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Unmasked and Exposed
By Salam Alhamdy (DÛke)
You don’t know me. I’m not some big name, and I thank myself for that. I am what some of you might refer to as “casual player.” Questions have arisen recently regarding this entity entitled “casual player.” Upon first thought, it didn’t matter to me because, hey, to be honest, I have so much on mind that caring about this game or titles is something out of my nature…and yet, the more I think about it, the more important it becomes to me, to me personally. For that reason alone I write this…

The very concept of “casual player” seems to escape definition; there can be no one or any definition of what casual “is.” I might as well X out the “is” when it comes to defining or pointing the finger at a wrongly titled “casual player.” What “is” a “casual player”? Hitherto, no one knows. Who is a casual player? That, too, is a question that deconstructs itself impeccably. Who can be a casual player? Here we might have a thread to follow…but I make no promises.

At the risk of offending some ears, I would like to declare that there never was and there will never be a “casual player.” Or a “tourney player,” for that matter. These loaded entities have been nothing more than verbal assaults in some cases, verbal misunderstandings and confusions, and nothing more – using the terms “casual player” or “tourney player” makes things a lot easier to share, discuss, and communicate, but beyond that they cannot be anything more than illusions: they represent nothing in particular, only absurd generalities.

Let’s take “casual player” for our extended example. A casual player is everything and anything and also nothing. A casual player is also a tourney player. A casual player is also the one who is arrogant, who likes to be the victor against all odds, and who also, from time to time perhaps, likes to rub it in. A casual player is good, evil, shades of gray, multi-colored, common, uncommon, and rare…foil, as well, and everything in between, created and uncreated, said and unsaid.

What “is” a “casual player”? It is the player who finds a card, it doesn’t matter what it is, what it does, how rare it is – nothing matters except the card itself, and that it has been found; all that matters is that a card has been found, and it looks oh so mighty, so seductive; he feels a gravity, almost sinful in its nature, and he suddenly wants to build a deck around or including the found card. Or, maybe he found few cards, or many? Does it matter? No. He touches the cards with his imagination, and when he finds something, anything, he shivers. There’s almost an instinctive, purely physiological sensation and satisfaction accompanying the discovery of the card or cards, and the very thought that there is a deck, somewhere out there, to be built using these discoveries is almost orgasmic.

Victory? who does not love victory? There is a side of us that likes to even rub it in as we win, of course no one will rub that in, certainly not a “casual player.” Victory – it’s like the icing on the cake, the cherry on top, or maybe the entire ice cream wholly, but what matters victory when a casual player finds these few cards that are gratifying just to think about! Victory is not yet the intention, not yet the picture; almost entirely, the focus is purely on the gems…

So a casual player is the one enticed and mesmerized by some cards or others. Wrong. We used “is” again, trying to conjure yet another corrupted definition – a failed attempt right at the beginning. A “casual player.” Fact or fiction? Either and neither. Yes and No. All and none. Paradoxical? Not even that…

I’ve heard rumors that a “casual player” likes to win games originally and innovatively. Well, yes. But let me assure you from the bottom of my soul, Bargain’s method of winning is just as tragically beautiful and awe-inspiring as beating down your opponent with a herd of Squirrels or 13 attacking lands or some attacking walls. Believe me when I tell you that every deck, even if only once upon a time during its lifetime, was a “casual” deck. Was a casual deck? No – is a casual deck. Yes, every deck ever played is a casual deck in its heart of hearts, it didn’t change; hey, it didn’t create itself, and you have got to admit, conjuring a deck that wins while you do nothing but watch and grind your teeth and shed few tears is divine in its own way. A deck capable of doing that much did not come into being out of nothing. In fact, it takes almost a criminally strategizing, deliberating, fascinated, fascinating, immorally obsessive mind to create what would eventually become an audacious monstrosity that you get to experience on the other side of the table. It almost redefines the saying “don’t hate; congratulate.”

Don’t hate; congratulate. There is nothing more original and innovative than such a monstrosity, or at least the process, mind, and mentality that spawned such a monstrosity.

There is a huge problem in our world. People claiming to be, trying to be, fighting to be, pretending to be…something or everything…that they are not. The “war on terrorism” is not a war on terrorism. It’s not really even a war. “Axis of Evil”? Sounds like something out of a bad Hollywood movie. A “war of liberation” sounds funny to those more refined ears. Say it with me: “war” of “liberation.” Has a nice oxymoronic ring to it, doesn’t’ it? Or that one person we have observed, who happens to be oh-so-agreeable, so “open minded” to the point of vomiting. Or the one person who “tolerates” everything? Or the “holy” man who “accepts” everything and everyone? Or…those who tell you to “believe”…or…just simply look at those happy persons who you want to almost despise just because they are happy, or those who are so drowned in trivial and ordinary talk that you can almost be hypnotized by the sheer commonness and infinite stupidity of it. Aside from the fact that there is no bottom line, the bottom line is: nonsense exists, and it exists because of one reason…that reason being the inability to be something, which causes a physiological strive to simply be, to exist for the sake of existence…
Our world is littered with those who pretend to do what they can’t do, who are so envious of those who can do it not only better than they will ever be able to do it, but also more efficiently, more wholeheartedly, more…naturally…and with a certain uncommon charm. In every facet of life these…people…exist. After all, indeed, there was only one Christian, and he died on the cross…

