Re: First LCHC Play Discussion Notes

From: Mike Cole (lchcmike@gmail.com)
Date: Sat Apr 16 2005 - 20:12:15 PDT


Thanks for the clarifications, Ana. I wonder what others think.
(Obejctively speakin!) :-)
mike

On 4/16/05, Ana Marjanovic-Shane <ana@zmajcenter.org> wrote:
>
> Mike and everyone,
> In many ways I agree. "Object" in the activity model is not merely a thing
> or a "material" object. Mary Bryson actually replaced the word "object" on
> the triangular model with the word "other". That is significant and maybe
> even better for the model.
> In another "dramatistic" analysis (not the one by Burke), Anne Ubersfeld
> talks about an "object of desire" (Reading Theatre, University of Toronto
> Press, 1999, Ch. II, Actantial Model in Theatre). The "Object" exists only
> in a relation to the "Subject" (Hero). And, of course, "it" can be another
> human being (as in "an object of love or hate"). It is a very complex
> concept, really, and in many ways. I think that we need (or maybe we already
> had) a discussion on "objects" in the activity models.
> However, when I said *"Object (which for this purpose we should view as
> 'the material reality of the world')", *I really did not want to go into
> that discussion, but just wanted to say that if in the "reality plane" an
> activity is *oriented toward* an OTHER which is perceived to be a member
> if the world to which we belong, then in the "play frame" the activity is
> *oriented*, so to speak, *inwards*, toward creating the
> meta-relationships: rules, symbols, tools, division of labor (roles). In
> other words, the ostensible "object" WITHIN the play activity is in the
> background, the PLAYING with the relationships themselves (between
> subject-community-object) and PLAYING with the entities that enter into
> these relationships, (namely the individual, the community and the 'object')
> IS the OBJECT OF the play activity.
> I wanted to make a contrast between a direction toward something out
> there: "the material reality of the world", which prevails in the activity
> system when it is not in the play frame and the direction toward its own
> components or relationships in the making, when an activity system "slides"
> into a play frame.
>
> It is very hard to talk about all of these, because we have to use the
> very words that we want to redefine. But to clarify, I never meant simply
> "material objects" = "things in themselves" (Kant's - das Ding an sich).
> However, if the participants of an activity believe that they are in
> "reality plane" - then the "object" of that activity somehow belongs to the
> "reality of the world". And if the participants of an activity believe that
> they are in the "play plane" - then the "object" of their activity, in their
> own eyes, belongs to a "fictive", nonexistent, imaginary world. From a
> researcher point of view, the difference is not in the "object" but in the
> orientation of the activity.
>
> Ana
>
>
>
> Mike Cole wrote:
>
> Ana-- Thanks so much for the discussion of the way that play can be
> analyzed within a chat framework. On one point I want to raise an issue
> that I seem to be encountering a LOT lately, including at AERA.
>
> When you characterize the object of activity, you use the phrase,
> "material
> object." I do not believe this is a useful way to think think about the
> notion
> of an object and I do not think it is what Leontiev, Engestrom, Lektorsky,
> etc
> had in mind. I could be wrong, but "object" is related to motives. Yrjo
> uses the
> metaphor of object/motives being always "just over the horizon." The are
> about the future
> and it is difficult to think of the future as simply a material object.
> Even if it is in some way
> oriented toward what we might consider a concrete object (a diploma from
> college,
> a new car) as "object" it is still infused with ideality, both when it is
> being anticipated, striven for,
> and when it is sitting right before you.
>
> I have also been mulling over the idea that other people can be objects of
> activity, no less than
> non-human objects. My current life partner was, at one time, clearly the
> object of my activities
> and remains the "object of my affections."
>
> What your discussion highlighted for me is that all nodes of the triangle,
> which exist only in
> dynamic tension with each other, are always present as constituents of our
> goal directed actions,
> but some seem close up, or dominant, in our analysis while others seem
> backgrounded to the
> point where they are virtually invisible to us, at least "at the moment."
> This is related to Burke's
> ideas about the highlighting of varouis elements of his pentad.
>
> I will try to get the chapter on being human where Burke writes about "no"
> and get it posted. But
> it may take a while to find.
>
> mike
>
> On 4/15/05, David Preiss <davidpreiss@puc.cl> wrote:
> >
> > There was XMCA activity the last few days? I haven't gotten anything.
