The soul business

Have you ever imagined how Doctor Faust would deal with Mephistopheles today, in the Internet age? People at the Goethe-Institut had. And they didn’t stop at that and created an interactive game where people could assume the role of Faust and complete a trade in exchange for their deepest longings. Last week, the game came into the National Library of Technology in Prague and I had an opportunity to try it out. I registered, installed the app and came. First of all, we needed to pick six of our passions for collecting “satisfaction points” throughout the game. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I without hesitation chose knowledge, progress and freedom as my first three passions; I had to think more about the rest. The organizers at the “Bank of Mephisto” explained the rules: We’ll circle around boards with quotations from Faust and buy those connected to our chosen passions in exchange for sold souls.

After we had started, the app froze several times, and when the support examined my tablet and advised me to use the browser interface, they started closing the other tabs without ever asking me. Not cool, guys, really uncool! And going with my tablet out of my sight is also very uncool; I feel much discomfort whenever I cannot see my electronics when they’re in someone else’s hands. But the game itself was interesting. I had expected something far more elaborate than blindly selling historical personas or family member titles to acquire quotes from Faust; some element of decision or temptation. But it was still fine and evoked a desire to read Faust again in me. My overall impression was quite good and would be even better, were it not for the technical glitches.

Continuing in the spirit of selling souls, the following day I worked as a staged student for TV filming a documentary on toxoplasmosis at our faculty. That too was a rather interesting adventure and I hope they don’t cut out the part where they had asked me to introduce myself and I mentioned that besides studying biology,  I write popular science articles and science fiction. If the metaphorical selling my soul by marketing increases the actual book sales, well, why not? Besides, I’ve started working as a part-time marketer for a start-up company. My soul is probably already damned by now but I’ll be really damned if work in marketing isn’t an interesting experience! And it’s useful for fiction themes as well – be assured, they too will be very interesting… How does a biologist and science fiction writer also gradually happen to become a marketer, editor, lecturer, journalist, proofreader and translator, you ask? I have no clue; but that’s my life in a nutshell. And I love it.

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