Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Deep Play

In 1938, a fellow named Johan Huizinga wrote a book called Homo Ludens (“Man the Player”), which would change the way we view art for all of history. He asserted that cultural pursuits, particularly the act of making art, were based on play. This is not unique to any culture or race. This element of play, necessary to the perpetuation of culture, separates it from other pursuits because of the spirit with which it is pursued. That is not to say that creativity is silly or frivolous. Far from it. Play can be quite a serious matter; it is in essence creating a world, but unlike other aspects of society such as politics, war, or the judicial system (only to name a few) the outcomes rarely, if ever, cost people their lives.

In 1999, Diane Ackerman wrote a book called Deep Play, (don’t worry, there won’t be a test), and takes Huizinga’s theory a step further. She suggests that the act of losing oneself in a creative endeavor is what makes us exquisitely human. “Furthermore,” she says, "Deep play is an absence of mental noise -- liberating, soothing, and exciting. . . .We spend our lives in pursuit of those moments of feeling whole, or being in the moment of deep play."

Are we to believe that Flaubert, O’Keefe, Kandinsky, and Cartier-Bresson all created a world through play? (shrug) Why not?

1 comment:

Jane Grant Tougas said...

aka "Flow" -- per Mihály Csíkszentmihályi

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