> >
> > *David Preiss***
> >
> > *
> > -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > *
> >
> > *Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile: www.puc.cl<http://www.puc.cl/>
> > *
> >
> > *PACE Center at Yale University: www.yale.edu/pace<http://www.yale.edu/pace>
> > *
> >
> > *Homepage: http://pantheon.yale.edu/~ddp6/>
> > *
> >
> > *Phone: 56-2-3544605*
> >
> > *Fax: 56-2-354-4844*
> >
> > *E-mail:
david.preiss@yale.edu, davidpreiss@puc.cl*
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > *From:* Ana Marjanovic-Shane [mailto:ana@zmajcenter.org]
> > *Sent:* Friday, April 15, 2005 12:56 AM
> > *To:* mcole@weber.ucsd.edu
> > *Cc:* Xmca
> > *Subject:* Re: First LCHC Play Discussion Notes
> >
> > Hm!! With an exclamation mark! I feel like seeing a frozen picture of
> > your workshop which I have to warm up in some places in order to insert my
> > remarks and comments and in that way try to become a part of the discussion.
> > I will insert my remarks directly into the text of the workshop notes into
> > the places where I think these comments belong. I will separate them from
> > the rest of the text visually in three ways, so that even if you get only
> > text (ASCII) e-mail you will be able to see my notes). So, please scroll
> > down:
> >
> > Mike Cole wrote:
> >
> > Robert Lecusay is having difficulty posting to XMCA (will these gremlins
> > never
> > give up the ghost and stop playing with us!!!*&&*&*#$ who-is-at %#!!!). So I get
> > to
> > (he he) be the portage guy today.
> >
> > Here are the notes from the first session. We are still working at
> > getting more
> > relevant articles posted on xmca.
> > mike
> > ------------------
> >
> > Play worlds Meeting at LCHC
> > April 11, 2004
> >
> > Sonja Baumer Presenting
> > Readings:
> > Lindqvist The Aesthetics of Play (Chpts. 3-5)
> > Elkonin The Psychology of Play (Appendix)
> >
> > Present: Mike Cole, Deborah Wilson, Elaine Parent, Virginia Gordon,
> > Xavier, Beth Ferholt, Kristen Clark, Sonja Baumer, Kelli Moore, Robert
> > Lecusay, Christian Simmoneti, Lars Rossen, Neils Pederson, Koichi
> > Haishi,
> > Don Schumman.
> >
> > Sonja began by asking everyone at the meeting to write on a piece of
> > paper
> > their intuitive definition of play. She collected these and read some,
> > noting that some people defined play in terms of their own experience,
> > others negatively as the opposite of work, and others in terms of
> > suspension of disbelief. Here are some samples:
> >
> > "embodiment of imagination"
> > "the absence of stress, fun"
> > "free departure from everyday life"
> > "freedom, enjoyment, pleasure"
> > "unconscious, fictional, pretense"
> > "informal setting, another reality, lack of incentives"
> > "separation from everyday reality."
> >
> > Sonja defined play as a state of mind, an experience.
> >
> > Mike asked about the difference between games and play, to which Sonja
> > responded with a comparison of Piaget and Vygostky's ideas. Unlike play,
> > Piaget saw games as rule-bound. Vygotsky, on the other hand, viewed
> > games
> > as another stage in the development of play humans enact scripts that
> > pertain to stereotypes and narratives of a particular character role.
> > Sonja concluded by defining games as characterized by explicit rules and
> > implicit imaginary situations, play by implicit rules, and explicit
> > imaginary situations.
> >
> > ANA:
> > *We can look at this relationship in another way -- using the CHAT model
> > (famous triangles). In order to do that, let me just briefly re-describe
> > that model: there is a small triangle in the center, that describes
> > relationships between the Subject (individual), the Community (or the others
> > to which the Subject relates) and the Object (which for this purpose we
> > should view as "the material reality of the world"). The bigger (outer)
> > triangle represents three meta-relationships or functions that mediate the
> > three basic relationships. Tools/Symbols mediate relationships between the
> > Subject and the world (of material objects); Rules mediate relationships
> > between Subject and the Community/Others and Division of Labor mediates the
> > ways Community relates to the World of material objects.
> > I look at play-like-activities - ** I want here to broaden the meaning
> > of the concept of PLAY** - as activities of creating these
> > meta-relationships. Hence you have Pretend Play -- as play-like-activity of
> > creating ROLES (division of labor). You have Games -- as
> > play-like-activities of creating and exploring rules, making rules, using
> > rules, bending rules, testing rules etc. And - the third category of
> > play-like-activities are those that create and explore Tools/Symbols: Play
> > with words, play with various building blocks, Lego blocks, tinker-toys,
> > e.g. tools that manipulate the physical world.
