Divided by James P. Carse

The Divided Self image is one is a series of 50 self portraits made over the last 10 years.  It is inspired by R.D.  Laing's 1960 book of that name.  Dr. Laing explains how we all exist in a world as beings, defined by others who carry a model of us in their heads, just as we carry models of them in our heads.  Our feelings and motivations derive very much from this condition of existing for others, who exist for us. Without this we suffer "ontological insecurity", a condition often expressed in terms of 'being dead' by people who are clearly still physically alive."The reciprocity of game and world has another, deeper effect on the persons involved. Because the seriousness of finite play the rise from the players’ need to correct another’s putative assessment of themselves, there is no requirement that the audience be physically present, since players are already their own audience. Just as in finite sexuality where the absence or death of parents has no effect on the child’s determination to prove them wrong, finite players become their own hostile observers in the very act of competing.

"I cannot be a finite player without being divided against myself.

"A similar dynamic is found in the audience. When sufficiently oblivious to their status as audience, the observers of a finite game become so absorbed in its conduct that they lose the sense of distance between themselves and the players. It is they, quite as much as the players, who win or lose. For this reason the audience absorbs in itself the same politics of resentment that moves players to show they are not what they think others think they are. The audience is under the same constraint to disprove this judgment.

"When we asked where an audience will find its own audience, we discover the division inherent in all audiences. Each side of the conflict comes with its own partisan observers. Insomuch as the conflict is expressed within a bounded playing a game, the audience is unified – but it’s unity consists in its opposition to itself.

"We cannot become a world without being divided against ourselves."

text courtesy Finite and Infinite Games, 1986, pp. 110-11, James P. Carse
image courtesy
Zen Lawyer Seattle


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