Literacy in the Myst Games, Part 4: Revelation

So far in the Myst games we found a book, we delivered a book, and we saved a book. Something different happens in the fourth installment of the Myst franchise. Not only are we able to read journals, but we are able to use a necklace to read memories. Somehow, Yeesha’s special jewel she leaves behind allows us to experience or “see” powerful memories in certain places.

To me, this is sometimes what journaling does. It helps us see what someone else’s experience is. In another way, it’s also like witnessing. A journal is a record of what happened, and like the diary of Anne Frank, it leaves behind a witness to things that occurred that others have tried to hide or cover up. Writing is witnessing.

Writing is also an argument. In the first Myst book, we heard the rhetoric of two brothers trying to get us on their side. In this installment, the brothers are back, and they are once again arguing for their point of view. Can you trust one of them? They literally argue with one another, but in a rhetorical sense as well, they present arguments to the player. All writing is a rhetorical argument in a way, making a case for something. Taking a side, even if that “side” is neutrality.

There are a host of other things swirling around in there. There’s the trap of reading, which is always part of the franchise, but very much so here. Two of the main worlds we visit are simply trap worlds. Reading can sometimes pull us in so much that we are stuck in it (though not necessarily in a bad way).

Reading provides pleasure, reading provides wealth. Reading is an adventure. Reading can be dangerous. Reading can brainwash us, and un-brainwash us. Yeah, the story does get weird as a character tries to brainwash another in order to gain something from Atrus. Forcing someone to read and repeat something is a way of exerting control over them.

Myst_IV_box_artFinally, most importantly, and most obviously, writing reveals. This story shows us how we can read between the lines to see the truth as it is revealed to us. The missing can be found, the guilty can be found out, and the truth can be discovered. Secrets come out, beauty released, and wondrous new sights seen. A long kept secret is revealed to us, and only by diving right into the mystery can the secret plans of two brothers also be revealed. In a way, then, writing can also bring rehabilitation, as the truth revealed is used to heal as well as bring judgment and finality to a story. And with rehabilitation, reading and writing can bring serenity.

In the next post we will look at the spin-off project, Myst Uru.

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