Saturday, May 23, 2009

Gaming Humans

In the photo, the soccer-players seem to be ruminating on the futility of it all.


Humans and Their Games

In golf, humans attack a tiny white ball with long
metal clubs and then walk or ride in pastures, acting
as if the attack had not occurred. A bit later, they
attack again. The ball flees from them, but it rarely
escapes. No one knows what the ball did to offend
the humans. In chess, humans move figurines around
a small board and never talk. They look like pouting
children. In bowling, people roll a large sphere
toward milk-bottles, which have been beautifully
arranged. The aim is destruction, apparently. In

soccer, people run around an enormous field arguing
about who should possess a single leather ball.
Clearly, more soccer-balls and less field constitute
one obvious solution to this prolonged frustration.
In hockey as in golf: small object, large clubs,
inexplicable anger. Ice, however, is added, and
men embrace frequently, although their attire
turns them into clumsy clowns. Now, baseball

is a game in which too much activity is considered
gauche. Standing, scratching, staring, murmuring,
yelling, signaling, spitting, waiting, eating seeds,
hiding in caves, and using tobacco are crucial to this
game and constant. There is a sense in which the
game is opposed to activity. Football, though,

is nothing less than felonious assault observed
and encouraged by thousands. Make no mistake:
in this game, men attack men. Skiing and luge
are gravity-assisted suicide. Ski-jumping is
a bad idea someone in a Nordic country once had.
It is inadvisable. Racing cars around an oval

track is loud and repetitive like the screams
of a demented man. In tennis, the net always
remains empty, and the lake around it has
dried up. Somehow, in spite of all these
absurd spectacles, we can be induced to care
who wins, after which we forget who won,
and we go back to work. The rules of these
games become our era's sacred texts.

Copyright 2009 Hans Ostrom
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