Games We Play

Knatz.com / Teaching / Thinking Tools /
@ K. 2000 09 12

Mission: to make culture aware of cultural games

How does one know what game one is in?

One don’t!

The following set of stories will come to hang, believe me: first I set out the materials.

Alan Watts was an Anglican priest. So how come we always see him portrayed in Buddhist garb? How come he was always talking about Hindu ontology? How come he sometimes avoided talking about God? Einstein didn’t.

John Milton was long the world’s most famous Puritan. Yet he was born (christened), confirmed, married, and Died!
in the Church of England. How is that possible?

Ivan Illich was a monsignor in the Roman Catholic Church when they threw him out: the greatest priest in the world; a far greater saint than any pope has ever been. Now that he’s old and sick, he’s still a monsignor. Will be when he dies. Will be after he dies. (Died 2/1/03) How is that possible?

I was born a Christian. I’m still a Christian: however much I hate it; however much others think I’m an atheist, call me a deist, a Gnostic … I’m still a Christian: however much I refuse to call myself one, however much I deny it, however much I mock and criticize. God is still my guide, my source of intell-passion, my fuel (and my reward): however many masks I pull from his face.

Is this true in the same way that I’m still an American citizen? Helpless not to be? The government counts me an American without consulting me. I’m sure demographers count me a Christian the same way they count me “white.” I’ll come back to this.

Mathematicians trust, have faith,
in their axioms, in their reasoning. They assume that no demon is putting them in a trance every other nanosecond and changing everything behind their addled backs.

Scientists trust, have faith,
in their procedures. They too assume that no demon is putting them in a trance every other nanosecond and changing reality while they’re ensorcelled.

Alan Watts’ faith (and mine) is that we don’t know what’s what, yet believe that somehow there’s a unity, a monism, an integrity, (an invariance?) behind and throughout it all. That’s why he (and I) so loved the Hindu metaphor of Hide and Seek: everything is one, everything is god, everything is one god playing at being myriad. Jesus says to Hitler, “Oh, come off it Adolf. I mean Vishnu. I mean Jehovah … I know you’re really me: disguised: very well disguised. Just as I am really … It.” note

OK. Now: game theory.

Oh, you mean it’s just a game. No. It’s a game and It’s just a game are not the same statement. We Hindus (Christian Hindus) don’t see the word “just” as signifying anything other than you’re being It well and deeply hidden: disguised: from yourself! (What else do we have to do in Eternity? How do we fill the time? being “perfect” from the get-go.) (Actually, Darwin has converted me away from Hinduism as well. But not really: the last couple of programs can be written-over but the first couple never get completely erased/replaced. And the very first hardly gets eradicated at all.) (Problem with Homo sapiens [sic] sapiens [sic]:) We still carry the brains not only of gorillas, but of crocodiles. Crocodiles carry the brains of worms. The ganglia of worms … We don’t know how far back things go.)

2003 02 06

When I wrote the above I was not acquainted with Leary’s Eight Circuit model of mentality. It’s highly relevant here and will come to have a major place throughout Knatz.com.

(Some Jews, some Christians, read the (their set of) Bible(s) as an evolution: an unfolding revelation of God’s nature. Even so, may we not suspect, may we not fear, that deep down in the compassionate Trinity ineradicably lurks the same old mountain blood god?) (Check out God’s attempt of Moses’ life. How is how Mrs. Moses “saved” him any different from any talisman in a vampire movie?)

It’s clear to me from the outset where many of my modules belong from the time of inception: Semiotics belongs among the primary fundamentals of my Thinking Tools, toward the top of my Teaching Directory. Others belong in any of several places. First I thought I’d put this here, as a fundamental thinking tool, second class. Then I thought it belonged in my Evolution as History Directory, then in the Magic sub-folder: along with God, Country, and Jesus. Please think of it as being in those as well as in other appropriate places: Writing, Autobiography … I hope especially that you see the implication that my role in the game is to spoil the game by explaining it; your role in the game is to pretend not to understand

No. “Real” game theory. But not VonNeumann math (which I can’t read.*) (Wittgensteinian game theory — language games — abounds at this site.) Try this:

When I was a freshman I learned that some sophomore psychology student was paying people to take a test, that the test had nothing to do with your school record (you wouldn’t be expelled (cast into the real world) once they learned you were actually intelligent, actually were what they pretended to cultivate: they wait till graduate school to do that). I found the guy, took the test, was dismissed after a few minutes, got maybe a dollar. The test was a maze to be solved while blindfolded. The employer watched while you fumbled, made comments, but gave no grade. Quite a bit latter I learned that what was being evaluated was distinct from what I assumed (was encouraged to assume) was being evaluated.

