If you think you have another blog, website, or author that deserves some recognition, please don't hesitate to contact me through the form provided.
All the best,
To be brief this evening, I have just created a sub-heading under the "Home" category where I intend to feature links to websites that I find particularly noteworthy. These websites contain information, theories, or analyses that stand above the rest, in terms of craftsmanship, intellectual rigor, and overall design. As of now, I have but one link (with the generous permission of the author), but I am open to looking into any suggestions that readers might have.
If you think you have another blog, website, or author that deserves some recognition, please don't hesitate to contact me through the form provided.
All the best,
“We need the sweet pain of anticipation to tell us we are really alive.”
- Albert Camus
After having had the blissful opportunity to peer however briefly into the window of a new Zelda experience, the above quote - which speaks about anticipation - struck me as a perfect truth. What I saw was beautiful and expansive, and it awoke my imagination from its slumber. Even now I am longing to head out into the wild with nothing but a hardened ax, some home-spun clothes, and mountains in the distance. But it appears that I will need to wait until next year to do so. But, with patience, the apple will eventually fall into your hand.
Overall, my impression of the game is highly, highly favorable. The pastoral art style is akin to that of Skyward Sword, which I highly enjoyed, and the updated graphics and vast landscapes simply add to the enchanting nature of it all. The survival aspect to the game will be a radical change in the erstwhile formula, and that, along with customizable weapons and outfits, will be intensely interesting to watch with a historical lens. In addition, the continuation of the stamina bar and the introduction of both climbing and jumping mechanics excites me to no end; there were so many places in previous Zelda titles that I longed to explore, but found myself trapped within the narrow confines of a pathway or temple passage. But, this game promises complete and perfect accessibility, which may prove as wonderful as it is rare. As I was watching the several hours of game play that has been uploaded thus far, I got strong reminders of my journeys across Hyrule Field in Ocarina of Time, and this sense of adventure is something I have missed greatly in past titles.
While certain things like health bars and voice acting (by far the most out-there, for me) are minor, I am not quite sure how to feel about them; they lend a mainstream RPG feel to the atmosphere of the game, which isn't what Zelda has always been about. The subtle way in which enemies would act or change fighting style based on their health is apparently going to become much more overt. Concerning my bigger hang-ups, I am not sold on the technological aspects of the game that have been shown to us; while magic has always been present, and technology has become more and more prominent in recent games (think back to Wind Waker, Spirit Tracks, and Skyward Sword), there has always been favor shown toward magic and the inexplicable. If this truly is the first Zelda title to place technology at the fore, I am highly skeptical of it. The last thing I want is a game that borders on science fiction. That isn't in the spirit of The Legend of Zelda.
The biggest potential issue I can foresee, though, is tied into the biggest strength of the game: the open, non-linear world. While this is liberating, exciting, and adventure-friendly, it also means that plot (by nature a linear storytelling device) may be put on the back-burner. I absolutely do not want that to happen, as in the first two titles in the series. Plot has been hugely important in recent games, and has opened up new histories and myths in each age of the Zelda world. A non-linear world hints at more episodic storytelling (or perhaps the story will continue the same for everyone, but in different locations), which is by nature more fragmented and less cohesive. Yet, by this same token, it may allow the developers to introduce vast amounts of lore passively, through the environment, villagers (and other NPCs), and built constructs. I hope they take the opportunity to create a rich in-game world that pulses with cultural life, so that we can start to fill in the gaps within our current knowledge of the series.
Finally, I am also going to open a thread in the forum about this new game, so that people can discuss what they think of it. Hope to see you there!
"Perhaps you are beginning to see how essential a part of reading it is to be perplexed and know it. Wonder is the beginning of wisdom in learning from books as well as nature."
- Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book
The first time I ever sat down to write anything concerning Zelda, I did so in a completely natural state (rather, a state not overly-burdened by forethought); there was no preparation, little training (but in general principles of grammar, rhetoric, and logic), and no formula. It is safe to say that my process has grown since then, but I cannot ever recall having constructed general outlines or comprehensive checklists to guide my writing. I also do not know if this has been for good or ill; clearly, many of my articles relate to one another in style and material, but not always are their structures alike, nor do they all cover the same ground. Yet, there are certain aspects that seem to be perennial in my writing, and hopefully I can expound upon them here.
My first article concerned the Water Temple from Ocarina of Time, and was written in the summer of 2013, scarcely a few months after I had returned from abroad, and during a period in which my life was in almost complete disarray. I like to think that my writing gave some sort of shape, some order, to the complexity of that time. But why did I choose the Water Temple? Was the palliative nature of water an unconscious desire of my stressed and uncertain mind? This is an excellent question, because not even I know the answer; I can speculate, but sadly this is outside my knowledge. What I do remember is, as I was propped up in bed on a late summer's day, I reflected on the meaning of the name of the temple, and its primarily elemental nature. What did the creators intend when they created a sanctuary which embodied and housed one element above all the others? And, intended meaning or not, I forged ahead.
