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August 21, 2013 10:46 PM   Subscribe

Collect feathers. Observe quiet beauty. Act with bravery. [PDF] Brave Sparrow is either a roleplaying game, a cult, or a life philosophy. Or maybe all of those, or none.

A game by the amazing Joe McDaldno, whose other designs include monster-of-the-week teen horror/romance game Monsterhearts, the distant but compelling Quiet Year, and Ribbon Drive, a roleplaying game whose mechanics involve actual mixtapes.
posted by Scattercat (51 comments total) 58 users marked this as a favorite

 
That is stunningly thoughtful and well said (said the Crow).
posted by CrowGoat at 10:57 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is really very lovely.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:01 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honestly, it strikes me as unbearably twee. But yknow, not everything is for everybody.
posted by rifflesby at 11:09 PM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Excellente.
posted by chainlinkspiral at 11:10 PM on August 21, 2013


[Added a PDF alert.]
posted by taz at 11:20 PM on August 21, 2013


I was not aware that PDFs were alerticious. My apologies.
posted by Scattercat at 11:21 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Your fingers filled with dull ache whenever you use them for too long, your shoulder-blades tickling with the sensation of phantom limbs, that sense that you’re swimming in a body too big to make use of, the confusion of being.

Aight, I put on my robe and wizard hat.
posted by schwa at 11:27 PM on August 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


Lovely read with some great food for thought, but for me it could have ended before and without the last line which tilts the earnestness into being just a bit over the top.
posted by AlienGrace at 11:39 PM on August 21, 2013


Surely not for everyone, but for me, tonight, I really needed this. More than even I knew. Thanks for posting.
posted by stellaluna at 11:58 PM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


The earnestness does seem to be real (as opposed to merely an affectation), and baked into the idea that games can be a source of good in the world. You can literally pay with Good Deeds by doing a good deed and sending in a note, and the author has started keeping a spreadsheet of Good Deed receipts.
posted by lantius at 12:00 AM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


That sound? That thin, high pitched shrieking noise?

It's Steven Pinker's head exploding.
posted by R. Schlock at 12:13 AM on August 22, 2013


More earnest--uncomfortably earnest, perhaps--than twee to me. However, if I've learned anything this week, it should probably rightly be called Brave Pigeon. Or perhaps Brave Seagull. I'm no expert, but pigeon seems more likely to be right.
posted by HonoriaGlossop at 1:07 AM on August 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think it's kinda the sweetest thing ever. So many people have been crunched by life in ways that don't show but hurt as much or more as being a sparrow trapped in a human's body. You can bet that if I see somebody wearing a sparrow pin I'm going to take extra time with them that day.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:08 AM on August 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I find this poignant as well, and being in kind of a low-ish spot, I decided to play on my nightly walk. Scant minutes into it, I found a huge and perfect seagull feather. I picked it up, grinning like a fool and continued on my way. A half-block later, another perfect seagull feather!

"Maybe the factors of my existence, both subtle and gross, are what they are because I'm looking for them, just like I'm looking for feathers."

I walked on giddily. Found another.

And at the next corner, I found a dead seagull.

(Epilogue: a cab driver followed me for a block and a half, trying to give me a free ride. Also he was creepily commenting on body.)
posted by Betafae at 1:33 AM on August 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


So I guess what I'm trying to say is, is this normal behavior for the game?
posted by Betafae at 1:33 AM on August 22, 2013


Oh, and now I read the bit about the vigil. Carry on.
posted by Betafae at 1:42 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is essentially a shamanic magic practice. About damn time, really.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 4:51 AM on August 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


A great idea, but the one thing that makes me a little sad is how it seems misanthropic at its core. If it was about a "dual nature" or how recovering one's sparrow nature could work together with one's human nature, the game might have a positive end state. But maybe the point is for the sparrow to struggle with that themself.
posted by rikschell at 4:54 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


The mention of the apocalypse world engine on the company's pages led me here and here, which in turn led me to lumpley.com, which is an interesting place on the Internet.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:26 AM on August 22, 2013


"Brokenhearthed," the author's favorite review of the award-winning Monsterhearts, is a good read.

Kenzie Grey is a werewolf, and she’s not a very good one, by werewolf-y standards. For one thing, she’s a short, punky-looking girl who you can tell tries way too hard to look tough, which is generally not very macho. She’s also Canadian, which, if you are a person who believes the stereotypes, makes her horribly polite in social situations.

