Final Fantasy at The Man Show at the Music Gallery earlier this month.
Photo again shoplifted from Suckingalemon.
Reading about taste, Henry James and Celine Dion over the weekend, with breaks to watch reruns of the cancelled Joan of Arcadia, which was almost quite a good series, put me very much in a Final Fantasy mood: Joan’s theme of attempting to envision what divine intervention in mundane life would really be like is quite parallel to He Poos Clouds‘ use of Dungeons and Dragons as an axis of playful-serious exploration of magical thinking in real life, and out of that the instinct for faith and supernaturalism even in self-conscious moderns who’ve disavowed it. (The taste, Celine and James connections I leave you to draw for yourself.) I generally feel rather free of magical thinking; that is, until I consider my relationships to art, language and romantic love: On Joan, God says of the latter, “Some of my best work.” Which is rather a sinister remark when you consider it. Too bad the series uses Joan Osborne’s One of Us as its title theme, a song I’ve always despised; it lies on so many levels, from sanitizing away the supernaturalism of God to using religious sentimentality as a shortcut to compassion - divinity as a reason to love humanity is a half-assed cover for misanthropy and also a particularly slimy kind of bet-hedging. (Better be nice to that stranger - he might be a “slob,” but what if it’s God? Feh.) The series itself is more sophisticated, in the way it counterposes Joan’s strange divine connection with her father’s police work (which is very much figured as a struggle with evil and corruption) and most of all the unusual emphasis in nearly every episode on science as a kind of ongoing education in the miraculous. It’s just too bad the scene-by-scene writing and acting aren’t better - the God-incarnations are always verging on platitudes, and it hasn’t got the depth of My So-Called Life or the wit of Buffy, so it’s kind of limp as a high-school show, the core level needed to knit everything together.
But returning to Final Fantasy: There are a couple of nice new interviews with FF aka Owen Pallett that have appeared in recent days. There’s also this mini-essay on He Poos Clouds and video-game-inspired art on The Ratio, which considers a dynamic of predestination and indeterminacy worth developing in relation to our earlier conversations about gaming and art.