September 23, 2020

I’m mad ‘cause I’m one. I’m sane ‘cause I‘m one (but only when playing the game).

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I’m alone. I’m standing on a soapbox in the middle of George Town. I’m shouting, “I, Georgina Wilcox, should be the Premier of the Cayman Islands.” If a psychiatrist passed by he would diagnose me as suffering from this or that mental disturbance. But were the same psychiatrist to frequent the same spot and see a crowd of millions saluting me – would he diagnosis me as that now? No. I would be perfectly sane.

Madness is a one-person game. Moreover, the definition of certain mental disorders is highly dependent upon the context of the prevailing culture. Mental disturbances are time-dependent and locus-dependent. Religious behaviour and romantic behaviour could be easily construed as psychopathologies when examined out of their social, cultural, historical and political contexts.

Historical figures as diverse as Hitler (politics), Nietzsche (philosophy), Herzl (political visionary) and Van Gogh (art), made this smooth phase transition from the lunatic fringes to centre stage. They succeeded to attract, convince and influence a critical human mass, which provided for this transition. At the right time and in the right place they appeared on history’s stage (or were placed there posthumously).

As opposed to absolutely all other human activities, games are entropic i.e. the amounts of disorder in a system. The act of reducing entropy and increasing order – is present in a game, only to be reversed later. In video games this is very evident. Destructive acts constitute the very foundation of these games. It is through them we recognise our temporariness, the looming shadow of death, our forthcoming dissolution, evaporation, and annihilation. We pretend that we are going to live forever. Playing games lets us confront all this by engaging in activities which, by their very definition, are temporary, have no past and no future, temporally detached and physically detached. This is as close to death as we get.

From the vantage point of an outside observer, a game looks very strange, unnecessary and ridiculous. It has no justification, no future; it looks aimless, and can be compared to alternative systems of thought and of social organisation, which is the biggest threat to any mythology. When games are transformed to myths, the first act perpetrated by the group of transformers is to ban all observations by the (willing or unwilling) participants.

Today’s telecommunications, transportation, international computer networks and the unification of the cultural offering only serve to exacerbate and accentuate claustrophobia. Granted, in a few millennia, with space travel and space habitation, the walls of our cells will have practically vanished (or become negligible) with the exception of the constraint of our (limited) longevity. Mortality is a blessing in disguise because it motivates humans to act in order “not to miss the train of life” and it maintains the sense of wonder and the (false) sense of unlimited possibilities.

This conversion from madness, to game, to myth, is subjected to meta-laws that are the guidelines of a super game. All our games are derivatives of this super game of survival. It is a game because its outcomes are not guaranteed, they are temporary and to a large extent not even known. It is a myth because it effectively ignores temporal and spatial limitations. It is one track minded so as to foster an increase in the population; a hedge against contingencies that are outside the myth.

The power of money is, and always has been, a symbol whose abstract dimension far outweighed its tangible one. This bestowed upon money a preferred status: that of a measuring rod. The outcomes of games and myths alike needed to be monitored and measured. Competition was only a mechanism to secure the on-going participation of individuals in the game. Money, in other words, had the ultimate information content: the information concerning survival, the information needed for survival. Money measures performance, confers identity – an effective way to differentiate oneself in a world glutted with information, alienating and assimilating. The price of a share traded in the stock exchange, for instance, is to incorporate (and reflect) all the information available regarding this share.

Money is said to buy us love – the prerequisite to survival. Very few of us would have survived without some kind of love or attention lavished on us. We are dependent creatures throughout our lives. But it all boils down to the survival of the fittest and the very first question – is Georgina singularly mad or not?

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