” The notion of nothingness is not characteristic of laboring humanity: those who toil have neither time nor inclination to weigh their dust; they resign themselves to the difficulties or the doltishness of fate; they hope: hope is a slave’s virtue.”
Emil Cioran, A Short History of Decay
The confession of the old man in the final episode of Squid Game resembles Cioran’s philosophy about nothingness.
Perhaps his reason to device a little game around death and misfortune was not so fiendish either. After all, it took lonely and greedy individuals back to their childhood when their desires were innocuous and the bright colors around were enough for them.
Squid Game is a tale of desire and greed told impeccably through a dialectical lens of innocence and experience, friendship and deceit, avarice and benevolence. However, it can be best described as a battle between the dubious and sometimes paradoxical definitions of good and bad, of free will and predestination, of love and hatred.
A group of individuals in desperate need of money volunteer to participate in a game show oblivious of the consequences. An unflinching sense of greed and ambition brings some of them back to the proverbial arena of death, this time making them conscious participants in the game of destruction and opulence.
These blinded competitors are led through a darkened labyrinth filled with juvenile games like Red light, green light, tug of war, making honeycombs, preserving marbles, musical steps, and finally squid game. These games are taking them a step closer to death and the winner towards a devastating sense of futility.
They compete in a simulation of a world controlled by corrupted and ecstatic power magnets ready to bet on the death of competitors according to their whims and fancies.
One can’t help but be reminded of a specific line spoken by Gloucester in King Lear by William Shakespeare :
” As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; They kill us for their sport.”
The only difference is that God has been swiftly replaced by power in a world of sin and agony.