The imperfect game

I am a work in progress.*
(Anthony Weeks)

Real mathematicians understand completeness, real philosophers understand incompleteness, the rest don’t formally understand anything.**
(Nassim Taleb)

We play be use it’s more than a game.  Johan Huizinga notes how play is not only something our species engages in:

‘all the basic factors of play, both individual and communal, are already present in animal life – to wit, contests, performances, exhibitions. challenges, preening, strutting, and hosings-off, pretences and binding rules. […] Woodcocks perform dances, crows hold flying-matches, bower-birds and others decorate their nests, song-birds chant their melodies’.^

He connects this with the expression life is:

‘Thus competitions  and exhibitions as amusements do not proceed from culture, they rather precede it.’^

Watch any sport or game and there’s a way of describing it as “just this” or “just that.”  On the surface, these are empty and somewhat meaningless things.  But we know there’s more to a game, the way it can engage, challenge, bring out life performance, clarify goals in life, point us towards meaning and purpose.

We are the species that has taken game-playing to new levels, many games have become life for people.  Seeing it the other way around, though, that games help us to explore what life can be, allow us to face the incomplete, the tensions, the difficulties and find a more vibrant life:

‘When we are talking about emergence, disruptions, discontinuous storylines, and points of divergence and convergence, I light up.’*

(*Anthony Weeks, from Drawn Together Through Visual Practice.)
(**From Nassim Taleb’s The Bed of Procrustes.)
(^From Johan Huizinga’s Homo Ludens.)

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