A favorite teacher in graduate school recounted — while training us in a few rudiments of spoken language: morphemes, phonemes, phonetics and the IPA — how he had researched regional variants of speech and pronunciation while at the University of Leeds. Howie Boi’ts’n (how that Brooklynite would have preferred to hear his real name which the Brooklyn school teachers had “corrected” to “Berntsen”) reported that he would go into the countryside with his pencil and pad and ask the local farmer the identity of this, that, and the other thing on hand: the plow, the rain barrel … Howie would note (in IPA of course, so it wasn’t likely to matter whether the farmer saw what he was writing or not) what the farmer actually uttered, without correction to some arbitrary or imaginary standard. Hint: the Leeds-environs “barrel” was pronounced identically to the Brooklyn “bottle”: /b/-low back vowel-glottal stop-abbreviated-liquid /l/. Had he asked “How do you locals pronounce barrel” he would have received little cooperation. Instead the farmers were cooperative: “educating” the backward Yankee who didn’t even know what a plow or a barrel was.

The mathematician lives in a world in which he is rational. (This “world” is of course a mental world: physically we all
live in Pleroma.* (Unless you are a quantum physicist, quantum mathematician, or science fiction writer: in that case you don’t know what universe you live in. At any given moment!) The scientist … ditto. (Unless … ditto.)

The Christian lives in the same (mental) world that the Jew lived in long before. (With a few notable exceptions: the Jews say they were chosen by God. (Never mind chosen for what? Were there any witnesses?) The world is an artifact, something made, then managed; not something natural. It’s hierarchically organized, has a boss, an owner, a landlord … You’re chattel: owe not only allegiance, but gratitude: no matter whether you’re a slave, just got robbed, just fell down a pipe you can’t move it, your bones all broken, shit or a rat in your scrunched face, can’t breathe … (Be grateful you didn’t get your really just deserts.) The Christians live in that same world, conceding that the Jews were chosen (to be persecuted), but that it’s us, the Christians (we few, the few with the right interpretation of garble) who are “saved” (whatever that means).

The Hindu lives in the (same?) physical universe, but his mental world is vastly different. Sure there’s a landlord; but that’s all illusion, a turn, an act, in the game. (What mental word does the quantum physicist live in? Why the same “physical” universe he lives in: one he doesn’t know shit about: but man, can he do equations!)

I’ll be back. I have errands to run. Before I leave, let me pose a series of questions we’ll consider more fully later:

Does Shakespeare owe us an “official,” authoritative
interpretation(!) of his works?
Does God [sic] owe us an explanation, a map, a set of rules … for whatever game we’re in?
Does the president?
Does the military owe us (a true) explanation of what it’s doing with our money? (What ever made it “our” money? More illusion.)
Does your spouse?

Of course your kid does. Your kid is chattel.

And of course the government doesn’t owe any real explanations (what ever would make us dream that they know their real motives themselves? Hasn’t anyone read Freud?): we’re all chattel, all the government’s children. (Were there any witnesses to its parenthood? or is this just another bullshit claim? (One not admitted out loud.))

That isn’t meant to imply that nothing is owed. We chattel owe. We owe everything. Even, even especially, things we don’t own: the biosphere, all resources, our lives … Even our Christian “immortality” has been pawned: to the military.

Not that the military is the real boss, the real god. The military is the puppet of … the same puppet master that the puppet God [sic] serves … the People.*


How does one know what (meta) game(s) one is in?
One Don’t!


When I find or make time to continue this I’ll relate my observations and speculations to the well known detail in the set of tautologies of mathematics: any string may be understood to be within a pair of parentheses whether depicted or not. Changing an understood plus sign to an expressed minus sign reverses everything. One can never know whether the next parenthesis outward will reverse the values: and potentially, theoretically at least, the parentheses can go on to infinity.

Mao Tse Tung said that if he had an American vote he would vote for Nixon: exaggerate the contradictions, bring the doom faster. Americans voted for Nixon, if not to smash China, then at least to keep throwing stones from behind a tree: Nixon went to China and acted like a diplomat!
Some say the Devil works for God. It can also be speculated that God’s infinity is only a local infinity. If we do know what game we are in, we can only know its local value, its value within a given sub-set of parentheses.


Can any of us really know what standard we’ll be judged against at Judgment Day? What if Judgment Day is nothing but the day due to resolve some bet between God and Satan? Do we know what the bet is? (Does the race horse know the fine print of the owner’s contract with the track? Or how the trainer can make more money betting against himself than by winning?) What if the bet were say to test the validity of the cliché that the good die young? Then anyone who survived the cradle might be in big trouble. note

Good God! Think of it! What if a few of the statements of the Sermon of the Mount were actually true? Could you prove you’ve been meek? If Vince Lombardi hired Johnny Cochran, would he have a chance?


Out-of-File Links

Good hyper-text should link four-dimensionally. The links should approach the (in)finitude of the subject. Any text should have a librarian, generalist, editor, coder, spider … who can track down and update all relationships. This home page has only me and I can’t even feed myself properly let alone take proper care of my invalid, increasingly impoverished sole sponsor. Reorganization of the site in Jan 2000 has invalidated my laborious Index. Now it needs to be organized again.

