From Matters of Play
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  • "It is unrealistic to think we can truly understand human play without understanding the play of dogs, monkeys, and turtles..." (pg. 5)

In acting class we talk about vulnerability while pursuing an action. Not surprisingly, the most effective way to communicate you are "ready" is to have your lips slightly parted. This is something also mentioned in the play fighting polar bear video; the action of polar bears opening their mouths to tell the other that they are ready for whatever play is about to happen.

  • "The amount of information needed to understand this aim [Control] is enormous and includes the roles of the senses and motor abilities; the environmental (space, structures, microclimate), temporal, and social contexts; the role of internal mechanisms, including health, physiology, motivation (e.g., arousal), cognition (e.g., prior conditioning), and nutritional condition; and genetic factors." (pg. 18)
  • "Approach and other behavior patterns seen in play fighting apparently serve as indicators that the interaction is playful and not serious." (pg. 18)

Aim 1 - Control seems to validate the concept that "play requires trust and fosters trust." (Bonobo video). There is a reason why you can't have a playful interaction with any stranger or animal without acknowledging. Using the acting tactic of having you lips slightly parted while looking at a person or animal may lead to you getting beaten up.

  • "The English word play has many meanings. "

75% the battle of analyzing what play is (so far in a lot of these readings) is deciding which definition is applicable to what. Also the fact that other languages have words for play that mean something completely different in English. We want to understand the "Why" of play so bad. Is this to try to figure out where the brain switches from play into reality?

  • "Spencer also viewed playas on a continuum with nonplay. For example, rats have incisors that continue to grow and are normally worn down throughout life; in captivity rats will gnaw anything available to keep their incisors worn." (pg. 29)


  • "He concludes that although the snowflakes are not organized through an internal, "definite purpose" like living things, they do carry out a project, concluding: "formative reason does not act only for a purpose, but also to adorn. It does not strive to fashion only natural bodies, but is in the habit also of playing with the passing moment, as is shown by many ores from mines." - from the section about about Johannes Kepler

Reminds me of mineral and gemstone formations. For example, bismuth is a mineral that always crystallizes in ridged, rectangular shapes. ( Fluorite, the mineral form of calcium fluoride, is similar in that it forms cubic crystals. ( Like snowflakes, the patterns turn out randomly and no formation is ever the same, but the elemental composition of each mineral always results in the same sort of pattern--it follows rules. Molecular makeup and/or mineral formation and growth as play?

  • The female bonobo is pictured "quietly playing with water," the crow "snowboards"

It's intriguing to see animals play on their own, as opposed to in a social setting (play fighting, courtship rituals, etc). Primates like bonobos have been observed to have definable personalities--shy, aggressive, rambunctious, etc. What kind of correlation lies between personality types and the type of play animals participate in? Do you play in a way that reflects your personality, or does the type of play taught to you contribute to the traits you display?


"One of the more well observed forms of play in animals is play-fighting. In the above video polar bears are shown play-fighting, an activity observable in most mammals, exemplifying the ability to communicate the play signal "this is play""

I find it extremely interesting that 'play fighting' can be seen not only in animals, but humans as well. I had always viewed 'play fighting' in animals as practice for when they find themselves in a situation where they actually need to fight for their life. Yet, humans tend to play fight in more manners than just physically, such as verbally. While animals tend to have a signal to show it's play, is there ever a time when the 'play' becomes more of a serious fight? Where's the line that differentiates play from 'reality'?