Three days ago, in a fit of rage, I threw my coffee table across the room and it bent one of its legs. I’m resting my feet on it now while I’m writing and it keeps rocking and buckling, but I’m not going to get a new one.
About halfway through the long initial walk or run down to Silent Hill depending on whether you hold down the Square button, James arrives in a graveyard covered predictably in mist. Whatever hokey tension or imagery associated typically with a graveyard feels already more complex. There are various literal deaths in this game but there are, either more commonly or preceding these, deaths of the self and the soul. James survives my play through of the game but nevertheless something fundamental about him is laid to rest, dies. But then again, also remains, like all past, emotional pain even when it’s resolved, available to be remembered and talked about and to continue to have some influence, same as when you’ve buried someone but still go to their tombstone — gone but not forgotten.
“Excuse me?” James says to Angela Orosco, who is crouched over a grave. She immediately leaps to her feet, frightened, and responds “I’m sorry!” This becomes a useful summation of the power dynamics between James and Angela, James and Mary, James and women, men and women, that the woman feels like she owes the man an apology for something that he’s done to her. James says that he is lost. Angela looks at him, puzzled, confused, and replies “lost?” like as a question, as if the idea that someone here, in this place or situation or whatever Silent Hill might represent — realm — is an absurd one. After all, the town specifically draws specifically you to a specific version of itself, in order to reveal to you something specific about yourself. In its painful, protracted way, it provides answers eventually to all your abstract personal mysteries; it reveals who you really are. So arguably, no, you can’t ever really be lost here, in fact the opposite. It’s the only place to find yourself.
James asks if Angela knows a way down to the town proper. She tells him he should take a road that’s on the other side of the graveyard, but then adds a warning: “You should stay away, though. This town…there’s something wrong with it. It’s hard to explain”. So you can’t get lost, but it’s better to avoid what you find. Dismissively, patronisingly, James raises his hands to shush Angela down. He doesn’t take it seriously, what she’s saying. As someone playing the game for a second time, also as a reader of this “book”, we see this as typical of, and impelled by, James’ attitude toward women — he killed his wife because she wasn’t able or pretty enough to have sex with any more, so he’s enough misogynist that he’d ignore and not care about some woman he’s just met. On the contrary, he doesn’t seem to care much about himself: “I really don’t care if it’s dangerous or not,” he says. “I’m looking for someone very important to me”, thus spelling out his singular, sort of self-destructive only-remaining purpose implied by the long walk down the mountainside. Angela responds with an absolutely exemplary Freudian slip: “I’m looking for my mama, I mean, my mother”. There’s some terrible, unresolved shit from her childhood. “I’m looking for my father and brother, too.” And it involves her whole family. “But they aren’t here.” And it hasn’t been laid to rest, died, yet.
“I hope you find them,” says James, preoccupied, as overwhelming psychological pain almost always makes you, with himself. “You too,” replies Angela, who better than our protagonist seems to appreciate what Silent Hill does and why people, why her and James, end up there. With the conclusion of that brief exchange, we’re back controlling the game and run over to the other side of the graveyard and carry onwards towards the town.
Alongside RETWEETS, the RESTLESS DREAMS PATREON is the best measure I have of whether this writing means anything to anyone.
NEXT TIME: RENEWED ENERGY ON ARRIVING AT THE TOWN