Games, Continued
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 07-04-11
Eminent Postructuralist
Image Source

"Games, which as operations are disjunctive, because they produce differentiating events, give rise to spaces where moves are proportional to situations. From the game of chess, an aristocratic form of the "art of war" which came from China and was brought by the Arabs into medieval Western culture where it constituted a very important part of manorial culture, to pinochle, Lotto, and Scrabble, games formulate (and already formalize) rules organizing moves and constitute as well a memory (a storage and a classification) of schemas of actions articulating replies with respect to circumstances. They exercise that function precisely because they are detached from those everyday combats which forbid one to "show his hand" and whose stakes, rules, and moves are too complex. The explicitness of the rules is always inversely proportional to the practical engagement involved. If we observe a formalization of tactics in these games (as has been done with respect to the game of go), or compare to games the technique of divination, whose formal framework has the purpose of adjusting a decision to concrete situations, we gain a preliminary body of material concerning the kinds of rationality proper to the practice of spaces—spaces that are closed and "historicized" by the variability of the events to be treated."

"To these games correspond accounts of particular games: people tell each other about the hand they had to play the night before, or the slam they made the previous week. These stories represent a succession of combinations among all those that the synchronic organization of a space, of rules, of deals, etc., make possible. They are paradigmatic projections of a choice among these possibilities—a choice correspond-ing to a particular actualization (or enunciation). Like the bridge or chess articles in The New York Times, the stories could be formulated in a special code, thus making it clear that every event is a particular
application of the formal framework. But in replaying the games, in telling about them, these accounts record the rules and the moves simultaneously. To be memorized as well as memorable, they are repertories of schemas of action between partners. With the attraction that the element of surprise introduces, these mementos teach the tactics possible within a given (social) system."

"Tales and legends seem to have the same role.They are deployed, like games, in a space outside of and isolated from daily competition, that of the past, the marvelous, the original. In that space can thus be revealed, dressed as gods or heroes, the models of good or bad ruses that can be used every day. Moves, not truths, are recounted."

-Michel De Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, p. 41

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