Thursday, June 2, 2011

"Strategies for the Game, Part 1, Section 1" an essay

Greetings fair greeters!

As I may have mentioned, I’ve been working on this essay about how to win at life for a few months. Its mushroomed to become over 120 pages. I will share it with you section by section over the next month. The essay is exciting for me, I’ve put countless hours into it. It explores the metaphor of life as game, and serves as a sort of constitution for structuring my own life. Every sentence is an artery into my daily actions.

Take care, Caretakers!


The essay is structured around the 8 virtues, after this first part of life being a game, of which this is the first section.


Daniel Christopher June




Strategies for the Game


Life as Game


            The most important things in life are beyond life; they exceed direct experience. Life, Love, the World, and the Universe are concepts we refer to everyday, yet who has experienced all of life? Who has understood the full of love? who has seen the whole of the world? who knows the being of the entire universe? We experience the world because we need to, and we experience it how we need to; those important things that can't be experienced directly by us, by the angels, by the gods, but only by the Universe herself, we nevertheless do experience as concepts: a tight set of metaphors will tell each of us what the universe is like, what life is like, what love is like, what the world is like. Life is a game, life is a journey, life is a test, life is suffering, life is a blessing – all these are confluences into one reality. I can comprehend them into tight summaries, these concepts. Life is the sum of my activities on earth; love is the sum of my desires and pleasures, the world the sum of people I interact with; the universe the sum of all things; yet my mind is a narrow faucet, how can I understand the full extend of these ideas when  I can only toggle four ideas in the center of my focus at a time? To capture the full picture, to bite the entire world as if it were an apple, to see my whole life flashing before my eyes, I require a wise use of synecdoche, to take one aspect of the universe  as the whole and tell her: “Mother, this is your essence! This is natural for you, this is what you are all about.” It doesn't matter to her what I think her essence is as much as it matters to me, for in choosing an essence for the universe, for the world of people, for the loves I seek, for my own private life, I change my experience of these things. All ideas are stretches of the lens of the mind's I, so that the mirror of mind warps and curves to recreate all my experience in the light of a few controlling ideas. Ideas are everything: philosophy makes the world. The true gods are philosophers, they are the wise fingertips of Mother Universe, and tap out the laws and rules of the All on the keyboard of Being. Our greatest possessions are a few bright ideas.

            So we must project part of the universe as the heart of the all. The universe is like a mother: that will help us, and through our image of her, she will speak to us. Very well. And the world is like a playing field. And life? What is life? Life is a game? How far will such a metaphor take us? What if life is a game? What does that mean? How will assuming such a thing enhance our life? For there are many among us who look at life as education: we are here to learn lessons; suffering is a lesson. Isn't that a more sober and serious manner of taking life than as a frivolous play of children? Didn't even Socrates look at life as a sort of disease in need of a cure?

            Let us recall our founding myth. In the beginning I was All. My Mind and my Needs were unified, and I therefore didn't exist, didn't live. But then the freedom of mind escaped the bliss of necessity, and I came to life, to suffer and enjoy, to grow and improve, to increase my being. At whatever time and place that break occurred, it also happened also at the exact moment of my conception, and as that was the resonate place for me to be, wherever and whatever I was before that moment, I was also there. This is our metaphysical fable. The highest virtue of a metaphysics is that it is non-falsifiable. It explains all the falsifiable bits of science, but itself is so cleverly articulated as to warrant complete faith. It cannot be doubted because it isn't real; not real, but necessary. Some truths are necessary and yet can never be proved. That we need them is all the proof we require, and that they cannot be proved or disproved makes them uniquely valuable.

            And so life is the sort of existence where I am to grow and improve, and this through creating that very life. This is straightforward enough. And so life is a created thing. To sustain the creating of life, the creating of soul -- the "self-increasing logos" -- to keep my focus on these goals, I play life as a game. For a game is goal-focused play. As play, it keeps my focus, sustains it longest, engages heavy matters in a light spirit. Nothing succeeds without a little prankishness. The true divine wears a sarcastic smile. This is better than working life. Work is the anxious business of staying alive, "making a living," whereas play has no serious consequence, and so lacks real anxiety. Instead, with games, one seeks rank, the sheer joy of winning, of playing best, of being best in something which doesn't really matter. Surely we can take life this way, but against whom do we compete?? how do we win? These things need not be defined as part of the same game.

            Nor do we need to be every at play. Life as game doesn't mean life is only a game, or that we should always use that metaphor. The full truth of the universe, the self, love, life, and the world are beyond simple formulations. They are complex. We ought to use a metaphor so long as it is useful, and set it back on the shelf when it’s not.

            Life is a game if we make it into one. By projecting a playing space over the world, by defining and enforcing the rules we will play by, by establishing and maintaining competition, we will have made the Game. Winning is the object of every game, and yet a game can be fun even if we merely seek, yet fail, to win. The force of will against will, the dialogue between will and cunning, make the game forever fascinating, and being fascinated, we can focus on it for long periods of time. Focus is a sort of mouth that must open to eat. When we can focus for long times, we can then internalize long experiences, without which we would lack certain ideas, lack certain truths, and would lack the philosophical tools to play the game more effectively, to better fulfill ourselves, to make more of a soul for ourselves, to win the game and pass on to become gods. So we prolong attention. We attenuate our efforts. Games are fun because they involve chosen risk. We control the danger. We seek rank for the mere need for importance, just as we seek solidarity for the mere need for love. With work, we change the pain of focus into money, as if by alchemical conversion, but with games, the pay for focus is in the joy of sustain. Yes, we grow by it, but that is not the payment: focus feeds itself. We seek rank and intimacy, power and love, admiration and adoration, distance and touch. For both love and power crave regard. Attention of some sort is our social need: we wish at last for our soul to be contemplated. Best to focus on our few basic needs. By simplifying such goals into a game, we can cut the clutter from our playing field. Best to focus on our few basic needs. By simplifying such goals into a game, we can cut the clutter from our playing field.

