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What is necessary?
am 8. März 1999
I think this is one of the most important books I have ever read. It could probably be reread 25 times and you would still never completely "get it." It is like visiting a planet where, if you drop something, it falls to the ceiling, and a 24-hour cycle is assumed to start with night, instead of daybreak. But it is very simple and straightforward; the author is not trying to play any tricks.
The main point of the book is that everything we agree is inevitable, necessary, and unalterable, is really a collective choice to consider it so.
That is not to say that things like loving one's country and marital fidelity are "bad"--only that they can be used in two different ways. One way is to circumscribe and control people's thinking and behavior. Another is to open up more possibilities.
A fictional depiction of the ideas in this book is Finny, the hero of "A Separate Peace." When Finny and his friends are playing an improvised ball game, Leper, something of a stick in the mud, will not accept the ball when it is passed to him, even though he is "supposed to," by any conventional thinking about sports. In normal terms, this "ought" to "end the game"--but Finny, instead, immediately improvises a variation called the "Lepellier refusal," if I remember correctly, thus finding a way to keep Leper in the game.
That is what Infinite Games are about: finding ways to continue the play. Finite games, on the other hand, seek to end themselves as soon as possible and declare winners and losers.
Carse has also written "The Gospel of the Beloved Disciple," an imaginative and provocative rethinking of the gospel story, and "Breakfast at the Victory," an excellent book of reflections on the mystical in ordinary experience. These books, and "Finite and Infinite Games," could also be read profitably along with Clark Strand's "The Wooden Bowl," which touches on some of the same ideas: that moments of grace and self realization are spontaneous, and we then proceed to invent various paraphernalia and apparatus, organizational structures and chains of command, gurus and sacred scriptures.