The blog where I rant about things that should be obvious to everyone

As a man with a 4 year degree in computer science, and a mediocre job doing web development I'm not really qualified to comment on politics, religion, or anything else, but I'll be damned if that stops me.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Game in the opera

One of the reasons that I started getting into game is that I really enjoy intellectual dissection. Before I learned anything about game, my tool for dissecting social dynamics would have been more like a machete, but after reading just a little bit about game (specifically about shit tests) I noticed that I had a much finer tool like a butchers knife. Now after several months of reading game blogs and a couple of books I've actually got a scalpel.

With my new found skills one of the most interesting things that I see is the the principles of game are followed by almost all the story tellers. Whether its books, TV, movies, or whatever, most romances go as expected according to game theory. This is interesting because most people when first hearing about game tend to brush it off.  And yet while their conscious mind rejects game, their subconscious already is following the all of the principles. This just serves as more evidence that the rules of attraction are biologically imprinted on each of us.

Another thing that is interesting is being able to see story arcs in a new light. For example, I very much enjoy musicals. One of my favorites is The Phantom of the Opera. For those who are not familiar with the story, it revolves around a man who due to a horrible facial disfigurement present at birth, has hidden himself away in secret passages underneath the Paris opera house. In the book you get more details about his life, and get to know that his own mother was afraid of him due to his face being sunk in resembling a skull. I don't actually recall if he ran away from home or was thrown out, but either way he spent time in his youth as a freak in a freak show. He eventually escaped from there and actually went on to do some amazing things.  As the book unfolds it becomes clear that he is truly a renaissance man, speaking contemptuously of Mozart as a composer, and achieving great things as both an architect and an engineer. On top of this, despite his disfigurement, he is quite gifted physically. He is almost supernaturally strong, and has a singing voice that far outstrips any of the performers in the opera. But because of his face he is unable to relate to any other human being and finds himself utterly alone his entire life.

So the musical takes place during the portion of his life where he is in the opera house trying to seduce a chorus girl as the Phantom. He gives her singing lessons, and does it all while hiding in the walls, completely unseen. Then as he tries to escalate the whole thing, trying to get her used to him by hypnotizing her and bringing her to his lair. In the end the relationship blows up and he tries to kidnap her and then lets her go, never to be seen again. But as I was last listening to the musical, I realized that more than because of his facial disfigurement, the phantom was rejected because he is a stone cold omega. One clear place this is demonstrated is in the song towards the end of the musical, Past the Point of no Return, which is a song written by the Phantom who is forcing the opera house to preform his work by means of terrorism. In the lyrics you can see a total disconnect between how the Phantom's mind works and how normal social dynamics work, and this disconnect is far more disconcerting that any facial disfigurement. Take for example the section

Past the point
of no return -
no backward glances:
the games we've played till now
are at an end . . .
Past all thought
of "if" or "when" -
no use resisting:
abandon thought,
and let the dream
descend . . .

The song is sung by the Phantom to the chorus girl, and the message is that in the play their relationship is done being playful, and now they are going to get serious and have sex. The total disconnect between sex and play inspires more dread than the fact that he wears a mask, and is clearly a sign of him being an omega. The song then makes a 180 during which the phantom declares his undying love, by softly and sweetly singing

Say you'll share with me
One love, one lifetime
Lead me, save me from my solitude

Say you want me
With you here
Beside you
Anywhere you go
Let me go too 

These lyrics are fine by themselves, but the fact that there is no transition from the above internal state to this state makes the whole thing unsettling.

Specifically the phantom's problem is a lack of state. An alpha male knows who he is and knows what he wants and what he is doing. As such his inner state is stable. Other people can come up interact with him and if he was happy before he will continue to be happy, if he was angry he will continue to be angry, and so on, only slowly transitioning from one state to another. This is because his validation does not come from the people immediately around him at any given time. An omega on the other hand will rapidly jump from one state to another based on insignificant social interactions, often wildly misinterpreting small exchanges or even lack of exchanges. It is by being like this, far more than from having a disfigured face, that drove the phantom from society, and kept him from being able to build relationships with anyone. Of course it is a fictional story, but it is by following these game principles that the story actually works.

1 comment:

  1. "Down once more to the dungeon of my black despair!
    Down we plunge to the prison of my mind!
    Down that path into darkness deep as hell!"

    Always loved Phantom of the Opera; saw it twice, in Toronto. It would be interesting to see it again, indeed, with 'red pill' eyes; thanks for giving us a review of it through them.