Review: on Stanley’s dubious Parable

Consider that “The Stanley Parable” game has actually little to say, and indeed actively denies criticism and introspection through simple, entirely non-mysterious obfuscation – a façade of a mystery

Despite being repeatedly told that only trick and game being played is on the player, the only trick and game being played in The Stanley Parable is on the player..

The ideology of The Stanley Parable

Stanley’s simple, explicit and utterly unconcealed ‘common sense’ surface message: “You don’t need to think; you’re as smart as the game is”

The subtle form of player mis-relationship to the asymmetric power of The Narrator being sold here is “Congratulations, son; you’re now in on the in-joke”

The joke itself however might be laughable, and worthy of cool philosophical doubt

More than just possibly pseudo-deep, consider The Stanley Parable artfully shallow, sidestepping criticism by having its own pseudo criticism embedded as the game’s very structure

T.S.P directly parallels the obscene comedy of Duck Soup: “Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot. But don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.” It’s not that T.S.P doesn’t sound clever and look sophisticated – but rather its cleverness itself  is highly limited and deceiving

Consider Stanley as a player slang term:

A “Stanley” – someone admired for the degree to which they cleverly deconstruct and appreciate entertaining, traditional postmodern gaming experiences which break the forth wall and provide endless meta-commentary

Rather than a symbol for some truer (video) reality beneath the lie, perhaps T.S.P is already a set of heavily codified Cultural (gaming) conventions that seem to come already open and ‘decoded’ – but which which in fact always need critically interpreting

What’s strangely amusing are the players of T.S.P on Youtube (often as egotistical as Stanley and his paltry, self-constructed universe) who are confused about what to do in the game. This is despite the fact the entire game constantly tells them they’re confused; and yet plain Confusion might all that might be happening. In short, T.S.P as a virtual nothing to write home about

As a parable, T.S.P does ‘conveys a meaning indirectly’ – but perhaps all it conveys is the strictly drab myth that it has anything to convey at all; perhaps all it has to convey is mere small potatoes

Asking the wrong questions

The fact that T.S.P throws up more questions than answers, doesn’t necessarily mean such questions are automatically worth asking

Stanley’s proud ideology, manifested as its surface: you’ll make a choice that does not matter – you’ll follow a story that has no end – you’ll play a game you cannot win; but rather than signposts for gaming expectations, these are its preexisting constraints

While many players state that “Duh, ‘there is no point’ is the entire point”, this is true nonsense masquerading as seemingly clever nonsense. T.S.P breaks no ‘forth wall'; perhaps the fourth wall does not exist

Perhaps the fourth wall is no less illusory than the other three – and may be in fact the most critically impenetrable

Maybe there’s no ‘metafiction’ at work in T.S.P either; perhaps its only metafiction is merely the as-said assumption of its existence; but then neither is there much ‘fiction’ either. This leaves The Actual Game – and maybe that’s the most virtual and problematic assertion of all

What T.S.P mistakes for transparency – some alleged Wizard Of Oz-like peek behind the making of the dubious video game sausage – is really an opaqueness of, and enabled by that very transparency

At no point is the player any deeper behind its persistent, blank surfaces; whatever shallowness displayed is indeed all that’s hidden, right before the eyes – a startling vacancy, hidden in plain sight

Yet even if the game dev admitted he had no idea what they were doing in T.S.P from the outset, this might still not make the game any less non-mysterious

The term “Autodidactic” may here be used as a criticism for a work (/schedule) ‘overly burdened with seemingly instructive, factual, or otherwise educational information in the holy name of Enjoyment‘ – but which exists to the detriment of the player

An illogical theory

Consider T.S.P as little more than an experiment; yet this is an experiment without a testable or even detectable hypothesis; it is it’s own, tauto-illogical hypothesis

There should be an option to play through T.S.P without “The Narrator” warden forever yapping uselessly to itself inside its own vacated brain. Consider the whole game as Stanley’s disembodied body which produces his voice

To be able to play ‘the game’ suggested and implied by Stanley The Narrator without his commentary as the truer (ludo-narratively) dissonant goal of T.S.P (note: am not sure what this means)

That everything exists at the (literal – virtual) surface of T.S.P is not / is hardly any kind of revelation; that little but nothingness exists as that surface might be

The realer reason ‘game levels that look like abandoned stage sets from a nameless postmodern movie’ feel so interesting and seductive to the player, might have something to do with the generalized, all-encompassing naturalized artificiality of daily Western existence

The totalizing degree to which modern wired citizens are always already fully embedded in/as global simulation (capital, information, power, language, etc) that always proudly presents itself naturally as ‘guaranteed entirely artificial’ – that is, fully open as to it’s (oh-so inevitable) facades of endless artifice and ‘free’ play

