The cake is a lie

rattmann den“The cake is a lie” – Rattman den writing, Portal series

The Portal games are first person puzzle games that use portals to use physics in ways that make some interesting puzzles.

A group called Aperture Science, Inc. are the ones who run the experiments in the game. This is all controlled by an robotic system called GLaDOS. GLaDOS had previously initiated a fairly hostile takeover to gain control, there were very few survivors. Doug Rattmann survived.

Cake is promised to anybody who successfully completes all of the experimental test chambers and Doug Rattmann the survivor found out that the cake was no longer being given to test subjects. It’s safe to say he became mentally unstable, choosing to write on the walls in spaces now known as his dens.

“The cake is a lie” is a phrase that is used to say that all your efforts will have no reward just like the test subjects in the game wouldn’t receive any cake. In those five words the futility of life, effort and hope is encapsulated. The cake is metaphorical, and the promise of it’s existence sends quite a powerful message: The promise is false, the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t there.

Does this mean we shouldn’t do anything because everything is completely pointless? No. The thing I’ve noticed about life is that we make our own cake. We don’t always pursue our goals for a predetermined reward, we make unrewarding tasks rewarding to make ourselves happier about doing anything. It shows humans as extraordinary creatures by not requiring cake or any other reward, we might do something purely for the challenge. The cake being a lie, the futility of everything means nothing to our species as we can always keep going and smile as we do.

Things are always darkest before they go totally black but we are the lights in the utter darkness, we persist without expectation of a reward. When everything is completely pointless we force ourselves onwards. We are special as a species.

The cake may be a lie but a person’s will to make a cake where there isn’t one is what keeps us above the rest of the animal kingdom! (well.. that and opposable thumbs)


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