Readings, Update

Because we’re spending longer in this section than I anticipated, I am moving a few things around this afternoon.  The new schedule won’t be too different; it will be posted here on Sunday, 15 Feb.

For the present, though, here is a reminder of the readings for next week, together with links to those readings (as appropriate).

For the time being:

Most Important Readings are indicated by two pluses ++

Readings of Secondary Importance include a single plus +

Optional, but Strongly Suggested Readings, a lonely interrobang ‽

Recall that S/Z is both (1) a clever meta-reference on my part, and (2) indicates a reading in the Salen/Zimmerman collection.  But mostly (1).

Play’s the Thing

‽ Caillois, Roger. 1962. “The Definition of Play: Classification of Games.” S/Z 122.

++ Huizinga, Johan. 1955. “Nature and Significance of Play as a Cultural Phenomenon.” Homo Ludens.  S/Z 96.

‽ Steinkuehler, Constance. “The Mangle of Play.”  PDF

+ Sutton-Smith, Brian. 2001. “Play and Ambiguity.”  The Ambiguity of Play. S/Z 296.

Play in a Terrible Time: Dada, the Situationists, Kynikism

+ Debord, Guy and Gil J. Wolman. 1956. “A User’s Guide to Détournement.” Les Lèvres Nues #8 (May). Transl. Ken Knabb. PDF

++ Debord, Guy. 1956. “Theory of the Dérive.” Les Lèvres Nues #9 (November). Transl. Ken Knabb. PDF

Readings for 12 February (Lincoln’s Birthday!)

There are only two things to read for Thursday, the Heraclitus fragments and the last part of Plato’s Republic (in this transl., Book 16, Sections 592b–608b; colloquially referred to as “the Exile of the Poets”).  (You do not need to read the section entitled “The Mobile Eternity of Subjects.”)  We will use these texts to thicken the basis by which we apprehend play — ludus — and its relation to being, becoming, epistemé (knowledge) and techné (know-how).

NB that Badiou’s translation is presented in modern, colloquial American English, and that Badiou has often radically adjusted the text to his liking.  If you’re curious about the particulars of some of his changes, consider referring to Jowett; the intro to our translation includes Badiou’s explanation of his strategy, and his co-translator’s insights (she worked with him to re–translate the work from French to English, after Badiou had finished his work on moving it from ancient Greek to contemporary French.)

Alternatively, if you’re really ambitious, consider Shorey’s more scholarly effort.  In any event:  The text is meant to be comprehensible, not cryptic.  If you’re having trouble understanding where they’re headed, look for another translation, and have another go.  Philosophy that is incomprehensible should never be tolerated.

If you haven’t picked them up from the other site, here are those links:

Heraclitus, “Fragments” (transl. Burnet)

Plato, Poleteia (transl. Badiou)

"Lincoln Navigator 2015 repite el plato"

“Lincoln Navigator 2015 repite el plato.”  On an ill-advised whim, I searched for images containing the names of both our most beloved, most bearded President AND Aristotle’s teacher.  Here’s what I got. A mystery. But who am I to refuse the wisdom of Chance? Perhaps Google’s vast network of networked servers has discerned that Plato would have preferred 21″ rims. Surely Abe would have opted for the bullet-proof glass option. Philosophy! Computers! We know so much more than they used to!


A reminder:  Because context is the all and everything of knowledge, I’m providing students enrolled in CCTP628 Badiou’s translation of Plato in its entirety.  If you are not enrolled in this course, this text is not intended for you:  Please do not download it.

Last Minute Addenda

In fine fashion, I neglected to update the site to include all of the readings assigned that are external to the Salen / Zimmerman text. To make things simple for the nonce, here are the two texts that I had intended you to read for this week. Look at them if you have time (they are both interesting, Jerz’s article for DHQ especially so).

Jerz, Dennis G.  2007.  “Somewhere Nearby is Colossal Cave: Examining Will Crowther’s Original ‘Adventure’ in Code and in Kentucky.” PDF

Juul, Jesper.  2003.  “Game, Play, World.  Looking for the Heart of Gameness.”  In Level Up: Digital Games Research Conference Proceedings, edited by Marinka Copier and Joost Raessens, 30-45. Utrecht: Utrecht University. PDF

I meant, additionally, to encourage you to experiment with a version of Crowther’s Colossal Cave.  There are, unsurprisingly, myriad versions available.  If you want a quick sense of content, but aren’t interested in seeing how the game was really played, take a look at this version.  Rick Adams developed a nostalgic instance of the game for use in a promo for AMC TV’s quasi-historical series, Halt and Catch Fire.  (As for the TV series? meh.  Too much quasi, not enough historical.)  And here is a later iteration (550-point version), available via DosBox and played in the browser, as part of the recent release of games to the Internet Archive.

Finally:  A CaveMap may be of some use.

What Does a Blog Want? *

I’ve been experimenting with blogs in both graduate and undergraduate courses since my first year in grad school.  That spring, I was summarily hauled before a faculty committee who had heard that I was posting Freshman essays onto the Information Superhighway so that students from around the world could more easily plagiarize them.  My position, which was probably a subtle combination of righteous indignation and apoplexy, was that (1) asking students to write essays that no one would ever read seemed like a silly way to teach them about writing, and that (2) based on what I’d read of their material so far, the likelihood of plagiarism was, well, nil.  Or less.

They listened politely, talked among themselves, and then explained to me that I underestimated student wiles, and that surely if others abused this Information Superhighway as I had, it would lead to rampant and callous disregard for intellectual integrity among undergraduates.  The papers were removed from the server forthwith, and I am happy to report that Higher Education has thrived ever since.

I am yet looking, however, for an organic, sensible way to make use of blogs, wikis, forums, Tumblrs, Twitter, and so forth, in the conduct of a course.  There are many ways to deploy these technologies, of course, and (if everyone is willing to give it their best effort) they tend to work out just fine.  Or, at least, they don’t do much harm, per se.  But insofar as I am concerned, the artificial character of the classroom community, and the extrinsic requirement that members of that community regularly contribute to blog X or wiki Y, means that we’re still not doing it right.  This is not to say that other faculty members’ present use of the technology is wrong, or is without merit:  Only that I remain unsatisfied with the way I have interfaced with these technologies in the past.

So here is another approach.  On this blog, for the duration of the semester, I will frequently make available materials related to our last meeting (lecture notes, links to videos we discussed, further research on our favorite issues) and material that anticipates our next session.  If you have any thoughts about this approach, please let me know.

* Louis Kahn, renowned architect and Professor of Design at Yale during the middle of the 20th Century, famously asked of his students, “What does a brick want?”  To which Kahn would invariably imagine bricks responding with requests like “I want to be an Arch!” and “I want to be load-bearing wall!”  This has always left me cold:  Bricks likely just want to be left alone, and put back in the cold, quiet ground with the rest of their clay-based friends.  Asking “What does a brick want?” is really just a coy way of asking “what does an architect want to do with this brick?”