mimesis? mimesis?

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Ricardo Dague

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Aug 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/21/98
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What are the posters of this group (or some of them) using "mimesis" to
mean? Some quality of an IF story without which it's unrealistic?

I see the word over and over on the group. A posting says something bad
"breaks mimesis" or something good "upholds mimesis." But when I got
around to opening a dictionary I found a biological term "a close
external resemblance of an animal to another that is distasteful or
harmful to predators of the first."

Is there something I don't know? Is the PC of "A Change in the Weather"
actually a snake who can make himself look like an eagle to an otter? ;-)

--Ricardo

P.S. My (very small) Comp98 entry will be finished real soon now, as
soon as I can find one final puzzle.


Giles Boutel

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Aug 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/21/98
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Ricardo Dague <joy...@relaypoint.net> wrote in article
<Fr3D1.326$J3.66...@nnrp2.ni.net>...


> What are the posters of this group (or some of them) using "mimesis" to
> mean? Some quality of an IF story without which it's unrealistic?
>
> I see the word over and over on the group. A posting says something bad
> "breaks mimesis" or something good "upholds mimesis." But when I got
> around to opening a dictionary I found a biological term "a close
> external resemblance of an animal to another that is distasteful or
> harmful to predators of the first."
>
> Is there something I don't know? Is the PC of "A Change in the Weather"
> actually a snake who can make himself look like an eagle to an otter? ;-)
>

A series of posts by Roger Giner-Sorolla, titled _Crimes against Mimesis_ ,
in 1996 dealt with this issue - I have taken the liberty of quoting his
essential definition:

"As stated before, I see successful fiction as an imitation or "mimesis"
of reality, be it this world's or an alternate world's. Well-written
fiction leads the reader to temporarily enter and believe in the reality
of that world. A crime against mimesis is any aspect of an IF game that
breaks the coherence of its fictional world as a representation of
reality."

The entire series of posts is available on the web at
http://bang.ml.org/library/design/mimesis.html - well worth a read!


Joe Mason

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Aug 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/21/98
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In article <Fr3D1.326$J3.66...@nnrp2.ni.net>,

Ricardo Dague <joy...@relaypoint.net> wrote:
>What are the posters of this group (or some of them) using "mimesis" to
>mean? Some quality of an IF story without which it's unrealistic?

Yep, pretty close. I use it to refer to the atmosphere which a game has
that lets you forget its a game. Being able to carry only 4 objects, no
matter what size they are, breaks mimesis because it becomes obvious that
the game is managing your inventory. But being able to carry an unlimited
amount of stuff also breaks mimesis, because its hard to picture someone
really carting all that stuff around.

The best mimesis is a happy medium, with none of the game mechanics showing.

Alternative definition: Mimesis is a plant. See the Comp 97 game, _Sins
Against Mimesis_.

Joe

Phil Goetz

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Aug 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/21/98
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In article <Fr3D1.326$J3.66...@nnrp2.ni.net>,
Ricardo Dague <joy...@relaypoint.net> wrote:
>What are the posters of this group (or some of them) using "mimesis" to
>mean? Some quality of an IF story without which it's unrealistic?
>
>I see the word over and over on the group. A posting says something bad
>"breaks mimesis" or something good "upholds mimesis." But when I got
>around to opening a dictionary I found a biological term "a close
>external resemblance of an animal to another that is distasteful or
>harmful to predators of the first."
>
>Is there something I don't know? Is the PC of "A Change in the Weather"
>actually a snake who can make himself look like an eagle to an otter? ;-)
>
>--Ricardo
>
>P.S. My (very small) Comp98 entry will be finished real soon now, as
>soon as I can find one final puzzle.
>

I think a lot of people here regularly use "mimesis" to mean what is
usually called "suspension of disbelief". "mimetic" is used to mean
something that reenacts life; it's a drama term. Of course, none of
our text adventures ever reenact life, unless you live in Middle Earth
or on Rigel.

Phil go...@zoesis.com


Adam J. Thornton

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Aug 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/21/98
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In article <6rk8u5$34c$1...@prometheus.acsu.buffalo.edu>,

Phil Goetz <go...@cs.buffalo.edu> wrote:
>I think a lot of people here regularly use "mimesis" to mean what is
>usually called "suspension of disbelief". "mimetic" is used to mean
>something that reenacts life; it's a drama term. Of course, none of
>our text adventures ever reenact life, unless you live in Middle Earth
>or on Rigel.

Or in a lunatic asylum.

Speaking of which--do you still have _Asylum_ source? I'd be very curious
to see how it compares to the current state of the art.

Adam
--
ad...@princeton.edu
"There's a border to somewhere waiting, and a tank full of time." - J. Steinman

Drone

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Aug 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/21/98
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In article <Fr3D1.326$J3.66...@nnrp2.ni.net>, Ricardo Dague
<joy...@relaypoint.net> wrote:

> What are the posters of this group (or some of them) using "mimesis" to
> mean? Some quality of an IF story without which it's unrealistic?
>
> I see the word over and over on the group. A posting says something bad
> "breaks mimesis" or something good "upholds mimesis." But when I got
> around to opening a dictionary I found a biological term "a close
> external resemblance of an animal to another that is distasteful or
> harmful to predators of the first."
>
> Is there something I don't know? Is the PC of "A Change in the Weather"
> actually a snake who can make himself look like an eagle to an otter? ;-)
>
> --Ricardo
>
> P.S. My (very small) Comp98 entry will be finished real soon now, as
> soon as I can find one final puzzle.

