In celebration of talented creations and arts all across NationStates, the West Pacific hosted the annual Carnaval of the Perfections this year from February 26th to March 6th. Participants from not only TWP but many other countries showcased their creative flair and aptitude in the four already-established categories (Music, Poetry, Writing and Arts) as well as a new category introduced this year—the Perfection of Film! As usual, there was an enormous quantity of high-quality submissions, which in turn fostered a culture of friendly competition wherein others who were less forthcoming shared their own creations with other attendees as well. In this article, let us take a look at this year’s Carnaval highlights.
The Perfection of Music: Scores Galore, Performances Dazzle
Just like the Perfections held in previous years, one of the main, undeniable highlights of this year’s Carnaval was the Music section. Performers extraordinaire Rabbitz, Erinor (Seraph) and Evil Mother (Icarus) all provided exceptional entertainment to attendees, with the former giving one of their celebrated cello performances, and the two latter singing to the celebrants’ delight and admiration. These live displays of musical talent showed that there is truly a diversity of abilities among our community.
And of course, who can forget the submissions themselves? In the Lyrics sub-category, Seraph hit the ball out of the park with three original songs with beautiful lyrics; in the Scores sub-category, United Adaikes’s great cover of a K-pop song was accompanied by fantastic compositions, including one from the Wizard Pianist. And in the Parody sub-category, Yunari’s song dedicated to Karma founder Altino proved to be an excellent parody of “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gee.
The Perfection of Art: Celebrating Natural Beauty
In the Carnaval this year, the Perfection of Art was a popular category with some of the highest submission numbers in its sub-categories than other Perfections. Artistic attendees hit the ground running almost immediately after the Carnaval was opened, with many showcasing brilliant photography, artwork and digital designs. There was certainly stiff competition in both the photography and artwork sub-categories as stunning pictures and sketches flooded the channels, but the graphic design sub-category also received some love as well thanks to encouragement from Bran Astor, whose words heartened others enough to share their own graphics. These included things as simple as their own NationStates in-game flags to graphics produced for roleplay purposes.
One major overarching theme was observable among the vast majority of submissions to the Perfection of Art—natural beauty. The bounties of nature were captured in various different mediums during this Carnaval, ranging from zoomed-in photographs depicting plants and livestock to floral, bird and landscape sketches. A particularly well-received sketch celebrating natural beauty was Nakari’s awe-inspiring artwork displaying a cluster of willow trees beside a river stream. Using visually pleasing autumnal colours, the sketch quickly drew praise from enthusiastic fellow celebrants who reacted to it with “heart” emojis to show their approval. Similarly, Icarus’ bird drawings as well as my floral sketches also received praise, with Icarus and Nakari also depicting human subjects in their drawings (Nakari drew a DnD party). It’s hardly a stretch to say that the world around us was brilliantly celebrated in a multitude of ways in the Perfection of Art.
The Perfection of Writing: Tales of Beauty, Joy and Love
This year, writers and storytellers from across NationStates gathered in the Perfection of Writing to craft stunning narratives that tugged at our heart-strings. In the Essays sub-category, I contributed with a rambling discourse on self-confidence and how to live unburdened by social pressures. In the Handwriting sub-category, calligraphers-in-the-making Hertfordshire and Jammbo (H&J), Destructive Government Economic System (DGES), and even Davelands in an act of comedy, pitched in with displays of their splendid penmanship. As usual, the multi-talented Icarus contributed with his bubbly script, and I submitted my entry as well—a mix of cursive and regular writing.
The Short Story sub-category proved to be a popular one as well. While Xoriet made their mark with a beautiful story about the ever-changing magnificence of nature, River broke our hearts elegantly with an intimate, soulful tale of wistful longing. One unconventional story illustrated the dangers of eternal life from the perspective of Death itself, while another was a lovely chronicle of a little crab’s journey dedicated by Altino to Fuentana. Some of these stories made us sob, others made us smile; all of them were engaging in their own way.
