George

“What about new books?” Jorge asked me, sighing as if distracted, stopping thinking about me and what he had asked me.

He was pale, haggard, sleepy-faced and in a bad mood. I looked at him with attention and fixity, and giving a certain malicious intention to my words, I replied:

—I just saw that Carlos Groos, you know, the German scholar who published Die Spiele der Tiere ( The Games of Animals ) in 1896 , now publishes Die Spiele der Menschen ( The Games of Man ).

-Yes; I already remember. Animal games … There is no other game than that. Because … brave animals are all those who play!

“Man, do n’t you play with the word …

“I know it’s ugly to play mouthball … And, strictly speaking, it’s forbidden … See the article …

-I do not say that. You play with the word; because animals …

-Yes; I already understand you. It’s about animals … not humans. Well, Mr. Groos slanders them. Animals do not play. Just play the man, who is the only metaphysical being and gambler. It is an effect of blissful evolution. What a remedy! I wanted to correct myself, give up the vice … but … impossible … It’s a matter of heredity … of the race. I have read it in Ihering, in the History of the Indo-Europeans before their separation . That is disconsolate. Our ancient patriarchal and bucolic ancestors … they were hardened gamers. They killed time, the monotonous time of that limp life, without variety, without new emotions, playing and playing … And this, generations and generations … You see! Who can more than habit embedded in inheritance? … Pastors … and players …

“Enough of prehistoric and Darwinian apologies … You haven’t understood me, or you haven’t wanted to understand me … or everything tastes like what itches you.” The game Groos is talking about is not that; It is the game as fun or recreation, according to the Dictionary, in which no other purpose is pursued than the distraction itself …

—A purpose of the Dictionary. Those who speak ill of this academic book do not know its great merit. It’s a book on morals … At least for me, it almost converted me. You will see what happened. One day, seeing myself stuck in the rogue game, without being able to remedy it, convinced that the amendment purposes were useless, I wanted to know at least how the vice that dominated me was defined academically, and I went to the official Dictionary, and read: ” Game, hobby, recreation, that which is done out of a spirit of joy and just for fun and entertainmentI know.” It wasn’t this; my game was not a hobby, nor was it joy; It was hell! … I continued reading: “Recreational exercise subject to rules, and in which you win or lose.” The exercise did not fill me , because you do so little exercise spending twelve hours close to the green mat! And the “win or lose” is not exact, because many times it remains … at stake, neither is it lost nor is it won. If the banker kills with nine and so do I … I neither lose nor win. And if I leave the Casino with the same money with which I entered … I neither lose nor win. “To give it more incentive,” the Dictionary continues, “frequently venture some money into it.” Academics must be nickelsfor that way of speaking. “It deserves disapproval — continues the Academy — when the gain or the loss may be important; when it is played for vice or when the player does not intend to have fun or entertain himself, but to make someone else’s money his own . ” Reading this, I felt all the blood on my face; he was dead with shame. What an unexpected lesson the official lexicon gave me ! How much had I read against gambling! But never that slap of morality had hit my face. Tolstoy with his maniacal morals, fighting like gambling, wine, tobacco … military service and work, had not made me blush. Whenever gambling was attacked as a vice, I apologized with the decency that vicious people can have. The game seemed diabolical to me, but noble, playing as a gentleman, it is clear. How many sophisms I had invented to excuse my vice! I had found analogies with a thousand things, bad, but not embarrassing. Just as illegal love is a sin, but not sordid, not low, the game seemed to me incompatible with the orderly economic life of society … but not infamous, not vile, not petty; unrelated to greed, to theft. Jesus, theft! And suddenly the Dictionary, wham, gave me that slap … I hadn’t noticed! He went to the game to make other people’s money his… It was true; that’s what he was going to. The same as usurers and thieves … to make someone else’s money … against the will of its owner too; because no one has the will to lose. What is your own money exposed in exchange? The miser also exposes health, life; the usurer is exposed to remain without the loan, and the thief … to go to prison. Yes, there is no doubt; That is what the game is: wanting to keep someone else’s money. Do you want to believe that the game disgusted me? I saw in myself a sin of the base nature from which I had always believed myself free; a sordid sin, of injustice to others, of a disgusting psyche … ( Pause. )

-And that?

“Well, nothing.” That I was without playing … a long time.

“A lot, eh?”

-Yes; several weeks!

“But how did you return to the sordid, to the base, to what … (excuse me, you said so) resembled theft? …

-You’ll see. I checked my accounts. By my calculations, I, on the whole, had lost much more money than gained. Some still had me there thousands of dollars. He was going for revenge. I was going for my thing. That wasn’t gambling, and I wasn’t making someone else’s money … but mine.

“Come on, yes; You had made a sign to the coins and bills, and when it was not yours you won … you returned them.

—You know that money is considered a fungible thing …

“Well then? … Besides, your debtors (!), That is, those who had won you, were they the same ones you were winning?”

—That argument has less force than the one he used to overwhelm the wicked reality …

-And went?…

“That those gentlemen, who weren’t the ones who had beaten me … they also beat me.” ( New pause. )

I felt sorry for poor Jorge. I did not mean to bother you with new virtuous observations so easy to find. It’s so easy to deal with vices from the sidelines when you don’t have them!

