355 Comments
author

Thank you to everyone who has commented. I am completely overwhelmed by all your messages of love and support, and by all the intensely personal stories people have shared. I am trying to answer you all, but it may take a while, as there has been a huge reaction to this piece, both online and offline, and I am simultaneously trying to deal with all that too. (This post was number one on Hacker News yesterday, it was number one in Reddit's r/Minecraft subreddit and so on, and each of these things generates a bunch of stuff that I also have to deal with. Plus, journalists have been in touch, old friends have been ringing; there's been a huge reaction to navigate!)

But, bloody hell, your response to this piece here in the comments has been so deeply moving. Thank you. A giant pile of heartfelt thank yous.

To everybody who was already a supporter of The Egg and the Rock; thank you so much for your support so far, and I hope this slightly unusual, slightly off-topic post was of interest. Normal service will be resumed soon! I have a couple of longer posts on the universe nearing completion.

And to everybody new (which is most of you! I think my subscriber numbers tripled in the past 24 hours), welcome. I hope you enjoy the experience here. It's not always this busy in the comments, and I usually have time to engage with them all! Things will calm down soon.

Expand full comment

I doubt very much things will calm down soon:) Congratulations and again, thank you Julian. Brilliant choice, liberating yourself and your work, and many others this way.

Expand full comment
author

We will see, Benjamin. It's a little calmer today. Thank you...

Expand full comment

This is crazy, I just finished the game again and I almost always am put to a stop and read most of the text and just enjoy the music. Im glad to hear that its going viral again! I really do appreciate the Poem you wrote for the world.

Expand full comment

I want to hug you. I love you.

Expand full comment
author

Thank you so much...

Expand full comment

To your Thank You, I say you are most welcome. I'm not a video game person, and have never played Minecraft. This was a touching and inspiring story, so really, the thanks is all mine.

Expand full comment

You learned the wisdom inside you that always existed but where afraid to embrace. We all helped all. Thank you for your gift, accept yours.

Expand full comment
author

Thank you. Yes, I learned a lot from these experiences, and I am trying to keep those lessons in mind as I go on with my life.

Expand full comment
author

Thank you Jonathan.

Expand full comment

I am so taken aback by this comment because I didn’t realize at first that you wrote it, and Jonathan is also my name, although I know you may not have been referring to me directly in your previous comment. Something told me to comment back ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Expand full comment

For context, I didn’t have an account here before, just finished reading everything above the comments, had never played minecraft, and “Julian Gough” ‘s comment was the first comment I saw.

Expand full comment
author

Hi Jonathan! It's been a very chaotic day, but it's very nice to meet you!

Expand full comment

I love that poem.

Expand full comment

I haven't played Minecraft myself but I've watched my daughter play for a long time. She doesn't play in survival mode so I don't know that she'll ever see that, but maybe I'll help her. I also cried reading that even with no connection to the game.

I left a job recently, quite abruptly, and many people have reached out but I wasn't ready to hear them. What you wrote about being able to accept love touched me deeply. I'll write back to them finally and include some of that. Thank you for turning it into words.

Expand full comment
author

Wow. You are kidding. I am so pleased it connected with you. And I am so happy to hear that it helped you hear the love from your friends. Good luck...

Expand full comment

The End Poem is beautiful, I'm glad you included it at the end of the post. I cried at "and the universe said you have played the game well"

This was an interesting story and I'm very grateful to you for sharing.

Tangentially, the idea of allowing people to express love in return reminds me of what my harp instructor told me about performing for my family - never apologize for making a mistake or not playing well enough. When you do that, you discredit the emotions you brought your listener. Apologizing is about you- let your playing be a gift for them.

Expand full comment
author

Thank you. I'm glad it moved you.

And that's excellent advice from your harp instructor.

Expand full comment
Dec 7, 2022·edited Dec 7, 2022

I just made an account so I could give this a like and post an "Attaboy!" and a "Well said!". I didn't even know there was an ending poem, much less lore behind it, or even played long enough to see what the ending looks like.

But even with that being said, I can appreciate (is understand a better word?) the feeling(s) of hurt and frustration with people who I thought were being my friend, but maybe I missed something or something got mistranslated in the language of social contracts. I don't know. But even if no one is to blame, it still hurts nonetheless and fuck anyone that says "sticks and stones".

I can even more appreciate laying it all out on the clothesline to dry in the sun, for all the world to see. Yes, we all wear underpants and yes, not everyone's underpants are going to be Victoria's Secret perfect. Some are going to be old, a little worn at the edges, maybe even a little stained. Such is how actual human emotions go, especially those concerning relationships.