Mimesis is an out-of-vogue concept from literary criticism: meaning, how
much a work echos reality, or doesn't break the "fourth wall". In other
words, how much a medium succeeds at not calling attention to itself. It
passed out of use when the idea that art should exactly reflect reality
passed out of use (decades, some would say a century, ago). But IF being
at an early stage where it seems to have to wrestle with itself to tell a
story, the term has found a new life here.

Drone.

Andrew Plotkin

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Aug 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/21/98
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Drone (foxg...@globalserve.net) wrote:

> Mimesis is an out-of-vogue concept from literary criticism: meaning, how
> much a work echos reality, or doesn't break the "fourth wall". In other
> words, how much a medium succeeds at not calling attention to itself. It
> passed out of use when the idea that art should exactly reflect reality
> passed out of use (decades, some would say a century, ago). But IF being
> at an early stage where it seems to have to wrestle with itself to tell a
> story, the term has found a new life here.

I'm fascinated.

Because the concept of "mimesis" (in literature) seems quite current to me
-- because what I read is pretty much entirely science fiction and
fantasy.

SF&F still does mimesis. It sincerely tries to reflect reality. That
sounds silly, but it's true. SF&F is lauded for *not* calling attention to
its artificiality, for instead making a believable world that the reader
can lose himself in, disbelief suspended without strain.

(No, not entirely. There are plenty of works that play fourth-wall games
-- _The Princess Bride_, for example, or Barnes' _One For the Morning
Glory_. But these are done for comic effect! If it's serious, fantasy
readers (at least I) perceive the work as "literary", and classify it more
as mainstream than as fantasy.)

Maybe this means science fiction and fantasy are genres permanantly
stuck in a juvenile state of development. Which is fine with me. :-)
(In fact, literary critics probably *do* say that.)

Also note that fantasy and science fiction are by far the most popular
IF genres.

--Z

--

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the
borogoves..."

Mary K. Kuhner

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Aug 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/21/98
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In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>,
Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote:

>Maybe this means science fiction and fantasy are genres permanantly
>stuck in a juvenile state of development. Which is fine with me. :-)

In much the same way that humans are primates permanently stuck
in a juvenile state of development? Sure, sounds pretty good to
me too.

Mary Kuhner mkku...@genetics.washington.edu

Daryl McCullough

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Aug 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/21/98
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erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin) says...

>Because the concept of "mimesis" (in literature) seems quite current to me
>-- because what I read is pretty much entirely science fiction and
>fantasy.

This is somewhat off the topic, but does anyone have any idea why
some people (my wife is one) absolutely detest anything smacking
of science-fiction or fantasy? Getting back to IF, in my
experience, pretty much the same people detest (or at least, have
zero interest in) IF.

Daryl McCullough
CoGenTex, Inc.
Ithaca, NY

Andrew Plotkin

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Aug 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/21/98
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Daryl McCullough (da...@cogentex.com) wrote:

> This is somewhat off the topic, but does anyone have any idea why
> some people (my wife is one) absolutely detest anything smacking
> of science-fiction or fantasy? Getting back to IF, in my
> experience, pretty much the same people detest (or at least, have
> zero interest in) IF.

Have you asked your wife?

I don't understand it; but then I can't even explain why I ignore anything
which *isn't* SF/F. The best I can come up with is "It's boring". But I've
enjoyed some very, very subtle SF/F books -- books that could have been
entirely mainstream, except for a little twist of something else at the
end.

(_Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary_ by Pamela Dean. _Inversions_ by Iain M.
Banks.)

Mary K. Kuhner (mkku...@kingman.genetics.washington.edu) wrote:
> In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>,
> Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote:
>
> >Maybe this means science fiction and fantasy are genres permanantly
> >stuck in a juvenile state of development. Which is fine with me. :-)
>
> In much the same way that humans are primates permanently stuck
> in a juvenile state of development? Sure, sounds pretty good to
> me too.

ObSF: The Roc story in Niven's _The Flight of the Horse_.

Daryl McCullough

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Aug 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/21/98
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In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>, erky...@netcom.com says...

>
>Daryl McCullough (da...@cogentex.com) wrote:
>
>> This is somewhat off the topic, but does anyone have any idea why
>> some people (my wife is one) absolutely detest anything smacking
>> of science-fiction or fantasy? Getting back to IF, in my
>> experience, pretty much the same people detest (or at least, have
>> zero interest in) IF.
>
>Have you asked your wife?

She's not interested in it enough to even talk about *why*
she's not interested. Like my attitude towards daytime soap
operas, I suppose. She basically says that she doesn't like
things that are too "weird". For some reason, though, she's
not bothered by South American magical realism (such as some
of Gabriel Garcia Marquez or whoever wrote "Like Water for
Chocolate"). I guess in those sorts of stories, the weird
things are not supposed to be taken literally.

Drone

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Aug 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/22/98
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In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>, erky...@netcom.com (Andrew
Plotkin) wrote:

> [Drone wrote]


> > Mimesis is an out-of-vogue concept from literary criticism: meaning, how
> > much a work echos reality, or doesn't break the "fourth wall". In other
> > words, how much a medium succeeds at not calling attention to itself. It
> > passed out of use when the idea that art should exactly reflect reality
> > passed out of use (decades, some would say a century, ago). But IF being
> > at an early stage where it seems to have to wrestle with itself to tell a
> > story, the term has found a new life here.
>
> I'm fascinated.
>

> Because the concept of "mimesis" (in literature) seems quite current to me
> -- because what I read is pretty much entirely science fiction and
> fantasy.
>

> SF&F still does mimesis. It sincerely tries to reflect reality. That
> sounds silly, but it's true. SF&F is lauded for *not* calling attention to
> its artificiality, for instead making a believable world that the reader
> can lose himself in, disbelief suspended without strain.
>

> [snip]


>
> Maybe this means science fiction and fantasy are genres permanantly
> stuck in a juvenile state of development. Which is fine with me. :-)

> (In fact, literary critics probably *do* say that.)
>

Well, I am a big SF fan. But I don't deny that SF is at an earlier stage
of development. IF is at even an earlier stage. But I wouldn't call either
of them 'juvenile'.

