Archive for April, 2011

I have yet to speak of one of my most profound interests: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP for short). You might say it’s been a non-subject for conversation, an irrational sense that drained me of the interest of mentioning it here. No longer, for tonight the taboo is lifted!

For my birthday, I decided to purchase for myself a used copy of the core rules for the first edition of WFRP. The hardbound version, before they came out with the paperback version with the handful of edits and corrections.

The copy I received was in terrible condition: spine shot, taped together, with edges worn gray. The character sheet page was missing, and somebody’s name and phone number were penciled in on the inside of the front cover.

However, the rest of the pages were in good condition—of a stiffer paper than the paperback copy I have, and smelling of that old sensation I remember when poring over the copy I once possessed. To hold in my hands this version was to take me back to a moment in my life where I once was fully immersed in the explorations my passion for this game would take me.

I was also reminded of the terrible time I was forced to sell my hardbound copy to Powell’s bookstore to have enough food to eat that day. To relinquish this tome and many others for a handful of dollars so I wouldn’t starve. In the years to come this would be the selling of my heart that would trouble me the most: The book that began my most important journey.

I had no way of knowing an internet would appear that would allow me to gain a copy for printout through the download network if I wished. That a seller’s market would manifest in which one might see and resume contact with all the lost pleasantries of a thousand young dreams, and if necessary, claim a physical object to meditate upon.

Here it is then, in my hands once again, healing a self-inflicted wound. Who is to say this is not the very same volume I once owned? For you see, it was sent to me from a bookstore in Oregon, the state of mind where I left behind a piece of myself. There are times when even selling pieces of yourself is not enough to keep eating. You must flee into the forest and go mad to find nourishment.

I open the page containing the “Wizard’s Apprentice” beginning career, with it’s typos in magic points and incorrect advance scheme. The errors confused me back when I first read them; when they were corrected in the paperback version I was relieved.

Now I find myself looking at the 204 magic points (instead of the correct 2d4 or 2-8) and the +1 Wounds/+10 Dexterity advance scheme (missing the additional +10 Intelligence and +10 Willpower) with a new set of eyes. The typos are meaningful to me; they speak to my innermost being of what I didn’t understand.

Subsisting only on my resistance to damage and the work of my hands, but born with an accident of energy.

This time, I hold the rules tome in my hands and I get the message.

The recent nuclear catastrophe unfolding in Japan right now brings me back to the time of the Japanese ghosts crying out to me. This comes at a moment when I am releasing myself of grieving for another dear friend.

I recently watched an old sixties movie called Crack In The World, a film I’d seen as a very young child and then later as a college punk. A dying scientist tries to tap the molten interior of earth to create a source of energy and minerals for industrial purposes, under the guise of “helping humanity”. Instead, he initiates a rapidly spreading crack in the crust of the earth that threatens to split the planet in two.

It strikes me as prophetic how movies such as this one, or Godzilla, warned us decades ago of the dangers of striving for Atlantean power beyond our wisdom as a species to use. Do the scientists who are possessed by satanic rationalism, or the government figures that puppet dance the industrial aristocracy’s interests ever get the message?

Long presaged in our dreams and made manifest in a work of cinema to show us the intention of the unconscious in response to the mindless savagery of our owners. A behemoth from the depths or perhaps the earth-shaking birth of a second moon grant us a glimpse of the suffering yet to rise from the depths of our own ignorance.

It’s all a moot point now. The industrial age is coming to an end and there’s not enough uranium or money to keep the madness going any longer. As the whole farce decays into rust, the big question is how many more accidents, how much more contamination before the nuclear energy dead-end goes the way of the Betamax?

The movies were right. Add a dose of humor, the enthusiasm of a child, or heroic sacrifice on the side of life and we might survive ourselves long enough for the super-predator to let us live to die another day. Maybe the point of it all was not to succeed, but to get to the next rest stop by doing whatever it took to keep on holding on.

Disasters force us to look at ourselves honestly, require that we confront the shadows we have pretended live in others. As I burn a stick of incense and say a prayer of grace for my departed friend Yoshie Izumi, I also look my own gruesome shadow in the eye with compassion.

Thank the living spirit for my stupidity! There may yet be hope.