A Rip in the Very Fabric of Space and Time

“Man, is it cold in here or what?”

“There are three basic types, Mr. Pizer: the Wills, the Won’ts, and the Can’ts. The Wills accomplish everything, the Won’ts oppose everything, and the Can’ts won’t try anything.”

It is the trademark of the perennial critic to identify the impossible and announce it to the world, as if predictions of doom and failure denote some kind of unique intelligence at work. The fact that some knob can come up with 3 reasons why the Vita will fail is not a sign of magical techno-prescience or credibility; it’s actually an indication of a burgeoning pandemic; the widespread disdain for creation, for ability, and for the power of the mind to move the world.

A Wolf Remains a Wolf

What does it mean when gaming hardware is said to “fail?” (And believe me, the concept of “failure” being discussed by a professional writer who can’t properly use the possessive pronoun “its” remains a perplexing kind of irony.) Was the GameBoy Micro a failure because it sold only 2.4 million units? Was the Dreamcast a failure because it sold 10 million, compared to the Playstation 2’s 154 million? Or is the Xbox 360 a failure because Microsoft has peddled more red rings than Wrigley?

Moreover, is the Wii a success because Nintendo has thus far sold 95 million of the damn things? I’ve got news for those of you who consider popularity the highest standard of success; if I can bring only one of the aforementioned platforms on my deep-space search for intelligent life, it sure as hell isn’t going to be the Wii, regardless of how many white plastic cases show up in the Toys R Us bargain bin. I’d rather play nothing but Draconus: Cult of the Wrym on a 9-inch black-and-white Panasonic, while Ernest Borgnine punches me in the Pleiades  for five years, than have unrestricted access to the entire library of Wii games on a 52-inch LED Samsung complete with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time.

So what constitutes failure? What criteria must be met–or fail to be met–in order for these Nostradamuses of the semi-literati to fulfill their prognostications of techno-flaccidity for Sogabe-sama’s chiisai machine? What, exactly, will have facilitated their vindication when, two years from now, the Vita is mentioned in the same hushed tones and with the same respectful chapeaux-doffing as, say, the N-Gage or the HP TouchPad? The answer to this is simpler than you might think.

Everyone’s a critic.


That’s right. Nothing will vindicate these slobs, because two years from now, regardless of whether the Vita sells like Mentos at a Vidalia-tasting soirée or if it disappears from the public’s consciousness faster than Herman Cain, no one is going to remember or care what the doomsayers predicted. No one ever got an Internet Mallomar for being right about someone else’s failure, as predicting calamity in any endeavor is a little like arguing with a six-year-old; even if you’re right, you’re still an asshole.

So what difference does it make? Who cares what these people say? Well, it makes no difference at all, aside from the fact that I’m sick of reading about why something will fail before it’s even released. I’m sick of hearing from the chronically non-productive the myriad reasons why the productive will ultimately end up just as unsuccessful as everyone else; those who produce nothing but poo and carbon dioxide have no business dragging someone else’s work into the accretion disk of their own attenuated ambition. Just because light can’t escape from these supermassive death-worshipping fucks doesn’t mean that the rest of us have to live in the dark.

The Vita might disappear in short order, like the Dreamcast and Firefly (though anyone who calls Firefly a failure should meet me outside), it might get spanked by the speculatively pending iPad 3, it might drag Sony further down into the mire of pecuniary obliteration, but so what if it does any or all of these things? The ideas and the determination and the creativity behind the development of such a device are virtues of the mind, and it is by such virtues that life — a life proper to a human being — is made richer and fuller and more enjoyable, and in many cases livable. So what if it “fails” by the undefinable standards of so many Internet hacks? As is the case with the Dreamcast, the GameBoy Micro, and you, the point is that it exists.

“Why, sure, it could be worse. We could be in Tron.”

As an aside, the barely concealed titter of smarmy anticipation with which these jackholes predict the failure of any new technological endeavor makes me think of those self-styled paragons of collective virtue who maintain the opinion that a publicly funded space program is a shameful waste of money (which it is, but not for the reasons they claim), as long as there remain on the planet people without a place to live or food to eat. They object to the space program, such as it is, not because the money that funds it is obtained by immoral means (involuntary taxation), not because forcing me to work for the benefit of someone else is slavery, but because they feel that the people who can build a rocket booster, or a calculate a reentry trajectory, or safely land a 17,000-mph, 80-ton glider in a single, non-renegotiable attempt, do not deserve to earn a living (through the practical application of their intellect), while any literal or metaphorical panhandler is entitled to that which he cannot or will not obtain by his own effort. Our old friend T. S. had it all wrong; this is the way the world ends…

People predict failure because it’s what they most want to see in the world. They revel in the defeat of the strong, of the productive, of the able, because they know that they’ll never possess the creative competence of a Miyamoto or a Levine or a Jobs, and they satisfy themselves with the Faustian falsehood that there is no difference between fame and infamy. They obfuscate the definitions of demolition and construction so that they can justify their participation in the only form of creation they’ve ever known; they cannot forge a hammer, but they can swing one with unabashed malice at the first stained-glass window that they find.

Said the Spider to the Fly

Much like the sober alcoholic who recognizes the symptoms in someone else, I can identify these premises in others because not too long ago, I was the one swinging the hammer. Just look at the name of this blog, for cryin’ out loud; the mental backflips that I needed to perform in order to permit myself to get away with something like this were elaborate, to say the least, but I eventually pulled  my head (mostly) out of my ass and stopped holding criticism as my highest standard.

It’s easy to point out why something will suck, or why it’ll never work, but if you’re right, the only people who will care are people just like you. You and your doomspewing buddies will be sitting in the dark, congratulating yourselves on your cleverness at coming up with sixteen glib ways of pointing out why flames cannot possibly succeed under such circumstances, while the creators and pioneers of the world are off gathering wood for the fire that will keep you alive.

The sarcastic ramblings of failed actors/writers/game designers/film directors masquerading as wit and valid criticism are frequently all that the world-movers have to look forward to for their efforts, but the vanguard of destruction will have to fight its battles against creativity, against production, against the mind, with one less goblin scout.

I’ll be too busy enjoying Vita to care.


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Filed under Commentary, Hardware

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