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A Vision of Life as Play and Possibilities
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  1. Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility - The CEO Library
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  3. Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
  4. Finite and Infinite Games

Note: We are in some way a deeply finite species. Infiniteness is learned.


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It must be written over finite software. Winning a war can be as destructive as losing one, for if boundaries lose their clarity, as they do in a decisive victory, the state loses its identity. Just as Alexander wept upon learning he had no more enemies to conquer, finite players come to rue their victories unless they see them quickly challenged by new danger. A war fought to end all wars, in the strategy of finite play, only breeds universal warfare.

Note: entrepreneurs that go into depression after selling their company. What will undo any boundary is the awareness that it is our vision, and not what we are viewing, that is limited. Poets who have no metaphysics, and therefore no political line, make war impossible because they have the irresistible ability to show the guardians that what seems necessary is only possible.

Note: If you can show people that whhat they see as a boundary is a horizon then it all becomes infinite. True poets lead no one unawares. It is nothing other than awareness that poets—that is, creators of all sorts—seek. They do not display their art so as to make it appear real; they display the real in a way that reveals it to be art.

To speak, or act, or think originally is to erase the boundary of the self. If to look is to look at what is contained within its limitations, to see is to see the limitations themselves.

Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility - The CEO Library

Each new school of painting is new not because it now contains subject matter ignored in earlier work, but because it sees the limitations previous artists imposed on their subject matter but could not see themselves. The earlier artists worked within the outlines they imagined; the later reworked their imaginations. By learning new limitations from such a person, we learn not only what to look for with them but also how to see the way we use limitations.

Note: Teach in such a way as to show people the limitations and shown those over and over they may realize that all limitations are constructs of the finite player. Theatrically, my birth is an event of plotted repetition. I am born as another member of my family and my culture. Who I am is a question already answered by the content and character of a tradition.

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Dramatically, my birth is the rupture of that repetitive sequence, an event certain to change what the past has meant. In this case the character of a tradition is determined by who I am. Dramatically speaking, every birth is the birth of genius. Each of these roles comes, of course, with a script, one whose lines a person might easily spend a lifetime repeating, while intentionally forgetting, or repressing, the fact that it is but a learned script.

It is the genius in us who knows that the past is most definitely past, and therefore not forever sealed but forever open to creative reinterpretation. The more we are recognized as winners, the more we know ourselves to be losers. That is why it is rare for the winners of highly coveted and publicized prizes to settle for their titles and retire.

Winners, especially celebrated winners, must prove repeatedly they are winners. The script must be played over and over again. Titles must be defended by new contests. No one is ever wealthy enough, honored enough, applauded enough. On the contrary, the visibility of our victories only tightens the grip of the failures in our invisible past.

Healing restores me to play, curing restores me to competition in one or another game.

Physicians who cure must abstract persons into functions. They treat the illness, not the person. And persons willfully present themselves as functions. Indeed, what sustains the enormous size and cost of the curing professions is the widespread desire to see oneself as a function, or a collection of functions.

It is a kind of death, an inability to acquire titles. One is never ill in general. One is always ill with relation to some bounded activity. It is not cancer that makes me ill. It is because I cannot work, or run, or swallow that I am ill with cancer. The loss of function, the obstruction of an activity, cannot in itself destroy my health.

I am too heavy to fly by flapping my arms, but I do not for that reason complain of being sick with weight. However, if I desired to be a fashion model, a dancer, or a jockey, I would consider excessive weight to be a kind of disease and would be likely to consult a doctor, a nutritionist, or another specialist to be cured of it. Sexual rebels, violators of the sexual taboos, do not weaken this ideology but affirm it as the rules of finite play.

Note: By protesting, they are agreeing to the rules of play. Society is where we prove to parents qua audience that we are not what we thought they thought we were. Since the emphasis in this relationship is not on what our parents thought of us but on what we thought they thought, they become an audience that easily survives their physical absence or death. Moreover, for the same reason they become an audience whose definitive approval we can never win. Note: Explains so much. We are playing a finite game where our imagination of our parents is the audience.

We have rigged the game so it outlasts their death and can never be won. Sexuality is not a bounded phenomenon but a horizonal phenomenon for infinite players. One can never say, therefore, that an infinite player is homosexual, or heterosexual, or celibate, or adulterous, or faithful—because each of these definitions has to do with boundaries, with circumscribed areas and styles of play.

Infinite players do not play within sexual boundaries, but with sexual boundaries. They are concerned not with power but with vision. In their sexual play they suffer others, allow them to be as they are. Suffering others, they open themselves. Open, they learn both about others and about themselves.


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  8. Learning, they grow. What they learn is not about sexuality, but how to be more concretely and originally themselves, to be the genius of their own actions, to be whole.


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    Note: Learn to grow. What does it mean to play with boundaries in this context? There is nothing hidden in infinite sexuality. Sexual desire is exposed as sexual desire and is never therefore serious. Its satisfaction is never an achievement, but an act in a continuing relationship, and therefore joyous. Its lack of satisfaction is never a failure, but only a matter to be taken on into further play.

    Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility

    It is the intention of parents in such families to make it plain to their children that they all play cultural and not societal roles, that they are only roles, and that they are all truly concrete persons behind them. Note: Best definition of good parenting i have ever seen. It is they, quite as much as the players, who win or lose. For this reason the audience absorbs in itself the same politics of resentment that moves players to show they are not what they think others think they are.

    For the finite player in us freedom is a function of time.

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    We must have time to be free. The infinite player in us does not consume time but generates it. Because infinite play is dramatic and has no scripted conclusion, its time is time lived and not time viewed. As an infinite player one is neither young nor old, for one does not live in the time of another. Time does not pass for an infinite player. Each moment of time is a beginning.

    Finite and Infinite Games

    Each moment is not the beginning of a period of time. It is the beginning of an event that gives the time within it its specific quality. For an infinite player there is no such thing as an hour of time. There can be an hour of love, or a day of grieving, or a season of learning, or a period of labor. An infinite player does not begin working for the purpose of filling up a period of time with work, but for the purpose of filling work with time.

    Work is not a way of arriving at a desired present and securing it against an unpredictable future, but of moving toward a future which itself has a future. If speaking about a process is itself part of the process, there is something that must remain permanently hidden from the speaker. Note: Godel. Any sufficiently powerful system is incomplete. Genuine historians therefore reverse the assumption of the observers of nature that the observation itself cannot be an act of nature.

    Historians who understand themselves to be historical abandon explanation altogether.