Getting out of the Game

Games, in all their nuances, have become an obsession for contemporary societies. In a sense, we are lost in the dialectic between winning and losing, and dominated by a need to take part in all games by taking sides with the players when we cannot directly intervene ourselves. We could divide our life-experience between the games we play, on one hand, and the games we watch, on the other – the latter being what unites us to a culture.

In this voluntary desire to watch all games, we have become more childlike than we were in previous centuries, and we are dominated by a peevish, childlike will to win, peppered by a hatred of losing. Of course, this creates weak and geeky characters.

We desire strong sensations and X-treme sports are fashionable, but in general, most of the more dangerous games are played out in the virtual landscapes of the plasma-screen reality that our younger generations so willingly drown themselves in.

Living the game is a vulgar way of experiencing life, and our civilisation is a tasteless one. Lost in the virtual miming of authentic being that is the game, human beings are forfeiting their own authenticities in favour of the ultimate purposeless rituality of playing. Competitiveness may be a good incentive for children, but the adult should be able to find a better reason than winning a game to motivate him or her – isn’t that partly what differentiates adults from kids?

In certain respects, our obsession with games is a logical one, for it is the game that is being offered over and over again by the civilisation that we operate within. By playing or watching we are merely swallowing that which is given to us on society’s platter. It is hard to say ‘no’ to the only thing which is constantly and abundantly being fed you. Of course, we quickly get addicted. Once we are addicted, as in all addiction, it is very hard to break the habit. To do so we have to see the dangers of the patterns we are following. Nevertheless, our absurd obsession with the game does become apparent when we see how repetitive the compulsion is.

Each time the game is played, it is basically the same as every other time. All games are confined by finite rules that are unbending, and because of those rules, the only differences allowed are variations of what is the general repetition of the same game over and over again. Only creativity can give any meaning to the game, and only art can save us from the repetitious mitigations of our souls that playing and watching games inflicts on all our societies.   

Art, in fact, is a transcendence of the game obsessed society, and games are a vulgarisation of our creative and artistic instincts.    

Our Evolution

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“… evolutionary novelty comes about when ecological opportunities are truly large.”

(P. Ward, RARE EARTH)

For evolution to be creative, which basically means for it to be able to operate on a radical scale, there needs to be a wide-open field to nurture it and allow it to grow within. The same could be said of any innovations. In the human-made world, our creative evolution, which is manifest in the arts and sciences, is dependent on the economic environment. As such, we can assert that human creativity (artistic and technological) can only come about when economic opportunities are truly large. But what does large in this case mean?

Surely it should be understood as widespread, giving opportunities to as many creative and innovative people as possible. Opportunities in these areas don’t have to mean enormous amounts of money, and certainly shouldn’t be merely big pay offs for projects to make these creators and innovators rich. Rather it should be seen as opportunities to get projects done, because: a) there is a space – a laboratory or work-shop – to experiment and construct in; (b) there is time for the innovators to be able to dedicate themselves to the projects at hand; (c) that there is comfort and security that allows the innovators to work without the stress and pressure of results; and (d) innovators have the opportunity (platform) to present the fruits of their work to the rest of society.

Through this kind of creative and innovative freedom a civilisation can truly evolve. Although this progress depends on the creation of an economic comfort zone for all creators, the problem is not an economic one as such, but rather it is a matter of progressive will.

Under our present system, economics is a hindrance to creativity because instead of nurturing economic opportunities for human innovation it creates barriers and impediments for creators to find the freedom to work in. The question should not be: How can we allow creativity to be financed in our society? But: What kind of economic system can be devised to create a field where creativity and innovation on a massive, evolutionary scale is possible?

ART AS ANTI-PRODUCTION

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Labour becomes productive only by producing its own antithesis (that is, capital)” Karl Marx

Let the artist not kid him/herself: no matter how much the artist creates, he or she does not produce. In order to produce, the artist must find an agent of production.

The agent of production is that which produces nothing itself, but knows how to turn the creations of others into commodities. The agent of production may be a capitalist, or it may be the State, or it may be an antithetical Mr Hyde character created by the Dr Jekyll artist himself. In whatever form the agent of production appears, once the creation is turned over to the agent it loses its autonomy and the artist loses his/her freedom in relation to the work. Even in the latter case, where the artist (anti-producer) becomes his/her own agent: a stress is produced on the artist’s creativity. The marketing of art, in any fashion, produces a stress on art.

The labour of art is, therefore, essentially unproductive. Art only becomes productive when the agent takes hold of the creation and produces it, i.e. turns it into a marketable commodity. In his or her essence, the artist remains an anti-producer; an outsider to the economy; an economic aberration in fact.

The fact that art can survive at all in an economic-political society is an indication of its enormous strength. In theory, it should have been made extinct long ago by both the capitalist and socialist systems that are both so deeply immersed in the politics of production.

Not only is this great anti-producer Art a tremendously powerful human drive and social force, it may also be a marker showing us the way to a post-production society in which capital, perhaps even the monetary system itself, has been rendered obsolete.

In fact, all truly positive, purposive political and social thinking will need to analyse the creative and unproductive force of art in order to revaluate and recreate the positive human society that we are all crying out for. The answer to all our problems lies in the anti-productive nature of art.

BIPOLAR CREATIVITY

How much does creativity benefit from a bipolarity of culture? Western creativity is nurtured by its Judaeo-Christian dogma on one side and its Hellenic-Humanistic rationalism on the other. Rationalism and irrationalism; world and Spirit; nature and anti-nature. the fruits that can be picked from this plant with its bifurcating roots compared to more singular stems, like the Islamic One, or Mediaeval singularity, stand out as testimonies of the richness of bipolarity. A richness which is amplified by the eclectic branching that must come from globalisation.

Real scientific advancement is very often retarded by well-founded suspicions. Science has been so badly used and manipulated over the centuries that the most creative scientific ideas are often branded as madness or monstrous, not necessarily because they sound too fantastic to be possible, but because they sound inhuman. Extreme science has been responsible for so much change (both good and bad) and will be responsible for very much more – but, how can we ensure that science is used positively? Might the very creativity that is possible in science, and is an inherent part of science, not also be responsible for a necessary perversity? How much does creativity rely on transgression?

Creation must be allowed to transgress if it is to achieve the fluid, flowing mechanics of change that we now associate with all creativity. Control is anathema to transgression, but not to creativity itself. All artistic and alchemical processes demand a fixing agent to stabilise it and prevent the chain of reactions caused by transgression from tearing it apart. Creation must be fixed, and that fixation should be an ethical, humanising force, designed to evoke the general good in the purpose of the creation rather than the aim of profit, power and manipulation.