She’s also my Monsterhearts character.

Monsterhearts, if you did not know, is a roleplaying game in which you play awkward teenage monsters. It’s a game that follows in the footsteps of Buffy, Twilight, True Blood, and all sorts of coming-of-age allegories that use monsters to make a way more entertaining after-school special about the difficulties that young people face.

...

Let me tell you about my Monsterhearts group.

Jen is my second-oldest friend; I’ve known her for like eleven years. She’s been dating John, the GM of our campaign, for nearly as long as I’ve known her — he proposed to her, finally, just last weekend. Tristen I’ve known for nearly as long. And Nic and Rick, while newer friends, have been very supportive of me through the roughest parts of my life.

I could tell you about their characters, I guess, but here is the thing.

I would be terrified to play a game like this with anyone else. It’s the intimacy of this group of friends that lets me feel comfortable enough to play this game.

It’s sort of hard to explain, but in our game, Kenzie is ashamed of herself. She has all this power, but she feels like she’s made to feel powerless. And when I’m roleplaying her, I feel that shame too.

Monsterhearts is one of the better shame simulators that I have ever played.

posted by snuffleupagus at 5:38 AM on August 22, 2013


Okay. Maybe you are a sparrow.

This kind of seems like "otherkin done right" to me.
posted by edheil at 5:43 AM on August 22, 2013


Mission: Collect breadcrumbs.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:49 AM on August 22, 2013


BTW, my late wife and I had a private game very similar to this, but with a different animal, which I haven't told anyone about because it's not something I feel I could really explain to anyone.

Being without that part of my life still breaks my heart. So it seems kind of wonderful to me that there's a game like this in the world.
posted by edheil at 5:56 AM on August 22, 2013 [14 favorites]


Oh, I like this! Not least because I saw a beautiful black feather in the street the other day which looked (looked!) a foot long and it made me realise that I never see feathers anymore, despite walking everywhere. Wish I'd known about this sooner or thought to pick the feather up now. That said, despite the fact it's clearly intended to be playable I appreciate Brave Sparrow more as a piece of short writing and prettily-designed .pdf, than as a game (the same way I wouldn't actually try installing Linux on a dead badger, for example). Wasn't there a micro-fad for read-only RPGs a while back, something intended to be vaguely analogous to closet plays?

The revelation towards the end that (SPOILERS!) despite being trapped in human form you may not be a sparrow after all put me in mind of a particular favourite paragraph from George MacDonald's Liliith, which I'll freely admit to blockquoting at the least provocation:
"Upon occasion," said the sexton at length, "it is more convenient to
put one's bird-self in front. Every one, as you ought to know, has a
beast-self--and a bird-self, and a stupid fish-self, ay, and a creeping
serpent-self too--which it takes a deal of crushing to kill! In truth
he has also a tree-self and a crystal-self, and I don't know how many
selves more--all to get into harmony. You can tell what sort a man is by
his creature that comes oftenest to the front."
Count me as another non-fan of the final line. I definitely like the flourish and ordinarily I'd love a last-minute recontextualisation of what came before, but I'm not keen on the conjuring of an ambiguous "I" from thin air. Maybe my dislike is a visceral reaction to having my fun "ruined" by the question of who believes in me-the-player. Is it the author-as-author, the text itself or some great Sparrow Prime within the game? I like the atmosphere of the rest of the piece and that line seems at odds with that, which (intentionally?) jars. Brave Sparrow's basically great though, so no actual complaints here, obvs.
posted by comealongpole at 6:05 AM on August 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm generally not a fan of the overly-earnest, but this was exactly what I needed this morning. It really brought me back to being young and reading the Invisibles* and the Situationists and directly experiencing awe at of the possibilities of a universe one can have an active relationship with. I love the short gamified format with minimal woo or authorial explication, and would welcome suggestions for more games/exercises like this.

*Hi, Meta-Barbeloids, under whatever ficsuits you're currently inhabiting!
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 7:02 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, the objective is to participate in a human-sparrow war by collecting feathers? But I was always taught as a kid that random animal parts could carry disease...

