Genichiro

2019-10-28

The logic of immersion is a false logic—it implies that there can also be distance, frictionless, specular distance, the space of the eye, which has been called the space of power. But in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, there is a different logic at work.

With Sekiro, I feel a connection in my flesh, in the contact between skin and controller and the interweaving of eyes and screen. Not immersion, but continuity, twining, chiasm (as Merleau-Ponty calls it). Separation is a lie. I am compromised by my play. I am not Sekiro, but I am with him, I belong with him, I dwell within him. Life, breath, spirit—my play is an animating principle, puppeteer ninjutsu in both directions, and I find myself affected, entangled, caught up in that spooky action, bound at the synaptic level to this coordinated array of pixels. Sekiro is not me, but he is with me, he belongs with me, he dwells within me.

Not immersion, but continuity. Genichiro: he marks the way. He is Sekiro’s great challenge, and mine. There are other bosses more difficult, more inspired, more infuriating, but Genichiro is my teacher. Many have said that Bloodborne taught them how to play the Souls games, and I have echoed this sentiment. But it was not until Sekiro that I learned what these games have been trying to teach me all along.

Continuity means a forgetting of sight, a forgoing of optics, an entering into the black double sensation of contact (raise your arms with me, hunters). You need not become like the Fire Keepers to learn how to see in this way, not beyond sight but within it, vision-in-black, entirely interior (as Laruelle writes). Not immersion, but continuity.

Genichiro defeats us, and inevitably we return. A crucial point, as in so many of FromSoftware’s games, asking: have you learned enough to go on? Genichiro gives no distance. He demands that you make contact, and that is where he teaches you. The rhythm of this battle is an intimate dialogue.

Deleuze and Guattari speak of the mechanism of faciality, the white wall/black hole system, and the strange true becomings that might finally escape it. To get out, we must draw lines, and this is what Genichiro teaches: don’t see, but draw; not immersion, but continuity. Geometry is the analog science we need. Draw your sword and use it as a tool for blazing life lines.

I am not this face watching this screen, interpreting its signs. Genichiro teaches me the falsity in such thinking. Vision-in-black is to form a rhizome with the screen, a living block, a connecting of stems, a new potentialization. Genichiro teaches me this becoming.

Becoming-with: this is the logic of continuity, the logic of Sekiro and all the Souls games preceding it. There is no immersion, and no pure remove paired with it: the system of faciality is dismantled. And in its place, contact, always and only contact, the gentleness and terror of hands touching in the dark.