At first, and many times after that, I was not even principally concerned with architecture, the stated purpose of my writings; I was more interested in theme, an interest which should be more than self-evident in light of nearly everything I have yet written. Indeed, themes are written into architecture itself, and through analysis of the latter do we proceed to understand the former. Without one or the other, our experience would be undoubtedly diminished. So, chief among all things, theme sits the throne. But what else attends it? What are its hand-maidens?
Usually, my second period of thought is spent on those that built a given temple, why they built it, and how it was constructed. Context is not always necessary in art, but in historical analysis, it is imperative. The Zora quite evidently thought something important enough to warrant the creation of a multi-storied complex beneath a lake bed, and it is our job to strive to understand their intentions. And this is not to say that we always find our answers; indeed, a large part of any Zelda experience is a healthy dose of the unknown, and rarely are answers freely given. Rather, through dialogue and plot, we must actively dig for information. Once the culture, history, and purposes have been contemplated (insofar as it is possible - places like Snowpeak Ruins are, for better or for worse, completely shrouded in mystery), the actual structure itself should be ready to yield its secrets; only through a thematic lens, and after a thorough cultural reading, are we able to truly view a temple. Of course, it is possible to simply look at a building, but what a deeply unjust way of approaching any piece of art! Art is communication, and so it seems logical to say that, as with a good book, there are manifold layers of meaning behind any given work, and our personal readings can be vastly enriched by having a fair amount of background knowledge and an inquisitive eye.
As we walk down hallways, up staircases, through doorways, and across open floors, what then do we see? What things present themselves to us? What do the designs tell us about natural environment, culture, or history? Are there real-world influences at work here, or are the motifs elaborate creations that exist solely within the in-game universe? Here, it proves useful to have a few books on hand, for even if one vaguely recognizes something that exists here on earth, one may not know exactly what it is, or the precise people or culture that made it, or to what end. And without this correct cultural placement, deriving meaning therefore becomes misguided at best, and misleading at worst. Yet, when done correctly, atop the layer of meaning already constructed from the cultural symbols of the in-game universe, another entire system of belief can be inserted into the analysis - this time, one of the real world. And this augments our understanding of a building immeasurably.
In writing, these are the stars to which I align my sails. Theme comes first, in order to set a mood and invoke an appropriate sense of the symbolic, which is then bolstered by the in-universe history, culture, and intentions of a given people; reflecting all of these aspects of analysis is, of course, the architecture itself: how the internal (in-game) and external designs and symbols shape our experience of a given structure. This list is not in any way exhaustive. I am positive that myriad other things shape my writing of an article, not least among them music, characters, dialogue, landscape, or the reasons for being in a temple in the first place. But, insofar as I know, I have listed the major conscious influences here, and hope that such an enumeration proves useful to someone, in some place, in some way.
"One is always at home in one's past . . ."
- Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory
I sat down tonight, fully prepared to work at my analysis of the thematic elements at play within Majora's Mask (with the eventual hope that this will help me understand my experience with the game, and, therefore, better know it), but then the feel of the air sundered my intentions and sent me back, briefly, to a warm summer night before the rain. It was that heavy air that attends a storm, in which one can almost feel the energy of the air, and the wetness of the clouds above. And, in that split moment of memory, I went down a very different path into the past, and have been treading it, to various degrees, for the past couple of hours. The power of memory is ineffable, and I fear I hold little sway over where my mind takes me, though I often thank it for stirring together so nicely my past and present. Now, I do so wish we had that rain . . .
Without saying too much more, I plan on finishing and publishing my thematic analysis within the month, and I am getting excellent assistance from two of my friends, who have been pushing me to play this game for a combined many years. Well, I have played it, and now all that remains is the sense-making of it all. This is to say: expect something soon, and I hope it proves worth the wait.
From the calm before the storm,
"Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials."
- Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living
This quote has been in my head constantly for the past four or five years, ever since I stumbled upon it. Yet, even while recognizing its inherent truth, I find it hard to implement its wisdom in my life. The materialism and engaged action of the West battles the impermanence and non-attachment of the Dharma, and I always seem to fall somewhere in the middle, with little achieved in either direction. It is common knowledge that spiritual development nearly always attends the falling off of worldly, materialistic concerns, but beginning on that path is the sticky wicket, so to say. Were it easy to shift our cultural backgrounds and spiritual temperaments, though, perhaps the joy would be taken from the journey.
