New Article — Always Alone


Patrick Carlson

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For this article I take a look at Austrian writer Marlen Haushofer's 1963 novel, The Wall. It's a story of survival after a mysterious, catastrophic event leaves a woman stranded in a remote mountain valley. The novel is available in an excellent English translation and was also adapted into a feature film in 2012. I would highly recommend checking out both of them.

How do you experience solitude and isolation in The Long Dark?

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Under the Dome is one show I've haven't had the chance to get into yet. I know Dean Norris (Hank) of Breaking Bad fame is involved, which is a plus for me. And with this series I'm going to be situating the game among other survival stories from fiction/non-fiction, so I'll have to check it out.

Thanks for the tip!

On a different note: TLD often reminds me of some tense moments I've had driving through the Cascade mountains during the winter months. These stories didn't get written down anywhere; they're just in my head. But I think about them a lot when I'm playing. I suspect the game taps into similar experiences for other people as well.

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Hey,Patrick.I read your article,by suggestion of Bethany...and I must say it made me think alot. :) The story about the Wall goes deeply into mind of human,into new selfrecognition.My english is not quite good and I don`t know,if I understood right,that unnamed character made that wall in her mind,just as an excuse to not accept the real,horrible fact,that she was left alone.She wanted to convince herself,that this was her decision,not consenquence of events,that she was all the sudden all alone.And,yes...the wall could have two meanings.Either to stop her to go back to civilisation,to world which he knew and was familliar with.Or to stop that world to come to her peacefull,altough lonely,self made world.It is like she was getting to know herself once again,from different point of wiew.In this world of her,completely different things and thoughts were important,mind was occupied with simple,but so relevant thoughts.

I must say,that I love The Long Dark alot.And I don`t take it just as a simple game,where there is a goal to reach.Maybe because there isn`t any particular goal at all,in fact.In TLD we need to survive.So simple.But...can we take survival as a goal? I think not.Because we must survive from today to tomorrow.And from tomorrow to after tomorrow.From monday till sunday.From January till December.From hour to hour,from day to day,from month to month...year after year.There is no ultimate goal of survival.

So,after I settle myself in game,to make my survival coinsistentional and endurable,I start to enjoy in game,observe landscape,weather,wildlife.I am admiring game mechanics and audio sounds.Many times i catch myself falling deeply into game.It makes me sometimes feel,that I am really there,in that wilderness.I can jump so easy in mind of our lost pilot,stranded there in mighty wilderness.So I start thinking and act like him.

Now,when I am on my longest run since I play game,I came so familliar with sorroundings,that I consider it as my home.I accepted it.I accepted the fact,that it is not a dream,but I am really struggling to survive.Hope for salvation was replaced by strong will for survival and adaption.And I started to feel that horrible pressure of lonelyness in game.Now I look at animals arround me different. :) Yes,I do kill them,when I need meat,but otherwise I try to not disturb them in their exsistence.I try not to be too obvious intruder in this world of theirs.Because...yes,I am an intruder there.It is not,that animals try to coexist with me,no.I am the one,who tries to coexsist with them,I am the one,who tries to be accepted by this wonderfull and stunning,but yet sometimes so hostile enviroment.Many times i stop and enjoy watching that cute bunny jumping arround.How many times I followed deer secretly,not to kill her,but just to admire her elegance of movement.I wait for bear at porch of Pleasant Valley Farmstead and talk with him,or let him warm at my campfire.I observe wolves by their patroling,howling,hunting...

And,every day of survival,my first thoughts in the morning isn`t desire to cook my ussuall morning coffe.It is not grabbing newspaper or turn on tv to see dayly news from the world.It is not my concern to get to work early enough.It is not,what car I want,what clothes I want.No.My first and only thought in the morning is:"How I will survive another day? What will I eat? Do I have enough water?Enough wood?"

Being aware of what is really important and what is relevant in life,made quite changes in my personality for real and my way of playing this awesome game.I give all attribution to my successfull survival in game,only to my cappability to accept,what it was given to me and to adapt circumstances.

One more deep thought came out from this cruel survival lesson: I am so irelevant to this world.I may die or survive,this world will continue to exist.With or without me.Although it is given by the nature the human intellect and self-awareness,I am not much more important than a deer,a bunny,a tree in there forest,a snow flake,which quietly drops to the ground.Yes,I am a snow flake,which fall to the ground and get lost in this infinite snow blanket.

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if I understood right,that unnamed character made that wall in her mind,just as an excuse to not accept the real,horrible fact,that she was left alone.She wanted to convince herself,that this was her decision,not consenquence of events,that she was all the sudden all alone.And,yes...the wall could have two meanings.Either to stop her to go back to civilisation,to world which he knew and was familliar with.Or to stop that world to come to her peacefull,altough lonely,self made world.It is like she was getting to know herself once again,from different point of wiew.

First, thanks so much for your thoughtful and detailed response.

As to the exact nature of the "wall" in Haushofer's novel, well, that's part of the mystery. ;) I think you're spot-on with your interpretations though. The story is told in the "first person," so we can only really access her reaction to what's happened. This deepens the mystery. But I think we can safely say that in the story, the stranded woman describes the wall as an actual, physical barrier, even if it is transparent.

And,every day of survival,my first thoughts in the morning isn`t desire to cook my ussuall morning coffe.It is not grabbing newspaper or turn on tv to see dayly news from the world.It is not my concern to get to work early enough.It is not,what car I want,what clothes I want.No.My first and only thought in the morning is:"How I will survive another day? What will I eat? Do I have enough water?Enough wood?"

I think this what happens when we fall into good stories, whether the ones we create for ourselves in The Long Dark, or the ones we find in good books/films ect. They break the routine of the "everyday." And with survival stories, I think this effect is even more intense.

Thanks again for writing.

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Thanks again for writing.

You`re very wellcome,Patrick. :) Thank you for those articles.I look forward to see what kind of thoughtfull article is comming next out from your hands. :) I like to participate in thoughtfull disscussions,as long as I understand them. :) With sharing oppinions we can learn from each others and enlighten ourselves.

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