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Started by droqen, September 22, 2021, 06:39:12 AM

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Regarding Ian Bogost's
Play Anything


Ian Bogost encourages worldfulness, in contrast to the idea that mindfulness is the solution to every problem. "By holding everything at a distance, we trap ourselves within our imperfect minds. Irony doesn't protect us; it only makes things worse."

[pingback: The Nature of Order // Book Two]

[pingback: Ugly Feelings (stuplimity)]


Quote from: p.61-62Given a choice between "having fun" and doing just about anything else, the responsible actor would choose the anything else. On the other hand, we are obsessed with imbuing [the anything else] with fun.[..]

We want it both ways: to reject fun as distraction, as vice, as sloth, as insignificace, and yet also to embrace fun as a universal motivator to action.[..]

We think games are powerful because they deliver fun, and we think we want fun in everything [..] Except, we're also terrified of games, which we see as compulsive and prurient wastes of time.


I relate strongly to the above and am waiting, now, for the book to resolve the problem. What's the solution? What's the right way to think of fun? At this point in the book, I'm in the thought-position of fully recognizing the problem -- The word fun is vaguely defined, and as a result one person can take two mutually exclusive positions on it: Fun is bad, and Fun is good. -- and yet the book continues to go on and on about the problem. I already get it, just give me the good stuff, Ian!

As it goes on, it loses me:

Quote from: p.62-63Over time, "I love you" only means anything when it's withheld[..]

"Did you have fun?" is mostly a courtesy. "Yeah, we had a good time."[..]

"This is a fun game" is akin to saying, "That was a good book." It's a generic, empty signifier[..]

Genuinely: fuck that! Maybe I'm not old enough but I'm almost 30 and I hate these kinds of conversations. When words lose meaning, why say them? I can tell the difference in myself when I'm saying something just to say it, vs. when I'm saying something to communicate something. I'm not about to confuse the two, and I'm not going to try and define fun or love in the context of using them perfunctorily.


Quote from: p.71After ten hours on the transpacific flight [..] the realization sets in: another four hours left in this aluminum prison. Here, where tolerance gives way to panic, the real work of confronting boredom sets in.

This from the chapter, Fun isn't pleasure, it's novelty. I like this moment. I love it. But it takes acceptance to see the beauty in this moment and in true "worldful, not mindful" fashion, Bogost does not even visit the idea of these 10 hours as wasted. They are the cause. They are the world acting upon our mind that creates the beautiful mental state.

QuoteOnce the familiarity of something ordinary is finally, totally, utterly spent, then the novelty of facing it anew can finally start.


Figure/ground images

*edit in a figure/ground image or two: vases/faces, young/old *


QuoteTo understand a medium like electric light or television or the Internet, it's necessary not only to understand that medium's properties (the figure) but also the contexts in which those properties become prominent (the ground)

Quotethe goal of a successful medium is not to remain figure [..] figure is a curiosity, while ground is the mainstream. A mature, powerful medium shifts from novel, new-fangled figure into unseen, contextualizing ground.

Ian's earlier statement about love and fun rubbed me the wrong way because it presumed a ground with which i did not agree. but the nature of statements is to be grounded; i cannot make a habit of rejecting the ground in favour of only figures.

speaking to and knowing a particular audience (market-ing) is a matter of common ground. with my friends, i know where we stand, and we can thereby move straight into the figure. with strangers, the ground must be discussed or presumed or laid out. mass media is general (speaks from a ground that almost everyone accepts) or coercive (makes a strong grounding statement that almost everyone accepts) or most often both.


Is it selfish to see our performance as central?

QuoteThe ball and the clubs and the rules of the game[..] the fairways and roughs and greens[..] The golfer's own strength, experience, adeptness, and tactical wherewithal[..] other material conditions that might intersect with the game: the weather, such as the effects of heat on the golfer's stamina or the effects of a prior rain on the ball's ability to rebound from a bounce on the fairway; the time of day and week, and its impact on the crowds on the greens;[..] familiarity[..] novelty[..] the languor or pressure of a particular foursome[..]

^ Many factors which might be brought from ground to figure by the game of golf; that is, things that we may have experienced in tier usual contexts enough for us to stop caring to notice them, which golf might draw a novel attention to.

QuoteA supposedly inferior experience, like the novice golfer at [a difficult course like] Pebble Beach, is only terrible if we are so selfish as to see our performance as central to the encounter with a sublime place like Pebble Beach.

Any or all of these things other than our performance, and of course even more than what is listed, might be central.


Quote from: p116My daughter's game isn't a distraction from errands, nor is it a mechanism to make errands possible. Instead, it's

an activity made out of errands and other things too, like legs and ceramic tiles,

in the same way golf is

[an activity] made out of grass and sand and rubber and wood--and leisure and wealth and zoning.

A playground.

In the book, Bogost revisits often upon this game his daughter played in the mall, dragged behind him (an adult, on an errand, in a rush): pulled at a rapid unyielding pace, she would avoid cracks, leaping from tile to tile. I think this quote is the strongest yet, re-highlighting the core theme, message, metaphor, whatever.

A "playground", a plaything, a playable thing... is an activity(?) made up of things, including real things with purposes, neither necessarily acting for or against that real thing's "real purpose," whatever that might be, but taking it and all its it-ness as a material. A given.


Quote from: p117Instead of calling everything a game, we should think of everything as playable: capable of being manipulated in an interesting and appealing way within the confines of its constraints.


Play Is In Things, Not In You

Quote from: p199Play is impossible without restriction--not doing what you want, but determining what is possible to do given the meager resources provided.

'How does this want to be played [with]?'

Quote from: p199, againDiscovering, choosing, managing, and living with what's inside a particular playground--that's where fun, and where meaning, resides.


pingback: love and fear

Quote from: p141more or less of something doesn't make it meaningful, valorous, injurious, or boring. Rather, the contents of a specific circumscription gives value, and how deliberately and seriously one treats the results.

regarding grinding, minimalism, excess, games that are too long, games that aren't long enough, SHORT games, etc: judgement of these ideas often revolves around quantities (too much, too little) over individual qualities


dwelling as playground,
moving seen worldfully,
"we ran out of space" as irony - distancing oneself from the true act

Quote from: p142as our family grew larger in individual and absolute terms, we began to run out of space. Actually, that's not true. [..] to say we "ran out of space" is an ironic move, one that rejects the bungalow [our previous home] as insufficient or untrustworthy. In truth, something else happened: we made a conscious and deliberate effort to draw a new boundary for a dwelling.


I finished reading this book about a week ago.