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Monthly Archives: January 2007

Today I did something that I didn’t see myself ever doing: I left FMGamer a website that I’ve been involved with for almost the last five years. I did it very much on the spur of the moment pushed by a feeling of futility. It’s an odd thing to get upset about, but I was very involved in both the actual and the abstract that was FMGamer, and I’m going to sorely miss the place and the people that made it such a wonderful place to spend my time.

I left without giving much reason to those that inhabit the forums, and I don’t want to get involved in explaining myself to them either. However I do believe its important for my own purposes to remind myself why I left and what exactly I left behind. There is always going to be the temptation to go back and to try and match myself against the problems that face it again in the hope that I can triumph over the adversity that it represents. I’ve included below the edited text of my resignation letter to the forum staff, as a warning to myself and as something that I have to remember for my own sake.

Perhaps a little ironically, it is looking currently that my departure will act as a catalyst that might start a slight retrenchment if not a revival of the site, with an attempt to make it better at doing the limited things that it is doing rather the continuing its pretence of being a large sprawling megalith of the FM scene. I’m struck by the irony that perhaps as much as I care for FMGamer, leaving it could be the best thing that I could have done for it, by giving others the necessary prod that made them realise change was needed. If that really is to be the status of my last contribution, albeit indirectly to FMG, I could not be happier.

Leaving FMGamer

The main page is clearly dead, and that has always been my real association with FMGamer. I do not see it being bought back, and I do not see any enthusiasm for it being resurrected. While I would love to see it be bought back, I am not capable of doing that by myself, and the presence of even one more person actually dedicated to the main page would have made all the difference I feel. This is to be profoundly regretted, tinged with a certain inescapable certainty. If that is to be definitively the situation then all that is left of FMG is to be found in this forum.

I do not feel able to be involved in the forum on a continuing basis. There are two reasons for this. Firstly I have always been socially and culturally disconnected from the forum, which I believe is rather obvious to all our staff. This has been increasing ever more as I spend long periods away from the forums, post for a few days and then disappear again. The second is that ever since Worley was banned, there have been no threads on the forum, especially in the off topic that I enjoy and look forward to in anticipation. These tend to be threads that are more political/historical/philosophical then the current threads, a genre which seems unlikely to appear again on FMG. I took the unprecedented step last night of reading every thread on the front page of The Pub and also of the FM 07 forums and I was hard pressed to find one thread that I felt interested in contributing to in anything but a cynical manner.

I do not know most of the new members, and have no inclination to do so. I do not believe the standard is what it used to be or that FMG is as fun as it was before in the days before the merger. I see no sign of there being what I would consider a positive change to this in the foreseeable next 12-18 months. This makes me doubly unsuited to be an admin any longer. I no longer have any hope for FMGamer as a site or as a forum.

Other reasons have played their part. Although I am playing FM again, I no longer feel motivated to contribute to an FM site without any reward either in acknowledgement or otherwise, and I don’t feel my contribution which is predominantly behind the scenes is either necessary or appreciated. On a personal level I do not believe in retaining titles that do not match my current effort so am not inclined to join the absenteeism that is in vogue at the moment. I am not doing anything worth an adminship, and so it seems redundant to retain one. As was recently said to me, sentiment, nostalgia and inertia can be powerful things, but I do not believe they are good reasons to retain my official involvement with FMG. I have been involved with the site since late 2002, through brilliant highs and incredible lows, but I have come to accept that those are largely for me a thing of the past.

I want to take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge my continued indebtedness to MJS and Tom for taking that chance on a unknown who wrote long and overly complex articles that in all likelihood they knew no one would read, and for letting me be involved in a site that has been a wonderful place for so many years to dedicate my free time. I want to thank all the staff for your hard work for no pay and no pension. You have all made my time here far more rewarding then I could have ever anticipated it being.

My media consumption runs in cycles, to have peaks and troughs and swings in a bi-polar way between different types of entertainment. This weekend represents one of these fluctuations so there is no better time to put it to paper.

There is a baseline for all my entertainment needs, and that baseline is the book. I’ve blogged before I believe on how central books are to my life, and how difficult it would be for me to live without the respite that well crafted words can offer me. Their strength is their call to the imagination, words that conjure images in the mind, require no simulacra to be placed before you, no words to be said, no pictures to be drawn; secure in the knowledge that human the being is self-sufficient in these respects, that he can create those experiences by himself and then interact with them.

But I don’t want to talk about the baseline. In addition to books and sports, starting from University I have developed an appetite for more visual, visceral and tangible entertainment. This desire flips between movies and TV, on a knowable if unpredictable frequency.

For the last six to eight months I have been in the TV mode. Movies are almost forbidden in the TV mode, but they do play a peripheral role in what I would prefer to do. Movies will be only seen in the Cinema and usually as a social outlet rather then out of personal desire. TV shows on the other hand are tracked down almost religiously, and I’ll watch seasons of shows that I enjoy repeatedly and more often then not watch whole seasons in a day to sate my mind. It is a desire for comfort, the same characters in slightly different situations doing approximately the same things. That doesn’t mean that I don’t get as involved or am immune from anger at the TV shows, it’s not watching with some sort of passive detachment at all. James will be glad to recollect to you how I used to shout at the characters in Battlestar Galactica, and would recount to him my sheer frustration of how stupidly and illogically they had acted in a situation.

