God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest … has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent?
— Nietzsche, The Science of Joy
I have the answer to your last question, Friedrich: we will have to invent Diablo, and I will play the living shit out of it. Specifically, Diablo 3 on PS4, which I picked up recently and have used as a remedy for the greatest hangover of all: that left by the centuries-long racist-colonial-christian party you all warned us was coming to an end. My memory is hazy, Friedrich, but I’m getting flashes of last night’s shenanigans. Turns out I loaded black people onto boats and ferried them to Europe and North America where I forced them to work for nothing. I also used the CIA to depose several South American leaders because they weren’t playing ball with the United Fruit Company, all the while savagely exterminating indigenous populations. Oh, and I’m now receiving fragmented memories of creating an international financial structure to keep most of the world in perpetual poverty and blame it on the ‘free market’. Awkward! What can I say? The party was just out of control, Freddy (can I call you Freddy?) The result is a real motherfucker of a headache and a terribly dry mouth. In fact I feel pretty disillusioned with the Old World in general, organized religion as a concept, and this whole Patriarchy thing… oh God, I think I’m gonna barf. I mean, was it really me who got that White Supremacy tattoo? This morning I’m so hungover I feel like a whole new generation (a generation that is horrified by yesterday’s bacchanal.)
Anyways, what I’m trying to get to, duderino, is that Diablo 3 is a pretty sweet game. It lets me pick up the two-handed axe of Modernity and hack’n’slash my way through symbols of the European Empire. It helps me ignore that awful voice in my head reminding me that the populations of those countries we took over and enslaved last night, well, they’re our neighbors now, and it turns out they’re not all as well-behaved as we would have liked. Actually, they’re sorta pissed off. So it feels pretty good to get all suited up in medieval armor and spend my time decapitating religious monuments (you failed me as a concept!) and bludgeoning the crap out of pagan goatmen (you represent those I regret torturing!) Yes, Zombie Green and Demon Red are mos def the new Ebony Black. In many ways, playing Diablo 3 is the act of desperately beating the world into a shape I can still recognize, one in which the white man once again dominates the realm of the unknown, that exotic otherness repped by the undead, the African, the ‘demonically’ possessed, the South American Indian, etc.
And so, one swing at a time, I crush the architecture of my past. The game, aware that the hangover is structural, rewards me for mere material destruction (as opposed to that of the flesh) with experience points and a simple slam poem:
But it turns out even Diablo 3 holds some things holy. It ain’t entirely ready to let go of the fantasy of our perfect past. Heading into a respected NPC’s home I find his precious bookshelves invincible to my grunting slashes. Nobody dares take a pound of Zola’s flesh, Hugo, or Kipling’s. As a white European, I cannot fully turn on my own people. I cannot take down the fortresses we have built around our guilt to protect it from the prying eyes of any simpleton child. Suddenly I’m aware of our reason for infantilizing the awakening Western teenager who threatens to show any signs of radical political leanings: “you don’t understand the world,” we are quick to tell them, knowing full well what we really mean. “You see it all too well, my child. You remind me of what we have done. You’re a fucking bummer, dude. Get blood on your hands and join the compromised. Rebel not against your manifest destiny… and sit on this couch to play some Diablo 3, bro.” For fear of making us too uncomfortable, Blizzard never lets the blood spill for too long. It’s a Disney-fied version of hell, a fun kinda genocidal rampage. That’s what makes ‘Diablo-like’ Path of Exile an aesthetically superior game in many ways. It shies not away from its own genocidal foundations. Indeed, in Path of Exile, corpses themselves are a form of morbid gothic architecture.
Diablo then could be considered a slaver’s fantasy. All the more ironic then, that the game allows me to incarnate a ‘barbarian’ (historially, the word used to denigrate those who would never be allowed access to the lauded status of White Christian European.) Not ironic then, that I can also choose to be a ‘paladin’. Oh White Knight of White Europe, you are the pinnacle of humorlessness! It’s why I cannot in good conscience use you as a tool for in-game slaughter. It just ain’t fun. Also ironic then that I can elect to incarnate a ‘witch doctor’, the moniker used to soil the holiest of professions: the shaman, the visionary, the member of the tribe with his third eye open. The white teenager in the street refusing to continue business as usual, inconveniently occupying the Place de la République.
Soon the trees themselves are threats to our existence, and the game tasks me with bringing these super-predators to heel. Yes let’s strip her down to her bare bark and expose Mother Nature for what she is: a nag, always complaining of strange aches in the rainforest and painfully arthritic seabeds. Yeehaw! I’m McLoving it, baby. My armor is getting better and better. And look at my fucking axe! The way it glistens beneath this thematically-middle-eastern sun! Let’s go deal with another of my phobias while we’re at it: that of snakes and spiders. There we go, hacked through a hundred of those fuckers. Well, I’m beginning to feel a lot better, Friedrich, this shit is really working. I can barely feel the hangover anymore. Just a few more sips from this bloody chalice and I’ll be ready to get a whole new fiesta going. This time it’s gonna be bigger, bolder, and better than the last one! Even after I’m done with the 5 acts and have hit the level cap (I believe it’s 70?), there will always be Paragon Levels, Rifts, forays into the world of public weapons trading (God knows I love a good arms deal)… yep, Diablo 3 is the game that just keeps on giving! I think its time to militarize the police, crack down on immigration, and finally let the foreign hordes know that we mean business. And by that I mean adjust my skills, re-roll my gear to make it perfectly calibrated to my build, and engage in some sweet co-op dungeoning!
“My future holds death for those who seek to do the world harm.”
-My character, to some gypsy with nice cleavage