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[Xmca-l] Re: Do adults play?
- To: Douglas Williams <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
- Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Do adults play?
- From: David H Kirshner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Tue, 22 Oct 2013 14:00:23 +0000
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- Thread-topic: [Xmca-l] Re: Do adults play?
At this point in this long and interesting thread, in resisting the thesis that adults don't play we've dissected play into its symbolic and representational elements, and therefore found it to be ubiquitous in human affairs. Doug--with wonderful examples--goes on to observe that although play may be undertaken without broader purpose, it rehearses adult competencies.
Alternative to resisting the thesis that adults don't play, a poststructural analysis might recognize adulthood as a social role defined (at least in part) by abjuration of play (and more generally of all that is frivolous). The saving grace, in this case, is that few "adults," chronologically defined, occupy the subjectivity of adultness so completely as to be circumscribed by it.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Douglas Williams
Sent: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 3:32 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Do adults play?
I play bridge....does that count? :)
What is play? In all species, a rehearsal; a symbolic enactment echoing past and future activity. In humans, a possible world that represents what is, what was, and what could be, in a symbolic form that enables it to be shaped through thinking about rules, relationships, perceptions, and feelings. Games are the sum of human experience, in a form more available for introspection and renovation than the "real" world, precisely because they are games. Bridge, for example, is a game of coalitions, of strategy, of psychology, of deception, none of which is so far distant from the real politics of offices and of the streets. On another level, the Duke of Wellington famously (and for some, inexplicably) observed that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton. What Wellington meant is that the rehearsal of adversity and courage in sport enabled a beaten army to persevere in following a strategy that enabled that beaten army to win a long and terrible battle. Wellington meant that field sport games, in their often wanton brutality and sudden reversals, prepared his field commanders to treat the even more wanton brutality and reversal of war with practiced familiarity and undaunted spirit, in the certain belief that as they had come from behind to win at Eton, so they would at Waterloo.
We are a symbolic species. We live and breathe symbols. We dream of ourselves and each other, and out of our dreams, the world is given form and substance. Communities take shape, symbolic interactions begin, and towers of iron and concrete expand outward and upward from doodles. And sometimes, we just remind ourselves in games of who we are, and where we come from. I lay an offering of that kind of play before you.
Adults not play? What is the business of minds such as ours, if not to dream of the impossible, and make it real? Or, in the words of a Mr. Church, who was confronted with similar doubts:
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
...and I would add, the minds of adults.
On Monday, October 21, 2013 5:38 PM, "White, Phillip" <Phillip.White@ucdenver.edu> wrote:
Greg - Valerie back-channeled me:
Something quantum physics going on here in a gnomic zen sort of way.
and in considering what she wrote, i am now wondering if classical mechanical physics isn't being used here in xmca to explain perception/consciousness and the distinction between "play" and "reality" -
whereas, for our 'mind', in the world of quantum physics, what is perceived - regardless theater, performance, movies, television, whatever the media - the mind does not discriminate between what we call 'real' and 'imaginary' . it's all the same.
so perhaps it's a false duality to think of play and real as polar opposites, but rather multiple genres of performance would better work as a theoretical framework.