On Nov 10, 2015, at 7:27 PM, Ben DeVane <email@example.com> wrote:
I have some awareness of the literature on play, and I have to object
to your characterization. I would invite correction, but most
contemporary literature on the anthropology or sociology does not view
play as a complete or even thorough "suspension of the rules regulating social life".
In fact, the rules of social life are often thoroughly embedded in
play, albeit altered in some way. Gary Alan Fine's work on live-action
role play does an excellent job of examining the layers of "nested
identities" that are made manifest in such play, and my colleague
Thomas Malaby explores the blurred lines between work and play in
contemporary games in depth (drawing on Ortner's work on Himalayan mountaineering).
Your example of the costume party serves to illustrate the point: All
rules are not suspended. At a costume party, one cannot crudely insult
the other guests, abuse the furniture, be careless with one's drink,
or grope the other guests, without being ejected for misconduct. (I
include groping because 'in-character' sexual harassment is an
infamous problem in live-action role-playing games). And if one were
to show up with a costume crudely mocking a number of participants,
one might expect said partygoers to give voice to their displeasure.
If one were to show up at a Yale housemaster's Halloween party in
costume as an oblivious, overpaid, and unqualified residential hall
administrator, I doubt one would be warmly received. In said example,
the resulting lecture would likely tackle the topic of civility
instead of "thinking for one's self".
P.S. No rules were "set up" at Yale. Only educational materials about
cultural sensitivity were distributed.
On Tue, Nov 10, 2015 at 6:58 PM, David Preiss <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Thanks for the link, Peter! I will hear it.
It is curious how Halloween became a mirror of how difficult is to
deal with cultural and other differences.
When is a costume celebratory and when is a costume offensive? There
is not clear-cut line.
One wears a costume because one is borrowing other (living or dead)
person’s identity to play a game. Indeed, wearing a costume always
involves some sort of pretense. I pretend to be somebody else as a
part of an activity that intends to be non-serious and involves and
collaborative) suspension of the rules regulating social life.
Problem is we all take our (cultural, other) identities quite seriously.
Yet, if we don't suspend the serious rules we adhere to build our
identities at some point in our daily lives there is no chance at all
to make a costume party. And if we can’t make a costume party, we may
become not only boring but eventually fundamentalist.
Therefore, there has to be room to play, to make a costume party, at
least in a society that allows for some difference.
Question remains, how far can we go in this game so it does not
become an aggression instead of a celebration of difference. If we
set up rules, as some people made at Yale, we kill the party. If we
don’t, we risk an identity conflict. There is no clear way out of this.
On Tue, Nov 10, 2015 at 5:09 PM, Peter Smagorinsky <email@example.com> wrote:
In case anyone's interested, I recently was a guest on the Atlanta
NPR station, talking about political correctness (the implicit theme
article on Yale).
2015 WABE (NPR) 90.5FM Atlanta: College PC Culture: It’s Not About
Offending But Respecting
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:
email@example.com] On Behalf Of David
Sent: Tuesday, November 10, 2015 2:22 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Halloween, Yale and other complications
And so it goes with Halloween... It seems that this holiday is
becoming a college issue. Here, a college master (I never liked the
term because of the slavery implications it has), got in trouble
because it did something different than the other university
president: she asked the students to think independently. And the
students were, of course, disgusted because
Ben DeVane, Ph.D
Psychological & Quantitative Foundations University of Iowa