Friday, December 02, 2011

Locke Cole's proviso

NES and SNES era rpgs are close to my heart, an inseparable part of my childhood. Hey, we're talking about the early nineties here, so I could've been doing a lot worse. As I'm always happy to point out, these games are the reason why I knew, as a third grader, what the words "zenith", "troglodyte", and "mercurial" meant.

While I was going through high school and college, always working, playing sports, and maintaining multiple committed long-term relationships (not simultaneously--I'm not that alpha!), I went on an extended hiatus from gaming, but a few years ago as I settled into the same kind of lifestyle that sent Guile Frost off on a hunt for M. Bison's head, it was easier to make time to indulge myself again.

Still, as precocious as I like to fancy myself having been as a stripling, I missed a lot. Several months ago, I played through Final Fantasy VI on Game Cube using the GBA accessory. That Locke personifies a caricature of what Robert Nozick coined as the Lockean Proviso (I say as a caricature because he does not do so in an affirming way, as the things Locke seeks out are not in abundance and his gain is some other explorer's potential loss) is one of the many things that flew right over my head when I was younger. As defined in the Second Treatise on Government:
Nor was this appropriation of any parcel of land, by improving it, any prejudice to any other man, since there was still enough and as good left, and more than the yet unprovided could use. So that, in effect, there was never the less left for others because of his enclosure for himself. For he that leaves as much as another can make use of does as good as take nothing at all. Nobody could think himself injured by the drinking of another man, though he took a good draught, who had a whole river of the same water left him to quench his thirst. And the case of land and water, where there is enough of both, is perfectly the same.
The accusation, first stated indirectly by way of the fascistic Empire he is resisting through Terra, that Locke is a thief and his riposte that he is a treasure hunter is a recurring theme in the game. Occupationally, though, what Locke sets out to find lacks ownership (at least presently--some of the things are relics and other treasures lost to civilization), so it's not as though he is blatantly stealing property clearly and contractually owned by another entity--which is exactly why the proviso is relevant, since it presents a way of evaluating how private ownership should be determined. And the work of a treasure hunter who is motivated by gain does not satisfy the proviso, even when that gain is not of the vain material variety, but is instead Lazarusian in nature.

His work does, however, assist in the ultimate downfall of the Empire and eventually of Kefka. So while Locke is a humorous caricature of one of John Locke's central ideas on the moral distribution of property, he's still a sympathetic protagonist.

Taking it a step further and making editorial presumptions of Kitase and crew, one might assert that Locke serves as a vehicle for the argument that while the ambition for wealth is inherently selfish--and not the unadulterated force for the common good that is impervious to being impugned as the most stringent libertarians might argue that it is--it is, on net, a positive force for humanity (while the ambition for power, personified by Gestahl and to a more perverted extent, Kefka, is not).


IHTG said...

Haha, wow. You know that if this post gets linked to the right forums, you'll be ruthlessly mocked. (even while those who mock you will secretly admire your erudition)

Audacious Epigone said...

Hah, yeah, I know. Maybe I'll post a video of myself doing kenpo or clap pushups next to temper that mockery a little.

Jokah Macpherson said...

Phoenix magicite aside, I would say that the Imperial soldiers and merchants in South Figaro most definitely had ownership rights over their clothes, but perhaps the circumstances of a military invasion necessitate a suspension of ordinary codes of conduct.

Personally, I've always thought Locke is a good fictional case study on the alpha-beta game dichotomy since he seems to juggle three girls (Celes, Terra, and NPC Rachel) effectively despite being overly protective and sentimental towards all of them.

Audacious Epigone said...


"These are a little tight, but the price was right" and "These are a bit large, but he didn't charge" (as fixed in newer translations)--touche.

Re: alpha, there isn't much here, which shouldn't be surprising, since Game's alpha is almost inherently anti-heroic. Locke juggles three girls, but he's the protector/provider beta type to all of them. Cyan's the family man (the only character who it is confirmed has reproduced), honor-bound, who writes letters to a girl who lost her husband, yet pinning his ears back and going for the throat comes naturally. Of course, he is chivalry personified. Also beta in Game lingo.

Setzer dresses ostentatiously, had an ambitious (and presumably desirable) woman, and is amoral (all Game-alpha traits) but is stuck on the woman after she dies and attempts to kidnap someone he sees as being in her image. Onenitis is beta.

Edgar employs the Boomhauer strategy of dropping lines on every female he comes across. Combined with his high status, it is insinuated that his belt has many notches. He's pretty alpha (the closest the game gives us), but his Game is sloppy.

Shadow and Sabin are asexual, the former actively smothering any emotions that arise within himself, the latter transcending emotions in a different way--by discipline and the pursuit of making the body one of perfection--but with a similar end result. So they're both off to a good start, but especially in Sabin's case it's not a sham, so they have no end Game because they aren't interested in playing.

Jokah Macpherson said...

That's a very extensive analysis of the male characters. Pretty much spot on but I do want to point out that, although it's never explicitly stated, most people who have played the game extensively agree that Shadow is Relm's father based on the "dream sequence" clues and Interceptor's protective behavior towards her. He certainly wouldn't be the first father to neglect his progeny while seeking enlightenment in a zen worldview.

Audacious Epigone said...


Duh, you're right, it completely slipped my mind. I find the Relm/Strago character injection tedious, and when I played through this time, I didn't make any effort to go through the dream sequences, but you're right. So maybe Shadow is the most alpha character of all.

IHTG said...

So, is Kefka an omega male gone mad with power? Or is he just gay? :)

Audacious Epigone said...


He seems to be legitimately asexual. What does that count as?

SFG said...

I always figured his name was lock, as in lock and key--he's a thief, right? He unlocks things.

Of course the original game was Japanese, so who knows?

Audacious Epigone said...


Why not make it "Lock" in the English translations, then? In every release it has been "Locke", not "Lock". There are localization teams that are tasked with the translations, so it's not like it's just run through a translation program that spits names out in English.