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Saturday 18 July 2015

10th Anniversary Classic Rant: "I was a Teenaged Proto-Swine"

Ah To be Young and Stupid...
or "I was a Teenage Proto-Swine"

You know, a few years back I had a grand old time mocking my little brother (who is ten years younger than I am). He had gotten into that late-teenager stage of thinking that he was a "revolutionary"; getting big-time into punk, and criticizing the "fakers" out there who listened to pre-fab punk bands. Of course, his definition of punk itself left a lot to be desired.

He actually stated at some point a boisterous claim about being the "real thing".
My answer was: "Dude, you live in the basement suite of your parent's 7-bedroom house in the nicest suburb in town. But yea, sure, you're "revolutionary"".

But anytime any of us are tempted to be too hard on the youth, we have to remember that we ourselves were young and stupid at some point too; we were convinced at some point that we had all the answers, and that we were the "real thing" and we all desperately wanted to be avant-garde.

And yes, I too had my moments.

When I was in my mid-teens I listened to The Band's seminal self-titled album for the first time. At that time all I could hear, because I did not truly have the maturity of ears with which to discern greatness, was a bunch of "dumb country-rock" played by some bearded fat guys. I certainly couldn't get that The Band's music was a response to rock's drifting into ever more abstract and disconnected psychedelia, or that in simplicity you can find profundity of theme.
At that time, I cast The Band aside, and thought that this sort of music was vastly inferior to the truly great and avant garde music of my age, like The Cure, The Smiths, the Blue Aeroplanes, or even more "mainstream" but clearly revolutionary musicians like Guns N'Roses. Certainly, the "cutting edge" was this: the boys who wore makeup and sang about killing themselves, or even the long haired screeching guy. Definitely they were more "revolutionary" than the fat bearded guys that sounded like they were from Wisconsin or something.

What can I say? I was an idiot.

If you've noticed my preference of bands, you'll note I was also quite the little proto-swine. But of course, I grew up. I realized that those musicians were really not all that radical, and while I still enjoy listening to the Cure from time to time, or get sentimental for my youth when I hear "Sweet Child of Mine" in a bar, I realize now that those songs appealed to me because they are made to appeal to the gross, unrefined emotional content of the young.
And hey, there's nothing wrong with that!
The problem is if you start to think that what you're hearing is "revolutionary", and that you are revolutionary for being a "part" of it. When you clearly lack the discernment to recognize the difference between really significant things and utterly insignificant things, and lack the discretion to shut up about it.

And even all of this is to be forgiven, but only in the young.

After a certain point in life, if a person hasn't matured past this kind of idiocy, you must accept that you're dealing with super-annuated emotional infants; who's brutal lack of perspective is really indicative of an utter failure to grow the fuck up.

So I'm kind of praying that Joshua Newman is, like, 15 years old. Then he can be forgiven. Then he isn't just an emotional retard for really and straight-facedly comparing the Forge to the Beat poets of the 1950s

I mean, if my then-16 year old little brother were to have suggested that Ron Edwards is an "artist" like Ginsburg; and seriously, honestly believed that 30 years from now people would be reading Sorcerer or My Life With Master the way people today regard Howl or Naked Lunch or On The Road; I could laugh at his face, called him an ignorant little fucktard, and then forgive him. Because, after all, he's 16. He has no sense of perspective. He doesn't understand the crucial difference between a bunch of guys who really did something utterly radical and risked everything falling out of a system they despised to produce works of genius, and a gang of cretins on the internet over-intellectualizing roleplaying games. That's just the kind of stupid shitheaded foolishness a 16 year old is prone to get up to; and I know eventually he'll grow out of it; like I did.

My brother eventually did too, by the way. He's a cool guy now that he's older. Just about the only member of my family I truly get along with.

But somehow, I'm guessing Joshua isn't 16. The train to "growing out of it" has long since left the station for him, I suspect; and I know it has for most of the others who seriously believe the unabashedly pretentious and utterly shit-splittingly moronic assertion that "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".

Yea, ok, cutting edge, suuure. Right, because of course Dogs in the Vinyard is something utterly radical. A gang of dumbfucks telling each other stories is something that clearly no one has ever conceived of doing, and its certainly not the same shit that we collectively as a species has been doing for, oh, say the last two hundred thousand fucking years. Fuckwit.

Listen here. You are NOT radical. You are NOT cutting edge. You are definitely not "opening fresh wounds in the hide of the mediocrity that sells itself to us, that would purport to sell us meaning". No one gives a fuck about you. Ron Edwards isn't Lou Reed just because he went to Berlin. You only think that your poorly-conceived poorly-executed RPGs are "psychedelic" because you utterly fail as a human being when it comes to scope and depth of experience.