Realism isn't something that a medium outgrows. But the perception that it
is *required* for good craftsmanship is, in fact, something that most art
forms tend to outgrow over time. A David Lynch film (or even a Tim Burton
film) would never fly with audiences that haven't outgrown that
perception. And yet, we can still have absolute respect and admiration for
something as spot-on realistic as 'Saving Private Ryan'.

So my hope for the future of IF is that it will be another canopy that
encompasses different exciting influences and traditions. It certainly
seems on its way.

Drone.

P.S. There has been a smattering of SF that isn't overly concerned with
hiding the medium and seeming objectively real. Vonnegut, for example.

Branko Collin

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Aug 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/22/98
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On 21 Aug 1998 15:07:56 -0700, da...@cogentex.com (Daryl McCullough)
wrote:

That would be the reason, I guess. The thing with willful suspension
of disbelief is that it does not prescribe what you have to want to
believe.

(I hope that last sentence was still English.)

--
Branko Collin: col...@xs4all.nl
<<I would hate to see you a few years from now trying to pick
someone up with "Hey baby, I was voted the sex symbol of the
last millenium.">> - Anson Turner about Graham Nelson

graham...@hotmail.com

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Aug 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/22/98
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Ricardo Dague <joy...@relaypoint.net> wrote:
> What are the posters of this group (or some of them) using "mimesis" to
> mean? Some quality of an IF story without which it's unrealistic?

Imagine yourself watching a movie, and you're really getting into it. At
some point, there is an incredibly crappy special effect, and you think "Boy,
what a crappy special effect! Oh, yeah! I'm watching a movie, aren't I?"

It is this point at which you consciously remember that you are watching a
movie (or playing a game) that mimesis is broken.

- GLYPH

-----== Posted via Deja News, The Leader in Internet Discussion ==-----
http://www.dejanews.com/rg_mkgrp.xp Create Your Own Free Member Forum

tv's Spatch

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Aug 23, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/23/98
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On Sat, 22 Aug 1998 23:15:40 GMT, graham...@hotmail.com wrote:

>
>
> Ricardo Dague <joy...@relaypoint.net> wrote:
>> What are the posters of this group (or some of them) using "mimesis" to
>> mean? Some quality of an IF story without which it's unrealistic?
>
>Imagine yourself watching a movie, and you're really getting into it. At
>some point, there is an incredibly crappy special effect, and you think "Boy,
>what a crappy special effect! Oh, yeah! I'm watching a movie, aren't I?"
>
>It is this point at which you consciously remember that you are watching a
>movie (or playing a game) that mimesis is broken.

Or, as we like to say here in my little bubble of reality, "So much
for momentary suspension of disbelief."

I find it harder to use that analogy in IF, though, since IF isn't as
passive as watching the television or a movie screen. You're
providing input and processing the feedback instead of just sitting in
your chair popping Milk Duds and Sour Patch Kids.

However, as I explore the areas and map the progress in my head, I
create an environment of sorts. That environment stays with me, the
imaginary map and those populating it, and I can replay scenes or come
up with new ideas and tacks sometimes when I'm far from the game.
Does that count as mimesis, or some reasonable fascimile thereof?


--
der spatchel reading, mass 01867
resident cranky fovea.retina.net 4000

"Run, you pigeons, it's Robert Frost!" - Manuel Calveras

Branko Collin

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Aug 23, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/23/98
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On Sat, 22 Aug 1998 15:02:33 -0500, foxg...@globalserve.net (Drone)
wrote:
>In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>, erky...@netcom.com (Andrew
>Plotkin) wrote:

[literature has outgrown realism, SF has not]


>> Maybe this means science fiction and fantasy are genres permanantly
>> stuck in a juvenile state of development. Which is fine with me. :-)
>> (In fact, literary critics probably *do* say that.)
>
>Well, I am a big SF fan. But I don't deny that SF is at an earlier stage
>of development. IF is at even an earlier stage. But I wouldn't call either
>of them 'juvenile'.
>
>Realism isn't something that a medium outgrows. But the perception that it
>is *required* for good craftsmanship is, in fact, something that most art
>forms tend to outgrow over time. A David Lynch film (or even a Tim Burton
>film) would never fly with audiences that haven't outgrown that
>perception. And yet, we can still have absolute respect and admiration for
>something as spot-on realistic as 'Saving Private Ryan'.

I feel that media that have outgrown realism could only have done so
because there was already a significant body of realistic work. I
cannot think of any medium that has started out and become successful
with unrealistic work.

We covet the things we see, right? ;-)

J. Robinson Wheeler

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Aug 23, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/23/98
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tv's Spatch wrote:
> graham...@hotmail.com wrote:

> >Imagine yourself watching a movie, and you're really getting into it. At
> >some point, there is an incredibly crappy special effect, and you think "Boy,
> >what a crappy special effect! Oh, yeah! I'm watching a movie, aren't I?"
> >
> >It is this point at which you consciously remember that you are watching a
> >movie (or playing a game) that mimesis is broken.
>

> I find it harder to use that analogy in IF, though [...]


