13. Contains moderate peril, sea breeze
June 21st, 2020
A young woman sits in the driver’s seat of a Citroen 2CV and watches the ocean at sunset. A tree with brilliant red leaves, maybe a Japanese maple or some kind of acer, watches with her. She listens to the breeze, the waves, and another sound: the creak of her car teetering precariously on a clifftop, a hair’s width between safety and destruction.
Far From Noise is a short interactive narrative by George Batchelor released in 2017. For the entirety of its 60-90 minute runtime, you sit in a rusted car and stare down oblivion, picking lines of dialogue for the unnamed protagonist that waver between acceptance and all-caps anxiety. It’s tense! You might find yourself holding your breath as the car pitches forward, or when a squirrel starts to inch a little too close for comfort. But it’s also quiet and dreamy, unafraid of long, dialogue-free pauses that allow you to enjoy the shifting night sky gradients and surrounding wildlife. The game’s magic lies in how it balances these moods whilst being funny, poetic, and legitimately moving, and much of it seems rooted in meditation.
The best thing meditative practise taught me is that resisting pressure often exacerbates that pressure. Focus intently on the sharp pain in your chest and it’ll likely feel worse, perhaps inescapable; but develop an active curiosity about the shape or quality of that pain and you might find an equilibrium, maybe even a solution. Far From Noise is about as neat a visualisation of this idea as I can think of. The pain might be existential, but the idea is the same: pull up a chair to the cosmic fulcrum, get comfortable, and persevere.
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