metaphysical & metaphorical musings : art, architecture, and arithmetic

Target II

Our second target is Roger Caillois' study of games and culture, Man, Play, and Games.  This text significantly informed Baudrillard, our theory, which seems to extract a contrary reading; Caillois, like von Neumann, implicitly values culture founded in competition and chance (homogenizing play types), and sees a problem in cultures (pre-scientific culture, as well as festival culture) founded on the synergy between mimicry and vertigo (which produce belief, or policy).  In these cultures, chance (something accidental) is not an abstract force but a sign, an omen.

Caillois calls this superstition, a corruption of aleatory play.  But for Baudrillard, this is ecstasy, play overflowing its spatial and temporal limitations into everyday life--policy formation.  Reading the accident as a sign is our instruction from Virilio; Caillois expands this from the disastrous accident to a sort of happy accident--the synchronicity of patterns converging on a turn or figure.

So-called 'primitive' societies (I've never seen one drop an a-bomb) are steeped in the general economy--they understand and value death and excess (as in festival) rather than mitigating and trying to gloss over it with a restricted economy.  These societies are characterized by vertigo and mimicry (vision and ritual) rather than our own culture's foundation in competition and chance.  Thus, our point of departure back into the general economy will be through vertigo, disorientation that leads to enlightenment.

Caillois is insistent that mimicry and vertigo aren't enough on their own.  To him, the it is the appearance of a parodic god, which mocks the ritual from within the ritual, who breaks the spell.