And maybe, if you think about it, the End Poem wasn't actually finished. Sure, you might have wrote the last line, but maybe the universe wasn't actually finished yet. Maybe, just maybe, liberating it was the actual, final ending to the End Poem. It's no longer restricted by that final period. Now, you can replace that last period with a comma, a pause. It says we're not really finished yet, because "you are love", love doesn't just end, either. It grows. It branches out. It reaches and grasps, and it lets go.

Maybe freeing it was the true ending to the poem, after all. An ending that you couldn't write for us, but that we'd write for you, for ourselves, for everyone and for no one in particular.

What a beautiful way to end a poem about an ending.

Thank you, Julian.

Expand full comment
author

That's a beautiful way of looking at it. Yes, love doesn't end. And I do feel that freeing it was the correct move; was the move the universe wanted. (I realise I have a lot of hardcore materialist followers who are probably rolling their eyes at that, but I can make a solid scientific argument for it! Just, er, not here right now in a comment...)

I certainly feel that the End Poem taps into something important (for shorthand, let's call it Aldous Huxley's Perennial Philosophy), and that players feel that, and that means that actions taken around the End Poem in the world, like my liberating it, have a huge psychological resonance with a lot of people. Which has consequences.

Last time I looked, this post was number one on Hacker News. And that is without a single piece of media coverage. I certainly didn't tell them about it. So SOMETHING in the End Poem resonated with SOMETHING in a lot of human beings out there. You could certainly describe it as the universe reacting positively to the liberation of the End Poem.

Expand full comment
Dec 9, 2022·edited Dec 9, 2022

hello mr gough! i’m not sure i’ll be able to form my thoughts very well, but i feel the need to try anyway.

this story has brought me to tears. i’ve been playing minecraft on and off since i was just 12 or 13 years old, and throughout the years i have had many incredible bonding moments with the people i love while playing it. despite all of this however i was never able to finish the story on my own (i’m actually pretty bad at the game, haha), so i never did see the end poem how it’s supposed to be viewed. instead i read it on the internet, on a page about minecraft, and the emotions it made me feel are impossible to describe. i felt it to my very core, and to this day simply thinking about the poem on its own leaves me teary eyed.

i’ll spare you the personal details, i’m sure you’ve heard a lot of similar stories, but your poem has pulled me through some very dark times. often, when i found myself losing faith in the world, or hope for a happier future, or simply felt like the universe does not give a single shit about me, i would remember about the end poem, and i would read it again, and i would cry. it has never failed to reawaken my pure and earnest love for life, and the world, and the people who live in it.

which is why at one point or another i ended up getting a tattoo of it (reading the part about tattoos was very funny, as someone who has the exact same line etched into their arm forever, albeit done much crudely than the one in the picture. mine’s starting to blur a little), just so i could always look at it and remember that the universe is not cruel, and there is a place for me in it. it helps me push through.

i wish i could give you all of the money i could scrape off my struggling bank account for this incredible gift you’ve given all of us. it makes me very bitter to know that i’m not able to do so because i reside in a country currently under foreign sanctions, ultimately banning me from being able to transfer money anywhere abroad. your poem, more than anything, is something that i would be ecstatic to pay for.

i’m sorry i can’t do anything more than show my appreciation through words. thank you so much for putting the end poem into the world. it quite literally means the world to me.

Expand full comment
author

I don't know how to respond to something as open and vulnerable and beautiful as this. My eyes are filled with tears as I'm typing. Thank you so much for telling me how much those words have meant to you over the years. I feel I cannot take all the credit; the universe really did write them through me, in a way that I am still working to understand.

I am sorry you are suffering for the actions of others, in a sanctioned country. We are living in a transitional time, where some of the old ways of doing things no longer work, but we have not yet developed better ways. It is a painful process, humanity growing up.

Good luck on your journey through this strange and terrible and beautiful world.

Expand full comment

24 hours ago I read the end poem for the first time after defeating the end dragon for the first time. Both the reaching of this point in the game and the quiet of the words carried a profoundness that felt strange to me. We are often spoken to in that way, in languages we don’t understand or that feel misplaced. I’ve thought a lot about how it made me feel. I’ve only discovered Minecraft last year, in a darkness that scares me to think about, and the significance of this experience made me feel unsettled. In the past few years where I felt like I’ve done and accomplished nothing but escape into a game that means nothing, why should I feel so freed and touched by the culmination of this experience? I want to let you know that this post, this story that is so easy to understand and empathize with:

“I wrote a story for a friend. But in the end he didn’t treat me like a friend. And I’m hurt.”

means just as much to me as the poem. I feel I can know fully appreciate and accept the significance of those words, and of your gift of them. It has provided clarity and meaning to my journey, which looks so similar to your experience of giving and hurting and receiving love. It has gifted me with the knowledge and understanding that all the time I spent with the game was not just a dream, but a part of my story, and your story, and so many others. I too feel liberated. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for gifting.

