The Game as the World, The Game of the World

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

We can say that, like what happened at many other times in human history, what best characterizes post-modernity is the link established between ethics and aesthetics. By that, I mean the new social bond based on shared emotion or collective feeling. Stricto sensu, that’s what is festive in its deepest sense.

So, rather than seeing in it some frivolity for the use of a few, avant-garde, artistic bohemian, perhaps we would be better inspired to spot in this playfulness one of the essential factors of social life which is in being (re) born in contemporary societies. It is in this sense that Dionysus, as an “emblematic figure”, can be considered typical, archetypical, of a spirit of the time no longer satisfied with the seriousness and the asepsis to which modern society has accustomed us.

Emphasis is placed on a global perspective integrating experience, passion, common feeling. We recognize here a far-reaching paradigm shift: rather than dominating the world, rather than wanting to transform or change it — all three Promethean attitudes — we strive to unite with it through “contemplation”, to celebrate it.

The prevalence of the holiday in its various forms, the various manifestations of “self-care” and the various body cults are, indeed, whatever it may seem, modulations of such a Dionysian “contemplation”. They constitute both the inner music of a given social body and, at the same time, the rhythm which makes it vibrate in unison. In this regard, it is only to remember these recent religious outbursts: World Youth Days; musical: the techno-parade in; sports: the excitement of the World Cup, to measure the impact of collective harmony, of “hysteria”, in its etymological sense (which makes the stomach move), which punctually make society vibrate. Under the empire of Dionysos, we “burst” ritually and mutually for the greater good of society as a whole.

With more or less seriousness or interest, productivism, in its various forms, is now the object of criticism. Work and progress are no longer categorical imperatives. Economists, experts, and philosophers agree that, even from a linear perspective of history, these forms have had their day. Suspicion hangs over Prometheus. There is no point in coming back to this, except to support the description of what tends to replace the fallen god. The theme of productive energy has had its day. And for the immediate future, through a mechanism of “saturation”, we see the appearance and affirmation of other constants, and their contours which are still nebulous cannot leave anyone indifferent. So, just as after Nietzsche, or Simmel, we could say that all depth was hidden on the surface of things, perhaps we must assume a caricature and daring thought that hardens the appearance of situations takes them to the fore. serious as such, without wanting to integrate them into finalism that gives them meaning. So, as the return of the repressed, this unproductive expenditure that is the party tends to replace productive energy.

It is in this sense that we can say that the body, tool of production, left the seat, through the multiple occasions of celebration, for a playful and loving body. Is it a rebellion, in a classic scheme of liberation? Not necessarily. Rather, we are in the presence of an affirmative power which we find, underground, in all social structures and which, sometimes, imposes itself, irresistibly, like a background wave that nothing can stop. This is indeed an ambitious project: to account for “expense” in its strictest sense. What was the prerogative of the avant-garde, the artists, the lonely and proud geniuses, is capitalized throughout the whole social body.

The essence of the celebration is a kind of enjoyment of the present. This enjoyment and the carpe diem which expresses it very well become massive and indisputable values. This is how, for my part, I understand what Octavio Paz calls an “exaltation of orgiastic values”, where feelings, passions, images, situations of a moment are expressed. An ethics of the moment can be seen, which was previously in mezzo voce.

An eternal moment where the conversion to Dionysus is said as it: return to the nocturnal theme, that of the chthonian god, which is found in the multiplication of night “clubs”, “raves parties” and other “techno” events which can no longer be considered as simple epiphenomena without consequences. All of this constitutes what I have called true “underground centrality” from which nascent sociality is organized.

This is how to understand unproductiveness which paradigm is the Dionysian dance of which the social rhythm, the syntony of which I spoke, the contemporary collective trances are perhaps the completed symbols of the effective reverie of the game of the world.

So the celebration is certainly the most widely shared thing in the world, and suffice it to say that the essence of collective life and individual existence is fun. Referring to the game of the Bilboquet among the Eskimos, a game if it is apparently solitary, Roger Caillois gives on this a description which makes it a social phenomenon: “support of communion and collective joy in the cold and long darkness of the arctic night”. This simple game is the rigorous model of all these situations which suppose the company, which even arouse it, of these situations whatever they are which function on the tension, the excitement or the shared relaxation.

The modalities of what can be called “the moment interest” are manifold; epicureans, bacchanalia, carnival, games of chance and playfulness are there to illustrate this. If we wanted to synthesize them, we could see there the expressions of this “deep subjectivity” of the people of which Georges Bataille speaks. A confluence of time and duration, which we can try to interpret as a place of reminiscence of an archetypal myth inscribed by time in society and the individual. The myth of cosmic dance, that of the world as a game and of the game of the world.




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