A Philosopher’s Legacy
The Memetic Allegory
Allegory: An expressive style that uses fictional characters and events to describe some subject by suggestive resemblances; an extended metaphor. See also: mimetic art.
Symbolism is everywhere, and it’s up to us to pick them out and interpret them. In the past there have been attempts by myself and others to show some metaphors in the game’s story. We know that, officially, the events of the “Plant Chapter” are meant to parallel those of the Shadow Moses incident, but beyond this there are unspoken connections. There’re so many, I believe the game could properly be called a masterpiece of modern allegory. Wrapped in a complex and compelling story of love, betrayal, and secrecy, Sons of Liberty gives us a vibrant palette of characters and developments to analyze and learn from.
In allegories, the protagonist typically represents the viewer – supposedly doing and saying whatever the viewer would do – while other characters are some sort of symbol. In a videogame, this connection can be cemented very well by the fact that the main character literally does whatever you command him to do. A door may represent an opportunity, while a wall may represent an obstacle to a plan – the possibility for symbolism and interpretation is as open as the creator’s imagination. These symbols become important once they are related back to the overall subject – whatever it may be. So by understanding the subject, the viewer gains an appreciation of the character; and by understanding the character, the viewer gains an appreciation of the subject. For a fuller understanding of allegories, click here, or here for mimesis in general, click here.
The subject of this allegory is "memes", or “inherited information and ideas”. Each character represents memes, and can teach us by example.
Click on the characters to view their analysis in the meme allegory:
There are more lessons to learn from the characters of MGS2 – as well as other games in the series – but these you will need to think of on your own. Find something to believe in, and when you do, pass it on to others. It’s not about whether you’re right or wrong – it’s about how much faith you were willing to have. That decides the future.
Remember that building the future and keeping the past alive are one and the same thing; so go back to the past, to the 1960’s perhaps, and find out how the “times” determine the world around you; go to the turn of the century, and learn that you are not bound by your DNA; go to the Big Shell, and look beyond the smoke and mirrors. It’s our responsibility to create a future for ourselves and the coming generation. We can do this by shedding our skin, like Snake has, and teaching others.
Life isn't just about passing on your genes. We can leave behind much more than just DNA. Through speech, music, literature and movies... what we've seen, heard, felt ...anger, joy and sorrow... these are the things I will pass on. That's what I live for.
This is the Legacy of Metal Gear Solid 2.