[iDC] Michael Jackson and the death of macrofame

Armin B. Wagner arminbw at mail.tuwien.ac.at
Mon Jun 29 13:17:48 UTC 2009

Am 28.06.2009 um 03:36 schrieb Mechthild Schmidt:

> I made the comment in reference to the notion of play  as (quote  
> Davin:) "distinct from "ordinary life" (Huizinga), and that it  
> constitutes an "occasion of pure waste" (Caillois)"
> ... as not pure waste but quite opposite: an ideal state of mind to  
> achieve in the balance of ratio and emotion
> in their search for truth, beauty, art  (in context of Schiller's  
> admiration for Ancient Greek culture);
> such 'play'  as an artist lost in their work, a writer, a  
> philosopher - different from 'play' as in gambling (Glücksspiel).

I tried to highlight this distinction. But those two views aren't  
thought to be entirely incommensurable as Schiller describes a  
potential of progression. To exaggerate today's mashup of play  
Play constitutes a (more or less) protected space, in which the  
testing of new rule sets is possible, fostering spontaneity,  
improvisation, learning, creation, innovation, change, etc. Play is  
free. Play connects feelings (fun) with actions. Play is important.  
Play is adventurous and beautiful. Play leads to improvements. Play is  
awesome. Artists are players. Hackers are players. Philosophers are  
 From outside the magic circle, where play has been hardened into  
rituals and institutions, all of it may look like waste. But why not  
widen the circle? Shouldn't we strive for a society of Play? And isn't  
this what the futuristic digital culture of participation is all about?

According to Herbert Spencer's "Principles of Psychology" all we had  
to do was create a "surplus of energy":

"Many years ago I met with a quotation from a German author to the  
effect that the aesthetic sentiments originate from the play-impulse.  
I do not remember the name of the author; and if any reasons were  
given for the statement or any inference drawn from it, I cannot  
recall them. But the statement has remained with me, as being one  
which if not literally true, is yet the adumbration of a truth"

"[...] the aesthetic activities in general may be expected to play an  
increasing part in human life as evolution advances. Greater  
economization of energy, resulting from superiority of organization,  
will have in the future effects like those it has had in
the past. The order of activities to which the aesthetic belong,  
having been already initiated by this economization, will hereafter be  
extended by it : the economization being achieved both directly  
through the improvement of the human structure itself, and indirectly  
through the improvement of all appliances, mechanical, social, and  
other. A growing surplus of energy will bring a growing proportion of  
the aesthetic activities and gratifications ; and while the forms of  
art will be such as yield pleasurable exercise to the simpler  
faculties, they will in a greater degree than now appeal to the higher  
emotions. "

Even Spencer's critic Paul Lafargue agreed on this point, while  
rooting it back to Aristotle. Confronted with the "Taylorization of  
leisure" it's an awkward old chant:

"And nevertheless the genius of the great philosophers of capitalism  
remains dominated by the prejudice of the wage system, worst of  
slaveries. They do not yet understand that the machine is the saviour  
of humanity, the god who shall redeem man from the sordidae artes and  
from working for hire, the god who shall give him leisure and liberty."


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