Games in unexpected places

When I started researching ‘art and play’ I soon came across Dutch historian Johan Huizinga and the term he coined: ‘Homo Ludens’ or ‘playing man’. Now I don’t know if this is coincidence or if it is my antennae being Ludens-sensitive, but I keep meeting this Playing Man everywhere.

Most recently in an interesting article titled ‘Love really exists: as an illusion’ by Coen Simon, Dutch philosopher and pubilcist. Found the article in my saturday newspaper – Dutch newspapers have no sunday issue, so we get the comfortable big ones on saturday. Simon quotes Huizinga (my -awkward – translation):

Real culture cannot exist without a  certain game content”  writes Johan Huizinga in ‘Homo Ludens’. Just like lovers, who play the illusion of love in all earnestness, every culture is – in a way-  played. This game is of primary importance to mankind, because we ‘find a remainder of a problem at the bottom of each serious judgement’. “In logically thinking things through, man does not reach far enough”. He will not find the transition point from body to mind, nor from love to estrangement, nor from existence to non-existence. And when man has no unshakable point to stand on, he must play that he stands.”

The transition point from body to  mind – where does the body stop and the mind begin? Interesting question. Interesting take on the importance of  ‘play’ too: if there are no absolute certainties, we must play the game of make-believe and pretend that there are.

Interesting idea, though not one I subscribe to. My training as a surveyor taught me to think in degrees of certainty – and within this framework, logically thinking things through is one of my favourite pastimes. That this process does not provide me with all the answers is something I have come to terms with:  I can happily exisit without absolutes.

The idea of trying to locate the point where the  body stops and the mind begins appeals to me, though. A lot of my work deals with perception -> the body feeding the mind information. And the question of what happens if the body tries to feed the mind information the mind does not expect, or does not choose to recognise. Most of the time, we see what we expect to see and hear what we expect to hear. Hence the games in unexpected places….

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