Thursday, January 28, 2010



It was just a way to kill time ‘til the next thing whisked her off on missions she felt honor bound to perform for others or dreamed up for herself. So why does she find herself in front of her computer playing the latest version of an eleven hundred year old game of solitaire whenever she can think of nothing better to do?

When she’d played “Klondike” with the thin meat space symbols for the sorting game, she’d gotten bored quite easily, but this cyberspace version was different for several obvious reasons and a couple she felt she was detecting behind a curtain growing thinner for every hand she let it deal her. She couldn’t tell whether she was penetrating a hidden agenda or following bread crumbs in an occult initiation.

She couldn’t cheat on the computer like with the deck in meat space, but then she couldn’t re-deal hands to learn from amended mistakes or investigate alternative choices during play like the computer could. This was the edge of the curtain that made her realize that whoever programmed it to be able to reproduce the last hand could also have it produce any hand it wanted … for whatever reason. She began to notice that the successive hands seemed to fluctuate in patterns more than a random generator doing the shuffling would allow.

A dead give away was the fact that, although she’d played far fewer games with real cards, she was sure she’d never run the deck twice in a row more than once or twice before but on the computer it happened with regularity. The internet postings of weekly and all-time highs appearing at the end of every game she won (by getting over fifty-two points in a game awarding nine points for cards on Aces) indicated that some players had run through as many as twenty-five successive hands successfully! Over five years of playing an average of seventy games a day, she managed to run as many as five decks successively, with twos and threes occurring with increasing frequency.

Not only did she suspect a discoverable key to increasing her correct choices at seemingly equal forks in the road, she began to suspect that, being hooked up to the internet, her play could be under surveillance and thwarted or rewarded by the design of the program or the whim of the programmer. She recognized the resemblance to her suspicion of Vatican, North Pole and Washington agendas with their angels, Santa’s helpers and illegal wire taps to protect the faith in the pope, rewards for good behavior and the NSA.

The game had always served as a sort of roundhouse where trains of thought took new tangents in the dearth of purpose to be taken up in meat space. The cards themselves often took on character roles in scenarios written by the fancy of her mood. Noticing this business of characterization and dramatization of perfectly neutral objects became a valuable metaphor for the human tendency to bury awareness of present as it is under the baggage of the past purposes for intention inventions. Was this the lesson intended or was she inventing her own?

Out of the corner of her mind’s eye she glimpsed it. Having lost sight of such phenomena before by turning to fully focus on it, she left it on the fringe with the million other ideas in the wings awaiting the correct timing for their appearance to be fully appreciated. Not being zapped to the back of the line made it feel wanted and it reentered the stage right where she’d seen it. Yes — yes it was the same layout requiring the same moves — with all the cards in different places. A sense of déjà vu overwhelmed her and she felt she had recognized the same maze despite the variety of plants and flowers that formed the hedges between the paths — or deeper yet, learned the same lesson being taught despite the variety of mazes leading her to it.


Pisces Iscariot said...

I suspect that there is less fiction in this story than you would have us believe my friend :)
You have nailed the undercurrent of paranoia that often accompanies our time in 'connected' space with a deceptive simplicity - as if the deck may expand into the world and give your hand away ;]

Anonymous said...

Nothing heavy here...just laughing at how much time I spend playing solitaire