Friday, December 30, 2016

Surreal - Word of the Year

Strange Days
I want to take a moment to recognize a recent, fun bit of news.  Surreal was chosen as word of the year by Merriam-Webster.

There is some discussion of the meaning of surreal - with a focus on its dream-like aspect.  Slightly more interesting, there is also a discussion of when use of the term spiked in mass media.  No, not with the MCG announcement or the kickstarter campaign - sadly.  Instead, we get a brief discussion of various events that journalists often described as surreal.

The description of political violence as surreal reminds me of a personal experience with the surreal.  Back in the summer of 1996, I was visiting friends where we watched the movie Strange Days (totally underrated movie - check it out if you have the chance).  We finished the movie and the VCR switched back to the local broadcast.  We had been watching the olympics.  When we switched back the coverage showed smoke rising from rubble, panicked people on the street, and the confusion following the bombing.  Over all of this was the olympics coverage banner.  It is only mild spoilers to point out that Strange Days ends with scenes of violence on crowded, rubble strewn streets.  To switch back to see that in reality created a sense of surreality.  The coverage of the bombing seemed unreal, despite the clear video coverage, because of the contrast between the movie and the news.

The description from Merriam-Webster combined with this memory gave me a new way to express surrealism.  A simple (therefore incomplete) definition could be "a vivid yet unrealistic portrayal - as in a dream."  This is just another way to think about surrealism and how to fit surrealism into your RPGs (Invisible Sun or others).  Describe elements in great detail but with a sense of impossibility/unrealism.

Also, the Skunk Anansie song was awesome :)


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