What is a Nomad Soul?
One who wants Out---out of all the Levels (and Borders) as they have been
programmed? (Or if Out is impossible, then the ability to keep moving....)
One who works in the spaces between Levels, the subtexts in Texts
Who knows other meanings for terms like Artifact, Puzzle, Trick, Code,
and Power Up---but those who tell don't know and those who really know
Who is male or female or something past that
- Who is not one race, not one sexuality
- Costume: may very greatly, but shoulder pads
are recommended---nomading is always rough
Or---perhaps a Nomad Soul is that rare agent-hero
in the System who openly refuses orders.
Transcription of the dialogue below: "TO SERVE.
TO OBEY. TO NULLIFY. THAT IS YOUR JOB, AGENT." "Not this time.
I refuse." "YOUR SUPERIORS HAVE BEEN INFORMED." The agent,
Alouette, is seen flying away to other adventures in the picture's middle,
vanishing in the distance even as the voice-overs try to contain her.
A cartoon like this one raises questions that video games rarely do. Like:
is rebelling against and questioning the System merely the first stage in
being co-opted? The sign of being talented and smart enough to be chosen
as the means through which the System will perpetuate itself? This makes
rebellion a good deal more complicated and less romantic. Witness:
["I began to ask why...."]
Questioning violence does not stop the cycle of violence, here symbolized
by The Skull. Questioning is merely part of how the cycle repeats itself---how
the next generation is chosen. After "questioning" comes: "I
had to believe in what we were doing again." WHY she "had to"
come to believe this is never asked. The Skull is inherited by a new generation
and ambivalence is put aside. New leather SS suits are made to order.
What is the valence of ambivalence?
Valere (Latin) = strong; ambi = both. "Ambivalence"
the word and concept was coined by Freud (!!!)---how many of us had any
idea that it was such a recent word, such a 20th-century word. Ambivalenz
in German, and an immediate equivalent was found in English.
"Cyborg imagery can suggest a way out of the maze of dualisms in
which we have explained our bodies and our tools to ourselves. This is a
dream not of a common language, but of a powerful infidel heteroglossia."
---Donna Haraway, "A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology,
and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s," in Coming to Terms: Feminism,
Theory, Politics, Ed. Elizabeth Weed (New York: Routledge, 1989), p.
204. See also Abdul R. JanMohamed, "Worldliness Without-World, Homelessness-as-Home:
Toward a Definition of the Specular Border Intellectual," in Edward
Said: A Critical Reader, Ed. Michael Sprinker (London and Boston: Blackwell,
1992), pp. 96-120.
Primo Levi, in The Drowned and the Saved, speaks of the "gray
zone": the contaminating conditions under which victims are tempted
into becoming accomplices in the atrocities committed against them. In the
concentration camps, the SS created a hierarchy of violence that delegated
to selected prisoners, known as Kapos, arbitrary and often homicidal
power over other prisoners. Given such power, it was hard for prisoners
not to succumb to the Nazis' dreams of who they were and how they would
Then there's the position of those who benefit from violence done in their
name. They look the other way. Is this ambivalence, or its opposite? Turning
the other way is a "gray zone" too.
white Disney cartoon glove on one hand; put a Gamer black glove on the other.
Run a finger or two over the edge of our 20th-century fantasy worlds, from
cartoons to video games. Then run these same gloves over the edges of 20th-century
Look at your gloved fingers. They will be smutched gray, tipped in Primo
Levi's gray zone.