Week two reading response, Huizinga

Reading through Huizinga’s work I became very distraught at times due to what he was saying about play and he wouldn’t always clarify what he meant to ease my worries. Huizinga mentions the seriousness of play and said that it is naturally not serious and that humans made it seriousness with games such as chess, then he drops the subject altogether and moves onto laughter and comics without really discussing or justifying why he thought that play was naturally not seriousness. I assume that he made this assumption from his prior discussion about animals playing before humans existed and that any play that the animals had couldn’t have been serious. Discussing the play of animals was weird in its own right but to declare the seriousness of play so early in his work only made reading his work more difficult since I was even less ready to accept what he was saying.

Immediately after stating the seriousness of play Huizinga talks about some of the subsections of his idea of play including the comic. Huizinga said “The comic comes under the category of non-seriousness…” (p.6) which is by no means true. A Comic does not need to invoke laughter, like Huizinga also said, it only needs to get a message off. Some of today’s political cartoons have no humor involved and still tell a message or express some ones opinions effectively such as where an Israeli soldier is holding a child’s shoes in a war zone and his friend says that he sees war boots. Nothing about that is funny, it is a sad view of part of the world and it is still a comic.

Getting back to the Huizinga’s work as a whole it is clear that he is not writing in today’s world and I know as a historian that you sometimes need to examine something in the mindset of the period it was written and in the thirties there were no video games and comic books were just starting out so I didn’t expect too many of his specific examples to still carry as much weight, nor did I expect that all of his arguments would still be correct (or correct at all), but it is important to still study his work as one of the, if not the, first analysis of games and play.

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