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Blog 7: Thoughts on With Those We Love Alive

When I initially thought about what to write on for this week, I felt more comfortable going with Icarus Needs. I liked the simplicity of it. You enter into this silly dreamworld of Icarus and run around finding pieces to unlock the different doors and barriers. I could run my eyes quickly over the comic book-like panes of action and feel a little tickle of humor at it all. No scary feelings. Nothing too deep. My first impression of With Those we Love Alive was the sound of a loud NOPE resounding inside of me. The words associated with it like “mob violence” and “trash struggle” felt too heavy. But it continued to lurk in the back of my mind, so finally, I gave in and decided to do what it took to go through it.

From the confusing navigation, to the repugnant imagery, I found Those we Love Alive to be very disquieting. It felt strange to walk through this world that was stripped of anything human, except maybe you – I’m not even sure I was a human. This being stripped of humanity isn’t just a fun element of sci-fi, it is a dramatized journey of trauma. This story is incredibly powerful in the way it gets at the steady feeling of dehumanization that occurs with trauma and how the world can take on a grotesque and foreign appearance. That is one thing I love about the genre of sci-fi and I am researching more about for my own e-lit piece. Sci-fi is this crazy genre that lets people break the bounds of reality to say powerful things ABOUT reality. And it many ways, we need the strangeness and otherworldly settings of sci-fi to actually pack the punch we want.

Despite how disturbing it was to see rat children and slime children running around the streets, and nightmares oozing out in the canal, I was drawn into the story and kept wondering who I was and why was I making a choice(?) to use my skills to serve this “skull empress” (Not unlike my own real world thoughts – isn’t society itself a kind of oozing creepy skull empress?). At the same time I was thinking about the choices I was making and the way those around me were choosing to act. I wanted to connect to someone, but I also felt myself wanting to be completely separate from what was going on around me. At one point in the game, I had the choice to lick the fluids of the skull empress off the ground – and I did it. I wanted to do something that made me feel connected to all those who were being so worshipful of this being – a being that, ironically, I helped create and adorn with various weapons and armor. And yet, at another point, when there was a mob situation happening, and I was asked do I want to be part of the whole or be my own person, I said I was my own – I was separate from the filth and anger and vileness.

I think the element of this piece that really nailed home the desire to be separate from the ugliness around us, and that really helped me become the most connected to myself, was the drawing. On a basic navigation and memory level, I found it to be helpful in remembering where I had been in the story. On a more deep and personal level, I found it made me search myself for how I would use pictures to represent words like “shame” and “pain”. I found I could never quite find the perfect representation, but that the symbols I eventually settled on were a surprise to me. I could trace my path through the story and through my own heart each time I looked down at my arm.

Overall, this piece didn’t sit well with me – but it sat regardless and is still quietly waiting for me to come back and think about it and feel with and through it. I feel like this e-lit piece is genuinely one I would go through again – even if was just to go back to the lake and breath again.   

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