A Defence of Cyclical Discourse

It’s hard for snakes who eat their own tails to get a fair break nowadays…

The Ouroboros is a symbol that is said to date back to ancient Egypt but it also appears — spontaneously it would appear — in a number of other cultures scattered across the globe. Nowadays, we tend to view it as a representation of cannibalistic futility. Of something that tries to consume in order to stay alive only for that thing to wind up consuming itself. However, this is not the only way of interpreting the symbol.

While we tend to view the snake as a thing that consumes, it is important to remember that the snake is eternal and so its consumption must be (at some point) counter-balanced by creation. Carl Jung recognised this when he adopted Ouroboros as one of his archetypes:

The Ouroboros has been said to have a meaning of infinity or wholeness. In the age-old image of the Ouroboros lies the thought of devouring oneself and turning oneself into a circulatory process, for it was clear to the more astute alchemists that the prima materia of the art was man himself. The Ouroboros is a dramatic symbol for the integration and assimilation of the opposite, i.e. of the shadow. This ‘feed-back’ process is at the same time a symbol of immortality, since it is said of the Ouroboros that he slays himself and brings himself to life, fertilizes himself and gives birth to himself. He symbolizes the One, who proceeds from the clash of opposites.

People tend to reach for Ouroboros whenever they want to stress the absolute futility of discourse and the endless cycles of re-litigation and re-iteration that comprise cultural debate. This is particularly true whenever you think about discourse relating to things like horror or RPGs: What is the point of endlessly rehashing old arguments? You’re never going to convince anyone or anything!

This may be true, but what if cyclical discourse arrising from irreconcilable differences was productive? What if it was itself apart of the creative process? What if the act of creation is born of destruction?

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INSPO: Girl Life

INSPO is a series of posts about non-horror topics that could nonetheless be used as inspiration for a horror game. The rest of the series can be found here.

When I started this blog, I promised myself that I would not hold back. I would not fold myself into a nice little online niche, and I would not refrain from exploring the ideas that I thought deserved exploration.

With this principle in mind, I have decided to stick my head above the parapet and write about pornography.

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Some Additional Thoughts about Nephilim

A little while ago, I wrote a piece about how Nephilim – the game whose commercial failure is responsible for Chaosium no longer developing new games – is my all-time favourite RPG.

I wasn’t planning on writing anything else about Nephilim as I’m not currently playing it but then I happened to listen to a podcast that changed the way I thought about investigation-based RPGs.

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FR: The Battersea Poltergeist

For Real is an occasional series about scary or horrific culture that presents itself as non-fiction. This might include the paranormal as well as true crime and odd occurrences. The rest of the series can be found here.

Ghosts are real, regardless of whether or not they exist.

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REVIEW: Empire of Imagination by Michael Witwer

At some point, someone is going to publish a history of Dungeons & Dragons that does not simply stop at the point when E. Gary Gygax was forced out of TSR. At some point, someone is going to write a history of Dungeons & Dragons that engages with the creative process and tries to understand why the game assumed the shape it did.

We have not yet reached that point.

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