Insight is a mechanic in Bloodborne that, at first, doesn’t seem to serve much of a purpose. It seems to be nothing more than a cosmetic replacement for Dark Souls’ Humanity. Game-wise, it’s used to summon or invade other players, or to purchase items from a special “Insight Vendor.” You wouldn’t be faulted for thinking there wasn’t much else to it.
But Insight does have a non-mechanical use. As you gain Insight, you begin to see things in the world that were not there before. It’s small at first, with enemies slightly changing in appearance; guards in the Cathedral Ward will now have eyeballs on their lanterns, for example.
The Cathedral Ward is an area that I want to talk about here. Deformed, pale giants aside, it’s a fairly unassuming area. It’s something of a centralized hub for NPC’s you encounter, as well as a connecting point for several areas in Yharnam. There are also two specific areas where, if you linger for too long, you will be grabbed by an invisible force. This invisible force will lift you into the air, squeeze you, fill up your Frenzy meter (Bloodborne’s equivalent of being driven insane), and will most likely kill you, unless you have certain key items in your inventory. You may see a vague outline of what it is that’s grabbing you, but you are still unable to comprehend it.
However, once you reach 40 Insight, or defeat Rom, The Vacuous Spider, you see this invisible force for what it really is.
And once you have defeated Rom and entered Yahar’gul, The Unseen Village, you’ll see several more of the creatures, resting on the sides of various buildings. Some, like the ones in the Cathedral Ward, will attack you. The rest won’t bother you. But they are all watching you. Your every move has, and is, being tracked.
Now, what does any of this have to do with being woke to the Transgender Experience?
I can’t speak for literally every trans woman, but I do know of several who share a similar origin story and a similar thought process post-coming out.
“I know that my friends and family will still support me! I’ve been told that it’s hard, and that that support won’t always last, but this time will be different!”
That babytrans optimism causes you to be blind to the real world. You haven’t quite grasped that concept that everyone hates you and would rather you were dead than happy. And you’ll continue to be blind to this until you get your first betrayal. In Bloodborne, you gain your first Insight when you witness Father Gascoigne’s transformation from human to beast, realizing that things in the world are not what you’ve been led to believe. In the real world, you’ll get it when you start losing friends, or when your family stops talking to you.
Another thing that Bloodborne does with its Insight is that it lowers your resistance to being Frenzied. In other words, the more you know, the easier it is to be driven insane. The truth is not always a pleasant thing. But while that truth was the existence of Lovecraftian monstrosities all around you, the real truth is just how much people hate you, and want to hurt you. And while a lot of us put on a happy face and pretend that everything is cool, it really fucking sucks when you sit down and realize just how little your life matters to the rest of society (this argument can also be applied to other axes of marginalization (like race), but as I’m extremely white, I’m a little out of my league making that point). You have to find things to do to distract yourself from the pain, lest you go mad. Like maybe write about Bloodborne.
Once you know the truth, you can’t suddenly forget it. Try as you might to mentally return to a simpler time, it’s too late. That toothpaste is out of the tube, and can’t be put back. You’ll always know that those Amygdalas are hanging around the Cathedral Ward and Yahar’gul. And you’ll always know that you’ll be one of the first to go when it comes to removing and violating human rights.
But beyond the mental aspect of Insight, there is also its physical one. Insight is represented through eyes; eyes to see the truth. Once you’ve gained enough eyes and seen the Amygdalas, you’ll notice that only some of them will try to attack you. Most are content with hanging out, not bothering with interfering with your journey.
But they are all watching you. An endless series of eyes fixated directly upon you.
You are being watched by someone or something at all times. That unsettling creepiness that follows you no matter what. You don’t know who will attack you, and who will leave you be, leaving you with only their judgmental stares. This ever-growing knowledge fueling your paranoia until you finally break down. You will be changed forever, hardened by this cynical, distrustful attitude, shaking your head at new hunters and baby trans alike.