Saturday, 30 April 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons

I struggle to justify spending time blogging. It often seems a self-indulgent pursuit, where the only thing lower than the chances of anyone reading your work is the career prospects.
This line of reasoning is made particularly seductive to me because I'm acutely aware that my dyslexia has always made writing of any sort a struggle.
I'm bad at written communication and this can be exceedingly frustrating because I'm acutely aware that unless you are a Da Vinci level polymath able to do everything for yourself, communications skills are vital to work as a creative in any modern media.

In short I’m bad at one of the most important skills anyone needs to succeed in life, and its unclear if I can do much about the underlying reason.

All of this was sloshing about in the back of my mind when I started playing Portal 2 and was brought bubbling to the fore by a bittersweet piece of dialog by a charterer called Cave Johnson.
Throughout his life Cave has believed that anything was possible with the science, but in his old age with his company falling apart around him, he finds everything he has believed in is rendered impotent as he slowly succumbs to cancer.

But that’s not gonna get Cave down.....

Cave Johnson:
“Alright, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back! Get mad! I don't want your damn lemons! What am I supposed to do with these? Demand to see life's manager! Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons! Do you know who I am? I'm the man who's gonna burn your house down! With the lemons! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that burns your house down!”

It's a testament to the strength of valve's writing team that they somehow managed to create a character who even at his moment of crisis encapsulates both optimism and fatalism. Cave's story take us on a journey which starts out echoing the themes of John F Kennedy's “We choose to go to the moon” speech and ends resonating with Dylan Thomas's “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”.

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard..”

“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light..”

I've spent too much time asking "can it be done?" And "should it be done?" it about time to just start getting things done instead, and to start writing without worrying over every word. I think Cave would be proud.

For Science!

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