...ah, now I get it. Well-played, old friend, well-played indeed.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:09 AM on August 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


from the tagline i was hoping this was going to be about how awesome the last two Talk Talk
albums were.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 7:14 AM on August 22, 2013


Now I really want a pin, and to form a flock.
posted by Strass at 7:48 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Go placidly amid the noise and waste...
posted by Doohickie at 9:24 AM on August 22, 2013


I found a dead sparrow outside of work last week

It was on the brick walk in front of the building. It can't have been dead long. Its eyes were closed. It looked nearly as it had in life, except that it was laying on its side (birds don't do that) with its feathers rumpled. That was maybe the saddest thing about it, the down feathers sticking out from beneath the glossy contour feathers being blown in the wind in the wrong direction. I wanted to smooth them back down but I was afraid to touch it.

We have a lot of hawks in the area and I've seen a ballsy black and brown tabby nearby a couple times. There are always missing (or found) cat posters up on the light pole at the bus stop. I wonder if the house finches that claim the flowering trees out front might have attacked it? But the dead sparrow seemed to be intact. I left the bird on the brick walk while I went to the grocery store.

I couldn't stop thinking about the bird while I shopped for bread and milk and lunch, so I asked the cashier for a couple of extra brown paper bags at checkout. When I walked back to my building, 20-30 minutes later, the dead sparrow was still there, untouched. There were no other birds around. No ants yet, either. I used one lunch-sized paper bag to pick the bird up like a scoop and placed it in the second bag.

I felt very guilty shuffling the dead sparrow around in my attempts to pick it up. I too have always been taught not to touch dead animals or even feathers for fear of catching whatever it is that bird feathers are supposed to carry. So I didn't just pick the sparrow up and place it gently in the paper bag. Instead the poor bird was pushed up to the curb along the brick walk and tipped on to the scoop paper bag and dropped into the second paper bag very unceremoniously. I brought the bag inside and talked to the lab manager about putting it in with our biohazardous waste to be incinerated.

The lab manager was clearly amused by my request. I was very apologetic about it but I couldn't just leave there on the sidewalk. It was so close to the building that I can't imagine any large predator or scavenger taking it away to make a meal of and the idea of the poor sparrow rotting there, carried off in part by ants, baked by the August sun...

I put the bird in a secondary plastic bag and put it in the -80C freezer. Having it rot inside the lab wouldn't have helped anything, so it needed to go to a freezer until trash day. I put it in the -80C in case, against all signs, there was any life left in it. The -80C would freeze it more quickly and more deeply; I didn't want it to suffer.
posted by maryr at 9:35 AM on August 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


I would have loved this when I was 16. I now find it obnoxious. I hope other people get something out of it.
posted by windykites at 9:51 AM on August 22, 2013


It turns out if you sub in the sparrow class feature 'grace through beauty' you can actually dump your dex stat way low and use a pumped up charisma for both quiet beauty checks as well as flight maneuverability, which really helps with aerial missions once you hit level 4 or so and your skill bonuses allow you to beat challenges on any roll but a one. I'm working on getting my GM to allow the 'Skinwalker Assassin' prestige class, but it's from a third-party splat book so there's always balance questions. The best part is that it grants a scaling beak-sneak attack and broadens the mission scopes from 'sneaking into art galleries' and 'scenic napping' to 'theft and outright murder', which can give a real edge in tournament play.

/minmax
posted by FatherDagon at 10:16 AM on August 22, 2013 [14 favorites]


(The less respectful part: The bag in the -80C freezer is labeled "DEAD BIRD - DO NOT EAT")
posted by maryr at 11:10 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


FatherDagon: "It turns out if you sub in the sparrow class feature 'grace through beauty' you can actually dump your dex stat way low and use a pumped up charisma for both quiet beauty checks as well as flight maneuverability, which really helps with aerial missions once you hit level 4 or so and your skill bonuses allow you to beat challenges on any roll but a one. I'm working on getting my GM to allow the 'Skinwalker Assassin' prestige class, but it's from a third-party splat book so there's always balance questions. The best part is that it grants a scaling beak-sneak attack and broadens the mission scopes from 'sneaking into art galleries' and 'scenic napping' to 'theft and outright murder', which can give a real edge in tournament play.

/minmax
"

This is the problem. Munchkins.

