“Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.” – Immanuel Kant
Everything we, as humans, do is imbued with our imperfections, our fears, our breaking, our errors.
Nothing ever comes out pure because we, ourselves, are never pure.
The extension of this view: All the things we manufacture are imperfect mirrors of us, the creators, and as reflections they bear our consequences.
Freud wrote about drives.
Freud distinguished drives from instincts. While both are deeply rooted in the functioning of a living system, drives are independent of the logic of the greater system.
Drives have no end goal, they seek only to complete their own logics, even if that logic runs counter to what is beneficial overall.
Thanatos is the drive towards ones own end. The drive to non-existence.
Eros is the drive toward sex, toward the affirmation of life.
The two drives operate in tandem, but independent of each other.
While humanity chases after love, we also chase after our end.
Drives are mostly inaccessible to us. Their consequences manifest only slightly as the hidden engines of the decisions we make.
If all things made are reflections of the creator, then all things made are imbued at the very least with the drives of their creators.
Buried deep in the hearts of things.
Freud and Lacan (a contemporary) also discussed the idea of partial drives, drives which are manifested as identity develops and only focuses on specific zones of the body:
|PARTIAL DRIVE||EROGENOUS ZONE||PARTIAL OBJECT||VERB|
|D||Oral drive||Lips||Breast||To suck|
|D||Anal drive||Anus||Faeces||To shit|
|d||Scopic drive||Eyes||Gaze||To see|
|d||Invocatory drive||Ears||Voice||To hear|
Freud believed that partial drives inevitably connect and fuse when a person reaches sexual maturity.
Lacan disagreed with Frued’s assertion on the dualism of the two major drives: Death and sex. Lacan preferred to contextualize this dualism in terms of the imaginary and the symbolic.
He believed that human existence is structured by three orders: the symbolic, the imaginary, and the real.
The symbolic order: The exchange, governed by a set of laws, which reinforces and renews the social order, often involving a three-way relationship (i.e. mother, father, child).
The imaginary: The formation of the ego, the ability to self-identify and begin to see what is and is not a part of the self, a dual relationship.
Because of Lacan’s breakdown of Freud’s death/sex dualism, he believes all drives are sexual drives, that all drives are death drives because all drives are repetitive, excessive, and destructive.
The story revolves around a stolen letter and its retrieval. The letter supposedly contains some incriminating evidence regarding a queen. The letter is stolen by a minister in front of the queen by swapping the incriminating letter with another.
The minister hides the letter in his apartment.
The king knows nothing of this letter. The police are dispatched to the minister’s residence while he is away to find the letter. Their attempts are fruitless after 3 months.
They then contact Detective Auguste Dupin to help them. After understanding the police have searched every hiding place in the residence, Dupin looks for the letter out in the open. He finds the letter, slightly altered, sitting on the minister’s desk.
Lacan breaks down ‘The Purloined Letter’ into three gazes:
-The gaze that sees nothing (The king who knows nothing of the letter and the police who can’t find it).
-The gaze which sees that the first gaze has seen nothing and believes the letter to be hidden (The queen, the police).
-The gaze which sees that the other two gazes leave what ought to be hidden uncovered (The minister, the queen, Dupin).
This plays into Lacan’s conception of the symbolic order: A trio of gazes.
Looking back at the table above, there is the ‘Scopic Drive’: A partial drive which focuses on the eyes and its related partial object: The Gaze.
Much like partial drives, partial objects are areas of ‘focus’ for the partial drives.
Because man is a tenuously connected system of partial objects and partial drives…
Because all our drives are related to Thanatos and Eros…
Because social interaction is governed by a symbolic order of exchange…
Because whatever man creates is a reflection of its creator…
Then all things created are governed by the same hidden, imperfect ‘not-logic’ of the drives and a similar symbolic order that governs our social world.
The Inn is a love hotel.
The Inn is divided into different rooms which are themed according to sexual fetish/fantasy.
‘The Group Room’ (one of two rooms that can be entered) forces the main character (Cloud Strife) to bathe with a group of muscular men in a bathtub together:
‘The Queen Room’ (one of two rooms which cannot be entered, but can be spied upon) depicts a sexual fantasy scene regarding royalty.
‘The Lover’s Room’ (cannot be entered) is occupied by an awkward, uncomfortable elderly couple:
‘The &$#% Room’ is the second room which can be entered and involves Cloud having a breakdown (Starts at 3:29):
The final accessible area of the Honey Bee Inn is the employee dressing room where Cloud can have makeup applied.
It is unusual to for games to deal with sex as openly as the Honey Bee Inn in Final Fantasy VII, especially in 1997.
As video games are a product of man, it is inevitable that they reflect on the minds of their creators.
The Inn is the only overtly sexual place in the game world, relegated to a slum of the city, Midgar.
Mimicking how most view their sexuality as inappropriate in the face of the world, in the social symbolic order.
The Inn not only deals with sex, but the fluidity of sex and gender roles, as well as the awkwardness of coming to terms with one’s own sexuality.
While the game tries to push that Cloud is heterosexual (his potential romantic interests are mainly women), in the Honey Bee Inn most of Cloud’s direct interactions in the two rooms he can enter are with men. He isn’t exactly comfortable with them, but he engages with them nonetheless.
Often the narratives in video games reach a point where they entirely break down into garbled non-sense.
The subconscious of the game.
Final Fantasy VII doesn’t really have that moment of narrative collapse, it’s subconscious lies in the Honey Bee Inn.
In the slums of our minds we are allowed to test and bend our sexuality without judgment. We are allowed to be voyeurs of ourselves.
Cloud spends a large portion of the game not realizing that he is living his life based on his friend’s, Zack’s, memories after his tragic death. In the trauma of that moment, he becomes Zack.
Perhaps the sexual fluidity with which Cloud engages in the Inn is a part of his original self. Maybe his heterosexual leanings are also adopted from his false sense of identity.
Drives operate independent in the depths of our selves, maybe Cloud’s resistant fluidity is a small expression of his original drives.
The cognitive dissonance between who Cloud thinks he is and who he actually is leads to the breakdown he suffers at the Inn after selecting ‘The &$#% Room’.
Cloud suffers many breakdowns throughout the game.
Later on he suffers a collapse so severe that his companion, Tifa, has to guide him back to himself by properly remembering the traumatic events of his life:
This sequence is structured in a similar manner to the Honey Bee Inn: Cloud has to choose to revisit certain memories and accurately relive them.
Like the memory segment, the Inn can only be visited once.
A snapshot of the subconscious: Sex and identity as a sequence of Gazes, as a sequence of partial objects.
The Honey Bee Inn contains more dummied content than anywhere else in the game.
Content that is present in the game data, but that can only be accessed through alternative means.
The dummied data is slightly more illicit than what appears to the player and due to its incomplete nature, full of dead ends:
This data can be seen as an error of sorts, it is expressive of Lacan’s notion in ‘Ecrits’ that errors can transform into truth.
This inaccessible content is also indicative of the problems in expressing sexuality.
The Honey Bee Inn being home to a large amount of hidden, unused content describes the confusion with which man approaches sex and sexuality, not to mention the sex economy.
It also describes the destruction and excessiveness of the drives.
By being more illicit than the accessible content, the dummied data is inaccessible through standard means.
It is hidden. Erased. Thanatos.
The Honey Bee Inn is a significant place and event, not only in Final Fantasy VII, but for games overall.
It is a place that is not only a reflection of ourselves, but an exploration of gender, sexuality, and identity.
It is both a mask and a face.
A single, forgotten gunshot howling in the polluted slums of the cities within us.