I think the best example I can think of for shattering movie-watching
mimesis -- and it also seems the most like an example of IF mimesis-break --
is to see the boom microphone dipping into the top of the screen. This
is absolutely devastating to the reality of the movie, no matter what
movie it is, or what's going on. That little microphone makes the people
up there actors saying lines and hitting their marks, playing to a camera,
even if you see it just for a split second. Ruinous.

If you've never seen this happen, I hope I haven't made you look for
it. You usually have to go to a bad movie theater that doesn't know how
to crop the film for projection, like a college-run film series or
something...


--
J. Robinson Wheeler
whe...@jump.net http://www.jump.net/~wheeler/jrw/home.html

Doeadeer3

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Aug 23, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/23/98
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In article <35dfe20d....@news.ne.mediaone.net>, spa...@spatch.net.nospam
(tv's Spatch) writes:

>I find it harder to use that analogy in IF, though, since IF isn't as
>passive as watching the television or a movie screen.

[snip]

>However, as I explore the areas and map the progress in my head, I
>create an environment of sorts. That environment stays with me, the
>imaginary map and those populating it, and I can replay scenes or come
>up with new ideas and tacks sometimes when I'm far from the game.
>Does that count as mimesis, or some reasonable fascimile thereof?

Yes.

Somethings that break mimesis for me in IF (seeing the overhanging mike):

1. Some object prominent in a room description, yet when I try to examine it,
"You can't see any such thing."

2. A container, when you try to manipulate it, turns out not to really be one.
"That is not something you can open." (Ditto supporter, you can't put anything
on it.) To me, tables should be tables. If there is a table, I expect to be
able to put things on it.

3. Being forced by the plot line to do something against my normal moral code.
I.E., attacking or killing someone. Theft is okay, if that is the only way I
can accomplish something and the character (plot) is written in such a way that
that is obvious. (And the normal, "grab everthing in sight", could often be
considered a form of stealing.) But for other negative actions I want a choice
(a valid one).

4. Oh, a biggee. Having to search too hard for the correct command (verb) to do
some action undercovered by the standard library. Then I am all too aware that
I am trying to get around someone's bad programming (and working with a
parser).

I am sure, with time, I could think of tons more.

Doe :-)


Doe doea...@aol.com (formerly known as FemaleDeer)
****************************************************************************
"In all matters of opinion, our adversaries are insane." Mark Twain

L. Ross Raszewski

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Aug 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/24/98
to
In article <199808231828...@ladder01.news.aol.com>,

doea...@aol.com (Doeadeer3) wrote:
>
> 3. Being forced by the plot line to do something against my normal moral code.
> I.E., attacking or killing someone. Theft is okay, if that is the only way I
> can accomplish something and the character (plot) is written in such a way
that
> that is obvious. (And the normal, "grab everthing in sight", could often be
> considered a form of stealing.) But for other negative actions I want a choice
> (a valid one).

Now, this one doesn't usually bother me. Partly, because I am a man of loose
morals, but mostly because I don';t consider it to be _my_ moral code that is
so important as _the player character_'s moral code. Now, in a game where I
am playing the nameless-faceless adventurer, I'm usually fairly well prepared
to do unscrupulous things, as the generic adventurer has always been, to me,
the sort of person who plays fast and loose, hacking up gentlemen thieves and
trolls. In the games that go way out of their way to imply that _I_ am the
adventurer, of course, I'm somewhat more conservative, but then my mimesis is
already broken, because I know that I'm _not_ the adventurer, as interesting
things like that don't usually happen to me. Also, I can't inherhantly tell
which way is north.

On the other hand, I don't really give a hoot about mimesis, so I usually let
it slide (though I really get annoyed at all those games that insist on
refering to you only as "you", even when it's awkward in the text)

Lelah Conrad

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Aug 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/24/98
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On 23 Aug 1998 18:28:12 GMT, doea...@aol.com (Doeadeer3) wrote:

>3. Being forced by the plot line to do something against my normal moral code.
>I.E., attacking or killing someone.

SLIGHT SPOILER FOR FIREBIRD BELOW

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Heh. This reminds me of when I played Firebird (overall an enjoyable
tale.) To even get the game rolling you have to kill a bird at the
beginning. Being a nonhunter and a vegetarian, it did not even OCCUR
to me that I had to kill the bird, even though I had a bow and arrow.
I ran around those woods forever, trying to get started, thinking
"What the *&^%?" Finally, I asked somebody for a hint, and felt
appropriately foolish. So much for mimesis.

Lelah

(I generally agree with Ross's comments about mimesis. I *never*
forget that I'm playing a game, reading a book, watching a movie, etc.
I think it's an overambitious goal and it mystifies me why people seem
to think it's so important. I can greatly enjoy what I'm doing even
if I know that I'm doing it.)


Doeadeer3

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Aug 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/24/98
to
In article <35e0e4c...@news.nu-world.com>, l...@nu-world.com (Lelah Conrad)
writes:

>(I generally agree with Ross's comments about mimesis. I *never*
>forget that I'm playing a game, reading a book, watching a movie, etc.
>I think it's an overambitious goal and it mystifies me why people seem
>to think it's so important. I can greatly enjoy what I'm doing even
>if I know that I'm doing it.)