The Perfection of Poetry: Creativity in Condensed Forms
Courtesy of a few helpful poetry workshops as well as great encouragement by the brilliant aforementioned Fuentana, this year’s celebrants applied themselves thoroughly in the Perfection of Poetry. In the Limericks sub-category, Fuentana’s excellent non-competitive starter—a dedication to Altino—was followed up by humorous contributions from Venico as well as Aramos and Aluminum Oxynitride. In the Haiku sub-category, Opluentia, H&J, DGES, Seraph, Sensorland and so many more wrote delightful pieces that sometimes even drew others to respond with haikus of their own.
And in the Free-verse sub-category, Seraph, Yunari, River, DGES and Nova flexed their creative muscles with impressive prose. Despite the relatively liberal and unrestricted structure of free verse, which may seem terrifying to those who prefer to create around a rigid poetic format, these poets blossomed and showed that poetry doesn’t always have to follow inflexible arrangements.
The Perfection of Film: Animated Artistry in Motion
Despite being a newly introduced category, the Perfection of Film nevertheless saw a few talented people submit entries that sparkled and shone as brightly as submissions from other categories. In the Video sub-category, Orioni 2 won with a creative video compiling roleplay news on a monthly basis for their region. In the Animation sub-category, Overthinkers, Icarus and our Delegate Giovanniland were among those who submitted pleasant entries—Overthinkers with a “Coup” GIF in reference to their TWP Armed Forces career, Icarus with an impossibly cute GIF of confetti raining on a crab, and Giovanniland with a variety of colourful animated flags. Icarus ultimately won the sub-category with the sheer cuteness of their animation.
A Summary of the Winners
A Final Look Back on Perfections 2022
As with previous Carnavals of the Perfections, this year was a runaway success. The varied categories provided opportunities for some of NationStates’ most talented artists, poets, writers, filmmakers, animators and other creators to display their excellence and powers of imagination. But this was not the sole reason Perfections was a smash this year: the fact that the talents of the aforementioned creative mavens inspired newcomers and ordinary celebrants to have a go at the arts themselves was what really drove participation to soaring heights.
Perfections organisers Bran Astor, Fuentana, Giovanniland and Overthinkers worked hard behind the scenes to ensure the Perfections ran smoothly this year, resident designer Min-Su created wonderful awards that can all be seen in this forum post, and performers Rabbitz, Erinor and Evil Mother delivered wonderful presentations—their efforts must not go unacknowledged. Although, in the end, the record 123 festivalgoers are what truly make an event successful, especially those who submitted entries to any category, so I thank everyone for their contributions.
If you were here celebrating with us this time, I hope you enjoyed the Carnaval of the Perfections this year! And if you weren’t, then fear not—the next Carnaval of the Perfections will be held around this time next year!
By Blue Bubble
If you know me, you will know that I have been to Norway this month. As much as I could do a review on Norway, I won’t. My reviews are for media—games, books, and TV, or things you can do yourself without heading to the arctic circle. However, I had a wonderful time and while I was flying home, I decided to read. I read a book called The Wolf and the Woodsman.
It was something I bought while in Norway, the label saying KR 199.00 (AKA 23.09 USD/17.52 GBP/21.02 EUR). I’ll place the Blurb here before I get into the review:
"A spirited outcast. A disgraced prince.
A world where monsters roam free.
In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power. So when soldiers from the Holy Order of Woodsmen arrive to claim a girl for their king's blood sacrifice, the villagers only have one person to offer up.
But when they are attacked en-route to the capital, and everyone but Évike and a lone Woodsman are slaughtered, they have no choice but to rely on each other. Except he's no ordinary Woodsman—he's the disgraced prince, Gáspár Bárány, whose father needs pagan magic to consolidate his power.
As they travel from the bitter northern tundra to the smog-choked capital, they form a tenuous pact that slowly turns their loathing turns to affection. But trust is easily betrayed, and as Évike discovers her own hidden magic, she and Gaspar must decide where their loyalties really lie . . ."
