On 14 October 2019, Harold Bloom died at a hospital in New Haven, Connecticut at the age of 89. I learned of his death on the day, and there’s been a strange disquiet prodding my soul since learning the news. The concept of “celebrity deaths” isn’t new, but a literary critic, even one as (in)famous as Bloom, wouldn’t like qualify as a “celebrity” by most people’s standards; even so, this seems to be the first time the death of a public figure has caused me to mourn even beyond my own free will. I do not choose to mourn, the soul of my soul chooses for me, which only testifies to me of the impact Harold Bloom had upon me personally—even from the distance of merely a writer and reader.
Ranging much of the Indo-European and Proto-Indo-European world of approximately 4,000-25,000 years ago, one senses echoes of an image now almost entirely evaporated into the time before humanity’s earliest memories or histories. Though not at all clear today, with some trepidation and humility, one may venture to describe this widespread image as maternal. Were one to preserve only two works from the era in question, they might be the “Venus” of Willendorf of Paleolithic Europe and the Upanishads of ancient India. Both the Venus and the Upanishads may not only stand as crystallizations of humanity’s deep past, in the form of sculpture and literature, but as indications of the mental landscape common to all human beings.
What follows is devoid of spoilers for Nier: Automata. Instead, what I offer is an interpretive lens through which those who have yet to play the game, or who may have already done so, may interpret the narrative of Nier: Automata. This is, of course, only one possible reading among many others.
Thanks to some recommended reading from one of my sisters, I’ve come to read Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game in an entirely different light. In “Creating the Innocent Killer:Ender’s Game, Intention, and Morality,” John Kessel offers a fascinating reading of the moral ambivalence, and even potential immortality, of Card’s novel.
In Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, Kessel sees the construction of an ostensibly “innocent killer” merely; in other words, that Ender, though guilty of tremendous atrocities by the novel’s end, is written off as simply a product of his circumstances and thus justified rather than morally culpable. … After his own damning character analysis of Ender, Kessel concludes, “If I felt that Card’s fiction truly understood this, then I would not have written this essay.” …
That said, and I’m tempted to say that Radford and Kessel may likely agree, I am not yet prepared to toss all copies of Ender’s Game — and Card with them — onto the pyre, cultural or otherwise. Instead, rather than a zero-sum condemnation of Ender’s Game, I believe Radford and Kessel’s critiques offer readers an additional layer to Card’s novel — though not at all necessarily one Card himself may have noticed or even intended.