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Immerse yourself

It’s Saturday afternoon in a quiet corner of London’s most peaceful borough. All week now unseasonably hot sunshine has roared down to assault the pasty skin of the natives (well, the few Londoners who were actually born in England). Yesterday I picnicked in Regents Park by the lake, nibbling on homemade sausage rolls brought by the fine young English filly I’ve been seeing lately. Today both Dante and I have patches of sunburn and a lazy demeanour.

We are lying in garden hammocks under the horse chesnut trees. It won’t be long till all the conkers have fallen to the grass and we can begin the annual house conker competition. Dante is wearing a panama hat and making gin pahits. We’ve decided its 1935.

Recently I discovered a personal pattern in my hobbies to synchronise my media. Let’s imagine I’m reading a memoir of a South African mercenary, learning about life in the Liberian civil war. A good book is immersive and makes me want to experience more of the world the author is painting. What to do? Naturally I found a video game that closest represents the vibe (Far Cry 2) and listened to the music he casually mentions. Then I’ll dig around for movies of chaotic warzones in oppressively hot climate such as Apocalypse Now or Beast of War. This will often kick off a mini-cycle of interest until I’ve learned and felt alot more about this little corner of life. Then I move on.

Other examples:

  • Bioshock kicked off an art decor interest that had us listening to 1940s jazz, smoking cigars in dark lounges, reading old magazines and books such as Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead.
  • A few Hard Case Crime hardboiled novels switched me on to LA Noire, LA Confidential, and drinking neat whiskey in the middle of the day.

So right now Dantes is dipping into W. Somerset Maugham, an imperialist writer of the early 1900s who regals his audience with short stories of empire and the indolent, self-satisfied, interesting characters who always have an anecdote or two spare. Hence the panama hat and gin pahits. It’s sweltering hot now.

I fancy a game of billiards. Perhaps we’ll be bathed and dressed for seven, then a slap up meal at the Savoy and a rubber of bridge in Mayfair.

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3 responses

  1. CastleD

    I noticed on your book list you’ve read some hardboiled/noir books. Have you ever read any Raymond Chandler? It’s worth it for the writing. The Big Sleep, while having a plot that’s a bit convoluted, contains some of the best writing I’ve ever read. Plenty of amusing and inventive similes and metaphors, and the main character Philip Marlow is quite masculine in his dealings with women, although I did read it pre-manosphere so I don’t remember how well-depicted his game was with the dames.

    By the way, your own writing keeps getting better and better. I enjoy reading just about anything you write, even something about ‘jobbers’. [Thanks pal. I read all of the Chandler and Hammet books already. They are definitely the best of the genre. Chandler has the best snappy dialogue I've ever read. CC.]

    May 26, 2012 at 1:28 pm

  2. Hanoi Hilton

    Ha, I did the same type of immersion into the Vietnam war many years back when this game “Vietcong” came out…

    That was the most realistic Nam shooter ever made. Ever. The realism was mind numbing. Back then the graphics were top notch. The jungle had cristal clear nature sounds and really came alive. You didn’t know if there was an enemy standing behind the next tree. Or a booby trap. Suddenly the vietcong shoot their SKS rifles out from the woodwork and you just panic because you can’t see any enemy. It was that intense. On the base you had your own personal shack with a radio that played 60’s music while you were reading army manuals on screen. I even upped the realism 10x by tweaking the weapon sounds, making them ultra-realistic. Fun times.

    Best game I’ve ever played.

    May 26, 2012 at 9:38 pm

  3. The Victorian Imperialists certainly offer a unique perspective. I’d recommend Carlyle’s ‘The Latter-Day Pamphlets’ and J. A. Froude’s ‘The Bow of Ulysses: The English in the West Indies’. The former is a series of reactionary, royalist and imperialist political tracts written by a man reckoned by many to be one of English literature’s finest writers. The latter is a travelogue of a Victorian gentleman’s travels around the West Indies in the latter half of the 19th century. Both you can find for free on the internet.

    June 15, 2012 at 9:12 am

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