Flusser on Games

I’m honoured to be a contributor to a volume called Understanding Flusser, Understanding Modernism, edited by Aaron Jaffe and published at Routledge, probably 2020. Jaffe’s earlier volume is called The Way Things Go: An Essay on the Matter of Secondary Modernism.  I take secondary modernism to be a better term than “post-modernism” for all the things we all knew were going on but that weren’t modern. It recalls an idea that crossed my mind some time ago about the relationship between modernism and post-modernism being more like a figure to ground relationship than anything like a unidirectional historical change.  It always reminds me of a phrase from David Antin – can’t remember the context – “from the modernism you want, you get the post-modernism you deserve”.  

The abstract to firm up the arrangement with the editor had to do with games– that is, language games, board games, videogames…all of it.  But there’s still a lot of play in the decision.  What did Flusser think? Discussions of games seem fairly disinct from discussions of play: he is clearly willing to see language in terms of a game; whether any one person’s relationship to it is rightly called “play” or not would be another question. He writes that “we” posthistorical people tend to think of ourselves and our relationships to other people in terms of games, in the same way people in the Industrial age thought of themselves as parts of a machine; “play” is the condition in which people can create, generate new information — not necessarily related at all!

Author: Nancy Roth