Meditations for Game Players

Charles Cameron


i

First, I ask you to consider the rhyme of "womb" with "tomb" -- which has the delicious property that these two words describe, if you will, the two chambers from which we enter this life and through which we leave it. Not only do the two words rhyme on the ear, in other words, they can also be said to rhyme in meaning. Meditation: if you were wearing headphones, and these two words were spoken, what would the stereophony of their meanings be?

ii

Next, I would invite you to consider visual rhymes -- known as "graphic matches" in film studies. Take, for instance, lipstick and bullet. To rephrase the opening of a book I am still working on:

The conjunction comes from a Yardley's cosmetic advertisement of a few years back: a woman model wearing a leather bandolier with a variety of lipsticks in place of bullets. It is a powerful image partly because it plays on the visual similarity of bullets and lipsticks, each in their own metal jacket. Indeed, the visual match between them is astonishing -- and the lurking Freudian visual pun only adds to our delight.

The juxtaposition of lipstick and bullet I take to be an example of a certain kind of visual logic, a visual kinship. Transposing their relationship from visual to verbal terms, one might say that lipstick and bullet "rhyme."

But there is more than the purely visual here too... There is also a meaning rhyme that echoes in Freud's pairing of Eros and Thanatos, in Wagner's Liebestod, in Woody Allen, and in the opening sentence of Bedier's Tristan and Iseult:

My Lords, if you would hear a high tale of love and death...

Meditation: what is the stereophany (by analogy with epiphany, theophany -- neologism intended) of the meanings of lipstick and bullet?

iii

Consider next musical rhymes -- fugal treatment of a theme -- and if you have the means, play yourself Bach's Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, BWV 903, or Passacaglia and Fugue, BWV 582...

iv

Next I would ask you to consider -- briefly -- rhymes between ideas themselves... Ponder, for instance, the twin themes of the myth of Narcissus, and the rhyme that exists between the idea of "echo" and that of "reflection"...

v

Consider rhymes between things, between names and the things they name (onomatopoeia), and between ideas and names and things and musical themes and images:

Seen together, aerial maps of river estuaries and road systems, feathers, fern leaves, branching blood vessels, nerve ganglia, electron micrographs of crystals and the tree-like patterns of electrical discharge-figures are connected, although they are vastly different in place, origin, and scale. Their similarity of form is by no means accidental.

G Kepes, *New Landscapes of Art & Science*

When the surf echoes and crashes out to the horizon, its whorls repeat in similar ratios inside our fleshåWe are extremely complicated, but our bloods and hormones are fundamentally seawater and volcanic ash, congealed and refined. Our skin shares its chemistry with the maple leaf and moth wing. The currents our bodies regulate share a molecular flow with raw sun. Nerves and flashes of lightning are related events woven into nature at different levels.

Grossinger, *Planet Medicine*

The links of association that are possible between one thing and another are extraordinary, and rhymes of the sort we have been discussing are just the beginning... On being asked:

What is the intersection of fish and flames?

my list-colleague Barbara Weitbrecht responded:

Fish being cooked ... flame-colored fish ... fish flickering through sunlit water like flames ... things to do with water: one in it, one antagonistic to it ... fish and flames both images of sleep, of subconscious ideas surfacing, of revelation ... fish and flames both images of the Deity ....

vi

Consider all things as the calligraphy of a god or gods...

vii

Consider, finally, the stereophany between these two elegant paragraphs, one written by the contemporary American poet and naturalist, Annie Dillard, and the other by her compatriot Haniel Long:

My friend Jens Jensen, who is an ornithologist, tells me that when he was a boy in Denmark he caught a big carp embedded in which, across the spinal vertebrae, were the talons of an osprey. Apparently years before, the fish hawk had dived for its prey, but had misjudged its size. The carp was too heavy for it to lift up out of the water, and so after a struggle the bird of prey was pulled under and drowned. The fish then lived as best it could with the great bird clamped to it, till time disintegrated the carcass, and freed it, all but the bony structure of the talon.

Haniel Long, *Letter to Saint Augustine*

And:

And once, says Ernest Seton Thompson--once, a man shot an eagle out of the sky. He examined the eagle and found the dry skull of a weasel fixed by the jaws to his throat. The supposition is that the eagle had pounced on the weasel and the weasel swiveled and bit as instinct taught him, tooth to neck, and nearly won. I would like to have seen that eagle from the air a few weeks or months before he was shot: was the whole weasel still attached to his feathered throat, a fur pendant? Or did the eagle eat what he could reach, gutting the living weasel with his talons before his breast, bending his beak, cleaning the beautiful airborne bones?

Annie Dillard, *Teaching a Stone to Talk*

These are the rhymings of the ten thousand things. It is with such meditations as these that we may build the "hundred-gated cathedral of Mind" to which Hesse refers...


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HipBone Games rules, boards, sample games and other materials are copyright © Charles Cameron 1995, 96, 97. See Concerning Copyright for full copyright details.