Book Review: Alessandro Baricco's The Game
Sometimes when you don’t pay attention to book annotation, instead of a literary storytelling full of peculiar images and smashing ideas, you end up with a doctoral thesis on the origin and scope of digital revolution. This is a real case involving the most recent work of a popular Italian writer Alessandro Baricco called The Game.
The title is English, however, there’s no translation into English yet, which, following the web sources, is going to be published this autumn. But those who enjoy Baricco’s literature should be warned: The Game is not a sensual narrative of fictional relationships.
This time Baricco dedicates his creative writing time to deconstruct our transition from analogical to digital reality from his 60-year-old personal view. According to him, we are living a future that we have extorted from the past and which we wished for so much. However, we don’t know how to explain this world: it’s a revolution, which we don’t know neither origin, nor scope of. That’s why Baricco, as he puts it, initiates a journey over the horizons where this revolution goes pale, mute and sinking. He doesn’t promise any answers and true explanations, just offers draft maps.
Though the book turns into endless contemplation on how we are wrong thinking that the effects of technological revolution have resulted in mental revolution because, according to the writer, it all has been vice versa. To illustrate this digital revolution, Baricco uses geological formation caused by underground earthquakes, which expands chronologically with introduction of every new item of digital revolution. And here is where the key concept of that hypothetical backbone comes into the light. For Baricco, it all literally starts with the Game and the physical and mental trinity of a man-keyboard-screen.
In fact, the book consists of two intermixed parts: historical reminder of the main players of digital revolution starting from 1981 (not to mention 1978 and Space Invaders) and personal comments and analysis of the author on “why and how” supplemented by new terminology such as post-experience (post-esperienza), otherworld (otremondo), increased humanity (umanità aumentata), etc. While the history might serve well for educational purposes, especially for those who were already born with a smartphone in their hand; the comments strike as endlessly repetitious versions of the same concept (it is especially annoying considering Italian syntax peculiarities: just hundreds of sophisticated words equal to a big and round zero).
And so from table football to flipper and finally to Space Invaders, Baricco assures that current digital culture grows on the principals of the Game. However, it doesn’t mean everything is funny and awesome as the meaning of the term predetermines. On the contrary, the Game is still a very difficult habitat that offers intensity in exchange for safety, generates inequality and is non-adaptable to many people. Or at least this is how Baricco perceives our digital world.
At one point in his book Baricco talks about how the digital cinema industry has destroyed the soul of the old cinema and there’s only one thing how to distinguish both: you have to look at the edge of the screen. During the digital projection it looks like fixed and nailed down, meanwhile at the film one – it vibrates as breathing. This summarizes very accurately The Game by Alessandro Baricco itself. No vibration detected.