Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Other Side of Perception

Hello lovely subscribers. This is Salvic, bringing you another look into the minds of the past. I have a very nice treat for you this time, but as always, you will have to contain your enthusiasm long enough for our Q&A and a few announcements. First off, I would like to thank those of you that attempted my music challenge last time. The band was Incubus, and the song was called Privilege. The user Jaspendable was the first to give me the correct answer and a line from the song. You can expect the mental album to be available to you, probably by the time you read these words. Now, I had a question from the member Riots4Sale: “Dear Salvic, if you had to choose between being paralyzed or never being able to access the net again, which would it be and why?” Well... that is quite a question; so, I figured I’d give it a response. I would have to choose being paralyzed. For those of you that have been with me for awhile, you know that I grew up on the net and to me, if it was removed from my life, it would be as bad as losing a sense like sight or smell. Besides, as advanced as VR is becoming nowadays, I wouldn’t be surprised if within my lifetime, we were all hooked up to VR, lying in a bed being taken care of by machines in the first place. Why would I need to be able to move? It seems that UtopiaDreamer has left us yet another suggestion for next time. Unfortunately Utopia, I again will have to deny your request. Although the Twilight series is marginally better than your last suggestion, it still is not quite as old as I’m looking for. I am also looking for stories that will not take quite as much time to cover, (I’m a rather busy man) and I’m also looking for stories that have a bit more... let us call it literary merit. Again, as one of my most loyal fans that keeps submitting request after request, just to be turned down, I encourage you to keep submitting them. It seems as if you will do so no matter how many times I shrug off the recommendations. So, why not smile and encourage?

Okay, okay, I know that you are all antsy for the story that I reviewed in VR this time. I told you that it was a treat and man do I mean it. This trip takes us to a story called the “Yellow Wallpaper” written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and recommended to be my the user CelengylSword. Basically, the thing that caught my interest was the viewpoints that I could assume. I had two options, which is usually not very many, but I could be either the woman in the room, or the woman in the wallpaper. I looked up the story’s synopsis, and from what I can tell, the original story is about a woman that is struggling with a mental problem that her husband/doctor called a nervous depression and is spending the summer on vacation in a grand, aristocratic looking house. She has been confined to her room to rest and relax. Being there alone, she eventually goes crazy, believing that a woman is trapped behind the wallpaper and is trying to escape. Now... I have been through VR nodules looking through the eyes of inanimate objects or animals before, but never before have I gotten the opportunity to look through the eyes of one of the characters’ delusional fantasies. I thought that the journey would be an interesting one and so I chose that view, got my usual snack that I managed not to touch throughout the captivating nodule, and experienced an experience that I can safely say was a first. I chose to take the thought option as well, meaning that I would think and feel the emotions of the eyes I was looking through. I don’t know if I will do so again with such a twisted form of a story... It was quite real... too real.

It started out as a winter retreat. I was happy and content with my life. I had a husband; (odd when you are a heterosexual male, but I digress) I had friends and a loving family. My husband felt that he needed a vacation from his job as a mortician. He needed some time away because his narcolepsy was acting up. He would fall asleep anywhere and there was no sense waking him. Relaxation usually did him a world of good. When we got to the house that he bought the summer before for just this reason, I couldn’t help but think about what a dump it was. The house was rather small, very modern, but it was unfinished. It had almost no courtyard to speak of, and the room that I was going to be staying in had bare, wood-plank walls. Leaning against the wall in the corner next to the window were several rolls of wallpaper. Me being me, I was bored as could be in the tiny house secluded from the world. My husband suggested that I could put the wallpaper up if I got bored. He pointed out to me that he would likely just be in the way if he were to fall asleep while helping me, and we agreed that if I were to get bored enough, I would do it myself and find joy in it. I quickly got to that point and so unrolled the wallpaper to see a beautiful and organized design. Carefully, I started to put the wallpaper up, admiring the design of it as I went. The pattern was enticing, friendly and the yellow color was so warm. Immediately I felt a sense of joy just being around the paper.

The days came and went. When I would get bored, I would put up another section of wallpaper until finally, the job was done and I was left with nothing to do but admire my work. Gradually the pattern started to change. It was a subtle difference at the start, an entropy of some sort started to feather the once crisp edges of the design. I thought that I was just seeing things, but the more I studied the pattern, the more I was sure that it was changing. Here a piece would move, a crisp outline of a woman would morph into a melted sculpture overnight. Where I would see clear eyes before, blurry dots would stare back at me. I felt like the wall was melting around me and I was trapped, transfixed, my eyes glued to the mess that was being crafted from perfection.