The skinwalker assassin is SO OP'd. I think the "indoor pooping" skill tree totally unbalances the experience, and allows for some real gamebreaking.
posted by Samizdata at 11:15 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Eh, I don't know, the "indoor pooping" route leaves you all but defenseless against freshly washed cars and Statues of Historic Significance.
posted by maryr at 11:43 AM on August 22, 2013


Actually, you can get emissions/bombardment class features covered if you go for the Roman Reversal option on your chickling feeding action. Basically lets you channel food even if there isn't a willing recipient. Does d4s instead of d6s, but has a chance to proc a confusion effect for one round which is pretty decent. Also, take the 'Sick Yourself Pretty' feat with this setup and it'll contribute to your charisma-pumping when you attack, which is a pretty great feedback loop.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:52 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would have loved this when I was 16. I now find it obnoxious.

Not to over-analyze this, but boy do I feel this touches on something big. It's reflective both of many of my own personal experiences and representative, to some degree, of the reactions in this thread - it's odd how there's something about the tone that's very difficult to be ambivalent towards.

I've been trying to puzzle out my thoughts towards it and I'd be curious if those who dislike it could articulate why in any amount of detail. Why the strength of your reaction?

I guess I've been interested in the aversion to twee/overly-precious materials, in that I feel I have an intuitive understanding of what constitutes those things but not really an analytic understanding of it nor a sense of why they produce the types of reactions that they do. Anyone want to take a stab at articulating it?

(Also I think the minmax derail is great, and that you should produce a "response PDF" with your version of the game. Needs more charts.)
posted by neuromodulator at 12:00 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been trying to puzzle out my thoughts towards it and I'd be curious if those who dislike it could articulate why in any amount of detail.

For me it's that wishful thinking and unique snowflake-ness are terrible reasons to improve yourself. Get out of your own head and do some hard work at improving yourself because you want to and because you know the process is what's important, not because of some mystical end result.
posted by bfranklin at 12:35 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


FatherDagon: "Actually, you can get emissions/bombardment class features covered if you go for the Roman Reversal option on your chickling feeding action. Basically lets you channel food even if there isn't a willing recipient. Does d4s instead of d6s, but has a chance to proc a confusion effect for one round which is pretty decent. Also, take the 'Sick Yourself Pretty' feat with this setup and it'll contribute to your charisma-pumping when you attack, which is a pretty great feedback loop."

Yeah, but the negatives on the fecal crit tables SUCK.
posted by Samizdata at 2:43 PM on August 22, 2013


I am a fan of Joe Mcdaldno's games and deeply respect how conscientious and challenging his designs are.

Brave Sparrow, for example, pushes against some common deadening assumptions about art: "it's just a game" and "it's just entertainment" particularly.

At the same time it asks readers and players to acknowledge vulnerability and imagine living with it. It does that through metaphor, and like the best metaphors, it doesn't break character to wink at you and tell you what it's really about (or, again, to let you off the hook by reminding you "it's just a game"). Lots of art works this way, and plenty of therapy does as well. It might read as earnest or twee, but it's still a powerful tool for understanding feelings and experiences that our daily lives urge us to plow under and forget.

On top of that, no one loses anything by trying out metaphors. It doesn't prevent you from making common sense decisions about your life or lock you into a cycle of fantasy. It's one approach to understanding among many others.

All that said, the game makes me uncomfortable enough that I doubt I'll ever play it (but goddamn do I want to play Monsterhearts again). Part of the reason is that taboo against touching dead things, but much of it comes from the same anxiety about being properly adult that (I assume) drives the jokes and the dismissals of the game in this thread. In this case, I count its provocations of unease as points in the game's favor.

So maybe Brave Sparrow's not quite the thing for you or for me, but I will forever support people who imagine ways to be in the world that aren't endless gauntlets of tough-minded bootstrapping and shouting "Be a man!" and "Get real!" at each other.
posted by Idler King at 3:31 PM on August 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is basically a game for a manic pixie dream girl, and has all the problems of that particular archetype. Plus some weird cultish stuff about not trusting outsiders. Not sure it's actually meant to be played.
posted by echo target at 3:37 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I will forever support people who imagine ways to be in the world that aren't endless gauntlets of tough-minded bootstrapping and shouting "Be a man!" and "Get real!" at each other.

I don't know that tough-minded bootstrapping is the only alternative to this, although it's certainly my flavor of choice. I agree that there's a place for this, and metaphor is a useful tool in working through experience.

