James P. Carse: On the difference between playing inside boundaries and playing with boundaries

I’m stunned, and the ol’ ego is a bit embarrassed, to realize that James P. Carse and I share a world-view. I didn’t know that anybody shared my world-view, not really. I thought I was sui generis, unique! Indeed, right; even righteous. Ahead of the pack. Way ahead.

Oops! Not so. And what’s even more galling, to the ol’ ego, is that the world view of this man was articulated in print 35 years ago! — in his book Finite and Infinite Games, which I ordered yesterday, and just from the title alone, know what it’s about. What I call “alt-epistemology,” i.e., the idea that beLIEfs and BeLIEF Systems of any kind, no matter how much of “reality” they pretend to encompass, whether religious or scientific, function like conceptual helmets, blocking us from opening our awareness to even more, more, and indeed, to the continuously expanding infinity both within and beyond.

That this new recognition of another of my mentors in the deeply fertile unconscious zeitgeist that drives this human world from below — the other being recently discovered Victor Davis Hanson — both very old men, indeed, true elders, makes me smile.

And of course I’m open to female elders, crones, should they come along, who also have the wherewithall to open my mind and heart even further. Wisdom is not gender-specific; indeed, it arises from deep processing of one’s own experience. And since most people do not do this, and instead play “finite games” from birth to death, then most people do not evolve into elders or crones. Especially in this culture that values (left-brain) knowledge, i.e. “facts,” “data,” “off/on” switches, algorithms, black/white thinking, “proof,” “argument,” “logical and other rules,” all of which, clumped together, tend toward the omega point of  artificial intelligence!. Especially in this culture that pretends that if we just get specific enough, and precise enough, we will be able to generalize abstractly and correctly the overall plan? design? that governs the cosmos forever and ever.

HA! Fat chance! As a friend of mine, way back when, he was then about to drop out of the doctoral program in the math department at Harvard and I was in the doctoral program in philosophy at Boston University, said to me — and at the time I did NOT like what he said, refused to “beLIEve” it — something like this: “No matter how much we think we know, it’s always bounded in some way or other; the universe is infinitely larger than any of our theories about it.”

A year or so later, post-LSD, I recognized the wisdom in his remark, and it no longer scared me; in fact, it thrilled me. As a result, I was about to engage my entire life as an experiment, framing large and small processes in all sorts of ways, with the overall goal of continuous learning, continuous opening to the divine. After all, if my life is just a tiny blip in infinity, then why not play, why not have fun? This I have been doing, and being, ever since.

Here are a few quotes from James P. Carse’s book, that taken singly, succeed in blowing the top off whatever tentative conceptual helmet continuously tries to begin to surround and clamp down my awareness, in its usual vain effort to keep me in and the world out. BRAVO! HALLELUIA!




And here’s a tiny taste of this great man.

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3 Responses to James P. Carse: On the difference between playing inside boundaries and playing with boundaries

  1. This book has been on my “should read” list for many years. Based on these quotes, I can see why. Ordering! Thank you. 🙂

    • Ann Kreilkamp says:

      I’m just so amazed that he had swum into view for me until now! What a hole in my awareness! How did you know of him?

  2. I forget how or when I heard of him. It’s been at least 10 years, though. My “should read” list is quite long and fluid! Some things keep floating downstream.

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