Hey I don't wanna "Cause a Scene" but who is Phil Fish?
S'il vous plait
Often I see people ask who is Phil Fish? Did he ever really exist, or was he simply the product of a slick conspiracy or marketing campaign to indoctrinate the West into adopting a certain way of life and entrenching Judeo-Christian values? Who has ever seen him? Is he just a rumour? Those who discuss sightings of him fall mysteriously silent for years on end, and attempts to contact them go unreturned.
Well, as the last man to ever see the corporeal form of Phil Fish, I feel honour bound to set the story straight:
Phil did indeed exist, and was once a man. He and I grew up together in Squamish, British Columbia, in the shadow of impassive, impenetrable cliffs and mountains which, I suppose on recollection, either we internalised their qualities leading to our stoicism in later life, or they were simply always a reflection of ourself, carved by the slow, steady hand of nature. I'd like to say we became fast friends, but the reality is for many years we were bitter rivals.
Throughout high school we engaged in a mutually destructive display of one upmanship. One day I would turn up with scarf of such impossible, otherworldly silkiness that it simply repelled the human touch. It required a special apparatus constructed by my father (the municipality's only CNC engineer) to wind it around my neck, unfortunately it was wound so tight that I was deprived of oxygen to the brain and have slight brain damage resulting in a lack of cognitive function to this day. Not to be outdone, the next day Phil would launch a retaliatory salvo, being adorned with spectacles of rims so thick that he had to drag his head along the ground, carving great grooves in the earth, the pavement, and the hallways, causing skateboarding accidents and similar calamities.
We carried on like this until around the age of 20 or so, when our families were brought together by mutual tragedy. Both of our fathers had, by way of some manner of unforseeable accident that the police refuse to investigate to this day, come into possession of at least 6 and as many as 12 cans of Molson Canadian beer, and, in the throes of some form of toxic delirium, had taken to a nearby ski resort for recreation. Whilst on the ski lift, my father, from what I've been able to piece together from eye-witness reports, must have suffered some form of heart attack, leading Phil's father to valiantly attempt mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for around 3 hours.
I'll always be thankful to the Fish patriarch for having the presence of mind and dexterity of mouth to save the life of my father, but some combination of the beer and near death experience had changed them. My father suddenly claimed to be a gay man, in love with the elder Fish. For his part, Fish Sr. announced that he was taking a motorcycle trip to "find himself", and true to his word, he did, and found himself in bed together with my father in motels across the American midwest.
Our mothers began spending a lot of time together, supporting each other through the toughest time of their lives. Then, one day, I found myself invited to dinner. It was on this day, in the Fish family home, that I discovered Phil's passion for art and video games.
It's funny, in all the time we had been attempting to outdo each other, attempting to be some kind of artisté ubermensch
, we had focused solely on the outer perception of our beings. Attempts to impress others. We had never once revealed anything about ourselves, our hopes, our dreams for the future. We were hollow maquettes of the humans we were to become. We struck up an enduring friendship, and became inseparable. We began collaborating on great works of art, enormous silken banners of 8-bit mascots baring arms against the indignities of the soul, to be hung from The Stawamus Chief, video game design documents about how you get different as you age, or how sometimes you really like a person and separation isn't nice, or how you can turn yourself upside down for great financial reward.
We had, in all honesty, an immensely rewarding partnership. We had grown much, and won the praise and admiration of our peers. We were, at last, fully fledged human beings, our success born of a sentience we only truly achieved in our early 20's. We were precocious, and yet we were always battling to make up for lost time. It always occurred to me that we had become great people, the trouble is we had become the same great person, driven by the same personal inadequacies, drawing strength from the same fonts of courage, and it caused me to do something I shall regret for the rest of my life.
I suggested we spend time apart, just a little at first, but then for days, even weeks at a time. It was not an acrimonious split, in fact we continued to work together on many projects throughout this time, far more than we ever attempted individually. It was simply a means to nurture and nourish our own, separate personalities, lest we become an indistinct, blurry duo, the borders of our souls ill-defined, like Milli and Vanilli, Penn and Jillette, Notch and the small child he later devoured live on Justin.tv, or Arnold Schwarzenegger and the fat, weird looking stuntman from that one scene where the bike jumps in slow motion in Terminator 2.
Phil had been working for some time on an idea he'd had about our perception of space, and of space between dimensions being navigated by a Cave Story man, that had been brought on by accidentally striking himself in the back of the head with a golf club at a driving range, which was when he discovered he had joint hypermobility syndrome. For my part, I was working on an action game which provided a stinging critique of the military industrial complex, using bowling as a direct replacement for violence, though keeping the original military context. Things were going well, or so I thought.
One night it all came out. We weren't the same person, we didn't share the same thoughts, and we certainly weren't driven by the same things. I awoke at 3am to find Phil sweating profusely and crying at the foot of my bed. The first thing he said to me was "Joe, I'm going to die. Joe, I'm dying. Joe, when I die, it'll be as if I had never existed. I'll have no legacy, no agency, no memory or self. It scares me, Joe."
I was in no fit state to comprehend all this, but just as I had flicked the light switch on, he immediately switched it off, grabbed me by the shoulders, and stared at me with wide-eyed terror.
"Joe, when I'm gone, will the world even know there was a Phil Fish? Joe, I'm clasped in the jaws of existential terror. It's swallowing me, Joe. Joe, I'm forgetting myself. My self, my whole self. My entirety. Joe, it's going away now. Joe I can't fight it any longer. Joe, was I good enough?"
As he said all this, his grasp became gradually more infirm, though not for want of trying. With all the strength his tiny frame could muster, he was attempting to hold on to my shoulders, like a fleshy, hairy vise. His fingers began to lose their slender shape, his forearms gradually became particulate, a fine mist. Phil Fish was disappearing before my very eyes. His sweat and tears intermingled with the cloud that was once a man, the walls of my room resonated with poorly formed words, but I understood them:
Joe, never forget me.
With that, he was gone with the wind. Ethereal, incorporeal. I have dedicated much of my life to seeding legends of Phil Fish under many pen names, in accordance with his wish to be remembered. And, on occasion most rare, he will appear in fitful dreams and visions to the Squamish people of his spiritual home, or for several hours for on camera interviews for budding film makers.
They say on a still night, if you sprinkle a handful of blu-dust into your campfire, and also spend 70 dollars and have the correct player and television, he will appear, dancing in the flame, yelling "I fucking hate Paul Eres" for all to hear, and not updating his twitter.
So that's the story. Now you know. That's Phil. My best friend, Phil Fish.