Any modern city should shut down, redesign, and rebuild itself. New York’s Greenwich Village or Wall Street should be brought up to the standard of Avenue of the Americas. Or, Avenue of the Americas should be brought back to the standard of Greenwich Village. Or both to Wall Street’s standard. (Architectural, interpret it how you will.)

When I can get to my next reorganization, all links may break. Just finding them all is a few months work for one man. Ah, but if they were all in one little penultimate tail instead of spread throughout the text: that would quicken things.

*Can’t Read Math [Link to be restored]

*Existential Categories [Link to be restored]

*People [Link to be restored]

Local links, links marked as “note,” are in a tail past the bottom of the “page.”


Notes

Hide and Seek:

Christianity is a non-zero sum game. There are winners and losers with the pot imagined as permanent. Hindu Hide and Seek is a zero sum game.

Christianity is history as a tragedy solved by a deus ex machina. Hindu Hide and Seek is a comedy: with tragic (in appearance only) interludes note.

I’m a comedian. However seldom I have an audience and however seldom such audience laughs. I did get one laugh once: from a friend who’d discovered Watts’ The Book ahead of me and made sure I discovered it pronto. We were in the army together. Planned to, but didn’t actually, attend graduate school together. Somewhere in there, in a context of nuclear holocaust, I announced to my friend that I had prewritten my last words. Like a TV host, I knew in advance what my improvisation would be. (The context remember is that existence is a game, a comedy: slapstick done straight faced.)

As my eyes, my balls whiz off in different directions, as my viscera surrounds “me” like a mist on its way to the wherever, I shall aim my askance soul at the apex and say,

I am not amused.

2013 02 08 We all know the “not amused” phrase: I didn’t know till just now that I was quoting, or paraphrasing, Queen Victoria!

Context


Tragedy & Comedy:

Don’t take my metaphors too literally. Tragedy & Comedy are Western concepts, not Hindu. They entered a world already Manichean. They exist in a world in which life and death are not seen as a game.

If you understand that I am a Westerner tying to communicate with presumably more Occidentals than Orientals, it shouldn’t be hard to understand. Not only is there no real tragedy in Hide and Seek, there’s no real comedy either. We’re all fictitious. We’re also all eternal. Whether we die or not. Saint and sinner both.

In my current vision of Judgment Day, the judgment is democratic. Everyone, every “thing” has “survived.” Because of the Law of Conservation of Spirit. Doesn’t have to be resurrected: can’t be destroyed. Not really. What’s mainly different about this Judgment Day is that for one moment, the Hide and Seek stops. Both God and Devil decide for one moment to be honest. For one moment they confer as equals, as different perspectives on the same thing, and see plainly: which parts of the game worked well; which worked less well; which didn’t work at all.

And now! They’d have a blue print for a new and better eternity.

Evolution is greater than eternity. God and Devil are just part of a greater game: the game of good design.

One other thought: what if existence is a contest between a god of evolution (see how design can self-organize) and a god who thinks the architect will always do better? What if there’s only one physical universe for them to have their experiment in? What if they have their experiment simultaneously? Then the “truth” would be that there are a multiplicity of correct laws. Darwin and God coexist. (Though I think Darwin is winning.)

Context

God Betting Satan:

For God so loved the world … etc. The saved will go to heaven where everything will be so wonderful. For how long? Owners throw things out when they’re done with them. How do we know God won’t give the saved a big feast, maybe a nice orgy as well, and then throw them out the window, give them to Satan, sell them for dog food?

Oh, but she loved that mink coat! So what? Now she’s done with it, put it at the curb, thrown it in the garbage.

When I was in high school I was partnered for a biology project with a friend. Lenny did everything. I hardly followed what it was. I had no sense or concern what the project was about. (I now understand that it had to do with inheritance.) Lenny bought a bunch of live fruit flies. Lenny bred them. Lenny counted this and that characteristic in the parents, in the babies, in the babies’ babies … Once Lenny had written and submitted the paper (with both our names on it), Lenny invited me over. Lenny usually said why he was inviting me over: to play poker, to watch Steve Allen, to hang out … What’s up? I ask. “We’ve having the great drosophilae purge,” he answered. I didn’t know what that was, but I went. Lenny takes a cloth, pours chloroform on it, makes it clear to me that that’s what it was: and he quick stuffs the cloth down into the tube the flies were held captive in. For once I didn’t go through my screaming routine of don’t step on the ants, don’t hurt the cat, don’t put the clams in the roadway … Lenny (who owned and fed bloody hamburger to a pet piranha) killed them with a will and a relish that paralyzed me.

Oh, but that’s Lenny. That’s a couple of stupid kids. The other deal is about God? So? How do we know what the differences are? Based on what?

Context

Thinking Tools

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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