Choose Your Own Adventure

My Friends,
   Did you ever read those Choose Your Own Adventure books as a child?  The ones where you start as a space pirate or an Etruscan cosmonaut, or some other equally ridiculous premise is established…

Often, “space” was involved.
…and you are given a set of choices every few pages which lead to branching paths with widely different outcomes?  Well, even if you haven’t you’re probably aware of their existence, or of the existence of this type of narrative used in other media.  
   What I find fascinating about these books is that right until the bitter end (DEATH) or conversely, if you picked the right path, the awesome end (SPACE VAGINA), you always had a choice.  And the set of choices you were given at each crossroads was very telling of how wise, foolish or just plain lucky you had been during the previous sets of choices.  For example, if your set of choices was “Hide in the murderer’s closet and hope he doesn’t find you,” or “Confront the murderer with no weapon,” you had probably fucked up somewhere earlier.  Might have been when you chose not to wait for the police but rather to investigate the murderer’s space home by yourself, but who can say for sure?
I find it interesting that “space” is not included in the title.  Perhaps they just took it for granted that the novel would be set in space by the time they got this far in the series.

   I feel that this is a really apt metaphor for life: To be sure, we always have a choice, or rather, we are given a set of choices.  But then again, your choices at any given time are the outcome of previous choices and paths taken.  It’s like how the choice between a natural birth or a C-Section can be the result of a previous decision to either have unprotected sex or use a condom, which sprang from a decision prior to that between drinking excessively at a party or remaining sober.
“You see there is only one constant.  One universal.  It is the only real truth.

   So having established the truism that each choice leads to a distinct and different set of choices than the opposite choice, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that there is another important element which determines the set of choices you are given in life.  To illustrate what I mean, I submit the following work:
If I’m lyin, I’m dyin…

Now if you were to pick up this book, which of the following choices would you most expect to be confronted with:
A) Whether to use a sword or a spell to overpower the dragon.
B) Whether to fight the zombie hordes or seek shelter in an abandoned factory
C) Whether or not to advise the captain of the spaceship that there is discontent brewing among the crew
D) Whether to climb to the top of Mount Olympus or ride your Pegasus up there
Of course, the answer is C: In a book about space mutiny you can reasonably expect to make choices relating to mutineers on a spaceship.
   Now let’s try again; assume the book in this instance is called New Delhi Street Urchin, which of the following choices could you reasonably expect to make:
A) Whether or not to go to college or join the army
B) Whether to play football or basketball after school
C) Whether to remain defiant or resign yourself to your fate as you are sold into prostitution
D) Hot dogs or hamburgers for lunch
Again, the answer is C, but to my my knowledge this CYOA volume has never been written.  No matter though, its real-life for many and we see here how the choices we would take for granted in North America (A, B & D) aren’t even in the deck for our protagonist.  But the divide isn’t simply national or cultural, it exists within our own national/continental borders.  For example, a Choose Your Own Adventure volume entitled Adventures of a Wealthy Heir would present choices about whether to go to law school, play polo or summer in the Hamptons, while a volume entitled Adventures of a Low-Income Baltimore Youth might present choices about whether or not to sell cocaine, hide from police, or give a cellmate a buck-fifty.  To pretend that both of these protagonists have an equal chance to thrive in this world is akin to pretending that the protagonist of Space Patrol

also has a shot of defeating the Ninja Cyborg.
Patrolling space is gonna give you a vastly different set of choices than training in Cyborg Ninjitsu on Earth.  This will lead to vastly different (though perhaps equally awesome in this case) outcomes in both fiction and real life.
   I guess what I am ultimately trying to say is that there is a way in which we are given a set of choices which amount to no choice at all.  Like a rabbit being canalized toward a snare, we are often led to sets of choices in which we must determine the lesser of two evils.  But since the choice between two shitty alternatives still rests with the individual, we are wont as a society to hold them up to the fire rather than re-evaluating our system which presents so many with such an unfairly stacked deck.  They chose their own adventure after all
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Go'head! Talk some shit! :-)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s