It’s Confessional Time

I’m afraid of bookmarks. As a youth, I learned to find my place by touch, flipping through the pages until I hit that tell-tale looseness in the binding. If a book required I skip around, e.g. for endnotes or color plates, I’d mark my place with my second or third digits; since I liked to read in the bath, I got pretty good at holding the book, turning pages, and marking my place all with the same hand. Choose Your Own Adventure titles were an exception, requiring creative applications of all ten fingers and the occasional chin.

I’m getting better. At present, I have somewhere around 15 bookmarks, a motley assortment of pewter and paper, holograms and candy wrappers, bookstore inserts and scribbled notepaper. It’s more than I know what to do with. Anybody who came across the stiff-tongued pile on my bedroom floor might assume I’m some kind of savant with a long memory or a short attention span. In truth, I’ve taken to using these surplus tags to flag future reads–rather than marking pages read, I’m using them to mark the pages I hope one day to find time to read.

My phobia extends to web-browser bookmarks as well, which is why I can no longer remember the title of the fascinating blog (written by an individual who could easily have been my apocryphal twin sister, so eerily similar were her interests to my own) in which I once read the speculation that a horror game doesn’t necessarily have to be fun in order to scare the pants off you. In fact, fun-ness often decreases a video game’s capacity to scare, since horror was never intended to be comfortable. I’ve since extended the same assertion to the measure of a game’s artistic value, but that’s a discussion for another time.

The point I’m trying to reach is that Alone In The Dark: Inferno is seldom fun or scary. The game is filled with combustible items of all sorts, but quite often all I wanted to burn was the game disc itself. Yet, at the end of the ordeal, I couldn’t help feeling I was glad I’d given it a chance, and wishing more people had done the same. I tried to capture this odd ambivalence in my review for Innsmouth Free Press, which also begins in the confessional mode:

It’s a funny thing about Lucifer. For most of my childhood, I thought it was simply another pen name of the Prince of Darkness, interchangeable with “Satan”, “Beelzebub”, and that all-time favourite, “Devil” with a capital D. To be completely honest, I had somehow gotten it into my head that Satan was the Devil’s wife, but that’s another story. It was only much later, after I was introduced to the fascinating and diverse history of those manifold appellations, that I hit upon the true reason that the Angel of the Bottomless Pit bothers to fill in all those name tags: if they do indeed refer to the same entity, each name serves to highlight a different aspect of that entity. Lucifer, literally “Light-Bearer” or “Light-Bringer”, refers to the morning star, the angel before the fall. Thus, Lucifer’s a bit of a two-faced figure: a force of good, a source of light and hope, a beacon for those lost on Earth’s unpleasant waters, but one whose destiny is to become the Dissembler, Angel of Darkness, mankind’s greatest Adversary.

Read the full review here.

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