Expand full comment
author

That dark year was an important part of your journey. And we all must give and receive love; and we all must hurt, and be hurt. To quote the great Alan Watts (and many others before him), there is no black without white and no yin without yang.

That dark year, those dark years, are part of the pattern of your life, but they are not your life. Your life is right now, in this shining moment; and it unfolds into an unknown future that is not yet written, and which you can shape by making meaningful choices, with meaningful consequences.

Ultimately those dark years can be the background against which the diamond of your life shines.

Expand full comment

hi julian! never realized you had a blog until this article got sent to a discord server i'm in (a discord server only available through subscribing to a small artist's patreon, funnily enough).

the end poem has always struck me as a uniquely beautiful piece, but even more recently it has moved me even more strongly than it ever could've when i was younger.

i'm autistic, and i hold very strong personal connections to the universe, and to love, and to the game, and the dream of the game, and all the silly stuff in between, and this article felt like reading the end poem all over again. i'm wholly in love with the concept of the friendship game, the love game, the gift game, and closing the circuit of love. "let a thousand flowers bloom" struck me in a way that would be quite hard to explain in as few words as this comment, but i think someday i might have to give them to you through an email because i want to tell that story and i want that story to be understood.

thank you for your work, and for what you do, and for closing the circuit of the end poem and giving this gift to all of us. we'll make you proud, guaranteed ♡

Expand full comment
author

Thank you for this deeply moving message. I'm thrilled that my words made such a strong connection with you.

Expand full comment

The end poem really touched me as a kid when I was too young to even understand why. Hearing you’d put it in the public domain was super cool to me but reading this post made me cry.

You’re such an incredible person, in an era dominated with hatred and spite, doing something like this is incredible. Thank you for writing such an incredible poem (that was actually part of my inspiration to pursue writing myself) and thank you for being such a shining example of just a genuine and good person.

Expand full comment
Dec 7, 2022·edited Dec 8, 2022

Hey Julian, I'd just like to take a moment to say thank you for writing this story. It's a long ride, but I'm glad you took the time to share it with all of us.

It must have been years since I first beat Minecraft, and reading the End Poem again, the words "the universe said i love you because you are love" still do hit just as hard. I think I understand why those words were so hard to put down at first. Even the words "i love you" alone can be hard to accept, especially when, at times, you can't even bring yourself to love yourself. But it's definitely something that everyone needs to hear, and know, and understand. Those words shook me when I first read them, and I'm glad that with this same gift from the universe, you were able to find peace.

In the end, art makes us human. Keep on creating, and bring love to the world. Thank you for what you do.

Expand full comment
author

Thank you. Yes, those words shook me when I first wrote them, so I am not surprised they shook you when you read them! They are strangely powerful, for something so simple. I am glad they made it through your defences, and resonated with you too.

Expand full comment

What a wonderful, achingly beautiful post.

Expand full comment
author

Thank you, Jonathan.

Expand full comment
Dec 7, 2022·edited Dec 7, 2022

WOW, this is AWESOME and somehow feels totally in keeping with what the universe would do with a poem it wrote:

first, it planted the poem into a fertile seed that grew in the dung of materialist investment to produce a magnificent game that kids all over the world use to learn and grow

it also planted a seed in your mind, newton's second law, for each action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, you cannot give love to the universe without creating the necessary preconditions inside of you

it then distributed its poem all over the world like dandelion seeds on the wind, the seeds took root like so many before it, nourished by rain and soul, sprouted and grew towards the sun

the seed inside your mind as well, stayed, waiting, calling to you patiently, it was probably that seed which prevented you from signing the contract initially

until eventually the two joined up again, every star is, in a sense, a reunion of old supernovae remnants

and now the poem belongs to everyone

it all seems like a real big shitshow until eventually things start coming back together, so long as you open yourself to the possibility of them doing so

Expand full comment
author

I really, really like your interpretation of all this, Mark. Yes, through on one level (my broke human level!) it felt like chaos to live through, there was always another calmer level, that I kept glimpsing, where something much bigger than me seemed to be quietly working away. I mean, that is a very, VERY strange piece of prose to be ending the biggest computer game of all time. And I definitely felt like it was written through me rather than by me, especially the second half. (The best half!)