> >
> > BUT -- in each category of these various play-like-activities you have
> > embedded all the relationships and aspects of the activity systems: pretend
> > play may be an exploration of the roles (division of labor), but it is also
> > about the rules, only the rules are not the in the immediate focus of play.
> > The games, although they are primarily about rules, cannot be imagined
> > without an imaginary situation in which these rules are created, and without
> > the roles that are assumed by players. And, lastly, play with language /
> > tools, always also contains negotiating rules and exploring the division of
> > labor.
> > So I would say, that play-like-activities are activities which, in
> > contrast to the "for real" activities, are not aimed at an object-objective;
> > instead, they are activities of creating and exploring the very meta
> > relationships between the subject, the community and the material world
> > (object).
> >
> > *
> >
> >
> > Deborah asked about the progression of puppy play (which seemed to have
> > no
> > mental element) to play that did involve some kind of mental element
> > (play
> > with humor)
> >
> > Sonja responded by highlighting an example from Bateson's What is Play?
> > (to be posted on XMCA): Chimps giving eye signals that communicate that
> > their biting is playful biting. This is a paradoxical frame in which the
> > playful bite stands for a bite but does not denote pain.
> >
> > ANA:
> > *Bateson's example is interesting and important because it discusses the
> > relationship between the tools used to create the play and the topic of
> > play. This is a complex example which needs sorting out: "play frame" from
> > "reality frame" and what does it mean that an object stands for another
> > object or an act stands for another act: i.e. what does it mean to
> > "stand for". Bateson called "frames" -- being in the play frame is signaled
> > -- or you cannot create the play frame: dogs signal to other dogs that they
> > are going to "play bite them" and not really bite them. If another dog does
> > not see the signal -- it may bite back for real. People need to signal "this
> > is play" in order to create the play frame.
> > Little lower (or later) Mike asked what is the relationship between the
> > rules and the frame. They are connected. The framing activities (signals)
> > create a "switch" or a "portal" into the play-modus. The rules are different
> > in the play frame from the rules outside and that has to be signaled, or
> > there will be no play but just misunderstanding.
> > An interesting issue for the research is what are all the different the
> > ways to create the play frame. (Think of the Wardrobe!!!)
> > *
> >
> > Mike brought up Burke's "Dramatic No" (Being Human)
> >
> > ANA:
> > *Mike, can you elaborate (or just give me a reference: I need to refresh
> > my Burke knowledge)*
> >
> >
> > Sonja continued by talking about historical changes in the perceived
> > value
> > of play, noting that with the emergence of capitalism, play came to be
> > associated with childishness , whereas before (e.g. medieval), play was
> > a
> > privileged activity for adults.
> >
> > Mike asked what the difference was between rules and a frame. What about
> > peek-a-boo? Is it play?
> > Sonja argued that there are some rules, expectations that are
> > non-verbally
> > negotiated in peek-a-boo.
> >
> > ANA:
> > *I think that Peek-a-boo is a game that belongs to very beginning of
> > introducing very little infants into the code switching or creating a play
> > frame. It is an activity which is clearly not a goal directed activity, but
> > instead is changing the rules of perception; it is also about creating
> > different relationships between the infant and the person who is initiating
> > the game - changing the rules of "normal" behavior and relationships; and a
> > game of creating definite roles that players can assume. I think that we
> > have to go back and study different "peek-a-boo"-ish games around the world.
> > *
> >
> >
> > Mike told the story of a girl (participant at the Fifth Dimension) who
> > engages in elaborate and spontaneous pretend play that reflects her
> > difficult situation at home.
> >
> > Deborah asked if in play, the back and forth between emotional and
> > intellectual states was engaged in order to eventually gain a clear
> > definition of each state.
> >
> > ANA:
> > *Deborah, could you elaborate on "the back and forth between emotional
> > and intellectual states"?? What did you have in mind when you called them an
> > "emotional state" or an "intellectual state"? I think you are onto something
> > important here, but I am not certain what.*
> >
> >
> > Mike then discussed instances in which adults could be put in positions
> > where they were uncertain about the reality of the moment (Alfred
> > Schutz?). He continued by asking, "What is it that allows people to
> > create
> > and work with certain frames?" Then offered two examples: a memory of
> > his
> > son playing a fantasy baseball game (not an actual game, but the
> > recreation of specific moments of a game, playing the parts of specific
> > ball players), and an anecdote about a time in U.S. baseball history
> > when
> > travel was such that teams couldn't travel around as much as they do
> > today, and so radio reenactments of the games were staged (the issue of
> > a
> > fully engaged audience).
