I have been thinking about sorrow, because I feel sad, or at least morose. I think of Silent Hill 2, and what a powerful experience it was for me because, unlike most games, it was unrepentantly tragic. I like the contrast between the main characters of Silent Hill and Silent Hill 2, Harry Mason and James Sunderland. Harry ventures into Silent Hill, braving the dangers of strange monsters and damaged terrain and unexplained occurrences because his daughter, the person he cares most about in the world, is in there somewhere. Lost. Conversely, James ventures into a town full of monsters because he has nothing left to lose. Everything that defined him in his life is gone, and there’s no reason for him not to dive into Silent Hill in the hopes, no matter how distant, of getting even a piece of that back.
In and of itself, this difference in characters creates a huge contrast of tone between the two games. Harry is trying to defend, to rescue; the world of Silent Hill is correspondingly much more overtly threatening, because it’s trying to take something from him. James is trying to find something, supposedly another person but in actuality something within himself, and the world reflects this by being much calmer and more contemplative– but that contemplation begins to feed on itself, turns dark and wet and corrupt, blooms into despair, and starts to collapse into nothingness. Sometimes that’s the way contemplation is.
I love both games. I love Silent Hill for it’s pure vicious feverish imagination, twisting and roiling under an apparently dead surface, it eats away at our insecurities about where the world goes when we aren’t watching it, about whether that’s a crack in the wall or a face with a grin that gets bigger at night. However, my emotional connection with Silent Hill 2 was far more intimate; maybe it’s because I feel connected to this world at fewer points than many people, but it’s hard not to wonder what happens when someone gets really disconnected. When we’re cut loose from our worlds, do we fly away into the night sky like a kite?
How many of the people we see are alone, with no leverage left in their hearts to know another person again? It’s impossible to make a charity to fight that kind of loneliness, but I think that’s the seed of homelessness, disease, poverty. We have fetishized individuality to the point where it is easy, as an individual, to no longer connect to society in any meaningful way. We don’t work to improve the world because we don’t see ourselves as part of the world.
Maybe I’ve wandered too far. But thoughts like this grow from the seeds planted by the Silent Hill games, which is why I have so much affection for them– Even tinged, as it is, with sorrow, and disgust, and regret.