Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The web(s) of history

Dungeons & Dragons was created the year I was born, I played it throughout my childhood (and young adulthood), and I think about it a lot.

Today, thanks to an article I was reading online, I'm just thinking specifically about one fictional deity character who was created expressly for the game. In a world that contains numerous sentient races, including onyx-skinned elves who live underground and revere selfishness, cruelty and guile, there need to be corresponding pantheons for such races to worship. So all the way back in the pre-World-Wide-Web days of 1980-ish, stats were enumerated and physical attributes described for an evil goddess known as the Demon Queen of Spiders.

Her proper name was/is Lolth.

That's a perfectly cromulent name for an imaginary totem of darkness who's a little bit Lillith and a little bit OHHHHH-a-spider-kill-it-kill-it-burn-it-with-fire. And in the age of Amiga computers and dial-up modems it didn't really have any other associations. But now, of course, it's unintentionally ridiculous. And I thought to myself, I can't be the only person to have noticed this. 0.2 seconds of searching on Google assured me that I am not:

That whole "the more connected we are by devices, the more alone we feel" lament? I know there's a grain of truth to that, but most of the time I'm pretty happy with the ability to instantaneously verify that other people have not only had the same fleeting thought as me, but taken it to their own crazy extreme. That makes me feel very reassuringly not alone.

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