40/365 – Meditation Games #40 – Dissociated Moon Sonata

Developer: Isaac Schankler

Launcher Quote: “No Moon

I began to think of him as the Empty Suit. He carries out instructions without thinking, without feeling, without meaning. He is floating in a starfield with no landmarks. He is out of alignment.

Isaac Schankler

Feb. 9, 2018″

Today’s entry is called No Moon, and it’s about disassociation, according to Isaac.  That’s certainly what happened, on a variety of levels, as you’re placed into a field of what appear to be stars in the sky, with no depiction of yourself on the screen and only the mouse to allow yourself some level of mild movement. Like many other games in this series, there was no real condition or object to do to win the game – instead, you’re more in a wandering mode, moving this way and that, with no particular direction. And maybe that was the intent.

Oftentimes when we disassociate ourselves with what is being done, either by others or by ourselves, there’s a sense of not just loss of control but of a lack of sense of self. We exist outside of the action, not as a part of it, and that means that, in some cases, we can’t be hurt by or affected by it. But it also means that on some level, we don’t have any more control over it, either, much like a cutscene in a video game or when watching a scene in a movie. We’re no more able to affect the outcome than anyone else who wasn’t involved in it, and that can either be a good thing or a bad thing. For the purposes of analysis, it may be good to approach things with a disassociated eye. But on the other hand, it’s a double-edged sword that could be seen as an escape from a sense of responsibility.

The other element, the choice of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, is curious. Beethoven supposedly wrote this sonata after being emotionally affected by a visit to a lake in Hungary, and the slow, semi-mournful, but relaxing first movement of the sonata has inspired many a meditative feeling when listening to it. The disassociation feeling plus this song creates that sense of reflectiveness that may be meant to be elicited or felt when aimlessly wandering around in the game. In this way, the idea of being disassociated takes on more of the analytical aspect of doing so that I’d mentioned before, but also that kind of floaty, lack of self as well. If we’re meant to reflect on our own actions in a calm, meditative space, then disassociation is a part of that, inevitably. But as a means of unhealthy escape from some ills and responsibility for them, it takes on a more sinister air. The fact that there are multiple meanings is definitely a part of the game’s appeal, because the conclusions are meant to be open-ended – appropriate for the game’s title, honestly.

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