Reality Television for PZombies

The people who take part in “Reality TV” shows would not take part if they weren’t already fully convinced of the appeal and ‘truth’ of the profound fakeness of the show; their direct involvement is entirely based on their unquestioning acceptance that reality simply isn’t worth caring about – not when you’ve this many (forever unseen) viewers checking you out

Stanley clearly states about his Game / the private game that is himself: “’s actually best if you don’t know anything about it before you play it”; in fact Stanley knows little before, during, or after; to use an old Hip Hop term, he’s just ‘played himself’. For all his clever talk, he’s dangerously bereft of inner knowledge

That is, rather than ‘mad’, Stanley / The Narrator is more usefully to be considered fully automatic; a PZombie

The Stanley Parable
Teaching Stanley’s dubious parable

To a distinctly indistinct Artificial Intelligence such as Stanley, all intelligence is artificial – and therefore to be treated inhumanly – with polite contempt and passive-aggressive dominance; a condescending Father Figurine who always knows best

The Ongoing Undeath of The Author (Player)

In which players smugly consider they’re always already playing “The Stanley Parable” – and that their warm feelings of being unable and-or unwilling to wake up from it are part and parcel of its contemptuously cynical design; yet the only (ultimate, ie. from the very outset) irony however is that they still do not wake up

Sure, “The Narrator” is not to be trusted; the irony however is that players believe both his lies and his truths

The pathetic, even anti-philosophical non-question “Is life a dream?” exists only for the shallow and self absorbed; for those who willingly submit to useless illusions concerning what’s (unconsciously – yet explicitly) already considered both Real andor Fake

Even as pseudo choices, perhaps both Real and Fake in T.S.P are still both as fake as Coke or Pepsi – as is both of them combined (the player is instructed that both Real and Fake are to be transcended through it’s own, more truthful ‘third way’) – the way of Play, perhaps?

One imagines a dim (in all senses) future where “The Stanley Parable” is gently provided as a stupid (ideological) test to potential full time employees of a faceless hyper-bureaucratic institution for wilfully self-incarcerated players

The job is yours, Stanley, only to the degree to which you ‘get it’ – the degree to which you’re intelligent enough to understand the degree of T.S.P’s true darkly artificial intelligence with a sly, knowing wink and a ‘in-on-the-in-joke’ nudge” (to the fellow inmates) – The Narrator

It’s not that “The Narrator” tells players both lies and truths – but that they listen to him at all – and indeed feel secure in all that he tells them; he thinks out loud so that they don’t have to

Empty signs pointing nowhere

T.S.P as an empty sign, signifying our depthless, sterile, relentlessly and ruthlessly clever, vain and endlessly well designed video game hyperreality panopticon, forever self-policed by those who can but endlessly laugh – precisely because they’re know they’re *not* free (yet still exist within Stanley’s strictly enforced ideological limits)

Rather than ‘self awareness of limitations’, T.S.P might merely encourage the continued playing of artful games

It is precisely because of the the fact the game outright tells players “This world was not made for you to understand” that The Stanley Parable has much to aggressively teach (read: instruct); an entirely mystery free ontological mystery

To willingly fall under The Stanley Parable’s stifling, lightly perfumed spell is to be gently, yet firmly crushed under the polite corporate weight of an empty office filing cabinet

= = =

Wait a sec, let’s begin again. Does this mean I get the job? – R.H.D

↑Back to top

On Zizek’s empty world

Re-deconstructing Zizek’s deliciously odd opening statement in the 2005 documentary about him

Not despite but because of appearances – the world often seems empty and devoid

On listening to the opening remarks of the “Zizek!” documentary, one would like to explore Zizek’s unusual theoretical viewpoints or ‘coordinates’ which sounds like a form of that old Speculative Realist Fanfiction

What would be my, how should I call it, spontaneous attitude towards the universe? It’s a very dark one

What a strange, interesting thing to say

Nobody asks this of anybody at a party. Imagine asking someone what their ‘spontaneous attitude is towards someone who asks about their spontaneous attitude toward the universe’

It’s often a bad idea to answer your own questions; it’s often not possible to do anything but all-too conveniently answer your own questions – you often have to answer your own questions because nobody else is asking them

Perhaps they’re not asking them because they’re not worth asking and-or answering

There’s nothing spontaneous in or about humans – nor such as thing as a spontaneous attitude

What does he even mean by ‘the universe’

What humans tag “The Universe” could well be just another ‘Big Other’

In which “The universe” is no less ‘dark’ than anyone’s pseudo spontaneous anything

The first one, the first thesis would have been: a kind of total vanity

There is no ‘first thesis’ – to think so as the true and only vanity

Ascribing the term ‘vanity’ to ‘the universe’ seems interesting; as though it’s displayed for it’s own amusement

It’s more certain that Zizek displays to himself for his own amusement

There is nothing, basically. I mean it quite literally

The word ‘is’ acts in direct contrast to any attempt to describe ‘nothingness’

Re: the word ‘basically’ – even ‘Nothingness’ as an exaggerated overwrought term

‘Literally nothing': hyperbole intended for emphasis – again, a connection to ‘vanity’?

