Not done with Duras.

Michaël Samyn, September 23, 2012

While Bientôt l’été contains many elements that refer to Marguerite Duras, there still remains something in her work that it doesn’t capture. It’s normal for a game design to deviate from its basic premises. I feel one has to let the design go where it wants to go. Stubbornly clinging to one’s initial ambitions is not only frustrating but it often brings unsatisfactory results.

Not that this particular aspect of Duras’ work was ever really on the agenda. It’s just something I notice when I read her work now. It’s simply inspiring for some other interactive piece.

Duras has a way of describing situations that has great emotional impact on me when I read it. And situations is exactly what I want to create with this technology (not stories, not causal chains, not moral choices). She never describes an entire scene for the purpose of imagining it visually. She mentions only certain elements. But each of them feels somewhat like a metaphor. Not a metaphor that clearly expresses or demonstrates a thought or feeling, more like an emotional trigger that remains more or less meaningless.

There is always a character involved. Although the descriptions may not be observations by the character. Maybe the character is just another element in the scene. But one we feel great empathy with. We are there with her.

I love the muteness of these situations. Not silence, as I feel a lot of ambient sound. But muteness, in the sense that something is palpably not being said. Something that cannot be said. Something that is either too horrible or too fragile to be spoken.

I want to create such a situation in the realtime medium. I’m not sure how to go about it. Maybe I should literally follow a passage in one of the books. And simply build in 3D whatever is described (and leave the gaps open?). Or maybe I should just aim for the atmosphere created by such passages and invent the situation (which is how we usually work).

Temps couvert.
Les baies sont fermées.
Du côté de la salle à manger où il se trouve, on ne peut pas voir le parc.
Elle, oui, elle voit, elle regarde. Sa table touche le rebord des baies.
A cause de la lumière gênante, elle plisse les yeux. Son regard va et vient. D’autres clients regardent aussi ces parties de tennis que lui ne voit pas.
Il n’a pas demandé de changer de table.
Elle ignore qu’on la regarde.
Il a plu ce matin vers cinq heures.

I love how Duras gradually introduces descriptions of the scenery or the situation, precisely at the moment when they feel metaphoric (even if their precise meaning is unclear).

Aujourd’hui c’est dans un temps mou et lourd que frappent les balles. Elle porte une robe d’été.

These quotes are from the first page of “Détruire dit-elle”. Maybe that’s what I should do. Just take this first page and make a videogame out of it.

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