I like this game a lot, which didn't come through in my initial comment, but I don't see it as an endgame. I see this as something that one would necessarily need to outgrow, and I say that as someone who used some conceptually similar metaphors to get himself through highschool.
posted by bfranklin at 3:45 PM on August 22, 2013


I think the game very explicitly points out that it IS just a metaphor, and that is why I don't think it's something that would need to be outgrown. The end line, in particular, is very important. That final section about the feather test is completely built upon the fact that it won't happen. You won't turn into a sparrow by gathering feathers and climbing abandoned buildings. No one will. You know this. The game knows this. Most pertinently, the game knows that you know this; that's in many ways the point.

If you truly believe that you will turn into a sparrow, or that turning into a sparrow and "escaping" is the actual goal, then you're not playing Brave Sparrow, as I see it. What's key, I think, is being willing to pretend that you could believe that, to be willing to act as though you have a greater purpose, to assume that what you do matters, even though we all know that it doesn't. We only matter to ourselves; Brave Sparrow asks you to take that fact seriously. In both directions.

It knows that it is fiction, and it knows that you know it is fiction. Which is what makes that last line so terrible and poignant. Magic is only real inside your head, but the converse of that is that magic can be real inside your head.
posted by Scattercat at 8:56 PM on August 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


Hey all,

I wrote Brave Sparrow, and just wanted to drop a note and say how proud/excited/grateful I am that it's being talked about here.

The last line created some super polarized responses! Can I share a story about it? I wasn't planning on ending the text on that note. I was just typing away and reached the end and my fingers just kept hitting the keys instinctively. I stared at the "I belie-" and wondered if I should just delete it. The line was corny as fuck, and possibly too sincere. I felt silly about it. But I took a second and really interrogated that feeling - this was a game about being too sincere, about doing things even if they feel silly. About hope crushing cynicism. And so I finished typing the line. And it just felt right. It felt like a victory of sorts. (To comealongpole: I intended the "I" in that sentence to be author-as-author and author-as-sparrow. It's me, Joe, talking to my fellow sparrow.)

The game is potentially about lots of things, and numerous of them have been talked about here: retaining your wonder, not steeling yourself against the world, embracing hope and possibility. But the biggest thing that this game is about for me hasn't been mentioned yet: it's an exploration of queerness and of being queer in an oppressive world. And by that, I mean: not trusting your body, feeling like society has left no place for you in it, feeling uncomfortable with hegemony, needing to rejuvenate your sense of wonder and hope, needing to seek out other queers, needing to learn how to create shifting ad-hoc community wherever possible, honing your distrust of cops and authority (and learning why it is dangerous to vest them with any information or power over you), and audaciously becoming.

And on that note, a response to echo target: I didn't intend to present a cultish distrust of outsiders. I intended to present a necessary distrust of authority and hegemonic power. There are people in the world ready to bring violence upon you for being true to yourself. It's super dangerous to be a sparrow in a human world. Lots of humans hate sparrow-kind. And so if you're going to play at being sparrow, if you're going to consider the possibility that you are actually sparrow, you need to start cultivating your distrust of human hegemony immediately. To do otherwise is to invite harm upon your body and personhood.
posted by mcdaldno at 1:22 AM on August 23, 2013 [21 favorites]


Thanks for the comments. And welcome to Metafilter!
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:46 AM on August 23, 2013


Welcome, mcdaldno! Thanks for your comments.

On first (and second and even third) reading, I felt a kinship with Brave Sparrow through my participation in the furry fandom. I found its metaphorical approach to exploring an animal self deeply beautiful and the basic, simple things it was asking participants to do very poetic and lovely.

I can see clearly how it is a metaphor for queer existence, having come out as a gay man in the early 1990s and having lived through a lot of the true ugliness of being out and queer during a time when people wanting nothing more than to beat me and my sort to death with baseball bats.

After reading it, I've found myself meditating on how my furry wolf self sees echoes of wolves in the world around me and how I might use those things I find to springboard myself into a different form of self-expression and exploration.

It's a powerful work. Thanks for creating it!
posted by hippybear at 6:04 AM on August 23, 2013


Thanks for the comment and the personal response mcdaldno. It's really interesting to know what the thinking behind the game was, and I definitely get where you're coming from about making the choice to finish the line you'd half-typed already. The fact you mention the queer experience as a key element when writing it is interesting, because even knowing that it's still not something I'd pick out as a theme if asked. I'd probably name more narrowly just trans* issues or a broadly-applicable outsider experience, so that gives me something else to think about. I've not really mentally chewed on the vigil or sparrow-in-waiting aspects of the piece yet either. Anyhow, thanks for sharing it.

