Finding Your Passion

I seem to be waning on the blog entry side of things. No excuses! Instead I’ll give a quick update on as many things as possible. First, the building work on our house continues apace. I can hardly believe that I have failed to document the entire process with pictures, but I’ll try to get some tonight. Of course, pretty much all there is to see now is a bunch of freshly painted walls looking extremely nice, but anyone who visited our place prior to the repairs should see the improvement. We’re both delighted with the quality of the work. They are clearly using very good quality materials and doing the hard stuff like the details as well as the more obvious stuff. They’re even repainting walls that didn’t need to be repaired at all so that everything matches exactly.

The weekend was quite relaxing. Lotte has been doing quite a few sleepover shifts lately while we save up for our trip, so Squigs and I had a couple of nights to ourselves towards the end of the week. I decided I needed to get a new game for the Xbox to while away those nights and went with a pre-loved copy of Medal of Honour: The Front Line on the recommendation of Thomas from Holland. Not a bad pick up for only $25 I thought, but I haven’t really had a chance to play for long yet. I’d like to try it in multiplayer mode but I doubt it would compare to BF 1942 (which rocks on the new iMac G5, by the way).

We went to lunch at Mum and Dad’s on Sunday. It was really great to see the famdamly and as a bonus Gran and Uncle Dave were there. Uncle Dave is the funniest uncle ever, I think, and he never fails to crack me up. It’s always fun to see Lotte’s reactions to his jokes because I know she’s thinking about the our particular family’s brand of humour. Anyway Lotte had to go to another sleepover shift and I had some time to kill before going to see the Cairo Club at Mayfields, so I went and saw an early evening showing of Star Wars III. The reviews are right. It sucks slightly less than the other two prequals. That’s about all I can say about it though. The lego version of the Star Wars characters are more human than these cardboard cut outs if you ask me. It’s just so disappointing. I’d vote for Ron Moore to remake the entire series if I could.

Speaking of which, I am really starting to miss Battlestar Galactica. I’ve tried to keep myself occupied by reading the Battlestar Blog (minus the spoilers) and watching the series again as it went to air. I even read Philip K. Dick’s The Simulacra, which I expected to be a good sci fi novel about human identity. It was not. It was a load of complete and utter drivel that I cannot believe is written by the same guy who came up with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which of course was adapted to become Blade Runner. I’ve read a few works now by Philip K. Dick, and some of them weren’t great, but none were as impressively ridiculous as this one. Does anyone out there have recommendations for better stuff by him? I’ll be interested to see the film version of A Skanner Darkly. It’s a pretty short story so I’m wondering how they’ll get a full feature movie out of it actually.

The plot summary of A Scanner Darkly says “Caustically funny, eerily accurate in its depiction of junkies, scam artists, and the walking brain-dead, Philip K. Dick’s industrial-grade stress test of identity is as unnerving as it is enthralling.” Yeah, maybe it’s eerily accurate because apparently one of my favourite sci fi authors was not unknown to illegal substances himself. That helps to explain why an awful lot of the character development in The Simulacra is along those lines. It’s not that it’s not accurately written, it’s just that it doesn’t seem to add much to the story. And there are so many little ideas that just don’t get followed up in the plot that it feels like a lot of things are happening but there just aren’t any real consequences. Even by the end I couldn’t really figure out who the main protagonists were let alone start feeling any kind of empathy for them. I’ve never gotten to the end of a novel before with the feeling like I hadn’t gotten to the main story yet. Maybe I’m just missing something. I’m sure I’ve just offended a lot of hard core sci fi fans, but maybe someone will explain why I’m wrong.

One thing that I must start writing more about here is the theme that seems to link a lot of my interests together: identity. I’ve noticed that this is the real area that interests me about my thesis, and the related themes about performance, constructing the self, subjectivity, and ontology are really just ways of investigating “the big issue” for me. Gameplay and educational issues like authenticity are definitely of less importance in terms of my interest. That’s weird I think because I’m an educational designer who loves games. I’ve mentioned that Blade Runner (whose main theme is human identity) is my favourite movie, and that BSG gets me for exactly the same reason. The same thing with Total Recall (another Philip K Dick remake as it happens). Clearly I’m not alone in finding this theme of identity compelling, but I do find it interesting to notice that my academic interests have come around to it as well. One of the things that Paul Gruba (co-author of Writing A Better Thesis) says is that you really need to take notice of where your passion lies. Well, I can’t write my thesis about Lindy Hop or cricket, so I guess this will have to do.

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