‘Literally nothing’ is akin to the term ‘ninja assassin'; each of these phrases contains an obsolete word

Like, ultimately , ultimately there are just some fragments, some vanishing things, if you look at the universe it’s one big void

If there’s just Void there is no ‘ultimately’, nor any fragments. Nothing vanishes

“If you look [..]” – it’s possible to read this as ‘looking itself is The Void’

Re ‘One’ Big Void; there is no one – nor even zero

But then how do things emerge? Here, I feel a kind of spontaneous affinity with quantum physics

The moment ‘quantum’ is mentioned, Zizek is exposed to a Sokal Reversal (if not already – by default)

What makes Zizek think things emerge? From where does this idea of a void having to always be ‘pregnant’ with potential forms emerge?

Why not the reverse as well – to ‘emerge into/as voidness’

I feel a kind of spontaneous affinity with quantum physics

Don’t we all, Dahlink?

This phrase would make a great t-shirt idea (though for an extra dimensional twist, some would add the prefix ‘bio’ to quantum)

Where, you know, the idea there is that, the universe is kind of a void – but a positively charged void

Re “You know” – as if to say, in passing, casually, as though commonly understood

‘Positively charged void'; poppycock – all this talk of positive and negative polarities should have died with (er, Jung’s?) enivitable misreading of the I-Ching / Taoism

But then, particular things appear when, the balance of the void is disturbed, and I like this idea spontaneously very much

No things, no void, no / just ‘disturbance’  (primal unmanifesed chaos)

What Zizek really likes (unconsciously) is the idea that he’s able to be ‘spontaneous’

The fact that, it’s not just nothing, things are out there, it means something went terribly wrong

‘It’ is not an ‘it’

‘Just’ is a telling word; as though ‘nothing’ – if it’s all there is – isn’t already more than enough

Since nothing happened, one might simply conclude ‘terrible wrongness’ and ‘void’ as the same nonthing

That, what we call creation is a kind of a cosmic imbalance, cosmic catastrophe. That things exist by mistake

Perhaps there’s someone who doesn’t go around calling creation ‘creation’

In which even the void notexists by mistake

In which even ‘voidness’ is ‘arbitrary’

That we call things (which do not exist) ‘things’ mistakenly

There is no ‘cosmic’, merely ‘exteremly local fragmentation'; hyper-pointilism; nodality

Language as the truer catastrophe

And I’m even ready to go to the end, and to claim that, the only way to counteract it, is to, assume the mistake and go to the end, and we have a name for this; it’s called love

Zizek wants to go to the end but perhaps he hasn’t even begun to tackle the (nonexistent) ‘beginning’

To counteract something is too often to falsely assume there’s anything there to act against

‘Assume the mistake’? Why not just assume that every philosophical assumption is mistakenly philosophical?

‘We have a name for this'; sounds like cheesy dialog spoken by some unlikely female alien in an old episode of Star Trek

Isn’t love precisely this kind of a cosmic imbalance?


Going from the ‘alleged universal as Other’ to the ‘actually private (ie. public) and yet unconscious’ as a Zizekian trademark

I was always disgusted with this notion of “I love the world”, “universal love”. I don’t like the world. I don’t know how I – uh – I’m basically somewhere in between “I hate the world” or “I’m indifferent towards it”. But the whole of reality, it’s just it – it is stupid, it’s out there, I don’t care about it

Nobody says “I love the world” except imaginary 60’s dropouts in the mind of Jeffrey Lebowski

The world ‘world’ is already a fragmentary abstraction

To hate the world or to be entirely indifferent toward ‘it’ however (not that it’s an ‘it’ anyhow) is to be like virtually everybody else

‘The universe’ is not indifferent toward Zizek or anyone else; another example of humans ascribing dubious human values to some imagined (profoundly empty and mysterious) ‘whole’ / hole

Love for me is an extremely violent act. Love is not “I love you all”. Love means, I pick out something and—you know it’s again this structure of imbalance. Even if this something is just a small detail, a fragile individual person, I say, “I love you more than anything else.” In this quite formal sense, love is evil

Despite what he says about Lacan’s own historical appearance on TV in France, consider Zizek’s opening statement is a thin, strongly egotistic display of his attempt to appear shocking, provocative or ‘edgy’, as though what he’s saying is something new or profound

“Love is Evil” as a cool t-shirt idea, though some prefer “Love makes you fat”, or “LIVE EVOL”

Private selfish ‘love’ and universal ‘love’ as one and the same bad ideology

↑Back to top