Reading Response

Homo Ludens by J. Huizinga was an interesting read that I gained a lot of information from as well as interested on how he referred to and defined ‘play.’ The fact that he did not limit play to a human characteristic and acknowledged that animals ‘play’ as well was intriguing. Huizinga also states that ‘play’ is apart of human culture on page 1 then on page 8 he states that ‘play’ cannot be forced and that “when play is a recognized cultural function–a rite, a ceremony–it is bound up with notions of obligation and duty.” Huizinga emphasizes on his point that play is a choice, a voluntary act one undergoes to break away from ordinary life temporary. He states that this temporary relief becomes a regular occurrence and an integral part of life. This is the first main part of my response I am ‘tackling’ to try and understand what he is trying to say. My first question from this particular section of the reading is that how did he come up or ‘find’ the concept that play was within and outside the human world he lived in. What process or thought process did he have to conclude this? Or was it always there whenever he saw puppies play or children laugh? Another question is how did he come across ‘play’ as being an integral part of life. And is his work the reason we having the saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?”

The second part I would like to tackle id chapter XII: The Play-Element in Contemporary Civilization. This chapter was a turn about from the part above which I have written about. Instead of writing about how play if fun and non-seriousness Huizinga emphasizes the serious of games, specifically sports in the contemporary, he states this as the 19th Century, era. On page 19 he explains his reasoning on why the new found phenomena attached to sports was not ‘play.’ Huizinga says that one must play like a child to truly play. He states that play is still being showed with sports like football but with the seriousness now attached to the sports it degenerates the play. My questions for this section may seem simple in some respects but these questions I am curious to know the answer to. I do realize that he states the play is degenerated by seriousness but I was wondering how he came to that conculsion? In my personal experience with sports, just volleyball in this regard, I had immense fun which is an important element within the play element. If one is having fun, like I had playing volleyball, how does that take away from play? How does that interfere with play and make it a lesser play-element that he talks about being attached to sports?

Leave a Reply