Well, of course. But even so, one can get caught up in a good story. Happens to
me all the time with a good book or movie. I think mimesis, when it comes to
IF, means some jarring element that breaks the "mood". Just like seeing that
boom mike hanging down in a bad movie (which Mr. Wheeler mention and which,
btw, I have seen several times, you can't take your eyes off it.)

I saw a Rhoda episode on Nick at Nite about two months ago, where you could see
the top of the set. I couldn't believe it. Normally they shot the scenes down
lower, but they had a female guest star who was tall, so they were shooting
higher (or they had a bad substitute camera man). All through the episode I
couldn't take my eyes off the top of the set (i.e. where it ended). I could
barely pay attention to the plot.

THAT is definitely breaking mimesis.

So is playing "hunt for the verb". Once one becomes too aware of the mechanics
the mood is broken.

tv's Spatch

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Aug 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/24/98
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On Sun, 23 Aug 1998 12:10:02 -0500, "J. Robinson Wheeler"
<whe...@jump.net> wrote:

>If you've never seen this happen, I hope I haven't made you look for
>it. You usually have to go to a bad movie theater that doesn't know how
>to crop the film for projection, like a college-run film series or
>something...

On the other hand, there's the camp who'll gleefully shout "BOOM IN
THE SHOT!" if indeed it does occur. I've preferred to restrain myself
from shouting unless it's in the comfort and safety of my own home,
but I've seen it happen quite a few times.

On the other hand, my screening of Saving Private Ryan was more or
less ruined because of an inept projectionist. The film was cropped
at the top so a lot of head shots ended at the foreheads. At first I
thought it was a wacky new camera trick Spielberg was trying (perhaps
representing a soldier's helmet blocking the view of the tops of
people's heads?) but other shots had the same weird effect. It was
made painfully clear that this was a goof when the Paramount logo at
the end was cropped as well. But it was this error that just nagged
me the entire film, which was pretty good otherwise. I thought about
complaining loudly enough to get my money back but in retrospect, I'm
not sure if the young manager would have understood "I want my money
back because you broke mimesis, dammit!"

I'm trying to think of a moment in IF where I just lost all hope of
"getting back into" the game. I think one was in A Good Breakfast
when I just about lost it near that garden gnome puzzle. Any time I
have to consult a walkthrough or hint book, the game loses something
for me, especially a puzzle that I, the main character, was supposed
to have come up with. I could handle having a cute robot I made run
amok, but a puzzle based on a mathematical concept I had trouble
understanding was a bit too much. And then I ran into the cereal bug
and things got bad. Otherwise, it was entertaining and I could have
seen myself finishing the game. The goal was nice enough.

*shrug*


--
der spatchel reading, mass 01867
resident cranky fovea.retina.net 4000

"I feel like we're in a Noel Coward play.
Someone should be making martinis." - Woody Allen

Jonadab the Unsightly One

unread,
Aug 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/24/98
to
graham...@hotmail.com wrote in article
<6rnjes$fkl$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>...

>
> Imagine yourself watching a movie, and you're really getting into it. At
> some point, there is an incredibly crappy special effect, and you think
"Boy,
> what a crappy special effect! Oh, yeah! I'm watching a movie, aren't
I?"
>
> It is this point at which you consciously remember that you are watching
a
> movie (or playing a game) that mimesis is broken.

What if the game is *about* playing
text adventure games?

--
Dyslexic email address: ten.thgirb@badanoj

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Aug 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/24/98
to
Lelah Conrad (l...@nu-world.com) wrote:

> (I generally agree with Ross's comments about mimesis. I *never*
> forget that I'm playing a game, reading a book, watching a movie, etc.
> I think it's an overambitious goal and it mystifies me why people seem
> to think it's so important.

Perhaps you're taking that definition too narrowly. I obviously don't
forget I'm holding a chunk of paper in my hands either.

Would it make more sense as "You can believe that the game, book, movie
portrays real events"?

In whatever sense of "real" lets you count science fiction and mainstream
settings as equally real.

Adam J. Thornton

unread,
Aug 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/24/98
to
In article <01bdcf39$7d3d5960$06118fd1@jonadab>,

Jonadab the Unsightly One <jon...@zerospam.com> wrote:
>What if the game is *about* playing
>text adventure games?

Then it's self-consciously self-referential, and it's too busy leering and
nudging and winking to ever let mimesis develop. One might even say that
such a game commits Sins Against Mimesis.

Den of Iniquity

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Aug 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/24/98
to
On 21 Aug 1998, Daryl McCullough wrote:

>This is somewhat off the topic, but does anyone have any idea why
>some people (my wife is one) absolutely detest anything smacking
>of science-fiction or fantasy?

I think there's often a fair measure of preconception built into these
things. You have to get people past those stereotypical images of
spaceships in silly zero-g dogfights, powerful laser beams that somehow
radiate light in all directions, barbarian sword-wielding maniacs and
weakling wizards with flames at their fingertips. Once you get people past
that, you've almost won the battle. Unfortunately, it can be extremely
hard to do. Maybe find a collection of excellent short fiction or
something, so that the person in question doesn't feel that they're
wasting too much time by giving it a once-over.

I don't have any direct experience of the problem but a friend managed to
convince a girl he knew that SF wasn't all about spaceships, persuaded her
to read Michael Marshall Smith's charming 'Only Forward' (which I leant to
him in the first place and lend out more than any other book) and allowed
her to shatter her own preconceptions for the most part. It helps if
you've got something particularly off-beat to show, I think.

