The Critical Escape
This chapter is meant both as closing words for the Publication and as an Artist Statement.
"It is easier to imagine the end of our world than to imagine a world different from ours"
The quote above is largely credited to Polish writer Stanislaw Lem, and though I could not find any source confirming it, for the sake of argument, let's say it is from him. I find this statement hilarious coming from someone who authored sci-fi novels, but it also points out an attitude of thought that is indeed very common in our current Society. The thought that we do not possess the agency, the right, or tools to change what is around us, to be the authors of our reality. Regardless of how much I love Lem's thoughts and writings, I'd like to disagree with him on this one.
Other world do exist. I know this because have been there.
I started role-playing when I was nine years old. My parents took me to a camp in rural Hungary, where for three weeks I and a bunch of other kids acted as citizens of a medieval kingdom. No one told us what to do, or who do we need to play out. Our imagination was set free, and the adults there were eager to turn that into reality. This experience was highly transformative: through the alibi of role-playing I could overcome a lot of my fears, encouraged to interact, to engage, to imagine. These days as an adult, I run my own camp with my friends, where through playing the same game we played as kids, we give a new generation the experience of freedom, exploration, and experimentation of playing. Similarly, other Ludic Societies believed that rituals and communities created through play are the keys to a better future, and this sense constructed Utopias that are just as well progressive, as retrograde. I strongly believe that this can be true. By constructing fictional societies through play we are also embodying possible alternatives to the one we have now. We are able to reflect on ourselves, discover our faults and, potentials and hopefully become more open, more resilient and empathetic. Through its many forms, playing brings us to the unknown and allows us to bravely step into it.
With Transformation Games and Ludic Societies, I'd like to reintroduce playing and playfulness as the active social agent it is.
When we are playing, we are not just escaping from our everyday life, but actively reflecting back on it. This Critical Escape can lead us to new understandings, new ways of seeing, and behaving . We are able to return to the 'real world', as more open, empathetic and resilient people - transformed.
The children of Pipecland understood this, though probably only in retrospect, once becoming adults. By creating their own kingdom, they experienced (and thus understood) the fragile and volatile structures that condition and construct social roles and systems. They were able to create new structures, not just be the subject of already existing ones. In dark times (and I want to point out that Pipecland did go through and survived the darkest times of Fascist and Communist Hungary) this understanding is paramount. The seemingly unalterable terms of our status quo can be challenged once provided the experience and agency to do so. In a post-truth world playing and fiction might be one's only reliable allies in navigating through it.