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  • Writer's pictureKarey Pohn

Where Does Play Fit in the Scheme of Things?

In mainstream monotheistic cosmologies, play is a bottom-up affair. The ludic is often formed in opposition to or as a negation of the order of things. Play is thus viewed with suspicion and judged as subversive, unserious, illusory, ephemeral, and often a waste of time. Play is looked down upon, as something that children (who are not viewed as real people) do and, since play seems to erupt from the bottom, play is viewed as threatening. The relationship between God and mankind is organized in terms of absolute difference, of opposites, of rupture and hardened boundaries. Play is not part of the cosmogony or the organization and operation of the cosmos, play only lurks around the edges and interstices (Handelman & Shulman, 1997).

Hindu cosmology on the other hand is ludic, and play is a top-down idea. Play is present right at the beginning. The processual qualities of play: fluidity, malleability, movement, and change, along with paradox are present in, and integral to the workings of the cosmos itself. For the Hindus, it would not be a cosmos without play! Play’s fluid, transformational qualities are manifest in all levels of the cosmos. To be involved in conditions or qualities of play, “is to be in tune with cosmic processes and their self-transformation. To be in play is to reproduce, time and again, the very premises than inform the existence of this kind of cosmos” (Handelman & Shulman, 1997, p. 44).

[Click to view My Kind of Cosmos]

My Kind of Cosmos (a parody of My Kind of Town)

My kind of Cosmos, the ludic is My kind of Cosmos, the ludic is

My kind of people, too, People who play with you

And each time I roam, the ludic is Calling me home, the ludic is

Why, its just full of pathos and eros its my kind of cosmos

My kind of cosmos, the ludic is My kind of cosmos, the ludic is

My kind of razzmatazz And it has, all that jazz!

And each time I leave, the ludic is Tugging my sleeve, the ludic is

The tangled hierarchy, the ludic is The strange loop dicegame, the ludic is

It's one cosmos where you'll rarely frown, Cause play is top down!

Play is a prominent process and the cosmos works by transforming itself, probably why it is called ludic in the first place! Ludic cosmologies are continuous and as such are a great place for getting to know “u,” as the parts and whole interact with each other and in doing so, the whole gets to know itself better, but paradoxically, first it has to part company with itself. In ludic cosmologies, god and man are simultaneously different and non-different, separate and non-separate. Getting confused, let us examine paradox.

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