Recursive Pacman.
November 1, 2006 4:18 PM   Subscribe

Well, the part marked as "is Pacman" describes the shape of Pacman, but it only does so by virtue of the demarcation of the "not Pacman" area. So really, the entire figure describes what Pacman looks like.

11.1 We join spokes together in a wheel, but it is the centre hole that makes the wagon move.
11.2 We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.
11.3 We hammer wood for a house, but it is the inner space that makes it livable.
11.4 We work with being, but non-being is what we use.

--Tao Te Ching
posted by rxrfrx at 4:24 PM on November 1, 2006 [11 favorites]

I'll see your Pacman chart and raise you We Have Pie Charts.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:29 PM on November 1, 2006

wonderful. thank you.
posted by milarepa at 4:31 PM on November 1, 2006

--Tao Te Ching
posted by rxrfrx at 4:24 PM PST on November 1

Wow. This should have been in the main post. Rack this one.
posted by Joybooth at 4:33 PM on November 1, 2006

posted by cortex at 4:39 PM on November 1, 2006

eponyism (or whatever): "minimal" marked this blog as a favorite.
posted by Citizen Premier at 4:50 PM on November 1, 2006

About two minutes after reading this post, I got out a pumpkin pie and had a slice. It took a few more minutes for me to realize that this was funny.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:59 PM on November 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

Actually the smaller section does resemble Pac-Man just before he dies.
posted by brain_drain at 5:03 PM on November 1, 2006

One-link newsfilter.
posted by mzurer at 5:24 PM on November 1, 2006

From Lucky Wander Boy by D.B. Weiss:
The Pac-Man's insatiable hunger for the dots and Power Pills that fill the corridors of his maze-worlds suggests weighty parallels, such as the ravenous hunger for More Life that Darwin saw in all species, any one of which would overpopulate and overrun the earth if not for the predatory ghosts of natural selection. Also we are reminded of Marx's "need of a constantly expanding market" that "chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe" (Communist Manifesto) with the "vocation to approach, by quantitative increase, as near as possible to absolute wealth" (Capital), casting the Pac-Man in the role of corporate antihero in a utopian fantasy where the agents protesting his unfettered domination of the maze-world actually defeat him in the end. Obvious metaphors, lurking just beneath the surface of the game.

Suspiciously obvious. These kinds of interpretation belie the poverty of imagination that has become all too typical of practitioners of the interpretive arts. If Pac-Man and the games that followed in its wake mean anything to us, if they are central switching stations through which thousands of our most important memories are routed, it is our duty to dig deeper.

To us, the Pac-Man's lives appear short, cheap and relatively inconsequential once we discover the overwhelming importance of sex and money. But if we perform a thought experiment and try to occupy a Pac-Man's subjectivity, we will realize that these three short spans are not so short to him. We must allow that each dot eaten takes on a meaning for the Pac-Man that we can barely fathom.

I suggest that if we, through force of imagination, were to dilate time to experience it as the Pac-Man does, and increase the resolution to allow us to read as much into each pixel as the Pac-Man must, we would not see the identical dots as identical at all. When the microscopic differences in each pixel are made large, each dot will possess a snowflake's uniqueness, and the acquisition of each--no, the experience of each--will bring the Pac-Man a very specific and distinct joy or sorrow. The dots all rack up points equally of course; in retrospect, however, some are revealed as wrong choices, links in a chain of wrong choices that trace out a wrong path leading to a withering demise beneath the adorable and utterly unforgiving eyes of Blinky, Inky, Pinky or Clyde. As anyone who ever played the game seriously must know, the order in which the dots are experienced is of great importance. For each labyrinth, there are rigid and precise patterns through the maze--i.e., specific sequences of dot acquisition--that, if followed with a samurai's unwavering, arrow-into-hell certainty, allow the knowing Pac-Man to ascend from level to level with Zen ease and deliberateness.