--
Den


Den of Iniquity

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Aug 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/24/98
to
On Sat, 22 Aug 1998 graham...@hotmail.com wrote:

>Imagine yourself watching a movie, and you're really getting into it. At
>some point, there is an incredibly crappy special effect, and you think "Boy,
>what a crappy special effect! Oh, yeah! I'm watching a movie, aren't I?"
>It is this point at which you consciously remember that you are watching a
>movie (or playing a game) that mimesis is broken.

You can never win, can you? I watched Armageddon (and oh, what an amazing
film that is!) and as I watched certain special effects, I found myself
thinking to myself "They really are getting good at this, aren't they?"
but I suppose I wouldn't have thought this if it wasn't for the fact that
mimesis-breaking was happening for at extremely frequent intervals. Boy,
they _really_ knew how to screw up any facsimile of the low gravity
experiences, didn't they? Gave Star Trek a really good run for its money.

--
Den


Lelah Conrad

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Aug 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/24/98
to
On Mon, 24 Aug 1998 12:51:45 GMT, erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin)
wrote:

>Lelah Conrad (l...@nu-world.com) wrote:
>
>> (I generally agree with Ross's comments about mimesis. I *never*
>> forget that I'm playing a game, reading a book, watching a movie, etc.
>> I think it's an overambitious goal and it mystifies me why people seem
>> to think it's so important.
>
>Perhaps you're taking that definition too narrowly. I obviously don't
>forget I'm holding a chunk of paper in my hands either.
>
>Would it make more sense as "You can believe that the game, book, movie
>portrays real events"?

Well, most fiction isn't portraying real events anyway. Maybe I'm
"imagination challenged" or something, but mimesis just doesn't matter
to me. I don't lose the "mood" if I see the cameraman in the movie in
the mirror, or whatever. I already am aware that it is fiction, and
art, etc. If an IF game does something weird or buggy, I'll just keep
going (unless it's fatal), and hardly notice it (unless it's funny, in
which case I'm delighted -- I love hilarious bugs.) Of course this
doesn't apply to a game that is totally buggy -- those I just give up
on. There has to be some level of competence in the programming or
nobody is going to want to continue, regardless of whether mimesis is
important to them or not.

I think some of this has to do with how (or how often) people exercise
their critical faculties. I'm *always* thinking "how did they do
this, make this" -- I'm studying it, in some sense. (I'm willing to
admit this might make me a boring person, or at least a nit-picky one.
:) It's almost as though there are two parallel thought processes
running along. One following the story line, the other critically
analysing it for structure or device or artistic impact, or whatever.
I don't "lose myself" in the story. Also, I am not an avid fiction
reader (I read more nonfiction than fiction), so that may be a factor
in the way I process input of any type.

I can see that for some people, this sense of being undistractedly
immersed in a work of fiction, to the point where they do not want the
immersion disturbed, is important. But it's not for me. I don't
experience that "unitary state" in reading fiction or playing IF or
watching movies.

Lelah

who knows, maybe it's just ADHD ;)

L. Ross Raszewski

unread,
Aug 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/24/98
to
In article <199808240628...@ladder03.news.aol.com>,

doea...@aol.com (Doeadeer3) wrote:
> I saw a Rhoda episode on Nick at Nite about two months ago, where you could
see
> the top of the set. I couldn't believe it. Normally they shot the scenes down
> lower, but they had a female guest star who was tall, so they were shooting
> higher (or they had a bad substitute camera man). All through the episode I
> couldn't take my eyes off the top of the set (i.e. where it ended). I could
> barely pay attention to the plot.
>
> THAT is definitely breaking mimesis.
>
> So is playing "hunt for the verb". Once one becomes too aware of the mechanics
> the mood is broken.

If you're "lucky" enough to catch some _really_ early television, you'll
notice that the walls shake every time someone closes a door. IIRC, one
episode of dark shdows ended with a prop wall actually _falling down_ during
the end credits "freeze frame" "Police Squad!" (in color) did this
intentionally for comic effect several times.

Doeadeer3

unread,
Aug 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/24/98
to
In article <Pine.SGI.3.95L.98082...@ebor.york.ac.uk>, Den of
Iniquity <dms...@york.ac.uk> writes:

>Boy,
>they _really_ knew how to screw up any facsimile of the low gravity
>experiences, didn't they? Gave Star Trek a really good run for its money.

Haven't seen it, but heard explosions in outer space go, "BOOM!". So obviously
mimesis was being broken all the time.

Doe :-) BOOM!

Joyce Haslam

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Aug 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/24/98
to
In article <01bdcf39$7d3d5960$06118fd1@jonadab>,
Jonadab the Unsightly One <jon...@zerospam.com> wrote:

> What if the game is *about* playing text adventure games?

That game is called "writing i-f".

Joyce.

--
Joyce Haslam
co...@argonet.co.uk

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Aug 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/25/98
to
In article <6rk8u5$34c$1...@prometheus.acsu.buffalo.edu>,
Phil Goetz <go...@cs.buffalo.edu> wrote:
>I think a lot of people here regularly use "mimesis" to mean what is
>usually called "suspension of disbelief". "mimetic" is used to mean
>something that reenacts life; it's a drama term.

People here uses "mimesis" in slightly different senses, yes.
However, I think your definition is overly narrow (at least for
the field of IF; I'm not sure what's the usage in the theatre world).

To me, a game breaks mimesis if I'm suddenly jarred out of the illusion
of actually experiencing something beyond a game; when the game
interface suddenly becomes too obvious or restrictive.

