Dead Letter Game
All the institutions of ‘advanced democracy,’ all ‘social conquests’ concerning growth, culture, personal and collective creativity, all of this is, as it has always been, simply the right of private property, the real right of the few. And for everyone else there are day-care centers and nurseries, institutions of social control in which the productive forces are deliberately neutralized. For the system no longer needs universal productivity; it requires only that everyone play the game.
--Baudrillard, The Mirror of Production
...language is inherited from the dead and yet again and again it is ‘recovered’—meaning to regain control, to repossess, to create again, or to conceal again--by the living. So words are simultaneously old and new. Their universe is ‘version’--in the sense of transformation--and version indicates passage, direction, action, movement.
[from M. Catherine de Zegher, "Ouvrage: Knot a Not, Notes as Knots," on the poetry of Cecilia Vicuña]
Transformation as Game
The excess of metaphor (water, windowpane, book) is a game played by the discourse. The game, which is a regulated activity and always subject to return, consists then not in piling up words for mere verbal pleasure (logorrhea) but in multiplying one form of language (in this case, comparison), as though in an attempt to exhaust the nonetheless infinite variety and inventiveness of synonyms, while repeating and varying the signifier, so as to affirm the plural existence of the text, its return.
The game here is grammatical in essence (and therefore much more exemplary): it consists in presenting, acrobatically, for as long as possible, the plural diversity of possibilities within a singular syntagm, to "transform" the verbal proposition behind each cause ("because he was hard of hearing") into a double substantive ("hardness of hearing"); in short, to produce a constant model carried out to infinity, which is to constrain language as one wishes: whence the very pleasure of power.
[R. Barthes, S/Z
dead in the water
it, not lizard
descendant of dinosaur
What distinguishes a game from a non-game?
The most obvious characteristic would be that of fun. If something is called just a game, then perhaps it is being described as not being serious. It is as if real life is a serious matter, but games are a frolic. However, the game metaphor does not focus on the fun aspect, for it recognizes that organized games are played typically in full seriousness.
How do we account for the non-sporting world?
Consider the close connection between games and arguments: so close is the connection that one might hesitate to consider that games constitute the basic term in any equation between the two. The reduction of arguments to games can easily be reversed by considering games as arguments....
Maybe the game metaphor itself doesn't work, is too limiting?
The problem with using the game metaphor to understand social rules is that the metaphor only deals with one aspect of rules: their acceptance. It does not deal with the creation of rules.... The game and its rules are only comprehensible because there is more to social life than rule-following. Inevitably the metaphor of the game, by restricting itself to one aspect of social life and by treating this one aspect as a metaphor for the whole, produces a restricted image of the person. This is a person who essentially accepts the rules of life without question, although complaining about their application in particular situations.
It could be said that for rules to exist, there must be more than rule-following.
Conversation as a game?
If there is a resemblance between arguments and games, then also arguments can resemble games which never quite get played. It is as if two captains are picking sides in a playground before playing a game to settle an argument. However, they cannot agree how to pick the sides, and therefore they decided to play a second game, the winner of which can decide how to pick the sides for the first game. The second game requires that sides be picked, and that provokes a further row, which is to be settled by a third game. And, thus, there looms the prospect of infinite disagreement about the rules.
[ M. Billig, Arguing and Thinking
, 1987 ]
...something once lost can return a year later and be 'resurrected'...
...new and resurrected...
...meanwhile, plagiarism and intellectual property violation...
...a net to entangle game...
...communication and culture...
...the 'social construction of gender' in 'particular kinds of ways'...
...kids all-a-tumble on the hardwood floor...
Round One: Ex Nihilo [06.05.03 - 08.22.03]
Round Two: Futures [09.30.03 - 12.27.03]
Decom(press/posit)ion [01.01.04 -
06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003
07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003
08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003
09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003
10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003
11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003
12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004
01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004
02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004
03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004
05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004
07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004
01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005
04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006
An experiment in memory excavation and obsessive existentialist detailing, Dead Letter Game
is ideal for one or more players ages 12 and up. The game once started plays indefinitely. Players
will soon recognize that the end is in sight but ever receding on a horizon replete with potential
outcomes. This is not a continuous present so much as a persistent continuum. To stop and start
again is to play the same game only differently. Do not be startled if patterns emerge,
which is normal under ideal playing conditions. The game as played here is neither the all
nor the part of it. Down to the very letter as well as out beyond its margins you will find
the dead letter game, whole and in progress. An open-source document, DLG automatically
self-absorbs upon completion, returning to the epistolary commons from which it came.