For a book quoted as ‘steeped in Hungarian history and Jewish mythology’, I got neither coming through strongly and in my face. I am unsure if that is due to me not being Jewish, or not being Hungarian, but I think that isn’t a terrible thing. I did, however, get the religious vibe tenfold.
This book wants to tell you a story, and you can follow along easily, but when it comes to the details of explaining the magic at play within this novel, I’d struggle. There is a focus on describing things but not really, and it leads to some moments where I felt like I had skipped a paragraph that wasn’t there. The main character, Évike, tells many stories and legends in the book itself, and those are easy to follow along. She tells them like the other characters do not know the story, and that should have been brought through with the author’s own writing.
I did actually enjoy this book though—It’s take on magic and religion is a lovely blend, and the story is something I enjoy. The world building deserves more than this book to explain it, and I feel like the story and world building would have been better fleshed out a little as a duology? However, this book is suited for those who like fantasy and enjoy something a little dark too—there are gory aspects thrown in which are a must-read for the plot. It is also an actual published 'enemies to lovers' piece, with all them matching tropes thrown in within the pages. I would only recommend it if you can get past the first few pages, as it isn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but if it is on sale, and you like the sound of it? Buy it.
Friend, Frenemy, and Friend.
I’m always ready to launch your TWP nation to new heights.
Every good ambassador finds a meaningful connection in another region, a home away from home. I have many homes. In The Pacific, I hug people I have never seen and will probably never see. In Lone Wolves United, I wait for my opportunity to pounce on conversation in their bar and live in regret after Xoriet fails to protect me from gifs I never wanted to see. I have also been known to visit the Lampshade Bar of The South Pacific, especially to hear Erinor sing. And when I am not hearing Seraph sing, I am waiting too late to grab a lampshade. As the current Minister of Foreign Affairs, I am currently buying a little cottage or a nice loft apartment in every region I can. But there is one home-away-from-home that remains dear to my heart: the Stocks of Karma. Despite the emergence of an increasingly acerbic rivalry with a certain Altino who has become the Hooting Menace to our crabs, this is one of a handful of spots where I feel safe and cared for—even if I get caught in a pickle.
What is it about The Stocks that reminds me of home? Well, in a word, it is about words. When I am away from keyboard, I think about words. I arrange them in complex sentences that maybe a dozen people will read someday, waxing poetic about the ground of being and the hermeneutics of hermeneutics, which is a fancier way of saying “the art and science of interpretation.” This may conjure up bad memories of figuring out what the Allegory of the Cave is all about—good! Philosophy is scary, and you should be scared. But the point is: NationStates is the one time during my routine when I can be playful with words, rather than deliberate and discerning and precise about crap a dozen people care about. What people do care about is wordplay, and lots of it.
There is not only an art of the pun, but a philosophy of the pun. While not every philosopher is a good artist, there are thankfully several philosophers who explore “how to do things with words,” and they can shed light on the significance of the pun. I could turn to Plato to discuss the form of the pun, or to Aristotle who not only sheds light on the character of virtue as it relates to wordplay: acts become practices which become habits which become virtues (or vices), so it is a matter of practicing to generate that character. Besides this, Aristotle has a whole fancy theory of poetry as the mimesis of action. In essence (a Platonic pun if there ever was one), wordplay is about mimesis. You say “cat,” and I will make sure every pun is purrfect, or at least a whisker off. You imitate the “root” word and draw up related words, concepts, or actions that imitate what is communicated by said word. The puntificator needs to be ready to pounce.
But to elevate the pun-game, one needs to understand the philosophy of language. There are several sources in the philosophy of language, and I will only focus on three—education ain’t free, folks, and moreover, most of you are probably scaredy cats of philosophy (see what I did there? As I said, be ready to pounce—or at least claw your way to pun proficiency). What one says has to do something. So where better to turn than to the author of How To Do Things With Words? Here is a simple primer of what J.L. Austin says about the force of speech-acts.
