New Russian Chronicles
Surviving monotaxocausofilia

Philosophy in unexpected places

A friend of mine asked me if I knew were to find the .rom of the arcade version of tetris, the one we’ve always played after depositing twentyfive pesetas in a machine. The Atari version, for connoisseurs.


Websites where you find .roms of old arcade videogames are dangerous places, any videogame nerd knows that. Very often you think you are downloading a .rom and actually you are downloading a nasty virus. It sucks. Pintsize could tell you about it.

Anyway, so I was trying to find the original .rom for a friend, which I totally haven’t managed, when I came across this, in a website describing the game.

Apart from being a fine game, Tetris is also a perfect mirror of the human condition. For a while the game is entertaining, and we seem to have mastered it and are having fun. Then, something goes wrong. A rash mistake, or an unfulfilled wish, and we’re fighting to repair the damage, but we’ve been thrown off-balance, and the cancer is spreading. Blocks that were once orderly and harmonious are jumbled and filled with holes, and our cup is on the verge of running over. There’s always a point at which we stop planning for the future, and realize that we don’t have one – all we can do is cling to the present and concentrate, focus our minds on what it’s like to be alive, to play the game, before it’s all over. You were waiting for a four-by-one block that never came. Eventually we stare death in the face, and death will not spare us because we would warn the others to stay away and not play the game. Sometimes we resist to the bitter end, moving blocks left and right without thought or care, just to hang on, and sometimes we accept the inevitable and pull the blocks down to us, smiling inwardly at the great joke. The rest is silence.

It’s funny to find such a reflection in a random website, and I wonder how many people have read it in full. 3? 4? I feel like I’ve just had a fleeting, intimate brushing, the way you sometimes read a book and you feel like, despite the difference in time, place and context, you understand, from a humane point of view, exactly what the author felt.

I feel like something has just happened.

And of course immediately posting about it here was the thing to do.

I also feel like that reflection gropes at the same point that the author of that famous reflection on Pac Man was trying to get to. No, not the one about electronic music, the one… I can’t find it, and I promise a bottle of Bulgarian wine to anyone that can find it, but there’s this quote about how Pac Man is a very good metaphore of life, since you might play very well, and even achieve some distinction, but in the end you will be overwhelmed and lose, there is no escape. That is life. At one point it ends, and the rest is silence.

We wait for our whole lives for that straight, four-by-one block, that is to find the meaning of this game we are playing, to get to the end of it and see the final scene. But that’s the point, we get a four-by-one and the game keeps going until we lose (die) and there is no meaning to be found. This game of life is just that, a constant fighting retreat and a constant battle to try and see over the walls of our little labyrinth, which in our case is a piece of rock floating around a mass of hot, constantly exploding hydrogen, in the arm of an unremarkable galaxy. And the rest is silence.

Anyway so… this is getting philosophical. Have some music and a nice day to boot. Also I’d like a shout out to my buddy (though we’ve never met) Alexei Pajintov. You are cool.

Ах, под сосною, под зеленою,
Спать положите вы меня…!


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