1/22 Reading Response

Most of the texts we read for the first week did not leave a lasting impression. It wasn’t until I started reading “Homo Ludens,” by J. Huizinga that I found sentences that left me thinking about games and history. The first one was when Huizinga stated, “Play only becomes possible, thinkable and understandable when an influx of mind breaks down the absolute determinism of the cosmos.” (pg. 3) I found this extremely untrue in the sense of the human mind. Many of the people I have played with have an unstoppable determination to destroy me in any game. On the other hand, I do understand the ability to break down what we know of the cosmos in order to understand “play” and “games”.

The second phrase I found interesting was, “It is curious to note how much more lenient society is to the cheat than to the spoil-sport. This is because the spoil-sport shatters the play-world itself.” (pg. 11) One can see this leniency on cheaters not only in play/games, but also in politics and every day life. It almost seems that the reason for this is because most times it is clever ways of cheating, where being a spoil-sport just shows a complete misuse of play in general. I sense that this hasn’t changed from 1949 when this novel was written. It is still heard in the news that people who cheat the system gets away with it by a little slap on the wrist. Those who just make fun of the game or drop out before any true loss seem to never live it down.

The third phrase involves animal interactions. “This assertion is apparently contradicted by the fact that play, or rather sexual display, is predominant in animal life precisely at the mating-season.” (pg. 9) Huizinga managed to note mating as a possible play or to even consider it a possibility of play. Mating is in a way a playful act, in Huizinga’s terms, through dancing, singing, and design. Humans even do it too in a more extravagant way at times. In dance clubs, people show off their dance moves to gain the attention of others. Humans might do this because of a primitive part of our brains try this form of play to find that mate for them.

Huizinga focuses on the term play through culture and language. The way it affects our daily lives, in the 1940s. This historic account is actually still relatable to today through the form of every day life. It relates to people, culture, and language. I find these phrases actually linger more in my mind as take away messages from “Homo Ludens”.

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