Journal for 22 April 2010


Some tangled threads here.


I want to design a game that replicates the feel of John Scalzi's "Old Man's War" books -- old-school military SF action with more modern sensibilities and written by a vaguely clueful author. Low emphasis on getting the crunchy bits right and a heavy emphasis on the action, but with a pleasing variety of familiar tropes anyway. 


The "Commonwealth of Human Remains" setting is stuck. I think I went too far to try and mirror Trek or Federal Space -- taking a step back would be good and having another look at it. The actual setting isn't quite as finely-grained in terms of polities so maybe I shouldn't try to make it be. I always viewed the Federation as an anomaly for the purpose of bringing different civilizations' efforts together. It should be bigger and more unique, and also less rigid and formally-binding upon members. Maybe more of a decentralized Network?


The Empire setting (space-mercs/pirates one) might conceivably be blended with one or more of the above projects. By itself it's merely "sort of neat" and I think I should try to focus on what material's interesting rather than fleshing all of it out and propping it up. Keep the Zombi, keep the "vast colonial-driven trade empire" and the Cutters and a few other neat artifacts like combat savants. The singularity-as-Precursors idea is cool too; keep that. Perhaps don't go out of your way to make this setting too hard in terms of science: you've got your vacuum-cavitation drive, your aliens that can live together and eat each other's food (mostly), and the general idea is perfect for a Scalzi-esque riff on total war with aliens and a questionably-moral "Colonial Union"-esque state.


That feels better.




I've been interested in Buddhism lately. I do this with religions sometimes; like a moth, I'll get drawn in by the bright and warm emanations and start circling out of interest. Which isn't to say it's entirely mercurial; I've got some kind of emotional need that is not getting fulfilled with my current palette of cultural and behavioral patterns. It's not just the interest in meditation either, or the familiarity from pop-culture with some of Buddhism's (particularly Japanese) trappings. The basic narrative as I understand it, of what causes suffering and how to be rid of it, seems starkly relevant given the amount of pain I've been experiencing. Moreover I'm coming to find that at least some strands of Buddhist thought contain insights I find...well, comforting. Religion and I do not have a terribly comfortable history together; almost invariably however much I resonate with some aspects of a given faith culture there'll be fairly foundational or just common ideas within that subculture that I find unpalatable, alienating or actually abhorrent. I consider this a feature, not a bug -- some of those cognitive chains are just not ones I want having write-access to my behavior, if that makes sense...let alone affecting my personal inhibitions and sense of what's ethical or desirable.  


Well, getting to know how sects of Buddhism differ on matters I find complicated helped in some ways. Mahayana and Theravada, I come to realize, are substantially different ways of approaching the same (very basic) philosophy. Some of my general points of friction with Buddhism make contact around a very Mahayana-driven set of ideas regarding vegetarianism and LGBT folk. Which isn't to say that Mahayana Buddhism and I cannot get along, simply that most of the questions and objections I've raised internally around some of these issues are nicely in line with the same discussions in Theravada. Not only that, but resolutions to those questions and interpretations I can fully support appear to be common there. I didn't entirely realize how much this had been covered (because until recently, I'd never thought to look), and it was both impressive and humbling to see that these exact trains of thought (which have bothered me ever since I became interested in Buddhism as a religion) aren't even vaguely new, or absent from the faith's internal dialogue. 


I'm not sure where this interest is going, but it is...well, *interesting* to watch it play out. At minimum I've been feeling the need for meditation (which, obviously, is not limited to or unique to Buddhism, but which is where I first learned what it was and how to do it). Lately it also seems I've been feeling a need to be more spiritual as well.


Never am sure how to handle that. I've gotten to the point where I don't think my basic underlying assumptions about how the universe works are likely to be overturned; yet, I cannot seem (and do not especially want to) shake the mental and emotional traits that drive me to spiritual behavior that, if taken at face value, would conflict with that world model. 


The struggle to reconcile two fundamentally-incompatible things appears to give me charge and focus, I guess.