The other mode is the precise inverse, and it is that which I’ve flipped into from the start of this weekend. It is focused on movies, with the desire really for longer initial, less complex stories and perhaps more forgettable experiences with less long term commitment and repeated viewings. TV becomes very optional in the Movies mode, it sounds like a nice idea, and I might download my shows with the notion of getting around to watching them at some later point, but that may or may not happen and it is likely to happen when the Movies phase ends. To give you an example of how drastic the flip has been, this weekend along I have watched 5 movies, and I’m probably likely to watch 6 before the close of play today, since I write this just after 6 on the Sunday. Now I don’t want you to think that I’m sitting here watching Citizen Kane or some other classic deeply symbolic and nuanced work of cinematic art. I’m watching average mainstream cinema, most of it in the brain firmly in the off position category. Movies like Crank and Dead or Alive. And I’m thoroughly enjoying it, which wouldn’t be comprehensible in the TV phase, where things should to be meaningful, complex and nuanced.

I don’t have a clue why this happens, or what it means at any deep psychological level or even at any normal television watching level. My actions are still the same. I sit in front of my laptop, put on my headphones and watch the pretty pictures on the screen go by, and listen to the words that the nice men and women are saying. As entertainment goes, most people take TV and Movies to be very similar if not homogeneous. They’re roughly the same thing, but for me they have this kind of crystal clear bifurcation between them that doesn’t allow me to let them coexist together peaceably in my viewing habits. It is odd, but that’s the way it is.

Poised over the keyboard with more random thoughts to commit to paper then I have the structure to hang them together or the wit to wind them together in a shape that I could pass off to the unsuspecting reader as worthy of their most precarious commodity it’s perhaps time to make another post.

A thought that I found interesting, and really what other criteria can I have for mention here, is that friendships for me have an interesting pattern. I find, and perhaps this is more common then I believed (or that Simon was simply being nice, which I don’t rule out entirely), that the more free flowing the friendship, the more open it is, the greater the reciprocal trade in insults.

I don’t mean serious ripping meat of the bone insults, words designed to hurt and to leap deep scars, because who knows better where to aim then those who are privy to the targets weaknesses, but a more casual form of what I guess is really called banter: casual name calling, making dumb jokes at their expense, poking fun at their idiosyncrasies and laughing at their foibles. All secure in the knowledge that actually its okay, that there’s no bite here, no meaning behind sharp words, its all a bit of meaningful if harmless fun. We do it because we know that the other won’t take offence, and in a way we create a bond, our own set of in jokes and rituals that can bind a friendship through giving it its own esoteric rites.

Of course this is not a universal, there are those that we dare not mock, that we cannot take the risk of saying the wrong thing because either the relationship is not secure enough or you get the impression that the person is too fragile or too serious to take the brunt of even the glib and unmeaning tongue. Or that your friendship is found on such a serious plateau that somewhere somehow there was no room made for comedy. So perhaps its not all definitive as that, but there is certainly a class of people that I find are in the insulted class, and they’re the best people out there: the most fun, the lighthearted, the quick witted and the happy.

Isn’t it interesting, almost rather perverse, that the closer we get to people, and the better we get to know them, that the amount of mockery and insults increase rather then decrease? And that it seems symptomatic of a healthy relationship is a juxtaposition that I truly love.

Its a new year, a new beggining, a fresh start, all that crap. Congratulations if you care, and if you don’t then congratulations on having a bit of perspective. As you may well imagine, I shall continue the year where I left off the old one, in the best of bah humbug spirits.

People who celebrate dates perpelex me. How can you meaningfully celebrate the date on the calender? What exactly is it that you are so thrilled about? That tomorrow when you write a check to pay the bills that you needed to pay last year, you get to scribble a different digit in the top left corner? I’m pretty sure that new years don’t come packaged with any thereupatic or life altering qualities, the same people will be at work after the holidays, the same distractions will follow you at home and the same classes will be present, stuffed with the same people all having the same tedious experience that you are. Dates don’t mean anything. My contempt of birthdays, my blase attitude to aniverseries and generally anything that marks the beggining or the end of a period of time seem to be the most meaningless of celebrations.I know that this is not the case for the majority of people, I know many people who have a high regard for birthdays and hold high regard for the passing of time and its marking up on the calender.

I think what it boils down to is people lead such awful and wayward lives, so full of difficulty and challenge that they will grasp at any excuse to celebrate, any pretense by which they can abandon the carefully constructed facades of appearances that they need to wear everyday and actually feel the exhilaration of living life. The days people go through are so bland, so featureless and so routine that you need these calender events, even if they mean nothing, especially perhaps cause they mean nothing, so that you can create an experience that can make life endurable again.

I think if you’re going to celebrate things, you need to celebrate things that matter. To not do so demeans both celebration and the things you celebrate. Celebrate life while you’re living it, celebrate achievements as they happen, mark out great things when they occur and spend your time and effort with regard to them. Don’t mark out the pointless and mundane, the changing of calender pages and the greying of hairs. Those are inevitable and represent no change, no improvement, no height worthy of exhiliration and celebration. Why waste time on them?