What this all means to say is that my writing has been overshadowed, as is normal, by confusion and the rearrangement of life. Like clockwork, the world shifts, and my personal life continues to adapt around change, though mostly beneficial change. Friends moving away, weddings, a new profession, loss and gain. Where is writing to fit?
The first article in the Majora's Mask series of this blog was, more or less, just released, and I have mixed feelings about it. As it turns out, Majora's Mask is an incredibly difficult game to analyze, to comprehend, and to feel. Writing about it, then, seems almost impossible. There are several aspects of that article I am likely to change before the year is out, though exactly what I change remains to be seen. I will continue to tweak my writing style throughout the following articles (of which there will likely be six or seven, if I follow my current plan), and, as always, I welcome comments or suggestions. Courtesy of a modern age, my email is always open.
I have just finished up my editing, formatting, and reviewing process. Additionally, there are several new riddles up in all three tiers, and several changes in quite a few articles. There were definitely changes to be made in my earlier articles, and I think I was successful in both updating and augmenting them. To be sure, these articles will never be fully written, as I learn new things each year. Hopefully, they will only continue to grow in length, insight, and readability.
After some thought, I have indeed decided upon Majora's Mask as the next game I wish to cover. I played it a few years ago, but, in the midst of Great Bay Temple, my disc told me that the game had been corrupted, and that I had lost all of my save data. So, to this day, I regret to announce that I have never actually completed a game I know I will love. To remedy this, I will begin within the next few weeks, and hopefully have the first article up before the end of December. That may seem quite a while, but the exigencies of daily survival seem to always be in the way.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me.
Most hallowed of evenings,
"There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person."
- G.K. Chesterton
As the weather cools, I find myself more and more drawn into philosophy and literature, and while you might think that this would prepare me more for the creation of insightful blog posts, I am sad to report that this pursuit sometimes gets lost in the mix. Also, I have been student teaching for several weeks, and my energy levels are, by necessity, bolstered by unwanted, though lovely, naps. That said, my plan for the next few months is as follows:
1. Contemplate my course of action for this blog. (I need to determine the game I wish to do next.)
2. Fix formatting, structural, and aesthetic issues concerning both this blog and my tumblr.
3. Revisit older articles to improve grammar, wording, and literary artistry.
Thus far, I have edited both the Introduction and Appreciation, as well as the Great Deku Tree and the Forest Temple, which were some of my earliest works. I hope to continue on in this vein for a while, and make everything the best it can be, at this point in my life.
Implicit in all of this is one thing: my request to you, as readers, for your continued input. If there are things you would like changed, either format or content, please feel free to let me know. Also, if you catch an error here or there, do tell me; there are few things more irksome to me than a misplaced comma or double-spaces after periods.
Well, I have rambled on for far too long now, so I wish you all a very fond goodnight.
Peace and Meaning,
I simply must apologize for my lack of consistency in creating new content for this site. I have been terribly busy as of late (with a recent move, graduate school, work, volunteering, gardening, and all those other little things humans must do in order to survive), and have failed to give an appropriate amount of time to one of my biggest passions. That said, I hope to have the next article (The Fire Sanctuary) published on both this site and my tumblr (www.architectureofzelda.tumblr.com) within two weeks. Hold me to that.
Thanks for your continued support, comments, views, and patience.
After some consideration, and further contact with Matt (mentioned in the last post), we have decided to go ahead and publish some of our created Zelda-related riddles. We originally had these in a simple email thread, in which we would trade riddles with one another, but even at the beginning we discussed opening these up to the public. That said, under "Articles" there is now a tab for riddles of varying difficulties. I will make a new forum post, within which answers and interpretations can be discussed.
As you may have seen, there is a new piece of artwork that has a prominent home at the top of the screen. It was created by my friend of the past year, Matt Louscher, whom I met through, believe it or not, Zelda. In an exchange of favors, I asked for a logo that somehow incorporated one of my favorite locations of Ocarina of Time - the quiet glade directly before the Forest Temple. And I think he delivered it wonderfully. My sincerest thanks go out to him.
On a note of importance, Matt is currently working on a rather large project dedicated solely to The Arbiter's Grounds from the game Twilight Princess, and, once he is finished, more information will be posted here. His project is enormous in scope, and yet minute in detail. From what I have seen, it will be comprehensive in nearly every aspect.
His exemplary graphic design services are available for hire, and you can contact him via email at:
As always, there is more work to do, so on we all go.
The universe of The Legend of Zelda is replete with multifarious architectural oddities, beautiful and resonating structures, and ineffably-mysterious temples hidden in the remote corners of the world. It is my hope to explore said places, shedding light upon some of their salient features, and fulfilling the goals laid out by the introduction, the main goal of which is to help people understand and appreciate the unspoken, yet deeply-felt, allure of these locations and structures.