Monday, July 18, 2005

The Biggest Game in Town

Finished A. Alvarez's book over the past few days--an account of 4 weeks in vegas for the 1981 WSOP, with plenty of background on the game and players. Brunson heavily featured, Jack Straus, the more philosophical but less well known Mickey Appleman, who provides the Freudian analysis of poker as sublimation. The virtuallity of the whole experience strongly emphasized: money means nothing, the chips practically mean nothing, being totally involved in anything becomes crucial (if there isn't a bet on something it is of no interest to these players), the "straight world" is almost non-existent, unknownn to these players. One didn't know there was a war in Vietnam, the election of Carter got almost no response from players or from the Vegas paper.

Alvarez mentioned the no clock factor, which I have known about for quite a while, but it made me realize that I should probably take a look at the clock chapter from UM as well as the others I have already re-read.

I also visualized the Understanding Games project as a full length project: a chapter on poker, on extreme sports, on professionalism / amateurism (probably one chapter, not two), probably an early chapter just on games and technology, games as extensions. Maybe I need to think sections, because games and media are obvious of great importance these days. Oh yeah, a chapter on video games, and perhaps a chapter "life is not a game." What seems to be happening to most of these players is that they do make that switch over and lose some significant grounding, although Appleman who isn't married says the married players have a certain grounding in wife and kids. Perhaps a tenuous and strained grounding, a relationship with a co-dependent person. Which is not to say I want to argue against games--perhaps they simply are very prone to overheating. The escape factor, the fantasy factor, is very tempting, dangerous, and not so unreasonable. Religion offers escape, games offer escape, art and creativity offer escape.

Why is it that we need to stay grounded? To not ignore our material conditions? To help others better there material conditions. To not be self-indulgent? Which is perhaps why players want to recruit others to their games. I have noticed a certain evangelical rhetoric emerging among the poker players. Liberation theology? Perhaps a chapter on religion (closely connected to sport and play). Perhaps a chapter on politics--increasingly a specator sport, and as the poker players say, American democracy requires a $10,000 buy-in.

New long range plan: M for C, UG. Guess I had better get that first project moving again!


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