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Even childrens playfulness is exploited through sports, and artistics regimens.

Finite and Infinite Games - Wikipedia

Schools are a form of finite game, to the degree that they give ranked awares to those who win degrees from them. Those awards qualify graduates for competition in still higher games, like pretigious colleges, and then professional schools beyond that, with a continuing sequence of higher games in each profession, and so forth.


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The law is powerful for persons only because they obey it. We display the success of what we have done by not having to do anything. The more we use up, the more we show ourselves to be winners of past contests. We do not watch artists to see what they do, but watch what persons do and discover the artistry in it. A boundary is a phenomenon of opposition. A horizon is a phenomenon of vision.

You cannot look at it or reach it, you can only extend it. Every move an infinite player makes is towards the horizon. Every move a finite player makes is within a boundary. It is I, not the mind, that thinks.

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It is I, not the will, that acts. It is I, not the nervous system, that feels. Hamlet was not reading when he said he was reading words, a dog taught to shake does not shake your hand, a robot can say words but does not say them to you. Winners, especially celebrated winners, must prove repeatedly that they are winners. The script must be played over and over again. No one is ever wealthy enough, honored enough, applauded enough. A Master Player of finite sexuality chooses not to take disinterested attitudes as a way of refusing the sexual game, but takes them to be part of the game.

We enter into societal arrangements by way of sexual roles. The king is the father of the country, your father is rarely considered the king of the family. Society is where we prove to our parents qua audience that we are not what we thought they thought we were. Since the emphasis is not on what they thought, but on what we thought they thought, they become an audience that survives their death, and an audience whose approval we can never win.

The most serious struggles are those for sexual property, but who wins empire, fortune and fame but loses love has lost everything. Whoever chooses to compete with another can also choose to play with another.


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Infinite players do not play within sexual boundaries, but with sexual boundaries. They cannot be said to be heterosexual, homosexual, etc. The triumph of finite sexuality is to be liberated from play into the body. The essence of infinite sexuality is to be liberated into play with the body. In finite sexuality, I relate to you as a body; in infinite sexuality, I relate to you in your body.

The fact that it must be limited temporally, numerically, and spatially means that there is something against which the limits stand. Its limits are meaningless unless there is something to be limited, unless there is a larger space, a longer time, a greater number of possible competitors. We are players in search of a world as often as we are world in search of players. Some worlds pass quickly in and out of existence, some sustain for longer, but no world lasts forever.

Finite play also occurs within a time frame.

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Time is a diminishing quantity. For the finite player, freedom is a function of time. We must have time to be free. The infinite player does not consume time but generates it. Because infinite play is dramatic and unscripted, its time is time lived and not time viewed. An infinite player does not begin working for the purpose of filling time with work, but for the purpose of filling work with time. Work is a way of moving towards a future which itself has a future. It has no voice of its own, and nothing to say. We experience the unspeakability of nature as its utter indifference to human culture.

I can explain nothing to you unless I first draw your attention to inadequacies in your knowledge. You will remain deaf to my explanations until you suspect yourself of falsehood. Explanation is an antagonistic encounter that succeeds by defeating an opponent. It possesses the same dynamic of resentment found in other finite play. I will press my explanations on you because I need to show that I do not live in the error that I think others think I do.

Those who are entitled to knowledge feel they should be granted property as well, and those entitled to property believe some knowledge goes with it. Storytellers invite us to return from knowledge to thinking, from a bounded way of looking to a horizonal way of seeing. Historians become infinite speakers when they see that whatever begins in freedom cannot end in necessity. The control of nature advances with our ability to predict the outcome of natural processes.

Finite and Infinite Games

Inasmuch as predictions are but explanations in reverse, it is possible that they will be quite as combative as explanations… It follows that our domination of nature is meant to achieve not certain natural outcomes, but certain societal outcomes. Where explanation absorbs the unspeakable into the speakable, myth reintroduces the silence that makes original discourse possible.

The livelihood of a culture is not determined by how often thinkers discover new knowledge, but how often they depart in search of it. A story attains the status of myth when it is retold, and persistently retold, solely for its own sake. The opposite of resonance is amplification. A choir is the unified expression of a voice resonating with each other, a loudspeaker is the amplification of a single voice, excluding all others. A bell resonantes, a cannon amplifies.

We listen to the bell, we are silenced by the cannon. The loudspeaker, muting all other voices and therefore all possibility of conversation, is not listened to at all, and therefore loses its voice and becomes mere noise. Infinite players are not serious actors in any story, but the joyful poets of a story that continues to originate what they cannot finish. Then consider signing up for my Monday Medley newsletter.

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