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In both phases, Nietzsche intends to inflict pain on his opponent, but only in the second phase do his actions read as unacceptable. Now, saying that actions that cause suffering in games are acceptable is not the same as saying that they are desirable. We might think that Epictetus tolerates the punishment of returning to the start because it accompanies a fun night with friends or a stimulating challenge, but that he would prefer a hypothetical version of the game that did not include that mechanic. Indeed, a later panel reveals that Epictetus has been playing the game in a way that minimizes the suffering central to Sorry!

Epictetus confesses that he has not been playing the game in the proper spirit. Even though such a cooperative approach to Sorry! The contribution of failure [to growth] becomes even more clearly visible when it is absent. It is not that growth cannot happen without failure, but that failure concretely pushes us toward personal improvement, and players often need to be pushed because they, as game designer David Jaffe has said, are fundamentally lazy.

Designer Soren Johnson of the Civilization series describes it as a general problem that players seek out the optimal path to play a game but stick to it even when they find it fundamentally uninteresting. In the case of a round of Civilization played against computer-controlled opponents, perhaps such players will only inconvenience themselves. My friends approached the game in the intended fashion, looking for opportunities to engage their foes in a dog fight. I, on the other hand, did no such thing.

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Instead, I simply circled my planes around the fray, avoiding combat at all costs because I did not want to risk getting fired upon. You might think that I was aiming to win the game by just waiting out the madness, as though I were Foxface during the Hunger Games. But really, I was just worried about the possibility of failure, and so I found a strategy that eliminated that possibility. The friend who had invited me was not amused. That seems like as good a place as any to leave off. Do you have a preferred way of resolving the paradox of failure? Let me know in the comments!

The premise of S.

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One might expect that Grove would employ a detached third-person point-of-view, the sort of fly-on-the-wall narration that one associates with Ernest Hemingway. Certainly that would be the advice I would give to a student who wished to write such a story.

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But that is not the strategy on display here. Natalia may not have emotion, but she does have subjectivity; to experience the world through her eyes must feel like something. Grove must somehow craft a narrative voice that conveys subjectivity while excluding emotion—no easy feat. The use of similes in The Waning Age accomplishes two things regarding emotion. First, similes remind the reader that whatever emotions that characters who have waned are expressing are simulations of emotions rather than genuinely felt experiences.

The act of simulating emotion is a constant in the novel, and the simile is the literary device best suited to highlighting that fact.

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Although the world of The Waning Age is defined by the loss of the capacity to feel emotion, it is not the case that emotion—or at least the appearance of it—is absent from society. Pharmaceutical companies like RealCorp earn immense profits from manufacturing synaffs, which only the wealthy can afford with any regularity. For those in the lower classes, however, one must simulate emotion from within.

Body language and gestures are a go-to device. Such a skill is especially useful living with someone as emotional as Calvino, for it allows Natalia to respond in a manner appropriate to the situation, even without experiencing the attendant emotion.

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But Grove tends to rely on the same handful of gestures, such as eye rolls and raised eyebrows, so those details gradually lose distinctiveness and, therefore, effectiveness. Whereas her examples of body language get repeated to the point of meaninglessness, her similes consistently find fresh material to work with. Figurative language is already a vital tool for describing emotion, as it can link an abstract, subjective experience to a concrete vehicle.

Furthermore, one can account for nuances in the tenor by changing the vehicle. There are a number of emotions and attitudes at work here.

This particular simile also suggests that Natalia sees them with a sympathetic eye, or at least knows that one ought to; she has, after all, been in that same situation. This is a sudden shift in perception, rather than a gradual dawning; otherwise he may have been likened to a deflating bouncy castle. All that is contained within the image of the falling sheet. Based on this discussion, one may think about figurative language in the same way that Tabby thinks about acting: one searches through their history and their knowledge for the proper experience, then channels that experience when they write.

Also like acting: it is always a simulation, never a reality. The vehicle may share important qualities with the tenor, but it is not identical to it.

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Similes make explicit both the act of comparison and the artificial nature of that comparison. In a simile, A is like B, but not B itself. She believes that Marlowe demonstrates how one can get by in an increasingly emotionless society:. However it happened, his Marlowe does it—even in a world still premised on the availability and influence of emotion, Marlowe moves through it, calm and unflappable, making it seem plausible that one might survive in a hard, sordid, unfair world without the soaring ecstasies and raptures of triumph and true loves that seem to carry every other character ever written.

Indeed, she later remarks that latching onto a fictional character as a sort of life guide is quite common in her society:. Lots of us witty people do it. Books and old screen dramas are like disorganized bargain stores where you hunt for an angle; someone memorable, someone to imitate, someone who gives you a usable script.


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Someone behaving with emotional coherence so that you can follow along, seeming both emotional and coherent without being either. It may distract them for a moment, but it will not get to the root of the problem: their incapacity for true empathy. It is that particular simile that allows Natalia to see the flaw in that system. This is a point that Stephen L.

As a result, when I use slang, solecisms, colloquialisms, snide talk or any kind of off-beat language, I do it deliberately. Whereas Chandler uses humorous similes to approach the language of another country, Natalia uses the same technique to approach the language of emotion. Unavoidably, every instance of figurative language will carry some connotation, some emotional charge, that colors how one views the situation. Even if Natalia cannot access a feeling through direct experience, she can still be conversant in emotion, as it were, by adopting this humorous style.

Granted, according to the internal logic of The Waning Age , humor is not exactly an emotion. In one of the essays that Calvino writes as part of Dr. If you laugh at a joke it is not the same as laughing because you are happy. It may be odd to treat a ten-year-old boy as an authority, especially when he is is talking to an actual academic, but as the only major character who still experiences natural emotion Calvino has more firsthand knowledge on the subject that anyone else.

Indeed, as Tanner goes on to suggest, humor can be useful in concealing emotion, in addition to approaching it. Sometimes his face gets red.


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Natalia has always been capable, physically, of having true emotion; she merely lacked the awareness to process her thoughts as such. At this point, we seem to have reached two contradictory conclusions. In the first part, we found that Grove use similes because Natalia cannot feel true emotion, while in the second part we found that Grove uses similes because Natalia secretly can feel true emotion. So which is it? In a certain sense, yes, this is a contradiction in the novel, one which is never resolved.

But this appears to be a contradiction that the novel is fine with—encourages, even. On multiple occasions, Calvino questions Dr. After all, Calvino reasons, if Dr. I feel that Grove is inviting the reader to take on the role of Calvino while reading The Waning Age , to question whether anything in the novel is truly without emotion. How do you think it handles writing an emotionless perspective in a first-person voice?

Are there any techniques that you think exemplify its success or failure in that regard? But I did enjoy thinking and writing about it, which I do believe is more important.