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Mystic Musings | Death & Reincarnation in Video Game Culture

Polygon Queen by Sonya Shannon

“Polygon Queen” (1982). Pencil on paper.

You pass many whiles in computer-generated worlds, devoid of human warmth: the slick geometry, its garish perfection, the vermin exterminated down to the faintest fingerprint, a utopia fit for no human herein to dwell. Edges knit in jittery motion hold earth to sky, virtual dirt to domes of space, texture-mapped at the scale of Earth’s atmosphere.


Boredom, left to fester, is forced to become a different point of view.

Time is plotted in strict etch-a-sketch dimensions as x elbows y: a double-dutch dart. You enter the render. A logarithmic landscape begins as an ornament, unfurls into a math castle. Sublime.


A sky of transparent polygon sheets sieves clouds of apricot floss and cerulean blue. Sun’s almost down to the solstice now, you are chased and running in the virtual world, out of control, a nightmare collision course. Not even your hands or feet represent you. Not even. To command the available tools, a safety-hatch back to waking consciousness? Not. Immersed in the ghosts of yourself.


And you wake in the screaming discovery you are blind and you have no heart.

The sky flickers with night, the ambient cacophony of your mind risen to ambulance pitch, the musical themes of your family streamed skyscraper-deep. You sink and hover, seep and haze, slow-motion exploding: a cosmic restructuring: death.


Technology kills, and you’re reborn with infinitely more lives.

The rooms overcrowded grown dark, lit only by waiting machines, their indicator eyes paused in the early midwinter eve of your realization that you are ruptured, extinguished, leaking toxic phosphorescence from your pupils: silent fireworks of sunlight explode across the ice: awake.


– Sonya Shannon
Transcribed from Journal Entry, 10 December, 1996