I prefer to limit whipping out analogies to illustrating how I’m thinking about something. It’s safe ground. I’m only trying to clarify my position. At the same time, analogies can be used to vilify somebody else’s position. Vilifying analogies, especially in and around Eve, often display a subtle, “Surely you agree that . . .” undercurrent trap which, when successfully sprung, reveal the entrapped to be full on sociopathic hypocrites. Given such consequences, arguments by analogy get unwieldy fast as disputants circle around each other steadfastly refusing to accept the other’s picture of of the situation.
That’s not to say arguments by analogy can’t be illuminating, just that they may not be illuminating in the way disputants intend. To wit: Raphael and my quick discussion in the comment section of my last post: Zero Sum Thinking. Go have a look/see for the complete read but be warned, we never get around to vilification. Sad, I know, but such is civilized life.
Terribly Important Groundwork:
I claimed that Eve needn’t be a zero sum competitive game explaining by analogy how a few years back, “I was eating lunch with several other employees when the fellow next to me enthusiastically declared, ‘I win!’ I looked at him puzzled so he elaborated, ‘I finished my lunch before you finished yours. I win!’ I replied with bemused eye roll. His enthusiastic declaration that not only was a competition underfoot but that he had won and I had lost didn’t make it so. It takes at least two to compete. Eve is no different.”
Raphael responded, “True, in a sense, but only for one definition of ‘compete’. You can choose whether or not to try to defeat an aggressor, but you don’t always have a choice over whether to respond. If your coworker had decided that his victory condition was eating your lunch as well as his own, I suspect that you would have needed a stronger response than just an eye-roll.”
We could have continued in typical disputant fashion arguing about whose analogy better represented Eve but I was so delighted by the picture Raphael’s analogy painted I’ve been pondering that portrait for several days instead. What if that fellow really had tried to eat my lunch?
Bullet Point Observations:
1) Raphael’s correct, if that fellow had up and eaten my lunch I’d have responded with more than eye-roll.
2) The nature of the response would have varied depending on the specifics of the situation. Did he sneak into my desk and scarf down my food before lunch break? (This would be burglary.) Did he manhandle me out of the way, take my seat then brazenly dare me to do something about it while enjoying my peach yogurt? (This would be assault and battery). Did he jump out of his chair complaining about the voices in his head then grab my turkey sandwich jamming ripe red tomato slices into his mouth sputtering, “Tomato is the only defense.” (This would be mental illness.)
3) I like to believe I would have responded to mental illness compassionately. I can’t begin to say how I would have reacted to the other two situations as they would have been actions far beyond reasonable peoples’ understanding of fun-loving competition and I haven’t faced such situations often enough to develop useful predictions. What I can say is that it astounds me how real life bullies unthinkingly depend on the good will of their victims. In these specific “I win” specimens, competitive him and less competitive me didn’t know each other very well. For all he know I might have escalated far beyond what he was expecting: called the police, begin poisoning future lunches, start bringing a concealed weapon to work, beat him with a chair right then and there.
4) A struggle of some sort would almost certainly have followed and interestingly, it would have been a struggle both defined by and to define the story around what had just occurred. Would I pursue a ‘Let’s one up him’ narrative? A ‘This is a breach of law and order’ narrative? A humiliated burning resentment narrative? Following my narrative move how would he have responded? “Dude, I was just joking!” “Oh, it’s on now!” “Seriously, you call cops on new friends?”
And Back To Eve:
One of the things I enjoy about Eve is the game’s broad understanding of ‘fun-loving competition’. In Eve, it’s not all unusual for someone to try and eat your lunch which gives rise to intriguing questions like this.