The Locutionary Act: This is a speech-act that is a meaningful utterance. It has referential value. Technically, this act has three different dimensions that I won’t bore you with (but you should look up rhetic act because philosophy is fun… or are you a scaredy cat?) The short version is: it does say something. It has content. Example: I will puntificate in Karma. The content is that I will engage in wordplay.
The Illocutionary Act: This is a speech-act that can be determined by its content and by its force. Return to I will puntificate in Karma and note that it is both a general statement with content, but also has the form of a promise or intent. I will someday appear in Karma again and drop a pun (or fifty), so watch out.
The Perlocutionary Act: This is about the effect of the speech-act, how it “does” something to the hearer. It is “the achieving of certain effects by saying something.” Knowing that I will puntificate in Karma, certain mods will feel alerted. Certain Karmans will gleefully join in. As for Altino, expect to hear a blood-curdling scream.
Take any given statement that someone utters in your region’s general chat. That is the locutionary act. You can add another speech act that is initially locutionary, but does more. Puns have illocutionary force in this regard, but they may also have perlocutionary force. You will know it by whether the Karma mods stock you, or whether Alti screams. Good puns do something. Bad puns also do something. Therefore, bad puns are in fact good puns—or can be. So if you are still trying to figure out cat puns, stay pawsitive. Stay pawsitive can have the force of all three acts.
Yet there is more to the speech-act of wordplay. As Paul Ricoeur has observed, language is inherently creative: from a single word to a sentence, or even to an entire narrative in its historical and/or “fictive” modes, narrative language creates meaning and “redescribes” reality. It is the concept of narrative identity that interests me most: we derive our identity, our sense of our being, from the stories that we tell. Those stories are naturally the product of linguistic, poetic, and artful discourse. Indeed, Ricoeur says, “Time becomes human to the extent that it is articulated through a narrative mode, and narrative attains its full meaning when it becomes a condition of temporal existence.”
I hope to narrate an identity as one badass MoFA, and to do that, I maintain a certain standing as Big Punisher in Karma. “I’m not a player, I just pun a lot.” The exchange of witty wordplay reinforces identity and refigures my experience of time. In truth, wordplay is about timeliness above all. Take any given topic as a locutionary act, and as a real pun MC I’ll make it ill-(locutionary) by making a quick response. If you say you are tired in a general chat, I will drop a pun about sleep, and I won’t give that topic a rest. Sleep talk conjures images of pillows, and I will cushion the perlocutionary force of the wordplay by blanketing the chat with puns. Change the topic to music and I will improvise or transpose new connections. It will be punstoppable. The world of wordplay is the only world I want to inhabit.
I would be remiss if I did not mention a certain Ludwig Wittgenstein, whose enigmatic philosophy of language was deeply influential in all of this language talk. The key thing to note for Wittgenstein is the concept of language games. The meaning of a word or sentence is dependent on the game that one is playing. A simple analogy that is not about language is this: until this year, one of the leagues of Major League Baseball had a designated hitter and another did not. The number of “downs” in American football versus Canadian football is different. Or perhaps more fundamentally for the NSVerse, think of the valences of “Raider/Defender.” It means something different depending on the game played.
Of course, Wittgenstein’s articulation of the language game was in reference to the problem of philosophical understanding: two different schools of thought may play entirely different games while philosophizing about “being,” about “nature,” about “natural law,” and so on. And one can read Wittgenstein in lots of ways. I’m simply playing on the concepts so that I can set up puns. In Karma, the language game of wordplay points to a broader language game about The Stocks. The meaning is, for most Karmans at least, negative: those who are stocked are wordplay criminals or people in trouble. Yet with the way I play the game, it is an honor—perhaps the greatest honor available to me. So whereas being “stocked” may have a negative connotation for most, it is the crowning achievement for me. This is why I always have puns in stock.
