The Mysterious, Magical End of ‘Disco Elysium’ Was One of the Year’s Best

The Mysterious, Magical End of ‘Disco Elysium’ Was One of the Year’s Best

. The paintings begin with open nature and end with the ruins of the classical world being reclaimed by that same nature. On one hand, there’s a pessimism to it. On the other, there is an optimism in nature here. Things didn’t work this time, but maybe the next one will be right. The eternal churn of things in the world will afford the opportunity to come around again. The reeds will shake again. The insulindian phasmid will emerge for someone else; after the war or the insurrection or the singularity, it will still be there in the foliage. The land and the water, the buried concrete and the tides. The next go around could be the one that guarantees the future.


And it is interesting to see this cryptid, which calls the experience of human memory “a kaleidoscope of fire and writing glass” and “eternal damnation,” here at the end of 2019. With dying oceans and accelerating destructive weather patterns and increased nationalism that cannot help but align itself with a division between the climate haves and have nots, the beauty of the natural world doesn’t seem to be the guarantor of perspective and potential that Disco Elysium or the pastoral painter want it to be. In fact, the beauty of the thinking thing beyond the human already feels like an artifact of a kind of aesthetic beauty that we can’t call on anymore. Our own almost-mythological creatures die in droves all the time. The most beautiful sunsets are pictures drawn by emissions interacting with weather patterns.

There’s both a comfort and a quietism in the cryptid. It stands outside of humanity, cloning itself and living a life that is fundamentally alien to us, and that standing gives us a kind of perverse hope about how the world might live on without us. No matter what happens to the detective, something beautiful will live on in the world beyond him. No matter what happens to us, the mountains and the water and the trees will eventually recover and live their lives after us.

On one hand, it is comforting like a Li Po poem. And on the other, it presents a picture of humanity as hopefully compromised and unable to change. It is an escape hatch for both self-loathing and politics, a kind of way out that allows us to rethink responsibility across inhuman timelines and modes of experience. We can be forgiven for being cynical or sarcastic or mean or simply human because there’s something natural and honorable and worth preserving in the world. There’s the cryptid, and as long as we don’t mess things up too bad, it’ll be there. The mountains and the fields and the fish and, maybe, the cryptid.


The characters in Disco Elysium go back to the banality of their districts and their jobs and their lives in the shadow of what we’ve seen, but the insulindian phasmid is meant to be a guarantor of the numinous qualities of the natural world. Even after we empty everything out, even after human ideology and violence hollows us, then there’s still something out there in the natural world that we can save.

I still can’t decide if I think the cryptid is false hope. The beauty of a story is that it can have a dramatic climax where something from beyond the world restores our faith in the natural world. The cryptid gives us permission to think that this, too, shall pass.

But we will pass with this, whatever it is. The promise of the cryptid is the promise of the future, for sure, but it is one where our decisions and triumphs and mistakes do not matter. It is a future where human works are ruins. The beauty of the cryptid is that it confirms, without a doubt, that none of this matters. The horror of the cryptid is the same.

Source : Cameron Kunzelman Link

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