Culturalism

The Witcher’s World

I admit to not having fully lumbered through the video game franchise known as The Witcher. At one point several years back the original game was in my possession, yet the unorthodox combat style made it difficult to grasp, much in line with my Lost Odyssey experience. Nevertheless, the underlying ideas and world were intriguing, so I eventually checked out the novel that started it all. More recently, I battled my way through the graphic novel omnibus, a tome that features some very interesting commentary on the matter of perceptions and illusion.

One of the first tales erupts after Geralt (the Witcher) meets a wayward hunter (Jakob Ornstine) and proceeds to travel with him. During their time together, Jakob recounts the story of his lost love Marta, presenting her as the embodiment of an innocent passion stolen away by dark creatures known as the Bruxa. Marta’s ghost leads the men to a mystical house that appears to warp reality, and there an alternative narrative is presented by the feminine spirit. She claims that her father sold her to Jakob, a violent man who beat and raped her. Driven to find true love, Marta began an affair with the blacksmith Talton, who would be killed in a fit of jealous rage by Jakob, after which Marta herself was killed.

So why does Jakob still believe in this seemingly delusional narrative? Perhaps it is due to the curse which Marta placed upon him. Alternatively, it could simply be a way of perceiving reality based upon position. Still more, they are operating inside a house of illusions, so who is to say what can be true?

Adding further complexion to the issue is Jakob’s behavior towards the succubus who Geralt encounters in the house. After the Witcher enters a rage at his perception that she led him into a trap, Jakob castigates him:

“No! You weren’t thinking at all! You can’t treat a woman that way! Women are divine creatures, Witcher! They command our respect! No man can understand a woman, not ever! Their reasons are too mysterious! Too chaotic! We must accept them for what they are. And accept that their lives are far too short. They can be taken from us at any time.”  

In contrast, Geralt notes that Witchers do not understand passion as humans do, and so the sex act occurs absent a deep emotional bond. At the same time, when recounting a story of love to Jakob he mentions visiting a prostitute who accepted his money for her service and then paid it back afterwards. Hence he carries those silver coins for their meaning to the present day. Again a conundrum. Is love only possible outside of money, or is money itself love?

Towards the end of the book, a very crucial line is dropped: “Illusion. All is illusion.” I immediately connected this short statement with our present world. We are creatures constantly pursuing an ideal, whether created in our own minds or the commercial fun labs of the corporate elite. We can be in abusive relationships and call it love, or transactional actions more deserving of the term. Depending on religion or affiliation, we can witness the same event and interpret it in drastically separate ways, almost like we live in a house of glass.

God forbid any fool would cast stones.

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