The Ludic Society as ‘Art is Politics’
I’d like to see Ludic Societies both as socio-political phenomena and as works of art. This is not dual function, but a synergic oneness of nature - one that cannot be dissected. In the following, I’d like to explore this relationship, as well as outline the current frontiers of my research. The aesthetic quality of Ludic Societies (which is an aesthetic of relations, rather than a narrative or a spectacle) inherently demands a certain level of high-importance social engagement and interaction. We can see in examining Ludic Societies that their political and (relational) aesthetic roots can’t be separated in their present practice, which thus corresponds with the ‘doing of politics’ as understood through Hannah Arendt's Vita Activa. The facilitation and experience of such situations thus can be seen both a political gesture and as an artistic gesture.
With that in mind, I try to assess the Ludic Society based on four intersections of art and politics:
Intersection 1 - Rituals, ceremonies, traditions, and customs
The practice of everyday life within the Ludic Society is done and passed on via rituals, ceremonies, traditions, and customs. Their historical origin is not as important as their present function to establish and reinforce identity through their repeated practice. However, without a playful counterbalance (the possibility of overthrowing these) they can lead to a Society that is permanently played out in accordance the rules of its Game. This the dogmatic choreography of performed life found in Royal Courts, sects, and on Wall Street.
Intersection 2 - Symbols of identity
Ludic Societies often produce material symbols of identity: totems, tokens, heirlooms, artifacts, memorabilia with a strong visual language inherent to its own culture. How these symbols (as well all other traditions, rituals, customs, etc...) created are usually by chance. Ludic Societies often thrive on serendipitous encounters within playing, and use those 'creative accidents' as a base for new traditions, making their identity truly their own, and interwoven within their history, no matter how recent the Society is. A lot of the objects shown on the Totem Wall above were found by accident, near the grounds of the camp that gave home to Pipecland. These objects were then quickly built into the personal mythology of the Kingdom, with make-believe origin stories, conspiracy theories, or through whatever explanation the person who found it came up with.
Intersection 3 - Knowledge Production
Ludic Societies produce knowledge that is idiosyncratic, hermetic (corresponding with the laws of the Magic Circle), but also acts as systems, can be learned and adapted, researched and perfected. The inability of understanding from the outside is what we call being perceived as Esoteric. Forms: Archives, stories, neologism, and dialects, theories, scientific and sacred orders. These entities and tactics also act as authorities to legitimize what makes it into the Society's canon, and what remains left behind (either as Apocrypha, or gone completely).
Intersection 4 – Revolution and Emergence
Most importantly, Ludic Societies allow and encourage the constant and complete overthrowing of its own culture, rituals, customs, symbols, theories, ideologies, hierarchies and so on, provided it happens within the frame (along with the rules) of the pre-established Contract. Making Ludic Societies radically conservative and progressive at once. This creative tension between the two vectors is the essence of playing and playfulness. In this sense, Pipecland (and potentially all Ludic Societies) are Retrograde Utopias.