Man, Play and Games by Roger Caillois
According to Roger Caillois, play is “an occasion of pure waste: waste of time, energy, ingenuity, skill, and often of money.” In spite of this – or because of it – play constitutes an essential element of human social and spiritual development. In this classic study, Caillois defines play as a free and voluntary activity that occurs in a pure space, isolated and protected from the rest of life.
Play is uncertain, since the outcome may not be foreseen, and it is governed by rules that provide a level playing field for all participants. In its most basic form, play consists of finding a response to the opponent’s action – or to the play situation – that is free within the limits set by the rules. Caillois qualifies types of games – according to whether competition, chance, simulation, or vertigo (being physically out of control) is dominant – and ways of playing, ranging from the unrestricted improvisation characteristic of children’s play to the disciplined pursuit of solutions to gratuitously difficult puzzles. Caillois also examines the means by which games become part of daily life and ultimately contribute to various cultures their most characteristic customs and institutions. Presented here in Meyer Barash’s superb English translation, “Man, Play and Games” is a companion volume to Caillois’ “Man and the Sacred”.
“Well worth the attention of every sociologist interested in the relationship of culture to play”
American Sociological Review
“A book to be read for ideas”
American Journal of Sociology
“An excellently conceived work”
Ways of Seeing by John Berger
How do we see the world around us? The Penguin on Design series includes the works of creative thinkers whose writings on art, design and the media have changed our vision forever.
“Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak“
But there is also another sense in which seeing comes before words. It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but word can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it. The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. John Berger’s Ways of Seeing is one of the most stimulating and influential books on art in any language.
First published in 1972, it was based on the BBC television series about which the London Sunday Times critic commented: “This is an eye-opener in more ways than one: by concentrating on how we look at paintings . . . he will almost certainly change the way you look at pictures”
By now he has.
John Peter Berger (born November 5th, 1926) is an art critic, painter and novelist.
On Photography by Susan Sontag
A classic, first published in 1973, this is a study of the force of photographic images which are continually inserted between experience and reality. Sontag develops further the concept of ‘transparency’. When anything can be photographed and photography has destroyed the boundaries and definitions of art, a viewer can approach a photograph freely with no expectations of discovering what it means. This collection of six lucid and invigorating essays, the most famous being “In Plato’s Cave” make up a deep exploration of how the image has affected society.
Susan Sontag is one of America’s best-known and most admired writers. Her critical essays have established her as one of the leading commentators on contemporary culture. She is the author of several work of fiction and her non-fiction and has also written and directed four feature films and stages plays in the US and Europe.
313 total views, 2 today