Videogames and Sociology: Twitter's pic of the day summary (41-45)

This is the ninth round of Pic of the day RECAP (41-45). To understand what all of this is about, check out the original entry.

41 - Max Payne 3:  There was always something rotten in the air
In one of the most wonderfully unsettling scenes in the history of TV series, an aged agent Cooper sits in the centre of the Red Room accompanied by The Man from Another Place (a dwarf in a red suit) and a ghostly Laura Palmer. Actually, it's not the most unnerving sequence of Twin Peaks, but in that weird dream-like state takes place a very chilling short conversation: "Where we're from, the birds sing a pretty song and there's always music in the air". Is this a metaphor of the fact that Laura Palmer lies in her grave? Are the birds the ones singing in the cemetery? Is the music in the air the cracking sound of the casket slowly collapsing under the weight of soil? When an also aged Max Payne pronounced those similar words, "there is always something rotten in the air", everything became crystalline. "Of course," I thought, "there are always music and something rotten in the air because we all are living in our own grave". And that grave is society.

42 - Moebius: Empire Rising:  What exactly is my destiny?

Destiny is about the future. What will I be doing? With whom?  Where? In sum, who I will be? Destiny is fate, ergo, it belongs to the realm of what remains uncertain. And uncertainty is a powerful emotion. It makes us anxious, restless, frightened. That's the reason why we keep asking the question to ourselves, even if we do it out loud in front of one of our peers. The question is aimed at us and we already know we can't answer it. But we keep trying, in the fond hope that its reverberation echoes through our daily life anxieties and helps us to overcome the deep feel of uncertainty that once was shallow but now is almost unbearable. What has this to do with sociology? Almost everything. A sociologist is, among other things but mainly, a tracker of destinies. The problem is we are better tracking actors' past and present destinies than the future ones. The real destinies are for fortune-tellers, prophets, groundhogs, meteorologists, peasants and, sometimes, for deputy directors and ministers for pensions.   

43 - Arma III:  Keep landing zone clear at all times

There are several reasons why we should keep a landing zone clear at all times. The main reason, though, seems to be pretty obvious: to avoid uncomfortable encounters between aircraft and whatever might be on the landing zone. However, the command falls into a paradox. If the landing zone must be clear at all times, how are aeroplanes and helicopters supposed to land on the designated area? In case they touched down, they would be occupying the landing zone and, here's the paradox, it wouldn't be clear anymore. Therefore, the landing zone is both a physical space where aircraft land and a symbolic one where there is the possibility of aircraft landing. When an actual plane lands, it uses the physical space, fulfilling (and destroying temporarily) the potentiality of the symbolic space. The social is quite similar, physical and symbolic at the same time, and full of paradoxes that sustain the fundamental fabric of what we call society, identity, meaning or individuality. Hence, keep the ground of the social clear at all times but don't forget to always occupy it as well.

44 - Catachresis: If only you were not under that veil

If only you were not under that veil. If only you were not so far away. In only you were not underground. If only you were not on the other side. If only you were not occupied. If only you were not afraid. If only you were not married. If only you were not a policeman. If only you were not dead. If only you were not saying if only at all times. All these are wishes that yearn for a particular reality to be different. They all have in common that are enunciated using a negative structure, wishing that things were not as they are right now. This reminds me of all those sociologists who are always projecting their wishes over reality, trying to get rid of those aspects they interpret as being a nuisance for their work. The most common metaphor used is that of the veil. These sociologists insist on unveiling what is behind the mask, erasing the layer that distorts the truth hidden by reality. It is surprising how these scholars haven't found yet that there is nothing beneath the veil; that reality is wide open and available to whomever wants to have a look.

45 - Injustice: God Among Us:  But Let's think bigger
There is a global tendency in the circles of self-help gurus that encourage us to think always bigger. We live our meaningless and aimless lives without knowing that we could (and should) think bigger. Escape from one of Weber's worst fears, the iron cage in which we are confined nowadays. It might not be the Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmare that he envisaged in his The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (2003), too far to foresee the havoc created by financial capitalism and its neoliberal political rationalities, but it is still a symbolic prison, in the end, the worst kind of jail for an individual. Then, we think bigger, but after doing so, we are still inside the cage. What did we do wrong? Well, just focusing on the bigger picture is not enough. Sometimes it's good to think bigger; we must know the things that surround us can only be explained by other things that are somewhere else both in space and time. However, we should also think smaller: the iron cage exit is not beyond its bars, it's closer than we think, in the details. Those details that explain and make possible those big ideas. Once you master how to think bigger and smaller at the same time, only then, you will be free.

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