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The more I listen to it, the more Still Alive changes. Sometimes it's a comedy track, the last monologue of a character who was played for laughs with incredible success. Sometimes it's scary, a mocking "you can't hurt me" that belittles all you've done. Sometimes it's just really fucking sad, a blend of Scarlet's Independent Love Song[0] and the Beautiful South's I'll Sail This Ship Alone. It's the song of a jilted lover trying too hard to pretend that she's over you, when the fact that she's so obviously not running so close to the surface. That said lover just happens to be a psychopathic AI with mythomania almost doesn't count. She's trying too hard to prove that she's still alive, that she's not going to let being destroyed get in her way, and it all rings hollow and sad.

Maybe I only think that because I had an ex who was rather like GLaDOS: "If you won't stay with me, I'll manipulate you until you will", "If you won't be manipulated, I'll do hideous things to both of us", "I don't need you, I never needed you, I only stuck around because you needed me to", "I am so incredibly over you that you wouldn't believe it — let me tell you in great detail", and so on.

GLaDOS is both more approachable and scarier than SHODAN, High Queen Bitch of female AIs. After all, SHODAN is the archetypal ice queen. She's not human, she's well out of your league and makes sure that you know it, and it's actually rather scary that she's focusing her attention on you[1]. GLaDOS is the girl you meet in a club, she's smart but shy about it, you bring her out of herself, have some fun, and then before you know it and almost without realising it, you're in a highly dysfunctional relationship that's going to blow up messily at some point in the near future. She's not definitely scary until it's already too late. At least with SHODAN you know what you're getting.

[0]: gominokouhai went to high school with one member of Scarlet, I went to high school with the other. They were a couple of years our senior, but even so.
[1]: Which of course ties in with XERXES in System Shock 2. XERXES is just as intelligent as SHODAN, but he doesn't give a fuck about humans at all. He doesn't interact with them in any ways above the entirely impersonal because of SHODAN — going back to the metaphor, she's the posh dominatrix who started shagging the gardner's boy but makes sure that he knows she's always in control, while he's the traditional toff who doesn't interact with his staff beyond a purely functional level.


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Nov. 14th, 2007 12:18 am (UTC)
This is all true. I think similarly about that track.

It has now gotten me into Jonathan Coulton.

-- c.
Nov. 14th, 2007 02:56 am (UTC)
I'm not a computer gamer (because then the Mrs. would never see me), but I was listening to that same song as I read this.

Is it bad that it gave me tabletop RPG ideas?

I never got that third interpretation of the song, but now I can see it. Which will just add layers to whatever else I wind up thinking of.

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