> >
> > Sonja added the example of radio audiences writing letters to characters
> > asking for advice (e.g. asking the character of a doctor for medical
> > advice). Mike brought up an example of a soap opera viewer who
> > physically
> > attacked an actress from the show because of the evil things she had
> > done
> > on the show. Sonja: "How are people seduced into acting these ways?"
> >
> > Beth, returning to the example of a person writing for medical advice to
> > someone who plays the character of a doctor, said that part of the
> > healing
> > process for people is grounded in the trust one develops for the doctor.
> > She went on to highlight similar examples from the Narnia play world.
> >
> > Kelli argued that in this situation of audience-actor, the actor, who is
> > also engaging in play, is also actually learning something when he/she,
> > for example, researches his/her part. She brought up the example of a TV
> > actor who when interviewed said that he found himself able to answer
> > medical questions from fans.
> >
> > ANA:
> > *This and some previous examples are the issues of the relationship
> > between the play frame and the reality frame and their interaction. What can
> > do we take into the play frame -- from the reality frame? What do we take
> > back from the play frame into the reality frame? How do we cross between
> > them? What are the "good" crossings over (an actor learning something in
> > researching a character) and what are the "errors" (writing letters to a
> > doctor in a play/ TV series as if to a real one?)*
> >
> >
> > Mike: this brings up the question of imitation
> >
> > Sonja brought up Stanislavsky: the notion that when trying to act out an
> > emotion, one needs to locate that emotion in oneself (a personal memory
> > that causes one to re-experience the emotion). In light of this, Sonja
> > noted that it was not chance that she plays the role shoe does in the
> > Narnia play world. Mike noted the Eisentstein, Stan, Vygotsky were all
> > contemporaries.
> >
> > Mike next discussed transition phenomena kids who are beginning to
> > engage in games with rules. He offered an example of a kid playing pool
> > in
> > the Fifth Dimension who created new rules within the rules of the game
> > that were to his advantage (e.g. yelling "Chancies!" gives one the
> > opportunity to take another turn).
> > Sonja spoke about the relationship between imagination and thought,
> > highlighting Vygotsky's notion (discussed in Lindqvist's article) that
> > adults have more imagination than kids as a consequence of the fact that
> > they have had more experiences than kids, and thus have more resources
> > to
> > draw on. Sonja argued that the research does not support this.
> >
> > Next Mike introduced the Russian term voobrazhenie (into image
> > making)
> > as a lead-in to a discussion about the necessity of separation from the
> > world in order to have an experience of contrast, and therefore the
> > possibility of being able to anticipate what happens next (see Cole and
> > Levitin (1998) A Cultural Historical View of Human Nature,
> > http://lchc.ucsd.edu/People/MCole/Cultural-Historical2.PDF)<http://lchc.ucsd.edu/People/MCole/Cultural-Historical2.PDF%29>
> >
> > Sonja and Mike: Imagination is a cognitive tool that allows us to
> > maintain
> > the illusion of continuity.
> >
> > Sonja: Play helps maintain an illusion of unpredictability, but enacted
> > in
> > a safe space.
> >
> > Mike: Reality and fantasy are present all the time. This ties into the
> > value of moments of disruption (Yrjo Engestrom)
> >
> > Kristen: Returned to the issue of the difference in the capacity for
> > imagination between adults and kids, adults having more experience than
> > kids with social and cultural texts.
> >
> > Mike: Listed some potential areas for future play discussions: rules &
> > frame, ritual, hyperreality (Baudrillard), Stanislavsky,
> >
> > Deborah: Do autistic individuals play?
> >
> > ANA:
> > *A very interesting article in the newest Discover Magazine :
> >
> > * *What Do Animals Think?** Temple Grandin says animals think like
> > autistic humans. She should know.*
> >
> > (I am sending a link to the on line article in a separate e-mail)
> >
> >
> > Sonja: High functioning individuals do.
> >
> > Then there was debate (stemming from an anecdote of a Kid at the Fifth
> > Dimension) over whether Asperger's Syndrome is high functioning or low
> > functioning . . .
> >
> > Answer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asperger%27s_syndrome
> >
> >
> >
> > ANA:
> > *This discussion is VERY productive and already covers miles and miles
> > of concepts that have to be carefully rethought. I am very excited about it.
> > Can't wait to get the films and watch them too.
> > It is almost 1:00 am on the east coast in Montreal. I must get up early
> > for another fascinating session of AERA. So good night.
> >
> > Ana
> > *
> >
> >
>



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