Expand full comment
Jan 8, 2023Liked by Julian Gough

So I am one of Those Players who faffed around in Survival for a bit, then stopped playing when my computer broke, and I was finishing graduate school, then I became a counselor, then I finished my license, then I was a play therapist for traumatized children, then a wife, then an employee, a homeowner, and now a mother, and again a mother soon. I stopped playing.

I read about this, and internally murmured, "You can WIN Minecraft?!" I think I played before the Ender Dragon. Before horses and all the funny things they keep adding now. So I didn't get to read this at the end of a finished game.

I read it next to my little boy, while he idly pushes his feet against me. I experienced your words while I felt his toes wriggling. He is in his own dream. He giggles and is excited about the dream.

Within me is his little brother, growing. I am growing him. I experienced your words while I felt him moving inside me. (Hiccuping. He is hiccuping.)

These words of yours touched me deeply. They align with how I feel about the Universe. How I love (or try to manifest that love through behavior.) There is a lot of light and dark in my life, and your words were a reminder of everything I try to do and be. And they're part of my dream now.

Thank you. Thank you.

Expand full comment
author

Hannah, that was so beautifully expressed. Your child and future child are very lucky that it is your blood and milk and love calling them into existence. Yes, the fact that matter is self-assembling inside your body into a human being is a thing so astonishing we should all be running around shouting “Wow! Wow! Wow!” forever. What a universe!

Good luck with both the light and the darkness in your life. As Alan Watts and the Buddha and a bunch of people wiser than me have said over the years, there can be no light without darkness. But that doesn’t make the darkness fun to experience in the depths of our particular individual dream. May your life move towards the light, and come to peaceful terms with the unavoidable darkness. (I have certainly found that love makes for a good interface with the universe. Move towards the love...)

And thank you again for that beautiful description of you and the hiccuping child within.

Expand full comment
May 28Liked by Julian Gough

I never really knew such a masterpiece was brought out by someone like you. I was truly blinded by corporate glamour and like everyone else, I did also overlook the actual author of the poem. You, and metaphorically the universe...! It truly disheartened me that how such an author, who taught millions to see the world though a new perspective, is crippled down by corporate games. I am however still an underage kid, about 17 years old, and in high school(thus cannot make the donation on my own), but still I promise my first paycheck would be towards my family and to you, the person who carried forward the words of the universe. I'm not even kidding, to this date, the end poem gives me goosebumps, as I read, specifically the part of "The universe said I love you because you are love" and "you are the player. Wake up". Like many other, I understood nothing the first time I beat the ender dragon and read it when I was 9 or so, but now, being under the pressure of the Indian educations system(cheers from India!) which chooses to pressurise upon science aspirants thought rat-race like competitive exams(look up for JEE mains and advanced, if you are curious), I shed off my demotivation by reading your masterpiece. Thank you for creating this literary masterpiece. I hope you receive the recognition you deserve for your work.

With love and respect,

Aarush

Expand full comment
author

Aarush, thank you so much for your kind words. And don’t worry, I don’t feel oppressed, or wronged. Markus and Carl and I were just playing different games, and misunderstood each other.

Your offer to donate to me is very generous, but there is no need! Right now I am doing OK. Look after yourself and your family first. I am just pleased that the words I wrote (or that the universe wrote through me) have had such an impact on you.

Best of luck with your exams, and with life generally.

Expand full comment
May 18Liked by Julian Gough

thank you so much for this wonderful read. it reminded me why i make art in the first place. thank you ❤️

Expand full comment
author

You are so welcome. Good luck with your art…

Expand full comment
Apr 29Liked by Julian Gough

I didn’t have the best night tonight but I just randomly decided to look up this poem out of the blue and it my day, month even. I remember the first time I finished Minecraft and never had I known this beautiful story of your writing. Thank you for choosing to share this to the world for free. Now I’m crying in my bathroom and this special poem will mean even more to me now. The universe says “I love you” to you you too

Expand full comment
author

Thank you, Henry. I hope your tomorrow is better than your yesterday.

Keep making meaningful choices, in all your beautiful imperfection, with the limited information you have, and you will slowly nudge your life, and the lives of those around you, and the universe itself, towards that better future.

Your life matters, and your choices matter.

Good luck.

Expand full comment