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2005 04 03
Architecture and Utopia - Part 5
imageGames, like utopia, offer a dialectic of time and hope. Can I realize my dream of victory before time expires? Can the quirky non-clock time of baseball or cricket grow large enough to encompass my desire? As I look out the grimy window, I think the issue is not so much football as life itself.

The philosopher Bernard Suits argues that games express the highest interests of humankind, the sort of goal-directed activity that is free from use. He means art and philosophy as well as literal games. Here, the prelusory goals of the game give over to the lusory pleasures of the game itself. (Ludere, lus -- meaning play; a root that is too often forgotten in loose talk of preludes and delusions.) A game is organized play, governed by rules or norms, but never reducible to anything other than the sum of its enactments. The rules are not the game. The pleasure of the game is constraint meeting possibility, tradition under the sign of novelty, knowing that, though many games have come before, this particular one has not. The game unfolds in the in playing, in time, purely itself.

Thus, likewise, does art resist reduction to propositions (even as it maybe, powerfully, about ideas). Thus does philosophy, at its best, become a sort of impossible profession, whose conclusions are, in a sense, its least valuable pieces, the sloughed-off skin of reflection, which remains a living body, irreducible and itself.

I think of all this, playing another, even less structured game, the one we call day-dreaming, looking out on the dead playing field, the denuded ground, bare and lacking its encirclement, the architecture of gamespace, that liminal space separating play from the workaday world, the stadium. Inside my space, a room for reflection, I peer through the transparent boundary, the light-permeable skin, and see future possible games begin to die.

I should really be listening to what one of the architects or philosophers is saying; but I am, as we say, lost in thought. I have lost my way. I am a flaneur of the mind. For the moment.
[email this story] Posted by Mark Kingwell on 04/03 at 08:25 AM

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