"Psychedelic" is taking four hits of acid at a drop and watching Yellow Submarine, or consuming a good sized bag of magic mushrooms and running mad through the woods. Try it sometime, and then at least you'll understand the real meaning of that word.
What you guys are doing is just taking a perfectly good and natural human practice, storytelling, and mixing it up with a perfectly fun and exciting hobby (RPGs), and utterly fucking both of them up. Fucking up the storytelling by imposing totally unnecessary structure on it, and fucking up the RPGs by trying to make them into something they're not and were never meant to be.

"Opening fresh wounds in the hide of mediocrity" is what dudes like Alan Moore do; or Hunter Thompson, or The Band. Its not what some dudes on an internet forum about RPGs do. You see, to open fresh wounds in anyone's mediocrity, you'd have to do enough for society in general to give a fuck about you, and you'd have to do something a bit more radical than writing a roleplaying game where you're only allowed to play milkmaids and the players get to flip coins to decide who gets to boss the GM around.

Not to mention, that the guys who really open the wounds in mediocrity, like all those mentioned above, are the ones who go against the grain of the "fashionable"; who's work is a criticism of what is considered the "avant garde" of the time.

You guys are just the fake artist├ęs of gaming. And I mean, of fucking gaming. That's not Ginsbergian, that's so fucking pathetic that there isn't even an Alan Moore or a Hunter Thompson to pop the balloon in your avant gard bullshit. You guys aren't Lou Reed; you're the 14 year old who listens to his uncle's copy of a Velvet Underground album and thinks he's the "first person EVER" to really understand how incredible the Velvet are, and thinks that makes him a very special person for realizing this great secret. Then he rushes off to write bad poetry about drugs he's never tried, and masturbates.

Which is fine, because that's what 14 year olds do. None of us were cool at 14, even though most of us were convinced we were (and a few of us may have revised our own mental history to try to still believe we were). None of us were "radicals", even though we were sure we were the "cutting edge".
But when a supposed adult doesn't show the capacity or the will to go beyond that phase that should be left behind with pimples and ridiculous pants, then they really just become pathetic.

Oh yea, one more thing: You know who can even come close to saying they were on the fucking "Cutting Edge"? The ONLY guys who could say it in the RPG industry? Gygax, Arneson and company.
They're the only guys who actually did something new and functional, invented something that was a true work of genius, and not derivative. Yea, them, the fat bearded old guys you mock, whose creative capacity utterly dwarfs you. 
There have been other smart RPG designers since them (Erick Wujcik, against whom the entire Forge crowd are like ants compared to a lion; or Jonathan Tweet, who has more creative capacity in his little finger than Edwards, Baker, Nixon and co put together), but the ONLY motherfuckers who can claim to have been "revolutionary", as in, created something truly original that changed everything and that people gave a shit about, were the bearded fatboys from Wisconsin.

So suck that up, dipshit.


Currently Smoking: Mastro de Paja Rhodesian + Image Perique

(Originally posted July 27, 2006)


  1. If The Forge were a music scene, what music scene would they be? 80s Goth? Greebo? (I see Ned's Atomic Dustbin are on tour again)

    1. They wouldn't be any kind of music. They'd be the 14 year old fucking wankers who imagine they're 'deep' because they just heard "tomorrow never knows" for the first time and think they understand it in a way no one else ever has.

      To compare the forge to anything other than that would be to give them too much credit.

  2. I think that comparing gaming to literature (or music scene, for that matter) is a rather bad idea in itself, but once you get locked into drawing this kind of comparison, there's nothing specifically wrong with mapping Edwards to Ginsberg, or whoever else.

    There maybe different opinions on what cutting edge means, but there's no doubt that Edwards is doing some new and awesome things with gaming that noone has ever done before, while so many folks out there are simply expoiting the legacy of "Gygax, Arneson and Company" (whether they give due credits to the latter or pose as revolutionaries).

    1. "Awesome things with gaming" like writing pseudointellectual articles pooh-poohing games with which he has on the barest of familiarity or subjecting folks to his boring "theories" that make it appear he doesn't actually like RPGs at all? Innovative!

    2. The Forge styled themselves as Punk, but they're not the rock'n'roll of The Ramones or The Clash. They're the pretentious music writing about punk in the NME by the likes of Julie Burchill and Paul Morley.

    3. Lately, the only "awesome thing" Edwards has been trying to do is to take credit for the OSR. So in other words, the only one "exploiting the legacy of Gygax" around here is Ron Edwards, after having spent a DECADE SHITTING ON IT.

    4. Well of course that's what you do when your original position gets you nowhere. Just like politics!

    5. @RPGPundit: You are talking nonsense. Last year Ron Published "The Circle of Hands", which is fucking awesome. As for "taking credits for OSR" and "shitting on the legacy of Gygax", oh man, the sheer idiocy of your claims has been exposed and explained to you so many times, that I give up. You are a sensible person in other writings of yours, just why do you lose all reason when the name of Edwards comes up?


      This is supposed to be awesome? I have to assume you must be kidding.

    7. The game is not supposed to be awesome, it simply is.

    8. Now I KNOW you're a joker.