Once upon a time, there was also one Counter-Phoenix. One Academy and one Bargain. Only ones, all over the place. And then you have the counterfeiters, the subspecies and mere reflection of all a Magic player is. They exist, inevitably, and there are plenty of them. They exist everywhere. Your friends? your enemies? might you be one? They are everywhere, they are perhaps reading this, they know who they are, and being with them, existing along their side, is the only option. They are the vampires of our super ordinary world; they have nothing to offer, but a lot they want to take and have taken. They are, looking at from a very distant point of view, the reason behind every problem, war, and evil in this world. They are slaves that have become masters. In the Magic world? There they exist as well; they expound and utilize their abilities (or, lack of abilities) there, as elsewhere…

A powerful, broken, shameless deck is no objection to taste and innovation. What is fundamentally and essentially objectionable to our taste and sensibility is the one who, obviously, cannot play the game, and thus pretends to play the game, needless to say, with ideas that do not belong to him, with cards that are merely owned by him but that have no significance to him, all in all, winning with means that he himself has no access to but merely has “learnt of” and managed to purchase, purchase as a mere “resource” with merely practical, logical, calculable value – nothing more or beyond. He does not use his mind, he does not strategize, this fool of fools; he does not create, he does not invent, he does not innovate, he does not exhaust his being, because he is nothing – he only thieves and destroys; he exhausts the creative energy and the creative mind, he reduces it to mere copy and duplicate, mere “cards” that can be “bought” and “constructed” in such and such a fashion so as to produce this or that effect and winning “condition.” It has no meaning to him. He destroys. He wins. He grins. And he moves on, like an idiot – because he is not even dignified enough to be an idiot on his own. He is nothing, null and void. He exists for the sake of existence, lives for the sake of living…and worst of all, he is happy about it. You can’t do anything about it: hey, we’re in a world moving towards “accepting” everyone for who they “are,” even if they are at bottom nothing. Or maybe he just doesn’t take the game seriously enough? Ok – but he’s serious enough to pay loads of dough on something so unserious? Or maybe he just doesn’t have a brain?…

Winning, in fact, arrogantly and with an insulting display of satisfaction, is not an objection to our taste either. Neither is losing. There is one thing objectionable in this world: pretending to be and to do what one is not and what one cannot do. And no less, this applies to the Magic world. When you beat me, supposing you beat me and not merely “your deck” – I will smile and nod; you have deserved every bit of physiological gratification. When you beat me with a deck, just a deck, that you happen to call “your deck” – when your deck beats me, and not your heart and soul and mind, then I can do nothing but smile back and nod again, extending my sincerest courtesy, and letting you have “the win” – even if you “really did win.” Well, you didn’t win. Your deck did. And that deck just happens to be not your deck. So who won? Nobody. You and the deck you happen to choose that day were nothing more than practice to me. Thank you, Mr. Punching Bag.

Too many titles and classifications, in my opinion. Casual player? Tourney player? Whatever-player? There is only one player: a player. Everyone else wants to play, but doesn’t, and perhaps can’t. Hey, not everyone is meant to be great, and not everyone is meant to play: accept the fact that you maybe, as opposed to all belief, inferior. Those that play, whatever they play, they bring themselves into the table, their decks, their cards – that’s right, their cards, even if everyone on the table is playing the same cards, they put themselves into their cards, they make a card theirs, and justly so. Everyone else is a voyeur. Voyeurs that watch and inspect. That try. That win. And also that fail miserably. They fail tragically, as a matter of fact. They fail every time they win; no! every time they play. They have failed as soon as they sit down with “their decks,” they injure themselves by winning, and insult themselves by thinking that they really did “win.” They are idiots, and they will “agree to disagree” with you about this fact or just tell you to be “open minded,” or not to take it “so seriously”…yes, cunning is their game, and they have thousands of sage sounding slogans that, really, mean nothing to the more awake amongst us.

But look on the bright side, or maybe just on the other side: these empty shells exist everywhere and in volumes you cannot begin to imagine. You don’t like it in Magic, well, then, let me tell you something: you deal with these people on daily basis; you see them on daily basis. Pop stars and so-called icons, sports players, actors, politicians, preachers, believers and unbelievers alike; husbands, wives, children, commoners and uncommoners, intellectuals and idiots, terrorists and peacemakers, true lovers and true haters, philosophers and scientists…and believe me when I tell you that it is not getting any better. I used to cry because of the fact…really cry…

Every deck out there, every “arch” deck, is a “casual deck,” and the player who invented the deck is the casual player par excellence. Everyone else? But…what matters everyone else! Heaps of trash and replaceable blood…that is all it is.

Dear reader: take a look at yourself. You just might be the most unsuccessful success story on the block. Crush the infamy! Yes, and meanwhile make sure you smile…

DÛke
Huscar307@Yahoo.com

Read More Articles by Salam Alhamdy (DÛke)!

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