An often-overlooked, seemingly minor feature of the game has implications which, once unraveled, are more radical than anything heretofore discussed. In the middle of each maze, on the left and right sides of the labyrinth, there are two identical tunnels that lead off the borders of the screen. These tunnels are connected, with the left tunnel leading to the right, and the right to the left. In itself, this disappearing off one side of the screen to reappear on the opposite side broke no new ground. In Atari's Asteroids, for instance, a player's ship can do as much.

When an Asteroids ship leaves the screen, however, it reappears on the other side instantaneously; thus, the three-dimensional space described by Asteroids' two-dimensional screen is a continuous, perfect sphere. In Pac-Man, this is not the case at all. When a Pac-Man disappears into one of the off-screen mid-maze tunnels, there is a lag of about a half second before he reemerges on the other side. Assuming his speed remains constant, we can extrapolate some other-dimensional space of approximately six dots' length that the Pac-Man must traverse each time he goes through the off-screen tunnel. Were it not for the pursuing ghosts, he could remain in this off-screen space indefinitely.

In its evocation of an unseen world beyond the rectangle of the seen screen, Pac-Man forces us to recon with a space that is real, yet never experienced directly, empirically. An area where no points can be earned, yet one crucial to the successful completion of the higher-level screens. The truly tapped-in player never forgets the off-screen tunnels, like a religious man with one mental foot planted firmly in the hereafter.

Pac-Man is the world's first metaphysical video game. Like a black hole's event horizon, the impassable barrier of its CRT screen hides a richness we can speculate about but never experience directly. What happens in its unseen regions? Perhaps the laws that reign there are not the brutal laws of the maze. Perhaps the tunnels move through an endless Valhalla of energizer dots with no ghosts in sight, tantalizingly close, if only we could break free.

There is a world beneath the glass that we can never know.
Apologies for the X-Treme length of this, but it was already a pretty odd thread when I got here, dammit!
posted by idontlikewords at 5:30 PM on November 1, 2006 [4 favorites]

"Computer games don't affect kids; I mean if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music."
posted by nightchrome at 5:35 PM on November 1, 2006 [2 favorites]

I enjoyed that. The punchline is elegant in its simplicity.

posted by The God Complex at 5:57 PM on November 1, 2006

This is good, instead of destroying a pretty weak post, the comments have made it much better, and worthy of being a FPP.
posted by CaptMcalister at 5:59 PM on November 1, 2006

Metafilter: The comments can fix crap posts.
yes the post made me laugh, but it's low-rent.
posted by ernie at 6:17 PM on November 1, 2006

This post, to me, is a lovely, simple bit of humour in what has otherwise been a very difficult evening. Thanks much.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 6:44 PM on November 1, 2006

Actually the smaller section does resemble Pac-Man just before he dies.

Between birth, eating, moving and finally death, Pac-Man describes all phases of the circle from nothingness itself just after death, to perfectly circular wholeness.

In this we find the true zen-nature of Pac-Man. Not in the eating of dots, not in the running of the maze nor in the chasing or being chased.
posted by loquacious at 7:31 PM on November 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

This is one of the best FPPs ever.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 8:10 PM on November 1, 2006

The pie chart in this FPP is from this Something Awful thread.
posted by secret about box at 9:25 PM on November 1, 2006

Next you are going to tell us that Donkey Kong is an ode to man's struggle to suppress the raging beast of his id by climbing higher through the psychosexual stages, avoiding the flaming barrels of hyper-rationality and guilt in order to "save the princess" and become a fully balanced personality.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:01 PM on November 1, 2006

Wow, that SA thread kills...don't miss the entries from Heran Bago and Old Dun Cow.
posted by pinespree at 10:06 PM on November 1, 2006

File under "Why didn't I think of that?" I LOLed.
posted by zardoz at 11:36 PM on November 1, 2006

[this is good]
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:30 AM on November 2, 2006

Apologies for the X-Treme length of this, but it was already a pretty odd thread when I got here, dammit!

Yeah, and the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact gets you a week in the timeout corner and a mouth full of monster matt cock.

Where's the justice in this world?
posted by Meatbomb at 4:46 AM on November 6, 2006

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