Today in SF Sunday — loosely interpreted — we have a lovely post from the ever-insightful Brainpickings. Ray Bradbury, grandmaster of science fiction, offers advice to Snoopy (and by extension, us) on persevering in the face of rejection.
I’ve come to realize that no amount of success really takes the edge off of the fear or the sting of rejection. But it builds character, as Calvin’s dad was fond of saying, and makes success not only that much sweeter but possible in the first place. Mostly everything that’s done is a failure, and mostly everyone is bad at everything. That’s why talent stands out. And even if you have talent, you’re still going to produce a lot of crap. And even the best things you produce, the best things that anyone will ever produce, will eventually sink, all but forgotten, into the boiling sea of archetypes that is the collective human imagination.
I’m going to expand the concept of SF Sunday to include videogames (and probably every other field of creative endeavor). I very recently – as in two days ago – “rediscovered” videogames and what a balm to the soul they can be. I put “rediscovered” in quotes because I never stopped believing in the power of games — I just stopped availing myself of that power. From a life-consuming obsession in my formative years, to a mild Tetris obsession and then to virtually nothing during college (the odd Nintendo DS game being the rare exception), videogames were gradually edged out of my life.
Now the smartphone has remedied that. If you have an iPhone or an Android you can get Temple Run for free. The game is simplicity itself: run, jump, duck, and turn for your life, collecting coins and staying one step ahead of the weird demon-monkey creatures who want to devour your still-beating heart. And as an added bonus, you can (in the Android version at least) turn down the game sound and play your own music. Fleeing from the restless dead with an unholy relic in hand while “White Tooth Man” by Iron and Wine is one of the finest pleasures civilized life has to offer, if you ask me. It would be nice if you could select different avatars, but this is a relatively minor complaint**.
**Just checked the store. Minority characters are available, for a price payable in gold coins. Touche, Temple Run. Touche.
And for a mellower but equally addictive gaming experience, Osmos HD lets you guide a galactic mote into becoming bigger by absorbing smaller motes and avoiding larger ones. It sounds Darwinian, and it is. But it’s also calming, compelling, and a hell of a lot of fun. I don’t know if you can play your own music, but even if you could, the in-game music is no afterthought but a definite part of the experience. Osmos HD probably is as close to a meditative experience as you can have on the subway without decades of meditation under your belt chakra.
Finally, for those who love videogames but want to know what’s under the hood, Harvard is offering a free online course in computer science. Wired ran a review of a similar course offered by Stanford not too long ago, and if that’s any indication, the Harvard course is no lightweight offering. Extensive programming is part of the curriculum.
Finally, on a personal note, I have to start packing. Having a blog is a great excuse to procrastinate, by the by. Really looking forward to interning at COSMOS. Expect pictures and stories.