Homo Ludens

PLAY is older than culture, for culture, however inadequately de ned, always presupposes human society, and animals have not waited for man to teach them their playing. We can safely assert, even, that human civilization has added no essential feature to the general idea of play. Animals play just like men. We have only to watch young dogs to see that all the essentials of human play are present in their merry gambols. They invite one another to play by a certain ceremoniousness of attitude and gesture. They keep to the rule that you shall not bite, or not bite hard, your brother’s ear. They pretend to get terribly angry. And -what is most important- in all these doings they plainly experience tremendous fun and enjoyment. Suchrompingsofyoungdogsare only one of the simpler forms of animal play. There are other, much more highly developed forms: regular contests and beautiful performances before an admiring public.

Here we have at once a very important point: even in its simplest forms on the animal level, play is more than a mere physiological phenomenon or a psychological re ex. It goes beyond the confines of purely physical or purely biological activity. It is a sign cant function-that is to say, there is some sense to it. In play there is something “at play” which transcends the immediate needs of life and imparts meaning to the action. All play means something. If we call the active principle that makes up the essence of play, “instinct”, we explain nothing; if we call it “mind” or “will” we say too much. However we may regard it, the very fact that play has a meaning implies a non­ materialistic quality in the nature of the thing itself.

Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens (1938)

 

Indeed, playing as a non-just-children -activity has been a recognized social new configuration’s booster in the urban ambiance. Instead, cities seem to be constantly limited in its performative play production for functional reasons or maybe for the seeking of a conventional language that attracts as many people possible. Lefebvre, the Situationists, Fluxus and other groups have been for a long time, claiming for the need of this kind of spaces that seemed to be a menace to urban managers until recent times. 


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Florian Rivière, Hacktivist Dublin (2012)

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Homo Ludens