(Hope I don't come across to anyone like I'm indulging in some sort of recreational issue tourism or something here, that's certainly not my intent).
posted by comealongpole at 10:57 AM on August 23, 2013


What's key, I think, is being willing to pretend that you could believe that, to be willing to act as though you have a greater purpose, to assume that what you do matters, even though we all know that it doesn't. We only matter to ourselves; Brave Sparrow asks you to take that fact seriously. In both directions.

This certainly wasn't my first reaction to it, as evidenced by my initial comment.

Joe McDaldno's comment references that the game is about being "too sincere." As you've probably gathered, I think sincerity comes from action and not from thought or belief. What you've laid out here as key reads a lot like my personal playbook for life. Brave Sparrow runs with a lot of themes that are in that playbook.

It still reads as twee to me (and something to outgrow), though, because the metaphor is only ever a crutch to understand the real thing. Deciding to be a better self is an amazingly powerful thing, and I am all for any way people come to seriously engaging in that. The metaphor stands in the way of serious and frank engagement in that, though. Nosce te ipsum.
posted by bfranklin at 1:01 PM on August 23, 2013


Fair, bfranklin.

I think different folks have different relationships to metaphor and other emotional crutches.

Like... I almost always have difficulty approaching my own needs head on, of just saying "I need to be a better human, I should start doing that." I have to take the long way about. I have to wink at myself in the mirror and whisper, "A better human? There's no such thing. In fact, I'm not even a human. I'm something else. I have to go on a deadly secret mission to discover what sort of animal I am. And if along the way I realize that I am actually a human and emerge a better one, so be it."

I lived with depression for the better part of a decade, and acknowledging my depression was never enough to make a sincere attempt at fighting it. The catalyst for making a change was... twitter. And specifically, churning out weird depressive-surrealist twee-as-fuck joke-stories on twitter. And then occasionally standing back and looking at them and muttering, "Oh. This needs to not be who I am anymore. I need to lose my ability to author this sort of story."

I have a lot of trouble caring about myself non-fictionally. That's where these fictions come from. They might be twee-as-hell, but they're letting me circle the serious-as-hell needs that I'm struggling with.

:)
posted by mcdaldno at 3:05 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Joe, I want to just reiterate that my goal is in no way to take Brave Sparrow down a peg. I love the game, even if I do find it twee and think it wouldn't work for me. Neuromodulator asked why some folks found it twee, and I'm really just trying to verbalize that.

Thinking on it a bit more, I've realized some of my feelings about it being twee are really tied in with Brave Sparrow being very akin to a religious myth, and me being a secular humanist. I like to think I'm not a militant humanist, but this entire discussion has reminded me that apparently I am a bit of a smarmy bastard when it comes to dealing with reality absent belief or faith v. dealing with one's metaphor or myth of choice. I'm realizing that I look at a secular humanist view as a more mature approach to reality, which isn't exactly a fair value judgment. And that's entirely my issue arising from my personal baggage over the past thirty-some years.

That said, I still stand by my statement that I'm all for any myth or metaphor that brings a person closer to who they want to be. I need to think a bit more on whether the necessity of moving past it is something I believe or something I want to believe to support my own choices.
posted by bfranklin at 7:31 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I need to think a bit more on whether the necessity of moving past it is something I believe or something I want to believe to support my own choices.

I'm pretty much a secular, scientific extinctionist if I boil myself down to my core.

But I've read enough Jung and stuff to sincerely believe that my life runs better when I allow myself metaphorical expression. So I've created quite a bit of it in my life. I don't necessarily BELIEVE in any of it, but taking the time to find some space to express myself into the Universe in metaphorical ways seems to soothe my psyche and helps me find a sort of focus and release which is unavailable any other way.

It's not impossible to be of Two Minds about how life should be lived. That might actually be the most healthy approach. Don't back away from the metaphors, but don't mistake them for faith. Making the time and space for ritual is not the same as believing in the supernatural. Just because they may appear the same to the outside observer doesn't mean the interior experience is equal.

Poetry isn't only words on paper -- it can be found in actions, even deliberately chosen ones. Living life with poetry makes everything one experiences richer. Don't retreat from it because you think it betrays you; step into it consciously and make it your own, within your own context.
posted by hippybear at 11:08 PM on August 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


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