For days on end I stared at it, watching something that I once loved become something that I neither understood, nor particularly liked. Gradually, a hatred started festering in my heart. The pattern that looked to me like a woman had become a hideous monster, reaching for me, daring me to step closer. I knew that it was just paper, and under it was nothing more than the remnants of a long dead tree turned into building material; but at the same time, I felt with every fiber of my being that the paper needed to be destroyed or else the thing inside would escape.

At this point readers, I was scared. Never before had I taken a thought option, but I felt that you guys (and gals) deserved a show. The character in this version of the story was terrified and so I, too, felt the same way. If I could describe the malevolence the paper had to you, I would; just know that it felt like everything wrong in the world rolled into a ball and put out for display.

One day, I had enough. I conquered my fear and the paper was going to be destroyed. Piece by stubborn piece I ripped it off the wall, discarding the evil that it was. The monster on the other side was trying to get to me but when I saw it coming, I would creep to another part of the room and start again there. I swear, I wore a groove in the wallpaper from my incessant creeping, but I had to stay away from the monster in the wall. Suddenly the monster was upon me, tearing at the paper from the other side; somehow... I fell through. Full of fear, I found myself kneeling there with a rope in my hand. I heard the door to the new room I was in burst open. My husband was standing there, looked at me, and fell to the ground asleep. I knew that if I did not keep creeping around the room, that the monster would find the hole that we fell into and follow me back through. I crept around and around, crawling over my husband every few minutes. He always was in the way.

Snapped back to reality in the sudden way that the current VR does (it seems like they could make the spiral down into reality a little less harsh, but what do I know?), I found my heartbeat racing and sweat soaking my shirt. The danger was so real; the monster was right there. I knew that I was in VR, I knew that nothing could actually hurt me; however, you find, even in the real world, that your mind is much stronger than reality. I went ahead and experienced the VR nodule with the emotions turned off, and I watched the original version. It really hit me how different the outlook was between the two characters when it came to the same wallpaper. What one person finds beautiful, another finds ugly. It really brings to light the fact that we are all unique in our tastes. It might be something to consider the next time that you want to criticize someone for the clothes that they wear, or the color sub-thermal that they decide to light that day. What makes you think that your opinion is any better than any other persons opinion? With that I will leave you with another song. If you are interested in the next mental album, go back and find the underlined letters again. I hope that you enjoyed this adventure, remember to consider the views of others as just as valid as your own. This has been Salvic Rodvic and I'm out.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Casting Stones

Hello all you lovey readers, it's Salvic here with a look into the minds of the past. Before I get into the story, (I know you are excited to hear about it, but you will have to wait) It's Q&A time. UtopiaDreamer had yet another request of me and asked me if I would consider doing a blog on the book series "50 Shades of Grey".... umm, to that I would have to say no. First of all, while it is somewhat old, for some reason that I still can't comprehend, our great-grandmothers all read it while they were in their youth. I like to look at older stories than that. In my personal opinion, that particular series of books is nothing more than written pornography that I would just prefer I was not exposed to in a virtual reality, or VR as I like to refer to it, setting. Secondly, I would like to keep this blog at least respectable... think of the children! I'm sorry that I can't really use your request, but keep sending them in; the laws of statistics say that I will be able to use one eventually. My second question (I only have time for two, sorry lovelies) is from Gertrude Ironfist... interesting name, strong name. "Dear Salvic, I'm in love with you, will you marry me?" Well... Mrs. Ironfist... I'll have to pass. Please take no offense; it would just be unfair to all my other admirers. I do hope you understand.

Now, I know that you have been waiting patiently for what story that I decided to cover but trust me, it was well worth your wait. For this week’s blog, we go back to 1948 to a small town setting. This story, "The Lottery," written by Shirley Jackson, was recommended by the user UncagedMage, and has a powerful underlying message that I feel everyone will benefit from hearing.

As usual, I checked my netmail, poured myself a glass of Drazzer Cola, and got comfortable for the ride. The nodule gave me several options of which set of eyes to watch through. I could be a child, the husband, the woman that has an unfortunate time... or a bird sitting on a tree nearby. I figured that the bird would have a better overall view of the people involved in the story, so that's the view that I chose. The story starts off with a summer day. I'm sitting in a tree in the middle of a small town square, enjoying the sun on my feathers. (It's odd having feathers, just so you know) People start trickling in and gathering together around the town center. The men are talking, the boys playing, the girls watching the boys and giggling. The wives join the group talking to one another, spreading gossip here and there, and then they go to their husbands. What struck me as odd at this point in the story is that it was the middle of the day. These people seemed to simply drop their jobs and lives and said "Hey, I think that I'm going to go to the town square for a meeting." How long has it been since that was the norm? In our current society, time is highly valued, and we better be getting paid a lot of credits in order to drop something else. To these people, it was just something that they did. They didn't need any other reason other than that it was the thing to do... kind of makes me want that particular aspect of society to come back. "Well boss, I'm going out to grab a bite to eat in the middle of this important meeting. It is just what we do. I'm so very glad that you understand..." I digress, so back to the story.