Or, to use movies as an example, a movie achieves mimesis when
I forget that I'm watching flickering images on a screen and rather
feel that I'm experiencing something first-hand. It does not have
to be realistic or reenact *real* life - it could just as well
be reenact an *imaginary* life, as long as it's sufficiently life-like.

To me, this is quite distinct from - but related to - the phenomenon of
suspension of disbelief.

To use a movie example again: Suppose you're watching one of the Star
Trek films, and you keep saying to yourself: "The science here is
bogus. There's no way a spaceship could maneuver that way." Then you
can't suspend your disbelief (of course, this may lead to a break of
mimesis as well, if your next thought is "Well, it's only as stupid
film anyway").

However, suppose you suddenly notice that the starship Enterprise is
really a model hanging from threads. This is a break of mimesis (in
the sense we're using it here on this newsgroup). It may or may not
break your suspension of dispbelief: it's conceivable that you
continue to believe in the film world: "OK, they used a tacky special
effect, but I still buy the existence of superluminal spaceships".

>Of course, none of
>our text adventures ever reenact life, unless you live in Middle Earth
>or on Rigel.

With all due respect, this is bordering on the ridiculous. Very few
works of art - if any - ever "reenact life" in the strict sense.
Even the most realist drama is blatantly unrealistic if you compare it
to real life.
--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, zeb...@pobox.com)
------ http://www.pobox.com/~zebulon ------

Adam Cadre

unread,
Aug 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/25/98
to
Phil Goetz wrote:
> >I think a lot of people here regularly use "mimesis" to mean what is
> >usually called "suspension of disbelief". "mimetic" is used to mean
> >something that reenacts life; it's a drama term.

Magnus Olsson replied:

> People here uses "mimesis" in slightly different senses, yes.
> However, I think your definition is overly narrow (at least for
> the field of IF; I'm not sure what's the usage in the theatre world).

One of the things I discovered when I was working toward a PhD in
narratology (and before I dropped out to be in a rock band) was that
you'd be hard pressed to find two literary scholars who use the term
"mimesis" in the same way.

As far as I know, the term first appears in Plato's REPUBLIC to refer to
speech within a play in which it is not supposed to be the playwright
speaking: a soliloquy in which a character enumerates the reasons why all
kings should be killed, for instance, may not reflect the views of the
playwright, even though the playwright wrote every word of the speech is
question. This is as opposed to "diegesis", in which the poet is, in
fact, the speaker (though whether that's even possible is a complicated
question.)

Aristotle extended the term "mimesis" to include not just speech but
action, which muddied things considerably (DW Lucas wrote an extended
piece on mimesis and eventually concluded that Aristotle's use of the
word is hard enough to define that it comes down to a matter of "Ah knows
it when Ah sees it.")

Moving into relatively modern times, Henry James and Percy Lubbock used
"diegesis" and "mimesis" essentially as fancy words for "telling" and
"showing". Isn't one hundred percent of a novel "told"? Of course.
What James and Lubbock were driving at, however, was more along the lines
of distinguishing between passages where you the reader feel as though
you're being spoken to by a narrator, and those in which you feel as
though action is unfolding before your eyes. Gerard Genette (who rocks,
by the way -- the fact that people can receive degrees in lit without
reading his stuff is a crime) took this a step further by insisting that
this be called "the illusion of mimesis."

Genette and Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan further confused the meaning of mimesis
by more or less reversing Plato's meaning, calling "diegesis" those
elements of a text relating to the world of the story and "mimesis" those
elements relating to the world of the author (which is, for those who
aren't *too* solipsistic, the same world the author shares with the rest
of us.) This plays nicely into the way Marxist critics use "mimesis",
which is essentially the degree to which the world of the story reflects
the world outside the story (eg, does the story make clear that the
wealth of the family chronicled in such and such a novel derives from the
suffering of tens of thousands, etc etc.?)

And this leads us to mimesis in IF, a term which I use mainly in
reference to elements of a work that reflect, to use a Zarfism, "how life
works." Limiting the PC's capacity to reflect the fact that most people
can't carry around a hundred different objects ranging in size from a
tube of toothpaste to a grand piano would be an example of mimesis.
Hunger and thirst routines would generally be an example of mimesis;
however, such routines that make the play pass out after going three
hours without eating would not be. Requiring periodic sleep is mimetic.
Loading rooms with "red herrings" -- things that would be in such rooms
in real life, even if they're not useful in the game -- is mimetic.

I personally tend to like as much mimesis as I can get, though I
recognize that others disagree: I'm sure that most people reading this
post groaned at the mention of hunger and thirst, for instance. Some may
have noticed that my first game included such elements as a limited
capacity (three items), loads of objects that had no use other than just
being there for fun, and extended periods of waiting purely for the sake
of conveying the frustration of having to wait around. I thought this
last was a nifty example of mimesis; others found it an infuriating
example of mimesis, which is way multiple-turn waiting was added for the
second release.

I can assure you that the amount of mimesis in the game I'm working on
now is on the minimal side.

-----
Adam Cadre, Anaheim, CA
Listen to the single that will blow your mind and/or five minutes
of your time! http://sadie.retina.net

Dennis....@delta-air.com

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Aug 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/25/98
to
In article <6rskvu$p68$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>,
L. Ross Raszewski <rras...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>>snip<<

> If you're "lucky" enough to catch some _really_ early television, you'll
> notice that the walls shake every time someone closes a door. IIRC, one
> episode of dark shdows ended with a prop wall actually _falling down_ during
> the end credits "freeze frame" "Police Squad!" (in color) did this
> intentionally for comic effect several times.

