Monday, June 24, 2013

Primeval Game

"A kind of friendliness had grown up between Fern-flower and me. Nothing too intimate: I had never dared touch her. But we had long talks. Or rather, she told me all sorts of things about her life; in my fear of giving myself away, of making her suspect my identity, I stuck always to generalities. Fern-flower told me her dreams: ‘Last night I saw this enormous Dinosaur, terrifying, breathing smoke from his nostrils. He came closer, grabbed me by the nape, and carried me off. He wanted to eat me alive. It was a terrible dream, simply terrible, but – isn’t this odd? – I wasn’t the least frightened. No, I don’t know how to say it … I liked him …’

That dream should have made me understand many things and especially one thing: that Fern-flower desired nothing more than to be assaulted. This was the moment for me to embrace her. But the Dinosaur they imagined was too different from the Dinosaur I was, and this thought made me even more different and timid. In other words, I missed a good opportunity."

- Italo Calvino, "The Dinosaurs", Cosmicomics, 1965

The basic mechanics that underlie Game are nothing new. Women have hungered to be assaulted and possessed, seduced and overcome, embraced and swept away, mastered and dominated, for the entirety of their existence.  It is a structural desire; it is a part of who they are.

However, the feminist denial of that female desire is intellectual, (in the technical sense, anyhow, as it's obviously not very intelligent), and therefore an intellectual refutation of that denial is necessary. The science-based aspects of that refutation are an important part of what is now known as Game.  But what this selection from a classic Calvino story shows, and what the critics of Game fail to grasp, is that their contentions are only opposed by some of the sharper minds of the present, but by the greatest minds of the past as well.

It also shows that the gamma male mentality has been the primary character perspective in science fiction and fantasy for a very long time; it didn't begin with Neal Stephenson and Jim Butcher.

"‘You know something? Last night I dreamed that a Dinosaur was to go past my house,’ Fern-flower said to me, ‘a magnificent Dinosaur, a Prince or a King of Dinosaurs. I made myself pretty, I put a ribbon on my head, and I leaned out of the window. I tried to attract the Dinosaur’s attention, I bowed to him, but he didn’t even seem to notice me, didn’t even deign to glance at me …’

This dream furnished me with a new key to the understanding of Fern-flower’s attitude towards me: the young creature had mistaken my shyness for disdainful pride. Now, when I recall it, I realize that all I had to do was maintain that attitude a little longer, make a show of haughty detachment, and I would have won her completely. Instead, the revelation so moved me that I threw myself at her feet, tears in my eyes, and said: ‘No, no, Fern-flower, it’s not the way you think; you’re better than any Dinosaur, a hundred times better, and I feel so inferior to you …’

Fern-flower stiffened, took a step backwards. ‘What are you saying?’ This wasn’t what she expected: she was upset, and she found the scene a bit distasteful. I understood this too late; I hastily recovered myself, but a feeling of uneasiness now weighed heavily between us."


tz said...

Or even "Gone with the Wind" in the scene where Rhett Butler grabs Scarlett O'Hara and takes her up the stairs. Or go back to the era of silent movies, IIRC, Rudolph Valentino in "The Sheik" which the wife of one of the directors or producers was asked to watch ans say if she thought women would like it.

But that was the era when men were kings on their own land. It might just be a small house, or some farming acreage, but it was theirs just like a Lord. Now we are all renters with long lists of what might be permitted with a permit.

Unknown said...


Even before I knew about game, I would not responded that way.

I would have laughed at any guy doing a Calvino if I ever saw one that way back then.

Bobby Dupea said...

" ... are [not] only opposed ..."

Jill said...

At the very least, the fictional character knows nothing of dream interpretation, but realizes his mistake in not manipulating what is going on in the woman's subconscious--which means that he may actually have come to understand, but too little, too late. I think it would also be accurate to say that women want to or need to be dominated when they're young, yet psychologically may not have matured at all by the time they're 40 or older because our modern society is so cut off from the natural processes of biology. This domination goes along with the process of biology. A man dominates and impregnates a woman. She bears offspring and then gradually becomes more independent in her own sphere; as the man mellows due to lower testosterone levels (usually in his 40s), she becomes more assertive. In modern days, this often leads to unnecessary divorce. Man and woman, hopefully, work out their issues and die as companions, as she is no longer able to bear offspring, and he isn't nearly as aggressive as he once was. As a female, that's my observation of domination and why modern women want to read 50 Shades of Grey. They are completely cut off from natural processes and no longer have older women to advise them.

Rich Hill said...

Could you expound upon your comments about Neal Stephenson?

Unknown said...

Title of this post should have been "Pregame". And by the way, this is a fascinating area of research.

Anonymous said...

This certainly puts Super Mario in a new light.


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