rick filosofeert

elitair, elegant, arrogant, sinds 14 mei 1977

My old dutch
Gepubliceerd in WayoftheRodent

It was 1983.
I had just turned seven. In the summer I went to my first Boy Scout camp in Den Dolder. It is a sleepy village near Traiectum ( Utrecht ) which is famous for three reasons. It is all nice and green. It has a large mental institution. It is ‘ Europe 's Sauce capital', its skyline being dominated by a large factory of Remia, a Unilever brand, which proudly boasts that claim. Somehow these facts seem to be related.

The hub that led sauce enthusiasts and mental geeks into Den Dolder
St. Martin's scouts luckily wasn't one of the groups closely abiding to the rules set by the dubious Lord BP so we just goofed around, playing, going on a few quests and learning how to make a fire. Of course we were all secretly in love with the two female akela's which tried to control us. They gave me looks, when telling us to go to sleep. I thought. The cards I wrote home seem to reflect the carefree environment we middle class kids explored.
I hadn't seen many computers until then. I do remember vaguely playing some early Pacman at a beach resort. Dutch beach culture never was centered on Piers like its English equivalent, although they have their own remains of past glory. Scheveningen does have a Pier, once filled with arcade machines, but currently it has just a horrible restaurant and a bungee jumping centre. Still, I work in The Hague , and the mere feeling that you could just take a tram and go to the Beach at Scheveningen fills my heart with joy during summer months.
Scheveningen's pier, were the plebs eat and jump
One night Michel, the male group leader showed us his little Commodore 64. He was playing a game placed in far lands. He jumped over spears and ducked. Michel told tales about those strange pyramids, about Montezuma and Quetzalcoatl. We were immersed by the visuals and the magic of the experience and the lands far, far away. After half an hour I was in another world and jumped spears like I never had done anything else. I climbed stairs and dodged rocks. I didn't so much play as an Aztec explorer, but became one.
When I entered the Temple , after the spears and the rocks levels, I got a feeling that I only could describe years later, when my Italian teacher at the University of Rome read Dante to me. In the third canto, just before entering Hell, there is a message written on the door for those who desire to enter. She was only a little woman, but here voice resembled that of Lucifer himself, when she declared the line:
“Dinanzi a me non fuor cose create se non etterne, e io etterno duro. Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate". ( Before me there were no created things, only eterne, and I eternal last. All hope abandon, ye who enter in!")
Every new level seemed like a new game, with traps to explore and treasures to be found and deadly aquatic wildlife to avoid. No film could beat this. I don't know if one of us actually finished the game, but we became quite good at it, dodging and jumping without thinking. My brother and I fiercely competed who could first solve a level. We used swear words we didn't even know existed before as we died and died again.
The room in which we played the game was dark. And we were in the woods, so the stars were not obscured by the lights from the big city. We could become totally immersed by the game. The music helped, as it was one steady tune which made us feel we were waiting to be sacrificed to the sun. A fate that should avoided that all costs, of course, we had to fight for our lives, and therefore we strangely had to enter a tomb full of deadly and poisoned rooms. The paradox never struck me until now.
Rick, jumping spears, yesterday
It would take a few years before getting our first computer at home. It was a Commodore 128, which luckily played all C64 games. We got millions of games. We explored the caves of Fort Apocalypse , destroyed Khadaffi in Commando Libya until my mother stopped us, and made lunches in the Big Deal.
I had forgotten the name of ‘my game'. Although every TDK D90 Tape I copied from colleagues of my dad was closely examined, the game with the spears was not to be found. Until one day in 1988, when suddenly the typical sound of the game appeared from the dodgy speakers of the black and white TV we were using. It was there again.
We never became good in it again. I just managed to get beyond the rocks level, but there it ended. Even now, playing the game again on an emulator, I find it far more difficult that I can remember, but still, once I load it up, I dream of lands that are far away and times that are long past. My new X-arcade suddenly seems like a gateway to Middle America . And when I will finally reach Mexico , I probably will look out for rocks to dodge when I climb on the large pyramids of the Yucatan peninsula or jump spears when I marvel at the remains of the great pyramid of Tenochtitlán (Mexico-city). And then I might finally recover my rest, if I can escape that pyramid, and free myself just like the slave of the game tries.
I never got to see her
The history of Den Dolder, http://home.wanadoo.nl/den.dolder/main.htm
Aztec civilization
C64 games
Emulation and C64 nostalgia
www.macretro.tk (a little self plug)
Columbia , Dante Project
ROMANISTA, October 2004.