One-Off

I finished Mandagon yesterday. It’s a short game, supposedly an hour or so, but according to Steam, I played for six. I liked poking around its little universe. I’m not sure it adheres to its stated philosophy, that you “discover what it means to make a true sacrifice,” I mean, you can’t die and are represented by a sort of squared off totem head so the stakes don’t seem high. But it was an affecting world to immerse in for a while.

It occurs to me, I did sacrifice my time, which is—in an existential sense—all I really have. Life can easily be viewed as a series of choices made over how to spend our almost completely unknowable cosmic bank balance of time.

Some artworks are meant to be experienced as such singular universes. Nothing about them existed before, nothing will follow. Series seem to be the norm, currently. So much of the media we consume is either hopeful about getting a sequel or two, followed by a prequel, perhaps, or it’s a TV show and the series is built-in. Music is less like this, but even so, listeners and fans tend to view a band’s work as a continuum, not necessarily as just a set of influences and ideas isolated as a moment in time and alone.

Those works come with their own kind of magic. Worlds are built for one image, one collection of songs, one story, as one object, almost. There’s no resurrection, just one life to live. It’s a special kind of beauty, one easily overlooked in times of furious expansion.