Trust and Swords

United Airlines and Southwest love me – they give me the best seats on the plane. Generally row 45, right near the toilet, middle seat.  Its a great chance to get to know new people, the 400 pound gentleman on my right (window seat) whose snoring is only interrupted by thunderous and odoriferous farts.  His Ooompah music – while at full blast – doesn’t disturb me too much, it drowns out the baby screams from the row in front of me.  To my left tends to be a lovely old lady with blue hair, a huge bag full of week old cheese sandwiches and a slight odor reminiscing of talcum, garlic and well-used diapers.  Inevitably, she is flying to see her unmarried daughter and – upon spying my wedding band – decides that I am not worth talking to.

So I sit with my knees comfortably wedged into the steel struts of the seat in front of me (I am 6’3″) and contemplate how I spend the next 4 1/2 hours. I actually fantasize about mid-air collisions, as long as the row in front of me rips out and I can stretch my legs on the way down.

Eating / drinking of course is out.  US airlines have dispensed with the disgustingly excessive frills like food, courtesy or cute flight attendants.  Instead, female sumo wrestlers shrink-wrapped in cheap, fire- and compliment retardant uniforms barrel down the aisle every 2 hours with water.  If you dare to want something else, you get “the look”.  A second request that is not “water” gets you labelled “terrorist”, shackled and – if lucky – ejected from the plane.

Anyway.  So, what to do?  Working is not easy, the tray table is way too small for a laptop.  I resort to reading books on my Kindle App – yes, my Samsung tablet thing lasts 4 hours plus.

So, I flew back from the Other Coast on Tuesday (Wednesday?) and immersed myself entirely in Alexandre Dumas “Three Musketeers”.  Yes, yes, we all read that as children (in French, I think) but its a great book.  The plot is great, the characters are genuinely likable and the constant swashbuckling is only interspersed with steamy trysts.  It was also written in a time when authors aspired to write beautifully – ah, those were the days.  Compare that to my usual fare of the corporate bullshit of “overarching strategic objectives to increase value-driven customer opportunities” (really, not a joke).  Instead I read:

Mme. Bonacieux looked at the young man, restrained for a minute by a last hesitation; but there was such an ardor in his eyes, such persuasion in his voice, that she felt herself constrained to confide in him. Besides, she found herself in circumstances where everything must be risked for the sake of everything. The queen might be as much injured by too much reticence as by too much confidence; and–let us admit it–the involuntary sentiment which she felt for her young protector decided her to speak.

“Listen,” said she; “I yield to your protestations, I yield to your assurances. But I swear to you, before God who hears us, that if you betray me, and my enemies pardon me, I will kill myself, while accusing you of my death.”

“And I–I swear to you before God, madame,” said D’Artagnan. “that if I am taken while accomplishing the orders you give me, I will die sooner than do anything that may compromise anyone.”

Then the young woman confided in him the terrible secret of which chance had already communicated to him a part in front of the Samaritaine. This was their mutual declaration of love.

D’Artagnan was radiant with joy and pride. This secret which he possessed, this woman whom he loved! Confidence and love mad him a giant.

Who can not sigh and dream of better days?  When men carried rapiers and wore large hats with fancy plumes and women carried goblets of wine and wore not much?

Thats got nothing to do with EVE, does it? Well, everything has to do with EVE – EVE is not a game, it is a society with its own values and covenants.  Reading the Three Musketeers made me realize – again – that we are still driven by the exact desire for trust, appreciation, renown and comradery today as 500 years ago.  The three (four, really) Musketeers share everything, trust each other with their lives frequently and without reservation. One for All, All for One is – in this literary context – not hollow, the characters practice it at every opportunity.  We admire them because we yearn for these relationships but reality generally does not afford it.  Sure, modern soldiers often experience it, firemen, maybe police officers and drug dealers but I personally would not trust my careerist colleagues with a pencil for fear for finding it lodged between my shoulder blades when I turn my back to them.

Wormhole space allows development of trust for the simple reason that it can be betrayed.  The fact that my Strategic Cruisers could be stolen by anyone in my corp at any time makes trust a matter of choice, not a default game mechanic.  I could bring in an Orca, park my valuables in it and log it off.  Its pretty safe from theft.  But if I did that, would I get the same satisfaction of logging in, watching my guys assemble in our blue bubble, check the SMA and find all my ships accounted for?  Would I be able to tell someone in need of a site running ship “just take any of mine, have fun”?  No, of course not. I would play it safe but in turn would not experience one of the core features that differentiates EVE from other games.  Because it can be stolen, everyone who does not steal it makes a conscious choice.  These are the people (yes, people, not characters) that I trust.

So, in this view, maybe that’s why I ended up in Wormhole Space – where there is no such thing as a personal ship array or 1000 man fleets where I never know if the ship to my right is piloted by a thief or spy.  I chose to fly in Wormhole space not for the fights, the ISK or the non-stop need to scan (trust me, no) but for the knowledge that living on the frontier requires more than just SP or blingy ships.

And so I shall close with another quote from Alexandre Dumas in the hope that CCP keeps a corner of the universe where people like me can rely on each other because they must.

“The merit of all things lies in their difficulty.”

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