A lot of stuff on Play, citing the usual classics like Homo Ludens. Good but not new to me. And I realize these notes come out much different if I listen to the episode while driving, and can't take notes as I listen.
Contest is part of human life everywhere that human life is found. In war and in games, in work and in play, physically, intellectually, and morally human beings match themselves against one another....Context is one kind of adversativeness, if we understand adversativeness in the ordinary large sense of a relationship in which beings are set against or act against one another.
Some general talk of the Tarot, its obscure origins, how it appears to be laden with meanings that are just out of reach. It's deep connection to games and play; that is, it's not only the case that standard playing cards are obviously derived from the Tarot deck, it's that there is something innately playful about the deck and its members, they must be approached in a spirit of play.
Cultural anthropologists suggest the appealing term ‘deep play’ for the comprehensively absorbing preoccupations of human beings. From the perspective of a theory of the practising life we would add: the deep plays are those which are moved by the heights.
One result of this is that pages are in varying points on the spectrum between finished coherent essay and rough notes to myself. I've thought about trying to have some kind of visual difference between these, to help manage reader expectations, but for now you are on your own.
The judge smiled. Men are born for games. Nothing else. Every child knows that play is nobler than work. He knows too that the worth or merit of a game is not inherent in the game itself but rather in the value of that which is put at hazard. Games of chance require a wager to have meaning at all. Games of sport involve the skill and strength of the opponents and the humiliation of defeat and the pride of victory are in themselves sufficient stake because they inhere in the worth of the principals and define them. But trial of chance or trial of worth all games aspire to the condition of war for here that which is wagered swallows up game, player, all. (p 260).
This complex conceptual structure is striking to me because even though both he and I have a lot of shared background, and are covering some of the same topics, in our own evolving hypertexts (and both building our own toolchains to do so) – the two texts are very different. His seems to have a grand plan; mine really has no plan at all. So while he may write about the virtues of nebulosity; I'm living it. Or it's more like he's done the hard work of opening up this intellectual terrain which give me the freedom to play in it.
This very text is working really hard against the idea of having an explicit or unified purpose. Normal texts are organized around a single goal or topic, which makes them readable and also helps people figure out if they are worth reading. I just don't feel like doing that, and the resulting product might appear formless or useless. On the other hand doing so allows me to write in a spirit of play.
Play is a concept with the capability of reorganizing everything else around it. It resists formal characterization, which is too serious. Look, I'm playing with it right now! Applying play to itself is a form of play, beloved by nerds like me who get entranced by the possibilities of self-reference.
And play is extremely relevant to any theory of agency. The standard model of agency is essentially rational – that there are goals and actions are undertaken in pursuit of these goals. Play is by definition not goal oriented, or at least, play-goals are quite different from rationality-goals.
Words like illusion and deluded are derived from the latin root ludo, to play.
Brahman is full of all perfections. And to say that Brahman has some purpose in creating the world will mean that it wants to attain through the process of creation something which it has not. And that is impossible. Hence, there can be no purpose of Brahman in creating the world. The world is a mere spontaneous creation of Brahman. It is a Lila, or sport, of Brahman.
And according to the Buddhist-inflected theory of Meaningness, play is an important part of the complete stance, one of the textures of experience that comprise it.
Thinking about play tends to paint it as a kind of lightweight, inconsequential activity, a view which is at best only partially accurate. There is something deadly serious at the heart of play and if not, it wouldn't be such a fascinating topic.
The judge smiled. Men are born for games. Nothing else. Every child knows that play is nobler than work. He knows too that the worth or merit of a game is not inherent in the game itself but rather in the value of that which is put at hazard. Games of chance require a wager to have meaning at all. Games of sport involve the skill and strength of the opponents and the humiliation of defeat and the pride of victory are in themselves sufficient stake because they inhere in the worth of the principals and define them. But trial of chance or trial of worth all games aspire to the condition of war for here that which is wagered swallows up game, player, all.
– Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, p260
This is game-play of course rather than free-play, to use Nachmanovitch's language and distinction.
It is hard to imagine a model of creative destruction that treats non-deterministic play as sacred, and deterministic process as profane. Institutions, as we have been able to conceive them so far, are deterministic beasts, not playful ones. For Martinet-Mom institutions, security is sacred and pain is profane. For Deadbeat-Dad institutions, romance is sacred and inertia is profane. When the two are divorced, romance sours into pain, security ossifies into inertia, and revolutions are stillborn.
Yet, neither notion of the sacred captures play. Play turns possibility into necessity via a sense of absolute aesthetic certainty, and necessity into possibility by irreverent undermining of pious dogmas.