            Within a game, the world is abridged into a playing field, reduced and therefore made easier to comprehend. To internalize a world and a setting allows us to play with it, to control it without anxiety. What fun we could have if we could make an exact copy of today's world, return to it as often as we wanted in virtual reality, and try out possibilities, so long as that world and its consequences could be reset whenever we desired. Give a man enough time in such a place, and perhaps he would try every possibility, become a criminal in turn, a saint or ruler in turn, to discover just how wide his arms could stretch.

            Life also is a bit like that. We find ourselves in the same sorts of situations and we attempt to master them. One can work well, or game well, if he plays constantly. The razor-tongued woman always has a sharp come-back because she is always thinking nasty thoughts. She doesn't let them come out as cruelty, but as sly wit. In that way she wins. She sets up the game of her life, to be a series of challenges which she wins or loses based on how quickly she comes up with a witty retort. She wins when even her target has to laugh and blush at her wit, and thus be unable to complain of her cruelty.

            And so life can be viewed as a braid: we have our family, our work, and our passion. My eternal braid is between the job that taxes me, the family that challenges me, and the writing that redeems everything. Yet in and through all these things, the spirit of play is the substrate, the ether, the ambience. I can do all those things as a game, even my work, even my family duties. And so the game of life is something beyond the work, the family, so that the passion of life, a way of approaching them. The game aspect is a lens I wear.

            The forms we look upon most become the lenses for other forms. If I am a doctor, and doctor my patients from day to night, I begin to see my entire life as made up of  patients with symptoms. What is literal and direct for work becomes figurative and allegorical for the rest of my life. Thus the braids of life become types, and finally typesets for each other, until the ideas of life so intermingle that we have the same basic tools for all things, the same meta-tools for thinking, feeling, talking, and acting, so that the particulars of the day to day become the playing pieces of the Game.

            The object of the game of life, the first step for each of us, is to determine our own goals, our own rules, our own morality. This is both universal and relative: we each must come up with something, but it need not be, cannot be the same something. Emerson never felt he was making the best use of his time; this very anxiety was a game ploy to bolster his performance. The impossible ideal he set for himself, like all ideas, had a cost and a payoff, it absorbed certain emotions and it fed out others. All ideas eat certain emotions and exude others. Everything has a cost, everything pays a gain.

            The forms that occupy our concern shape that concern, shape our focus. After reading Walt Whitman all day, your inner ear is shaped like a Whitman poem; now pick up Dickenson, and she is a different woman than if you had spent the day dancing instead of reading. It is like drinking orange juice after brushing your teeth: what you experienced first changes what you experienced next. After serving customers for long hours at the cash register, how often I dream the same, dream on the anxieties and boredoms of the job, I toss and turn in my bed, imagining I am really at work, when I finally stir enough to murmur, "I'm not being paid for this, so let's dream of something fun!" Yet we can take the work environment as confluence into home life. Let every experience bleed into the others. Most of life is in the middle.

            If experience happens in the middle layer of memories -- not so deep down as the layer of the mythic structurer of memories, and not to high up as the layer of processed and structured memory -- then live experience is as passing as autumn breath. Our experience is couched between our story of ourselves and our concepts about the world. If my experience is traumatic, it would sink into my deep layers like the poison of a serpent; if it were memorable, the assumptions would bind that memory up like a fly in a spider web, until it was unable to squirm away, and give sip to my philosophical thirst. Only slowly and rarely do specific experiences become memories, and from memories, controlling concepts, and from concepts, guiding habits, and from habits, finally, as we pass on to our next form, into final changes of the will and needs themselves. The assumption of ideas is integral.

            The assumptions make a world of pure forms, a heaven whose god is Lux Sophia, goddess of language. These forms are abstracted and held together by desire. So the most transparent and abstracted of ideas is a sensation bent and attenuated till it is a pure glass lens, charged with desire so that it moves in relation to the center of focus. What we assume, we use to see. The game is played by developing the best forms, the best ideas, and applying them again to life as strategies, both for gaining more experiences, yet again, and for gaining more forms. We take ideas out of life, perfect them, and put them back into life again. It is like earning money so that you can use it to earn more money.

            All the forms we learn clarify the forms we need. Life, love, the world, and the universe are necessary concepts which we must assume in order to live well: the overall structure of them is a philosophy, and the application of them is a game. The game of life is to live well, to play with ideas, to experiment, to enjoy what the world has to offer, and to avoid worries that do not also enrich us. In everything we attempt to win; and if we lose, that is a necessary step of winning. The game of life is to take our concepts of life, love, the world, and the universe, and play them out. What does it matter if my metaphysics, my religion, my ideas are objective or not? If they enhance my play, I keep them.









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