|Marion Woodman once wrote:|
|We live in an increasingly complex and dangerous world. To survive in it, we need think that somehow, it all means something. Where does that meaning come from? That's the myth.|
|J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote:|
|Legends and myth are largely made of truth, and indeed present aspects of it that can only be perceived in this mode; and long ago certain truths and modes of this kind were discovered and must always reappear.|
|John Clute once wrote:|
|Stories have a habit of getting tied in knots, and then unfolding. First they entangle their protagonists, whose actions sometimes seem dictated by the needs of the story in which they have become engaged; then the light dawns, and the labyrinth becomes a path. . . . the literatures of the Fantastic positively glory in the fact that they present and embody Story-shaped worlds. . . .
For Aristotle, Recognition marks a fundamental shift in the process of a story from increasing ignorance to knowledge. . . . It is at this moment of Recognition that the inherent Story at the heart of most fully fantasy texts is most visible . . . most revelatory. At this moment in "the structurally complete fantasy tale" (Brian Attebery’s phrase) protagonists begin to understand what has been happening to them (he may have been an Ugly Duckling awaiting the moment he becomes king; she may have been re-enacting a Creation Myth in order that the Land be reborn; they may discover what Archetype serves as an underlier figure and defines their fate; etc.). They understand, in other words, that they are in a Story; that, properly recognized (which is to say properly told), their lives have the coherence and significance of Story ; that, in short, the story has been telling them.
|Henry Jenkins once wrote:|
|fans cease to be simply an audience for popular texts ; instead they become active participants in the construction and accumulation of textual meanings.|
|The question that arises here is this: if Sim wants the Dream, and wants it intact and complete and lovely, then why are Sim players willing apparently to break from the Dream in order to emphasize seemingly trivial details about the Dream? Practically speaking, wouldn't it be preferable to gloss over the difficulty in order to stick to the Dream, which presumably is what is really wanted anyway?
This entails, assuming we're agreed here that such Sim players are not totally incoherent and insane, that such details cannot be glossed over. There is a quality to them which actively damages the Dream. Therefore if they are allowed to stand, as for example if the GM says, "Yeah, doesn't matter, anyway he blows a hole in the wall, what are you doing?" and the group doesn't agree that this detail doesn't matter, you have damage to the Dream that such players find unacceptable.
If the Dream were seamless, there would never be any need to break from Situation-Focused play, because the answer to every potential question of fact, however picayune, would already be known to all the players as it is in fact known to the characters. In such an extreme ideal, there would also be a near-total adequation of player to character, which would probably manifest as extreme Turku-style immersion.
The trick is, such perfection (which is unrealizable) has a number of different factors. Any game group must decide, usually largely unconsciously, which factors to prioritize. Some groups prioritize immersion, and gloss over slippage elsewhere in order to maintain this. A group like that Ron describes does not do this; they prioritize the depth and facticity of the Dream. Thus when a slippage occurs in facticity, it requires external handling. Similarly, an immersion-oriented group would presumably consider techniques to assist immersion when it fails, such as enforcing a rule that players must speak in-character and so on.
I'm pretty sure that this is part of what Dr. Xero describes in his games: the aesthetic of the game is that the players do not construct the Dream, but discover a story or pattern or whatever within it, already present and waiting for them.
Now because we have accepted this in advance (which you notice is not typical of Nar or Gam aesthetics), any construction is undesirable. When we do what appears by other criteria to be construction, we read it differently: we read it as discovering what was already true. For example, we the players may not know whether phazer-fire induces current sufficient to wipe a memory disk, but the world already does know this. It's built-in, a fact of nature. When we debate the point, we're not inventing something new but figuring out how it always already worked. The players did not know the answer, but it was already determined.
Provided, then, that your dominant aesthetic agenda is to reinforce the Dream, which more properly would be to bolster the claim that the Dream was and is and always will be seamless and complete, the handling of fine detail not only isn't CA-irrelevant but is in fact powerfully constitutive of CA.
All of which also goes some way toward explaining why Sim often seems incoherent and weird to non-Sim-committed players. It seems as though Sim players keep stepping outside of exactly what they think they want, i.e. the Dream, in order to focus on detail that really doesn't matter very much. Furthermore, they keep doing this even when there does not seem to be a very strong reason to do so, i.e. when the details seem trivial. My proposal here implies that such players may be doing this because they want CA-meaningful activity, which is difficult to effect without an apparent break from the Dream. From their point of view, such activity is not a break from the Dream, only a break from the ideal perfection of interaction with the Dream, which isn't the same thing. By reinforcing the Dream by these means, they help constitute for themselves the certainty and perfection of that Dream.