My life is all about words. What they mean. How to do things with them. How to turn the art of writing about the hermeneutics of performativity in a slightly postmodernistic deconstructive agonistic mode with special reference to insert-the-thinker-in-vogue-at-that-moment (probably still Derrida or Foucault) into something far more fun, more creative, and more devastating: wordplay. Thanks to NationStates there is one thing I know that I know about how to do things with words, and that is how to terrorize Altino (who was asking for it: she said I’m not evil enough), and how to delight others and—like the Night King of Game of Thrones—turn others around me into puntificating wights. How’s that for evil?
I will puntificate in Karma.
By Wymondham, Speaker of the Hall of Nations
Regional Commendations & TWP Inquisition
The past month has seen a great deal of activity throughout the Hall of Nations. Darkesia’s regional commendation was improved and redrafted thrice based on excellent feedback from the likes of Papercuts and skittles, Zoran and Aluminum Oxynitride before being passed unanimously on March 30th, with a total of 26 votes. Credit must be given to Blue Bubble, Hertfordshire and Jammbo and Nagaraningrad for their excellent work in co-authoring the Regional Commendation, with each of them playing a key role in the researching and drafting process.
The nominee for the next Regional Commendation has been decided and will be announced on Monday, with an exciting new drafting format being used to ensure every Hall member can contribute fully to the proposal. In other news, we also had an Ask Me Anything event with the then-Guardian of the Hall of Nations, Blue Bubble, from January 20th to February 9th! Blue was elected in January and served until late February as they were promoted to a full Guardian, with Nagaraningrad being appointed to fill the vacant position. Here are some highlights of the event:
Q: Favourite event/week/day that you talked about on the RMB as Regional Guide? Favourite article you've ever written for Blue's Reviews? — Santos-Dominius
I love doing Questions of the Now, and the pride focus during pride month.. that stuff made me cry a lot because I felt safe.
I'd say maybe my first one, the assemble with care game. Idk if anyone decided to play it but that game still is fun, even as a replay.
Q: What inspired you to come up with an idea for TWP to have a radio show? Are you excited to start your job as HoN Guardian? — Zoran
I just wanted to continue what we did at Burning Marsupial. And it became a big idea
Yes! I've been dealing with some personal stuff today and yesterday (i mentioned such stuff in the lounge discord channel today) but onwards and upwards, we are gonna get going!
Q: Could you provide a quick recap of your time in TWP for those of us who haven't been actively playing for a while? (Very nice to meet you, Blue.) — Sensorland
Nice to meet you too!
Last march I rejoined NS after I remembered answer issues when I was 14. I fell into TWP, and signed up, getting vaguely involved. My kinda breakthrough was the Radio, which I posted as a idea in April after the Burning Marsupial festival.
Through luck and circumstance, I got further involved, eventually being coorganiser of TITW [Today in the West], and then launching the radio with our Wym here. I also do the Blue's Reviews column of the Newspaper, and I've been writing articles since april I think?
Anyway, went for speaker in September, lost to our fab Zoran, and somehow managed to win Guardian this time round!
I hope this is a good enough summary!
Hall Member of the Month
Many congratulations to Min-Su on becoming March’s Hall Member of the Month for their excellent work on the Carnaval of Perfections coin design and willingness to jump in and learn with the regional guides. The Hall Member of the Month receives a special role with a colour of their choice; so if you want a chance to win your own role in the future make sure to get involved in the various government departments and contribute to the next regional commendation.
Last but not least, this final part of the article is for those wondering how to participate in all that has been discussed in this update. Whether you want to be able to participate in TWP government, become the next Hall Member of the Month, or contribute to the next regional commendation, consider applying for the Hall of Nations on the offsite forums here. Make sure to read the instructions on the application, join our Discord server, maintain your HoN citizenship by making at least one forum post a month, and get involved in the region!
The Western Post Staff - Delegate: Giovanniland - Editors: Fuentana, Fujai - Staff: Aluminum Oxynitride, Blue Bubble, Bran Astor, Fhaengshia, Gryphonian Alliance, Overthinkers, Podium, Santos-Dominius, So Long, Teralyon, United Adaikes, Wymondham, Zoran, and YOU
All your chocolate belongs to Darkesia
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