There’s strangeness to writing here now. Whereas I once used this place to visibly ignore the questions of real people, exercising a freedom to do my own thing out of spite, and thereby gaining a sense of joviality, I cower now from the potential echoes of projections into the excuseless void.
I hear, in interweb whispers, banter before games, and strange conversations too late to recall well, that there’s a veritable field of study related to the beginning of strategy games. People in the know, I guess, categorize different possible runs of a game according to the ways in which people begin them. I don’t know about such things. What I suspect is that the rest of us, those folks for whom the beginning of a thing is quite unclearly connected in the mind to a field of possibilities it enables or rules out, we have a different experience. I want to say something about this experience, as it’s one I find myself working through lately, but also because it seems to describe well a kind of strange shared moment many of us may be having.
The KerPlunk game is a nice image. The pulling of sticks and dropping of things which are so full of potential for allusion, the way the game’s dependence on the uncertainty of the physical world resists the above studies, and the wonderfully trans-verbal, intuitive clarity of the game’s rules—all these lend themselves to what I’m trying to imagine.
Conceding that the image may not be universally attractive and that the fun of playing with it may be its own problem, I confess that the analogous experiences in my life are the games of involvement in:
University departments and disciplinary life
The political project of philosophy in the schools
The pen and page
An imaginary collective
Land to farm and build on
So many times, another person
Analyses of experiences generate possibilities for discourse; they generate frameworks from which to understand—to be aware of the things that otherwise remain incoherent. Maybe.
I’ll speak of the experience at the sticks in terms of a tension between anxiety and ecstasy. This opposition likely leads us away from the experience a bit. What are we to do with these words? I’ll try to return afterwards.
Whether by disposition or training, suspicion tends to be one of the stronger shades of the screen through which I perceive, and so I start with anxieties, which, at least as concerns the experience at hand, are primary for me.
Before sticks and marbles are made to fall, I have anxieties about: what might go wrong, what I might be blamed for, what misguided love I might be the object of or inspire, what time I might waste, what bad habits of experiencing I might pick up, what I might miss, or be stuck doing.
Nevertheless, certain ecstatic flirtings with potentialities blossom between my fingers and the things I might touch; no rules or seriousness of an individual game can fully destroy the fun of seeing that I can, after all, effect.
I toy with one stick or another. Someone says (if not, my conscience supplies still more loudly): “You manipulator!” We mustn’t break the rules (or more importantly, the classificatory analyzers’ structure), but if we don’t …