Friday, June 10, 2011

"winning the game" (from part 1 section 4)



The first part of the essay is nearly finished, with sections four and five. “Winning the game” looks at the game theologically, and religion in terms of play. The idea of apotheosis, or the divinity of every individual, is introduced merely as a placeholder. The topic is something I look deeper into elsewhere; but as a central aspect of the game, it has a long tradition, from the Book of Job to the Iliad to the Eddas. Sometimes I regret that America lacks its own mythology, since we became a nation long after the age of myths. Nevertheless, the structuring of a mythology will be one of my later projects. Meanwhile, this essay looks at the notion of what it means to be a winner.

Take care, Caretakers!


Daniel Christopher June




4. Winning the Game

            If life is a game, how do we win? For needs are needs, there is neither pleasure nor joy without fulfilling what is necessary for our existence. The Game does not deny this, it uses the same immutable realities that all other configurations of life must also use. The Game is an interpretation of the needs which reduces their complexity to something tangible and masterable, an interpretation which structures daily life so we can sustain attention on a few chosen goals. It is as if the chess pieces of our day embodied ultimate spiritual realities, and the checkerboard stood for the ground of our existence.

            I’ve met daily-life missionaries, a young woman for instance, whose game in life – she did not look at it as a game – was to spread the gospel to everybody who would listen, to share the Love of Christ with all people. She knew she had an opportunity to preach Christ (in the style of Paul) when she met somebody and felt “an icky feeling,” sensing that she was face to face with an unsaved sinner. Attending the church she went to, I heard the pastor describe a grand procession in heaven, in which those who had saved the most souls at the End of Days, those who had honored God in this life by telling everybody about his business in the next, were given more glorious resurrected bodies, which “shone like the sun,” with which they walked amidst the saved and were honored. With an endgame like that in mind, the students were intoxicated – some of them were – and wished to advance the game as far as possible, analyzing each his every mood and motive to see if it aligned to the will of God Almighty. They met weekly for Bible readings, to confess their sins – mine were always so comparatively boring! – and to offer each other hope and encouragement for the spiritual warfare of earthly life.

            To ask such people what profession they would choose (these were college students) began with an apology that “what God wants for me is what I want,” and then transition to “I think God is calling me to be an accountant.” I must be wearing the mark of Cain over my brow, because I could never fit in with these groups; they admired me from afar but would not draw me near. I was not built for their game. I tried to save a fellow classmate by warning her of hell; she was devastated I would say such a thing; I’ve regretted it ever since.

            The life-myth of such a group of people, which has been coded and modified for two-thousand years; which draws its energy from millions of lives, millions of minds, many of them ranking among mankind’s best; which has been pressed out like a vital fluid into millions of books like so many fruits; which repeats endlessly the same basic salvation mechanism; which has inspired and sustained countless missionary projects and worldwide charities; which holds claim to the farthest future—is wrong. The metaphysical claims of the religion, of all religions, are ridiculous. What is metaphysics but a picture language for morality? Heaven and hell were invented for moral reasons, not scientific, to justify hating one’s enemies (they deserve hell), and to scare oneself into doing what he would deep down simply prefer not to. How we imagine the shape of the universe derives from how we believe we should act within it, is ornament to that. The optimism of my heart can’t but imagine growth and increase for the universe as a whole. I have never been able to doubt that I am a god; I set myself up for my apotheosis into a higher form. I do not accept heavens and hells, but I accept myself as the ultimate moral and ontological fact. Winning for me is to feel the transfiguring power of this apotheosis, and I feel it best when inspired to write.

            The game of life is to seek one life-goal, so that each decade of our lives is a layer of self-overcoming, so that every triumph is fuel for another exploit, so that we rest only that we may again work. We work to develop a character of actions, and beneath that, a personality of words. The reward of virtue is to gain more self.

            Personality is the sum of our communication habits, what we talk by, our spirit, our communal self. Personality exists to be contemplated, to increase attention, and attention to increase the contemplation and desire of ourselves for ourselves, and others for us – to be found beautiful and lovely. We seek power and love, respect and desire. To gain such, we need a beautiful personality which aligns our energies with those of others. Self-development is the object of the Game.  We wish to give others an experience, to have that power. To make you experience what I feel, to respect it and enjoy it as I do – what more does the artist wish? I want your contemplation and enjoyment. I exist in society for self-expression and to contemplate the expressions of other selves. Art is my means.

