I sit at my desk, staring at the multiple tartan-clothed notebooks and digital notes on the screen scattered before me. Each fragment represents a small piece of my larger project, an interdisciplinary analysis of the video game Death Stranding. Some pages contain polished arguments ready for publication, others merely skeletal outlines waiting to be fleshed out. Viewed together, they form an intriguing “meta-strand” – a web of ideas exploring a single subject from multiple angles. This approach is reminiscent of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s concept of the rhizome from their 1980 work, “A thousand plateaus,” where they explore a non-hierarchical approach to knowledge and understanding. This rhizomatic structure suggests that knowledge is not linear but interconnected, much like the nodes of a rhizome plant.
Yet, my project META-STRAND, like Erwin Schrödinger’s famous cat, seems to exist in a state of flux, both finished and unfinished at the same time. This superposition, a term borrowed from quantum mechanics, describes a system that exists in multiple states simultaneously until it’s observed. In the context of my work, it means that META-STRAND is both complete and incomplete until a definitive conclusion is reached. And this conclusion may never be reached. So, a question intrudes in my mind ever so often: Can META-STRAND ever be considered a successfull scholar effort, or “science”, if it remains indefinite?
When I embarked on this endeavor, I was fueled by curiosity for the obscure world of Death Stranding. Drawing inspiration from Espen Aarseth’s 1997 seminal work, “Cybertext: perspectives on ergodic literature,” I sought to shine an academic spotlight on this gaming title, dissecting its themes and mechanics through various critical lenses. Aarseth’s work emphasizes the interactive nature of ergodic literature, where nontrivial effort is required to traverse the text, much like navigating the complex world of Death Stranding.
Months later, I’m left with both analogue and digital piles of writings but no clear endpoint in sight. There is always more to unpack, new connections to form. Each answered question spawns several more, sending me down endlessly branching paths of inquiry. This mirrors Deleuze and Guattari’s exploration of deterritorialization and reterritorialization, where they discuss the constant shifts and flows of identities and ideas. Like an overzealous strand, I continue to forge new strands of thought, linking far-flung ideas in my effort to understand every dimension of this game.
At times, this evolving nature of META-STRAND reminds me of the Werner Heisenberg uncertainty principle (1927) – the deeper I delve, the more the project’s trajectory shifts. I gain new insight but lose my previous vision. What began as a focused gallery of scholarly analyses has evolved into a broader exploration, drawing connections I never anticipated when I drafted my original outlines. This spontaneous emergence of new paths both excites and overwhelms me.
Drawing from N. Katherine Hayles’ 1999 work, “How we became posthuman,” I recognized how concepts bled between disciplines. Hayles’ exploration of the intersection of literature, science, and technology offers a lens through which I could see the fluidity of ideas across different fields. This fluidity, this blending of disciplines, is where the true strength of META-STRAND lies. So before long, I found myself crafting expansive, speculative essays that wove together insights from multiple fields, reminiscent of Marsha Kinder’s 1991 call for transmedia narratives. The orderly papers I envisioned morphed into tangled meta-strands crossing disciplinary boundaries. While intellectually stimulating, this migration left me without a clear roadmap. The project’s endpoint became obscured, its completeness always just out of reach. Each new connection spawned branches to be investigated, threads still waiting to be untangled.
In many ways, META-STRAND clings to a state of radical possibility, echoing Deleuze and Guattari’s exploration of ‘becoming’ in “What is philosophy?” where they discuss the transformative processes of life and thought. Its evolving, interconnected structure allows for boundless exploration, unhindered by predetermined form. Each new strand I weave opens a portal to another realm of thought. Zipping freely between disciplines allows me to destabilize old patterns and construct new frameworks of understanding, emphasizing the interconnectedness of humans, machines, and (con-)text(ure). Thus, META-STRAND does not exist in a vacuum; it is in constant dialogue both with the game and with the social, cultural, and political forces that shape how I approach analysis – very much in the sense of Donna Haraway’s 1988 “Situated knowledges”. So, dealing with ideas of how to explore the game has pushed me to reflect on my own tendencies – as both a writer and a human – to seek order, structure, and completion.
Now, META-STRAND resistance to completion has forced me to let go of rigid expectations and lean into more organic writing and research practices. I find myself relinquishing the need for control and embracing the unknown. There is joy to be found in not-knowing, in wandering new paths unburdened by presuppositions. I’ve realized that allowing my work to exist in a state of quantum fluctuation, of crooked paths and illuminated side roads, has value. Great discoveries often emerge from the spirit of open inquiry, from following strands of curiosity to see where they lead. This project has become less about definitive answers and more about the never-ending journey toward understanding. Its value lies not in completion, but in awakening new perspectives that push boundaries.
And so I return to my original question – in its quantum state, will META-STRAND ever be a successfully “science”? Or rather afailure? As I reflect, I realize this binary framing no longer fits. Success and failure imply finality, an endpoint I cannot yet see. I do not know what form this project will ultimately take or what insights it will unearth along the winding path ahead. In truth, I’ve come to accept that it may always exist in a state of simultaneous becoming and unbecoming, both finished and unfinished. While initially unsettling, I now find comfort in this paradox. By resisting completeness, the work retains the energy of possibility.
So I will continue to sit here among my strewn notes and screens, steadily crafting these ever-evolving meta-strands. I will follow each thread with care, letting curiosity guide my interdisciplinary explorations. And I will embrace the not-yet-known, allowing this work to crystallize organically over time, like a strand gradually solidifying into a chiral lattice. The destination remains uncertain, but the journey promises to be rich with meaning and discovery. And for now, that quantum state of being feels like the most thrilling place to be.
- Aarseth, Espen. 1993. Cybertext: perspectives on ergodic literature. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
- Deleuze, Gilles; Félix Guattari. 1984. Capitalisme et Schizophrénie 2. Mille Plateaux. English translation 1987. A thousand plateaus. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press..
- Deleuze, Gilles; Félix Guattari. 1991. Qu'est-ce que la philosophie?. Paris: Les éditions de Minuit. English translation 1994. What is Philosophy? London: Verso.
- Haraway, Donna. 1988. Situated knowledges: the science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective. Feminist Studies 14 (3). 575–599.
- Hayles, N. Katherine. 1999. How we became posthuman: virtual bodies in cybernetics, literature, and informatics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Heisenberg, Werner. 1925. Über den anschaulichen Inhalt der quantentheoretischen Kinematik und Mechanik. Zeitschrift für Physik 43 (3-4). 172–198.
- Kinder, Marsha. 1991. Playing with power in movies, television, and video games: from Muppet Babies to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. .
- Schrödinger, Erwin. 1935. Die gegenwärtige Situation in der Quantenmechanik.. Die Naturwissenschaften 23 (48). 807–812.