Thursday, March 06, 2008

Flavor Text

The little whiteboard above my office desk used to have the following quotation written on it:

"Everything the wise woman learned,
She wrote in a book.
And when the pages were black with ink,
She took white ink, and began again."

The quotation also happens to be on the signature line of my primary e-mail address. In fact, it's been that way for the last ten years.

I get a lot of surprised looks when I reveal where the quote is from. No, it's not a tidbit of wisdom from a famous historical figure. No, it's not some obscure koan from an unknown branch of Zen Buddhism. It's actually a piece of flavor text from an old Magic card.

From there, I just give a wry smile and point out that it's possible to get great quotations from the strangest places. And that's part of the point, really.

I'm not sure why I scribble these things on the whiteboard above my desk. Maybe I want to find some use for dry markers in an age where all my business communication is done through satellite phones and e-mail. Maybe I'm subconsciously looking for inspiration in the crevices of memory. Maybe I just get a kick out of watching people crane their necks to see what I'm about to write next.

If there's a surprise benefit in these quotations, however, it's the fact that they reveal exactly who the gamers, the movie bums, and the literati are in my office. A man who sees the quote above and marvels at its enlightened meaning obviously didn't have much in the way of tabletop hobbies. A man who sees the quote above and chuckles at the childhood memory probably has first-hand experience of where it came from.

And on my end, it forces me to think a bit... to grasp at what I remember of a gaming life and wonder exactly when I get to start up again.

Presently, the quote on my whiteboard now reads as follows:

"When ten thousand men clash with arms and fire,
It is always a single man's actions that make the difference."

This, of course, is not from any distinguished military tactician's texts; nor is it from a Chinese treatise on war and bravery. It's another piece of flavor text, this time from a Legend of the Five Rings card, and it amuses me greatly.


Charles said...

L5R in my opinion has some of the best quotes and short stories. =)

Sean said...

Charles: I think my opinion of L5R quote-writing shot up after I picked up an entire bookful of its quotations. It turns out that they usually rephrase Japanese, Chinese and Korean sayings, but it's usually so that they can put an in-world spin on the stuff.

Charles said...

Ah, but the twist in their stories is quite remarkable.