My ex is/was a big Dark Shadows fan and she showed me some really big
blunders when it was running on the Sci-Fi channel a few years ago. In one
someone wanders into the shot, looks at the camera then, startled, jumps back
out of the scene. In another (during the ending "freeze frame") someone can
be seen wandering around through an open door. These are just a few; there
were *lots* that she showed me.

--
"You must face the knowledge that the truth is not the truth. Obsolete?
Absolutely!" --- Rush

Li...@voyager.cris.com

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Aug 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/25/98
to
tv's Spatch <spa...@spatch.net.nospam> wrote:
> On Sun, 23 Aug 1998 12:10:02 -0500, "J. Robinson Wheeler"
> <whe...@jump.net> wrote:

>>If you've never seen this happen, I hope I haven't made you look for
>>it. You usually have to go to a bad movie theater that doesn't know how
>>to crop the film for projection, like a college-run film series or
>>something...

> On the other hand, there's the camp who'll gleefully shout "BOOM IN
> THE SHOT!" if indeed it does occur. I've preferred to restrain myself
> from shouting unless it's in the comfort and safety of my own home,
> but I've seen it happen quite a few times.

I can personally attest to the untruth of Spatch's statement.

--Liza, now completely off-topic

--
ge...@retina.net
Visit ifMUD: We're always off-topic - http://fovea.retina.net:4001/
The soundtrack for this post is now available on CD -
http://sadie.retina.net


tv's Spatch

unread,
Aug 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/26/98
to
On 25 Aug 1998 17:15:49 PDT, <Li...@voyager.cris.com> wrote:

>tv's Spatch <spa...@spatch.net.nospam> wrote:
>> On Sun, 23 Aug 1998 12:10:02 -0500, "J. Robinson Wheeler"
>> <whe...@jump.net> wrote:
>
>>>If you've never seen this happen, I hope I haven't made you look for
>>>it. You usually have to go to a bad movie theater that doesn't know how
>>>to crop the film for projection, like a college-run film series or
>>>something...
>
>> On the other hand, there's the camp who'll gleefully shout "BOOM IN
>> THE SHOT!" if indeed it does occur. I've preferred to restrain myself
>> from shouting unless it's in the comfort and safety of my own home,
>> but I've seen it happen quite a few times.
>
>I can personally attest to the untruth of Spatch's statement.

SF-23 doesn't count, Lizard Lady!

- spatch, gleefully dragging the off-topicness out even further -

Greg Ewing

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Aug 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/26/98
to
Andrew Plotkin wrote:
>
> Would it make more sense as "You can believe that the game, book, movie
> portrays real events"?
>
> In whatever sense of "real" lets you count science fiction and mainstream
> settings as equally real.

How about "You feel about events in the story the same
way you would if they were real".

--
Greg Ewing, Computer Science Dept, | The address below is not spam-
University of Canterbury, | protected, so as not to waste
Christchurch, New Zealand | the time of Guido van Rossum.
gr...@cosc.canterbury.ac.nz

Phil Goetz

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Aug 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/26/98
to
In article <6rtqj1$e8g$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>,

Magnus Olsson <m...@bartlet.df.lth.se> wrote:
>In article <6rk8u5$34c$1...@prometheus.acsu.buffalo.edu>,
>Phil Goetz <go...@cs.buffalo.edu> wrote:
>To me, this is quite distinct from - but related to - the phenomenon of
>suspension of disbelief.
>
>However, suppose you suddenly notice that the starship Enterprise is
>really a model hanging from threads. This is a break of mimesis (in
>the sense we're using it here on this newsgroup). It may or may not
>break your suspension of dispbelief: it's conceivable that you
>continue to believe in the film world: "OK, they used a tacky special
>effect, but I still buy the existence of superluminal spaceships".

I think I use the phrase "suspension of disbelief" exactly the way
you use "mimesis". I don't use it to mean "belief in the plausibility
of the events described". I've never seen anyone else use it that way
either.

>>Of course, none of
>>our text adventures ever reenact life, unless you live in Middle Earth
>>or on Rigel.
>
>With all due respect, this is bordering on the ridiculous. Very few
>works of art - if any - ever "reenact life" in the strict sense.
>Even the most realist drama is blatantly unrealistic if you compare it
>to real life.

Yep. You're right. Sorry, I was being flippant.

Phil

Dan Knapp

unread,
Aug 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/27/98
to
> Have you asked your wife?
>
> I don't understand it; but then I can't even explain why I ignore anything
> which *isn't* SF/F. The best I can come up with is "It's boring". But I've
> enjoyed some very, very subtle SF/F books -- books that could have been
> entirely mainstream, except for a little twist of something else at the
> end.

Theory: it's a matter of what you want to read about the world. If one
wants to read that humanity is evil, etc, etc, mainstream might appeal while
SF&F doesn't say anything to you. Personally, I prefer progress-oriented
stuff, espescially with an element of puzzle.

> > >Maybe this means science fiction and fantasy are genres permanantly
> > >stuck in a juvenile state of development. Which is fine with me. :-)
> >

> > In much the same way that humans are primates permanently stuck
> > in a juvenile state of development? Sure, sounds pretty good to
> > me too.

As long as I'm posting, I'll say I think it depends on what you mean by
'juvenile'. Further development does not mean better. But, then, you said
that.

____________________________________________________________________________
|The Mauve Baron| Beep |dan...@bergen.org * http://www.bergen.org/~dankna|
|---------------| Blip |-------------------------------------------------|
| Dan Knapp | Bonk | This notice copyright (C)1997 Dan Knapp |
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