RE: Why Europe is so Contrary

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Sun 24 Nov 2002 - 15:55:18 GMT

  • Next message: Lawrence DeBivort: "The memetic war within the US government"

    Hi Lawry,

    Play is the way children and adults practice the skills they need to do more serious work later in life. The only time I see a problem with it is when people get so wrapped up in it that it takes over their lives. I'm reminded of the football and other sports players who go to college on scholarships and devote so much of their time to sports they never learn anything useful outside of the sport they majored in. Of the thousands of young men and women who graduate this way many are left being fit only to hold low-level jobs or live on welfare after they graduate. Only 30 professional football teams with less than 50 players each offer something to the thousands of wannabe stars on the gridiron.

    The average life in sports is about four years. Then it's back to real life and, if they've not spent all their money on fun and getting high in the off season, they have a nice nest egg they can live on for a while. But the ones who didn't make it or who got injured (about 80% to 90% estimate) are in a position of having to start over with no real goal in life. It leads a lot of people who could have been really good at something to playing a kind of mental solitare I call "If only ...".

    The Chinese talk about people who get into the study of Taoism and get so lost in it that it consumes their whole life. I think game playing can be a lot like that for the person who develops the skill to a point of obsession.
      Language and meme development, to my mind, are just skills built around tools we've developed. We learn to use the tools in childhood and the rewards for being really good at those skills lead us to doing it for a living. But for those who are not good enough to compete on a professional level, a mind is wasted because society has no place and no use for them. Thus we get taxi-driving PhDs and waitresses who want to become an actress. Usually they're not really good at either calling.

    Some of these may be the people who become terrorists, for example. People who are consumed with an idea and think they can change the world by forcing it on others. Playing at war eventually becomes an act of terror and a life devoted to running and hiding -- skills we started developing by playing war and hide and seek as children. I'm reminded of the Symbionese Liberation Army here. All of these 50-something people going to jail now to pay for the crimes they thought they left behind them. There's a similar group in Italy. This is one of the consequences of playing run amok. A fantasy life takes over someone's real life and the game becomes their reality.

    On the other hand, you have guys like Tiger Woods who began playing a game at four years of age and took that game to heights that make him the envy of golfers around the world. He can indulge in his game for the rest of his life and get paid for it. The ultimate game player's fantasy.

    I find games interesting in themselves for the way they take life and create a practice field for it. By adding restrictions in the form of rules, they keep people from hurting each other while they practice at full tilt. There's a lot of value to society in this activity, even when it leaves some people broken and destitute from being too narrowly focused on one thing. Chess teaches us to think, but if chess is all we ever think about we lead very narrow lives.

    Well, enough of this mind wandering.


    >Hi, Grant,
    >Sorry I missed your initial posting on this. Too busy keeping the jibes
    >flowing, I guess <smile>.
    >I think you've described the play accurately. Our own memetic case study.
    >Oddly, though, there is an undertone of seriousness about it, too. Joe is
    >worried that people don't see the threat that he believes surrounds him/us.
    >I, and others, are worried that those who see the world as Joe does will
    >lead the US to doing dangerous things in the world. In the same way that
    >Indian princes (I am told) were instructed in chess as a way to learn war
    >strategy, so we practice our memes here, knowing that there is a world out
    >there in which they may come to operate.
    > > > >When Joe and Lawry were trading jibes, each chose particular words
    > > >ideas
    > > > >to achieve a specific set of goals. Some goals included attempts at
    > > > >dominance, the change of mind set in lurkers, attempts to humiliate
    > > > >other party (part of dominance), attack and defense with word
    > > play, and a
    > > > >good time was had by all. It was the verbal equivalent of a game of
    > > >chess.
    > > > >It was also a good example of how we use memes, transfer memes, and
    > > > >contribute to the meme pool in general.
    > >

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