A False Hope: L’eauspoir

A significant portion of my work is inspired by videogames. This post will be a good illustration of how that comes to be.

Allow me to present Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 5, a game I had been waiting to play for almost a decade. Recently I got to experience it. Its themes are primarily about society and rebellion, how the latter brings change to the former – but this is ultimately irrelevant to the topic at hand.

One of the most beloved tracks in the game is called Rivers in the Desert. Have a listen while you continue reading:

Rivers in the Desert from Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 5

I’m not asking you to be a judge of your preference whether you like it or not. Simply note the lyrical text in the second chorus:


A river in a dry land
The last ace in a lost hand
When the hope of new beginnings
Burned our feet, now we need it

A heartbeat for a tin man
Oasis in a singed land
Remind us what we’re here for
Creating new life,
Creating rivers in the desert


Here there is a binding between the idea of water and hope: to be in a situation of utter despair yet to still have some belief in a better future is comparable to believing in finding water in the desert, an ‘oasis in a singed land’. But the song is not about merely rediscovering hope. Rather, it is about inventing hope (‘creating rivers in the desert’) and, from there, creating a future, a ‘new life’.

Enough digression with a highschool-level analysis of a non-literary text. I only brought this into focus as a parellel to something I wrote before being exposed to this piece. Namely:

False Oasis

A false oasis harbours our hope.
Purple shades overlook the barren land.

I.

A false oasis harbours our hope.
Our dreams dare this desert elope,
but they will never reach the horizon
                                   – the sky’s sun
will reduce them to cinder and sand.

This tender land
crumbles beneath us
            – to defeat us
would be to rob us
of water.

II.

Rapid rains
calm the flames
that burn in tranquillity.

Gusts of air
pulse the fair
water
that flows in tranquillity.

III.

The heat cools me down
to a mirage. I found
my self looking
at a mirror.


This poem was initially inspired by the MMORPG Guild Wars 2 and its mesmers. (There is no need to read up on them now, but they might be relevant in another publication.) To be very specific, it was inspired by the False Oasis healing skill that mesmers could access through their Mirage specialization in the Path of Fire expansion.

Examining solely the first miniature, the message is quite opposite the one in Rivers in the Desert. False hope was one of the supreme forms of trickery; and mesmers are all about trickery and deception. The skill False Oasis was even classified as a Deception skill.

The grandeur of it all lies in conveying the idea of hopelessness in an aesthetic that lures one away from the desperation; the beauty of the scene hypnotizes one into a state of equanimity where there shouldn’t be one.

Perhaps the concept of L’eau-espoir isn’t as detached as it may first seem. It is curious, however, that cultures that are comparatively disconnected from desertic areas retain it as an allegory.

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