNA. Fossils. Carbon dating. As the 17th Century Enlightenment philosopher Sir Francis Bacon said the ambitions of science, “My only earthly wish is… to stretch the deplorably narrow limits of man’s dominion over the universe to their promised bounds… [nature will be] bound into service, hounded in her wanderings and put on the rack and tortured for her secrets.”
What’s funny is how apparently stubbornly we grasp on to social identities that can in reality be tissue thin. In the self-preservation society instinct, we want to be on the right side of the consensus, whatever we believe the consensus is.
When I look back on my life, turn my thoughts to accounting for past events, beyond a week or so ago, memories fade. Each day in the past, thumbing through the calendar, each day a little less distinct, fading into what folk metaphors tell us of our memory warehouse, a kind of secret library in our mind littered with cobwebs and dark dusty corners. Banker’s boxes on shelves, file cabinets, pictures, antiques, a spiral staircase to different levels; the shiftable inner recesses, the Xanadu of the mind. Some areas of the warehouse are in front, accessible, others more discrete, or hidden, even some places with more security than others, requiring a series of keys. But the memories are only apprehended as much as we can pay attention to them. As if we traipse around the memory warehouse with a single torch – you can only see as far as the light goes, the rest fading to shades of grey and the darkness beyond.