Deep Surface


Eerie isn’t it? That’s the whole point.

When I looked at the explanation of “Deep Surface,” I knew I was in for something profound. It explained itself by saying that it was based off of a simple metaphor, asking the questions, what if the pages of a book or webpage were made of water? It also said, “Deep Surface is not just a narrative in the sense that it has a similar structure and approach as a game, although you must enter the literary dimension to learn how to play, how to breathe, and therefore, to be able to keep reading.”

I read the suggestions for play (something that I usually skip over) expecting there to be more intrigue. I was not disappointed. It read like a wonderful string of prose with little gems like this, “At the bottom of it all, of course, there be monsters. What’s the point of reading without the risk of monstrous fictions, or inconvenient truths?” and this, “So dive in, go deep, and don’t forget to tip your mermaids when they sing.”

The game itself had a simple concept. The player clicks a spot on the screen, simulating diving into the water. Words appear on the page, if you click quickly the words change quickly and they are hard to read completely. If you remain in one place, however, the words slowly scroll across the screen allowing you time to read and ingest the meaning.  This method does have a downside though; on the right hand side of the screen is a “lifeline.” That measures your air. If you “stay underwater” too long, you will drown and be propelled to the surface. After drowning three times, a creepy, robotic woman’s voice tells you, “welcome to the world where all you have seen must abide” or “human voices wake us and we drown.” You are taken to a page with naked human backs and the message “dive over…swim again?” You can replay the game infinitely or I suppose until you are too sick of reading the same information again and again.

What the robotic voice is referring to is the text that has flashed before your eyes. Many seem to be press statements about the American government, usually accompanied with the phrase “The Defense Secretary was unable to be reached for commentary.” Other bits of text are headlines about the chaos in our modern world or snippets of bad prose. One of my favorite headlines said, “Sales of penile enlargement drugs are predicted to beat contact lenses in the third quarter.” What an odd world we live in.

There is a point system in this “game” that seems to be based on how long the reader can stay underwater and how much different text they can read. My interpretation of this work was that as much as we want to understand our world and what it happening in it, the overwhelming nature of reality would drown us.  Even the name Deep Surface suggests that even delving into the surface layer of the truth of our world is too deep for any of us to comprehend. A final headline that I caught said, “scientists prove that ignorance is in fact bliss.” I would think that this is the main message of Deep Surface.

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