Tuesday, November 19, 2002

When and Where do I play?
Anne Galloway asks. It's more a matter of when don't I play. Role-play (mimicry), combined with competition (agôn) is a major part of what I do, and it's not just acting - I find that it's playing. I make up my mind to do this or that, to be a personae, and see if I can "win" - if I can make my students, colleagues or others I want to convince accept my plan. This playfullness is both a way to get energy and motivation for things I would otherwise not be to happy about doing, but also a way to keep the competitive and manipulating aspects of my life at a distance from the rather vulnerable core of my personality. As long as I play, I can enjoy a victory, but shrug off a loss, and get on with a new, interesting plan. My life is split into different arenas on which I play: teaching, research, administration, college politics, etc.

I guess the one area where I never play is when it comes to my children. Anything that happens to them touches me, deeply, profoundly, and it cannot be abandoned at the arena of "home" when I enter the arena of "teaching" or of "research". But I also play in more common playful contexts: I love playing card-games, my father was a ruthless and competitive player, infamous for his cheating, and I have passed that on to the children. I play computer-games, preferably role-playing games or adventure games, I am more for puzzle-solving and strategy than direct competition, and ilinx - dizziness and physical involvement - only comes into play in dancing, which I love to do. I am not much for sports, but I like fishing: I guess it's a like an adventure: search and think and guess and work on the puzzle, use the right equipment and go to the right spot, and you get the reward.

(Mimicry, agôn, alea, ilinx: Roger Caillois: Man, Play and Games)

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