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  • "Can we now extend the line to ritual and say that the priest performing the rites of sacrifice is only playing? At first sight it seems preposterous, for if you grant it for one religion you must grant it for all. Hence Our ideas of ritual, magic, liturgy, sacrament and mystery would all fall within the play-concept. In dealing with abstractions we must always guard against over- straining their significance. We would merely be playing with words were we to stretch the play-concept unduly. But, all things considered, l do not think we are falling into that error when we characterize ritual as play. The ritual act has all the formal and essential characteristics of play which we enumerated above, particularly in so far as it transports the participants to another world."
  • Ritual acts, specifically as they pertain to the spiritual or supernatural, are serving a purpose other than the playing itself. Furthermore, they're usually scheduled and practiced. Of course, there are examples of rehearsed "play" such as professional acting or dancing, but these are subjective performances, literally meant to be individually interperated by audience members. The purpose of such performances is simply to be seen. A specific emotional response from an audience may be anticipated, but it is also purposefully buried within the context of the "playing"; buried in order to let the audience ask "Why?", and simultaneously respond to their own inquaries. Spiritual or religious rituals on the other hand, 1. Don't require an audience. (A play is not a play without an audience. Not that you can't "play" without an audience.) 2. Are not condusive towards fun. 3. Serve a purpose other than the "playing" itself. 4. Are not spontaneous. And, 5. They do not have two seperate bodies, or seperate groups of bodies at "play" with each other. I believe that in order for "play" to happen there has to be two seperate motivated parties that cannot predict one another's actions to complete certainty. (i.e. Cast vs. Audience, Team vs. Team, Player vs. CPU, etc). Even when playing catch with someone you cannot predict the trajectory of someone else's ball. As this applies to religious ritual, of course you could say that a deity is the other party, and of course you cannot predict a deity. Although, if you look at it that way, performing a rain-dance for a deity could be compared to asking a friend for some water by dancing and singing in front of them. I don't think that constitutes "play" per se, although to be on the recieving end of that interaction would be quite hilarious.


  • "Play only becomes possible, thinkable and understandable when an influx of mind breaks down the absolute determinism of the cosmos." (p.4)
  • To refine my take on what we discussed in class last time, I understand this sentence as Huizinga making the point that "play" is able to be fully perceived when taking the physical and known world and breaking it down from its structured form into the elements that make it up to allow for total control and manipulation, or play. That being said, the "influx of mind" is having the awareness or consciousness to subject these elements to whatever whim one has for them, removing known and perceived laws and rules that regulate the function of any given object or action. In a way, mind becomes an extra space, or for visual sake an extra dimension, beyond the known universe, but still inclusive of it. Like the known physics, laws, and objects of the universe are a box surrounded by the bounds of mind, which is able to perceive all that is in the box and outside it. Like a 3D being can see width, height, and depth, but a 2D being can only see width and height, unable to absolutely determine the third dimension outside of mind, or therefore play as well. So play can only become possible in such a base, seemingly limitless space like mind, rather than absolute determined cosmos.

(I hope I did this correctly. Gotta bite the bullet, right?)


  • "No other modern language known to me has the exact equivalent of the English 'fun'." (3)
  • I'm really interested in the comment that English is really the only language with a word for fun. In French the closest thing that I can place would be "amusement", which is used for fun but more closely translates to "amusing". In Arabic the closest word I can think of would be "marahon" which would most closely translate to "happy together"- communal shared happiness (also means once). Why is that? If language develops around cultural need why would the English language be the only one to develop the word? Especially since it's one of the many languages to come from Latin, how come the other ones with Latin origins don't have a word meaning "fun"? The fact that English is the only one with that word makes it seem like only English speaking cultures were the ones having fun. Unless the general populaces found colonialism, slavery, genocide and war "fun," I don't think that's the case. I think it comes from a different understanding of what fun is. English is great at compartmentalizing, naming, creating lists, and classifications for things maybe that's why the word was made in this language. What has created the development of different language in cultures to describe "fun"?

Taylor Tomanicek

  • “Nature, so our reasoning mind tells us, could just as easily have given her children all those useful functions of discharging superabundant energy, of relaxing after exertion, of training for the demands of life, of compensating for unfulfilled longings, etc., in the form of purely mechanical exercises and reactions. But no, she gave us play, with its tension, its mirth, and its fun" (p. 3.)
  • Most functions carried out by the body with the goal of survival and health aren't as joyful as play. This makes sense. However, I began to apply this train of thought to another necessary yet pleasurable human experience: eating. A good meal can produce immediate gratification in a similar way. Simply practicing something isn't always considered play, in the same way that eating something purely based on nutrition isn't always enjoyable. So, I would argue that it's evolutionarily necessary to find joy in functions which aid our own survival. Huizinga seems to immediately discount the idea of play as purely learning simply because of the seemingly unexplained "fun" that is produced. I would argue that fun does serve measurable purposes, and that the fun produced is not a byproduct as much as it is a necessary motivator to continue to learn.


The innate desire to "succeed" that Huizinga says is integral to play drew my attention. The word itself could mean any number of things, but this desire is apparent in our baser instincts; staying alive, procreating, etc. The notion that this drive to be better bleeds into our play is worth examining. Do animals desire to "succeed" in the same way we do. Is it our notion of success is what drove us to create rules that define a clear winner and loser? Even thinking on my own play, there was an idea of a successful play, whether it be winning/losing or just getting to a satisfying end. Does the success differ when one plays alone instead of with a group?


"Behinde every abstract expression there lies the boldest of metaphor and every metaphor is a play upon words thus in giving expression to life man ceases a succeed poetic a poetic world." (Pg. 6 )

This in my interpretation of it and in regards to Huizinga's argument of play being a part of human existences and a necessity of living; in my view then the way metaphor is using to make a " poetic world" This is why play is so integral to human consciousness. it give some one a world out side of the one they must inhabit every day an escape and place to have"fun" to be free from the " real" world and explore ones self and there place in the world they live in. play then is a part of living, an unconscious chose and a way living for the others around and not for the way things are made to be. If language is the tool that is used to label elements of are world then play is a way we make the unknown the unnameable, real. Play is the part of language that has yet to be named thus it is ever molding and changing, play plays.


  • "...the consecrated spot cannot be distinguished from the playground." Also! On the limitedness of play it "satisfies itself and ends there"( pg. 9)

To deconstruct, or maybe not deconstruct - to go into this massive theoretical pool of the history of the idea of play is pretty crazy. I've been thinking about this reading in relationship to my other classes where we live in temporary spheres for elongated points of time. There is order in these spheres and limited perfection and a level of secrecy as to what is happening inside the world. I have a lot of questions, but I can't articulate them at the moment- I'll come back to this...


On page 7 of the reading, Huizinga discusses how "play is a voluntary activity." Many schools and jobs tend to try and incorporate play within training new employees/teaching students. KFC even created a new VR game to train their employees on how to fry the chicken properly, and so far the game doesn't have rave reviews (it's seen as far too creepy/anxiety inducing for some). Would this still be considered a voluntary activity, and therefore considered play?