Iain Plays
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Saber to the Heart

The Future is Now #

In the Virtual Reality game Beat Saber, imaginary light blades emanate from the handles of your baton-like physical controllers. The notes that float directly towards you are represented by alternating coloured cubes.

Along one face of each cube, an arrow points inwards, and only by slicing through each face correctly do you accumulate points and maintain the song meter. Too many consecutive mistakes means game over, while consecutive hits builds up a combination or “combo” multiplier for up to 800% of each note until lost.

Overall song difficulty can be modified by an overall inconsistent difficulty level from Easy to Expert+, and other modifiers such as making the song 25% faster, or ghost notes (the cubes become invisible when they get close to you). And, after a few months of daily 10-30 minute workouts, I can now finish most unfamiliar songs on Expert difficult without much sweat.

However, Sandstorm by Darude is not one of those songs. It has been my Moby Dick, and the tale of completing it is chronicled below.

My Moby Dick #

In the Beginning #

Monday, 1st Aprill 2024, 8am

Day 4 of Easter's holidays. Guts immolating in vegetable and fruit oat/soya smoothie. Arms still tight and aching from ripping felt off a garden shed yesterday, and sorer still from the strains of several Saber songs: Daft Punk's Aughtie's Techno delights, and Camellia's alien DNA beam screeching modem warble trap. Just about time to be scorched with fresh-ground, blue-mountain coffee and a superheated shower that always ends in a sadomasochistic freezing finish, with at least 30 seconds on each quarter of my body.

I felt hot and strong and proud. Ready to peel off the VR headset, deglove my sabers, and head through. But something stopped me.

Sandstorm? Could today be the day? Nervously, panting still, I pulled the trigger to select the song. The dance began and my muscles yearned for the initial wave of this map. Gripping twin-headed ropes, four minutes and 400m of anchor to shake and pull. Forty, forty, forty. Continued.

Could it be? #

Midway through now, my body feels differently alive. There’s an unusually long but welcome break in the middle of the song where you can take stock and steel yourself again. My score at this point, normally around 320k is at 350k and rising. At a maximum of 115 points per note/cube times the combination multiplier of 8, I'm soaring higher than before.

When the second half kicks in, so does a multi-sensory explosion of synchronicity with a singular stream of consciousness. A pulsing beat and a choir of voices and noise, meshing with feints and flurries of controlled, rhythmic movement. Here, filing up and down every kinaestheic chain and terminus of my being, generating exothermic waves of heat and energy. A cocoon. An aura. A bubble. Nothing else exists. Continued.

Hate Dissolve Eternally in my Love #

The final, increasingly complex phrases approach.

Melding deeper with the song and the dance. A sense of oneness and connectedness inside; each weave and flick and twist and snap casting itself and telegraphing the next. Mercury rising towards a loss of control. A serene plane within reach; but do not pull towards. Do not to grasp.

Can I let go? Can I trust myself? Without a need to strive or steer?

Then ripping and splitting. Painful. A separation of selves in that moment. A lifetime of waste attached. The miasma of a poison fog, from within me spews out, to choke and smother. Tortured parts. My own protectors threatening to tear me away from this. From myself. From joy. From freedom. From inner togetherness and comfort. From consensus and peace.

Why would I hurt myself?
Why would I want to hold myself back?

…Nothing can hurt me.
I fear nothing.
Fear is the mind killer.
And hate disfigures.

So I turned back in with love.
I held the parts that were hurting.

They’re stuck and they’re crying out for help. They need me. Hypervisor. Communicator. Forgiver. Healer.

Tender now. The absence of fear, of dependence, of judgement, of shame, of guilt, of embarrasment.

My hands—all versions—gently soothed and lay over one another. A guiding affection.

And the Sweetest Kiss Forever Lingers #

It ended. Our dance was over.

A swell of relief and joy and pride and accomplishment. The movements left a flame within me. One that can light the way and dispell the ghouls of my imagination through casting light upon shadows, no need for fearful pattern recognition and threat detection. Without need for analysis or regret to stoke the old embers. A warm feeling of contentment with myself.

That synchronicity again. Melancholy. Nostalgia. A link to the past. Love dissolving pain. In that moment a low rumble rose from the deepest, quietest part of me and I uttered the purest, exuberant roar: “Yes!”

A phoenix rising from it's ashes. Old patterns gone. An awakening to new and better patterns. I am complete.