from the introduction:
The goal of play”, the Situationists were stating in their Contribution to a Situationist Definition of Play (1958), “must be at the very least to provoke conditions favourable to direct living.” Back in the 1960s, play was considered by the situationists a decisive factor that could eliminate competitions and hierarchies, bring in passion and desires, and emphasize people’s subjectivities. “Only play can deconsecrate, open up the possibilities of total freedom. This is the principle of diversion, the freedom to change the sense of everything which serves Power” (Vaneigem 1967) Some decades later, the total invasion the situationists were hoping for, partially happened in an unforeseen way, with play being present in many sectors of our lives, used as a tool, as a platform, as a medium. Play’s expansion cannot be doubted but its freedom can be seriously questioned. Play today is enclaved in various politicised and commercialised forms that are considered influential to our culture. But does play itself have the power to change structures and provoke changes in our contemporary times?
Giorgio Agamben considers play a most important element in culture, explaining that it is the only act able to profane what is considered sacred. It can liberate humanity from the “sacred”, without negating it. It can profane the “sacred” without destroying the myth behind; it does not simply politicise. And if play is to cause changes and form our lives in better ways, this would be through its capacity to be an act of profanation by itself. But, unfortunately, this tendency according to Agamben is in decline and the need to regain it is a political necessity (Agamben 2006:127).
What are the conditions of play today? Can it seriously play a role in our everyday lives? Who could re-attribute its capability to profane?