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What inspires you (part 2)

Hi All,

I’m conducting an experiment. Every first Tuesday of a month, I’ll post something of note that we can all discuss together in the comments. Think of it as a digital roundtable seminar. Last month’s seminar is still going and will remain open through December since several readers have requested more time.

As for this month’s seminar, first you’ll want to watch the video that follows. Then we can discuss the opening question, which appears below the video.

Player Two (1 min 45 secs)

Here’s the opening question:

Player Two is a work of art based on a comment made on a Youtube video based on video games. The series of art works and audience interactions that resulted in this film could’ve only come about as it did here and now.

If you scroll through the comments section on the original video published two years ago, you find that 00WARTHERAPY00’s comment received more attention and continues now to receive more attention than the original video. In the story, 00WARTHERAPY00 has an old Xbox that leads to something new. What can this story and its genesis tell us about how old things become new?


  • Bilsana B. May 3, 2016

    Initial thoughts to get the discussion started (sorry for the length):

    I understand the Xbox to be an object which embodies memories and the particular connection (and the resulting pain) that the boy feels with his father. The ghost rider and the continuous race with him seems to signify the emotional journey 00WARTHERAPY00 goes through, perhaps even in reference to the decade in which he was not able to use the Xbox. While we try to deal with loss, we do seem to be in a sort of a race. We try to make a new circle around the track, trying to overcome the overwhelming grief we feel and, at first, we really do expend a lot of energy simply trying to catch up with our emotions or trying to overcome them. It takes time and perseverance. We face the ghost rider again and again. However, winning the race is not the aim, though it seems so at first. Winning the race would mean eliminating our emotions and our pain, obliterating the ghost rider from our lives. The aim, the “bliss”, comes only once we are able to decide to stop before the finish line. Once we finally learn how to co-exist with the ghost rider.

    This process, I think, leads to the creation of something new out of something old. We change as we go through the circles and as we encounter the ghost rider each time anew. The transformation we ourselves endure, in this sense, is as important as the transformation the object endures. In my interpretation of the video clip, it is our transformations that lead to the object’s metamorphosis from something old to something new. Time seems to be a catalyst for this to occur. The decade when the Xbox sat in silence seems to symbolize this – the object could only become new once it was taken up again, after the changes the boy himself went through.

    The above, of course, is a limited interpretation of the experience of loss and it might not ring true to many of us. However, I hope it is a useful starting point in the discussion. πŸ™‚ Likewise, the transformation of an object does not need to initiate only in loss and does not need to relate to others. For example, reading an essay I wrote in freshman year of college is a surreal experience because of the changes I went through – both positive and negative ones. The person who wrote that essay – though it was once myself – is now a ghost rider.

    Finally, the video clip got me thinking about the ghosts we encounter in our lives, especially those of strangers. Here, I am thinking of books (traces of a bookmarks in random books in the library, comments in the margins or underlined paragraphs). What kind of significance to these ghost riders have on us (at least while we are reading the book in question)? Do they transform the book into something new, unknown even to its original author?

    *I think this video clip works very well with Clarinda’s previous piece on grief so take the time to read it if you haven’t yet.

  • Max Irvine May 5, 2016

    This is quite interesting. I believe when we lose something, an old thing, we find ourselves troubled and in pain. Except more often than not the loss of an old thing brings change whether it be thought or friendship or memory (this is the new thing). Sure the loss of that old item that may have been dear to your heart or quite unknown is devastating, but the change of losing the ordinary is what makes life unknown, exciting, and mysterious.

  • Charles Major May 7, 2016

    There is a beautiful message of being open to serendipitous goodness in our lives here. Another reaction to finding the racing ghosts might be to delete them and start fresh.

    Moments of grief can be wonderful times for finding those things. When we’re grieving, we’re raw and don’t have all our mental walls and filters up. But they can also be times that whatever walls still are up are that much stronger with our funny idea that we need them to be safe.

    Tying this back to your piece on loneliness, one of the best things we can do for friends who are grieving is to help them see these good things. And I think doing the “some anythings” is generally the best way to do it. Loud proclamations of how great things are when someone is grieving probably won’t help much. But giving them the support they need in whatever way you can gives them the chance to see them. And then, of course, to talk about those things as they come up.

  • Alicia May 8, 2016

    The passage of time is central in illustrating how old things become new in the video. Echoing some of Bilsana’s thoughts, the person we are shapes how we view or experience an object, person or a moment. Returning to the object or memories of it after some time has elapsed becomes a new encounter as we bring to the perception of it the person we have evolved to be.

  • IaR May 8, 2016

    I really love Bilsana’s idea that we can become our own ghosts (in reading old essays, letters, etc.).

    In the opening question, Clarinda mentioned the unusual genesis of this video. “Player Two” is a video based on an online comment on a video about video games. Perhaps the process which created this video illustrates that old things become new each time they are repeated. In this way, ooWARTHERAPYoo’s old comment, repeated by many thousands of YouTube commenters gave life to a new Youtube video. Similarly, the old Xbox becomes a new source of connection and inspiration for the protagonist in “Player Two.” And likewise with Bilsana’s old essays.

    Borges tells us the story of Pierre Menard, who spent years re-writing Don Quixote…although his text was identical to Cervantes’ word for word, Menard’s Quixote carried new depths of meaning since it was influenced by all the things that were influenced by the original.

  • Charles Major May 10, 2016

    IaR’s comment reminds me of the β€” I think shocking β€” fact that when we remember something, we’re not actually remembering the memory itself but rather recalling the last time we remembered it. In the Pixar film Inside Out, the emotions “touch” a memory and change its color. This is something like what happens: if we remember something with a different emotion involved, it will color future rememberings of it. Our whole past is a sort of “self-ghost” that continues to change through time β€” though we typically have the impression that memories are more or less immutable.

    If our identities are based in large part on our memories, then our notion of definitive identity is probably wrong. And that identity is just made up of ghosts anyway.

  • Nareg Seferian May 16, 2016

    Hello everyone. It’s nice to see such familiar names. πŸ™‚

    One’s old self constantly becoming one’s new(er) self… yes, I’ve definitely felt it. I sometimes wonder what I’d tell my, say, eighteen-year-old self. Probably a few not nice things, alongside some encouragement. Taking the individual is an especially interesting problem because our bodies are, first of all, made up of millions of other living individuals (besides playing host to millions more), and every moment our bodies change. Then our minds are never the same either, to say nothing of our emotions. I realise that this is an arbitrary separation of three categories. Even so, what remains the same? Why do we consider having a continuous sense of self in that case? A soul offers a convenient resolution to that mystery. But that concept can be slippery and unappealing.

    Another response might be that my eighteen-year-old self is not my “old” self at all. I am not now a “newer” self. In fact, if anything, I am “older” at 32, no? So, then, how do I recognise my rather obvious transformations? As a continuum perhaps, difficult to divide into discrete sections. There is such a thing as retrogression too, after all, if I may use that term, in case my transformations end up being returns to earlier states.

    How do old things become new? One response might be that they don’t, the way my thoughts in the above paragraphs have been running. They just continue being in a different way.

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