            We seek mastery in our games for the sheer joy of mastery. Being excellent requires no justification or reward: to live well is to be beautiful, to feel beautiful – the pleasure of being pleasant. Mastery means owning the place of importance; mastery of life means using your sacred womb of creativity. Always create, always strategize, always think of more effective means of living.

            When I was a kid I had to eat all the food on my plate. I preferred the meat to the vegetables, but I couldn’t just eat the meat and not the vegetables, for if I did then I clearly had no room for dessert. I came up with a strategy to quickly eat the food I didn’t like – wolf down the vegetables! – and then slowly enjoy the main course. Children strategize everything, have to, because they have no incumbent habits to take for granted. Yes, they absorb countless habits from their parents, yet the inexperienced child is more easily frustrated than the adult, not only because he has less patience, but because he has less knowledge of what to do, with or without patience. If a five year old is rejected by his friend, what does that mean to him? How is he to fit that in with his life story? It might be easier to be rejected by a friend when he is older, when he knows how to talk to family and friends about his problems, when he knows how to find advice and comfort.

            Mastery in life avoids the suffering of just getting by at the job, at home-life, at driving, at doing taxes, but to constantly develop methods for better handling each. “As I walk, I think about a new way to walk.” This leads to the sense of competence and the glow of success, both which are feelings of importance, answering that central social need to be important, a need meaningless to the man in isolation. Importance is a communal value, just as love is. A man alone is not important, he is all, there is no rank, he is simply himself. His importance comes from how he fits into society, and his love comes from how much others enjoy him fitting in. An important man automatically holds himself with dignity; a loved man automatically walks with grace. You can pick out the man who just began a romance. Grace, which is beauty in motion, has a feel of control and calm, a purr of pleasure even in simply walking across the room, or in setting down upon the desk books and papers. The graceful man arranges objects in pleasing patterns, his hand gestures are symmetrical, so that he is akin to those “sand artists” who draw their fingers through a sand tray, which when projected upon a screen reveals a clever and ephemeral dance of figures and shapes. To wash the dishes, to fold the laundry, to clean the bathroom with this sand-art grace, is to please all who see you, to be lovely, to be loved.  For it is a bonus to be contemplated and admired, a bigger bonus to be loved and desired.

            These are means to win the Game. Everybody dmires this. Yet if we structure our private lives as games, how do we compete against others? If every man’s life is its own game, how can I say I am better at life than you? Such a game is a game against oneself, a constant overcoming of the ego, growing larger within its rigid habits, and then, during a mental breakdown, pressing off the dead, and growing a new ego-skin.

            Yes, we can make innumerable games within life, such as the assembly line worker who aims to slim the seconds it takes for her to complete a rotation, such as making the biggest impression at a Christmas party, but the game of life is no mere game among games; it is all games in relationship to each other. In our language, the game of life is an instance of Allism, how all things balance, conflict and complement each other.  Let us approach the Fact. The fact of life, its great object, is the unsayable, spoken from the center of your being. All these games keep you focused, keep you challenged and eager, but as you near the end of your life, and disease silences your senses, you will be in that happiest state for seeing the full picture. We come to see that commitments kept us down and anchored, and death will dissolve all of them; optimism kept us up and floating, and death will dissolve all hope; studies kept us taking in the world and understanding it, but we will dissolve the world; directness kept us putting our self out to the world, but that self will return.

            Just as the central game in life is to perpetuate the game, to invent a perpetual motion machine, a drive of undead striving towards some slowly attained but never exhausted goal, which with every success, ups the ante, gives you a new power, but also gives a more terrible challenge, like the fire in the forest which the more it spreads the more it hungers, till death lets all that was necessary only for this life die and recycle, and puts everything necessary for apotheosis into the single atom of your inner being, just so the goal of life is life, and to desire immortality is to prove immortality. The goal of life is to grow perpetually more alive.

            By setting up the internal world as a toy world where we can place this against that, and assign what is with against what is without we can model the outer world, and project our theories alarge. Having created a basic life model, a personal myth, we can then advance the chess pieces of our daily doings to seek our goals, and never shrug nor blink at the noise and distractions of life, be it even suffering and death.









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