“The game!” Continued the player. “Philosophers don’t know what it is. Montaigne, who has talked about so many things, so many vices, has no chapter dedicated to the game. Montaigne spoke of what he knew, of what he had experienced. Renan complains that philosophers have not taken love seriously at all, and their true philosophy is undone. And it’s true. And the cause will be that philosophers do not usually fall in love truly. The same thing happens with the game. The aesthetics of the game! exists; but that’s not what those li are talking aboutNew bros … Like the game … is not a game …, it has no game at all, in that other sense of endless finality that Kant was already talking about. The same word should not be used for such different things. A very general opinion among aesthetics is that art … is a game. Schiller, in his famous letters on the science of the beautiful, following Kant, develops the theory admirably …

-Yes; and now the aesthetics of a positivist tendency, or better perhaps that which studies beauty and art in its psycho-physiological aspect, follows the same criteria. Spencer, as is known, also supports the theory of game art …

—And it has been said that play is an excess, a shadow of life … the same as it has been said of love. Renán asked Claudio Bernard one day about the mystery of love, and the great physiologist told him: “No, there is nothing simpler than love; it is the life that is left over … ”So love and play are plentiful, what is overflowing …

—Game, according to this Groos of which we spoke, is a natural exercise of the sensory and motor apparatuses, of the powers of the spirit (intelligence is understood) and of feelings, in attention to pleasure … Activity through the very pleasure of the activity, that is the game …

“What a different thing from the other game , from my game!” The player does not seek pleasure … and in that many who see things from the outside are deceived … He seeks profit; only that he seeks it in the spicy, mysterious, inexplicable way … of luck. Luck! I am about to say that the player is a passionate metaphysician who interrogates the metaphysical mystery closely and with interest in each play … Is there a law? Is there no law? Is it a coincidence? What is chance? Does Providence mix in these things? How useful is the calculation of the probabilities? … And then … a terrible thing! What finally ties me to the game even because of philosophy … I mean, because of sophistry, is … that life is game . Only aspires to the nirvana , to the apathy to the apathy , you can say that is not player. The others all play. Life and death are a way of coparThe bench. Each beat of the heart is a stroke of fortune, a card that is played; every time I breathe I can lose or gain my life … Wealth or misery … gambling …; merit … game. Where does my talent or stupidity come from? Where do the Jewish and Christian ones , the nines or the figures come from ? … From the mystery, from the horrible fifty percent …, from the abyss called pairs or odd, heads or tails …

“This … or the other.” In that or , in that dilemma is the symbol of the game … and of existence … I am now going home …; My children, my entrails, are they sleeping … or dead? … Who knows! … They are sleeping; good! how beautiful! How innocent! But tomorrow? The future, the letter that will touch them … the life that awaits them … What can I do to achieve their future happiness? All my calculations, my forecasts, my cares, my savings, useless martingale ! My hopes … illusion like the player’s superstitions … In the backgroundRegarding the great question of free will, freedom and grace, freedom and determinism, the philosophy of contingency, which today gives its name to a school, what is seen is the crux of the game … Do not; the game, mine , is not fun, it is not a joke, it is not disinterest, it is not an endless purpose … It is quite the opposite; interest, profit, selfishness in the struggle with luck …: the same as life non sancta , which is the life of almost everyone. Great men, heroes , Carlyle said, take reality, the world, seriously. They are not dilettanti . So does the player. Chance for me or against me … This is his idea, always serious, always with an end , always interested …

—However, in the game, not yours , the other, the game for the pleasure of the activity, according to our author, we arrive at what he calls the pleasure of evil , to play with one’s own pain. In addition, there is the catharsis of Aristotle, the pleasure of calm after the storm.

-No it does not matter. Not even there is there an affinity between games and games . The player does not seek the pain of the game, which is great, for the pain, for the pleasure of knowing that it is a pain sought, dear: no, because he knows well that passion dominates him and that pain is not voluntary; and also, tolerates pain for the hope of winning, not for the pleasure of being able to triumph from it. As for catharsis, it has no application … Because calm for the player never comes. Everything is stormy. After you win … you want, you need to win more. He is a wandering Jew, his ambition never stops.

—Groos also speaks of warlike games , those of the pleasure of fighting, of defeating an opponent …

—There is no affinity between games and games in that either . In La Traviata , the tenor plays to beat a rival … That’s music. The gambler really doesn’t want Doe’s money, he wants the money; in the game there are disputes, but there are no rivalries, no personalities, no grudges: there is no enemy other than the opposite . Luck, gain, loss. Those are the categories .

—Well, Groos says verbatim that gambling is war games , and gambling intellectual gambling. The game of chance has for him three elements: the pleasure of winning, which grows with the importance of what is risked, without the profit itself being the object of the game ; the pleasure of strong arousal, and the pleasure of fighting …

“Yes, parlor guns, wind guns.” There is that game …, the lottery of the old women … and still! Do not; in the game really do not feel such childish emotions; you want money, profit, and you want the only path of the player, luck. That comes out expensive, if we play expensive; That they are even, if we play even … and not to get it right, but to win. Good luck, interest, that’s all. Strong excitement! That is not an incentive even if the player thinks it is. It’s a punishment, it’s a curse of the game, like regret , shameto lose, later. Disengage yourself; the game … no joke. It’s like life, it’s like metaphysics … Rational life wants to penetrate the mystery to find out about its destiny, because it fears and wants to wait, be happy … The player, the same. To be or not to be , that is the question … To come or not to come … that is the question. Being the one who jumps ; that’s what the player does. And that is what he does who does not renounce the contingencies of reality. Either be holy … or play …

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