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February 5–May 14, 2021

Video game #1

Commissioned text by manuel arturo abreu

You are in a war against abstraction, which has destroyed your lineage. Your only weapon is abstraction. An apothecary houses you, trains you to join the militant anti-abstraction faction–the Realists. Every time you die, you wake up in the apothecary’s spare bed. You clean his hut. You gather materials for concoctions. Once you’re ready, you attend the graduation ceremony. You fall in love with the guest speaker: the leader of the Realists, Antigone, who says you’re now ready for the whole truth. The world is the dream of a sleeping giant, a creature called Sycorax, closely guarded by her son Caliban, the leader of the Abstractionists. Her sick lusts dream up the destruction of generations, the wholesale displacement and dehumanizing of people, the vast castles of blood that bind you all together as Realists in your loss. Like your ancestors before, You must wake Sycorax by any means, no matter how many respawns. You hone your skills and rise in the ranks. You learn Antigone loves her aide-de-camp; as you interface more with the latter, she realizes your intentions. Enthralled, you flare up the aide’s jealousy. Once you start crossing paths with Antigone more, something itches. It clicks: Antigone realizes that You and her are locked in a blood feud. Your great grandfather killed hers. You have a choice: do you sacrifice yourself to absolve your ancestor? You decide sacrifice is the right thing. The aide-de-camp gleefully steps forward; but her blade cannot slice You. Antigone realizes from this that You are her soul twin and can’t die if she still lives. But since you’ve offered yourself for sacrifice, absolution holds. You can now move forward to the final, epic battle against Caliban and the Abstractionists. We can redact this epic battle to a Single Word. Tragically and heroically, the aide-de-camp gives her life for victory. And once Caliban is defeated, you approach Sycorax, and another choice: do you wake her? If not, you return to the apothecary’s bed, but the world is good for the Realists now. The generations can begin to heal since the Abstractionists are defeated; a Realist can guard Sycorax and do whatever is necessary to make her dreams sweet, and not nightmares. Or you can wake her and see what happens. You confer with Antigone. She’s excited about the possibilities. What could it all mean? You both give Sycorax a push, call her name. She opens her eyes and in them You see Yourself; everything fades to Black. You were Sycorax all along, of course. You were Caliban and Antigone and Sycorax and the apothecary. The question is whether you had a choice in setting this scheme up for yourself to overcome. You reach out your hand hoping Antigone is there. It’s just empty space.