Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Further commentary on: Game Theory

I genuinely liked the Game guys. I recommend the book without equivocation or disclaimer to anyone who is curious about it. It has the quality of being immediately, and continuously engrossing that not many books, serious or popular, possess. Anyone who starts it will finish it in two days after marathon reading sessions. It is one at one and the same time, one of those naked fragments of painful truth that popular culture is always producing -- like the show "To Catch A Predator," or the career of Britney Spears, or the candidacy of Sarah Palin -- and a reasonably intelligent, self-aware, and always ingratiating account of the things it stands for that knows how to draw its readers, even the ones inclined to despise it, into a temporary complicity with itself. I have made the analogy between the Game and the 9/11 Commission Report: they are non-literary texts that provide much of what we turn to literature to provide, often through an unintentional series of elisions of perspective that take on the quality of literature.

I told the Voice reporter who was asking me about my piece, and who wanted to know the extent to which my researches were confined to the theoretical, that I hadn't, in fact, applied any of the methods taught in the Game, but had instead, absorbed a "whole ethos of approaching life as one of manipulating others to do our will." I was kidding, or exaggerating, of course, but there was an element of truth to it.

The Rousseauist egalitarianism of television and the wide-eyed, sentimental idealism of our American youths -- steeped in ideals of innocence, and true sincerity, liberal perfectionism, bourgeois moralism, and unmediated love -- do not withstand the test of life. I discovered, at 30, the Maxims of La Rochefoucauld, and found in this jaded 17th century French aristocrat and Frondeur, a guide through the vicissitudes of life, and the hypocrises of people . I feel at home with him in a way that I do with only a few other writers:

He helped me to find bearable things that I hadn't been equipped to deal with about life in a place like New York. And in their own homespun, autodidactic, nerdy way, the Game shows people their own world as it is in a way that has palpable and immediate value to them. It also equips them to destroy themselves and become complicit in their own misshaping and the further misshaping of the world -- the difference between a critical and a positivist system-- so the book has to be read at the proper distance, but also with the right intellectual framework. That's what I was groping for in my Game piece.

1 comment:

muthacourage said...

hi wesley, really enjoy the writing but is there any chance you could invert the white on black? the colours are doing a number on my eyes and probably others besides, cheers