Suddenly an old man came to the square carrying a worn, black painted box. The box was placed on a stool and two men, one a boy really, came and held the box while the old man stirred something inside it up. A lady came to the meeting late and apologized exclaiming that she forgot what day it was. I heard hushed whispers, usually children asking parents why they used the black box, or if the lottery had always been done. A few questions were asked by the old man about people being absent and if they were, who would draw for them. Once that was settled, the old man started calling out the names of heads of the household. One by one, the man of the house (or in a few cases boy, or woman) stepped forward and hesitantly took a piece of what looked to be paper from the box. They were calling this meeting a lottery. Now, where I come from, winning the lottery would be a welcome thing indeed; however, these people seemed on edge, not wanting to draw a paper from the box. I wondered to myself... "What kind of lottery could this be?"

Somewhere in the middle of the picking papers, someone commented out loud that the village up north was talking about giving up the lottery. An old man retorted that young folk thought that nothing was ever good enough for them, and that the next thing they would know would be that the young folk would want them to go back to living in caves. He then went on to say that there had always been a lottery, and that and old saying said that if you had one, you would get a good harvest, and that if they did not have the lottery they would all end up eating chickweed and acorns. To me, this a classic example of elderly people not liking change and doing everything in their power to stop it from happening. (All you elderly people reading this, no offense intended... after all, you are obviously not afraid of change if you follow me.)

After the papers were picked, the old man running the show told everyone to look at the papers. Everyone waited bated breath as the men opened the papers. The the wives immediately started asking who got it. A man named Bill seemed to get what they were looking for, and his wife immediately started complaining that he didn't have the proper amount of time to choose. I'll admit, at this point, I do not have a clue what the "Prize" is. I assume that it's some sort of tax, or chore that the town will have them do. Judging from her reaction, I suspected that the man might have to go to war, or the wife would have to cook and clean up after the whole town for the rest of the year... boy was I surprised when I found out, and like me, you will have to wait to know yourself.

Papers were placed back in the box and it was mixed back up again. One for each member of the family it seemed. The wife was still complaining and her husband said to shut up. In modern times, saying shut up is not that big a deal, but back then, from what I have read, it was. This must have been a tense time for them for him to tell her to shut up in public like that. One by one, the wife complaining throughout the whole process, each member of the family save the youngest son (the father helped him) picked a paper out of the box. One by one, the family opened the slips. The wife wouldn't show the crowd hers. By process of elimination, it was known that she won the lottery and the organizer made her husband show the crowd. She again claimed that it wasn't fair as the crowd surrounded her and started pelting her with rocks. They needed to conclude the lottery quickly so that they wouldn't miss lunch. The town didn't seem to care that the woman didn't find her fortune particularly lucky.

Now if you are anything like me, you consider the story barbaric. Tell me this, my lovely subscribers: Can you honestly tell me that you have never done anything solely because of tradition? The people in this story didn't know why the lottery happened but largely followed along out of habit and tradition. Come on... you know you do it. How many of you have kissed your loved one into the new year? How many of you say "bless you" when someone sneezes? Just like those things that we have been brought up to do out of habit, these people held a tradition that, while brutal and senseless to our modern day minds, was simply what was expected in their culture. Before you throw the first metaphorical stone at the stone-throwing characters in this story, let me suggest to you that you evaluate your lives and see all the stones you yourself have been throwing. Do you make fun of someone just because everyone else does, because it has become a tradition to your circle of friends? Do you say or do things simply to fit in with what everyone else expects? Is there anything else that you do, yet have no recollection of why you do them? These things are for you to dwell on, not to tell me about. What I would like you to tell me about is some old literature, that has been made into a VR nodule, that you would like to hear my insight on. Any other questions are welcome as well, and don't forget to tell your friends about me. Be sure to like and subscribe if you haven't already. Also, I decided to try something new this week. many of you know that I am fond of old music, mostly rock and alternative. I think that it's a travesty that many people don't know these great songs that I love. In the blog post is a name of a band and the song that I want you to listen to. Just look for the bolded and underlined letters, look up the song, listen to it, and write me a line of lyrics from it. I'll give the first person to correctly post me a line of lyrics from that song, a mental encryption of the album it came from. This has been Salvic Rodvic and I'm out.