Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Wednesday March 3, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 8:00 PM

Deep Play

In the previous entry, there was a reference to Carl Kaysen, former director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and father of Susanna Kaysen, author of Girl, Interrupted.

A search for further information on Carl Kaysen led to

Mark Turner, Cognitive Dimensions of Social Science: The Way We Think About Politics, Economics, Law, and Society, Oxford University Press, 2001.  For a draft of this work, click here.

Turner’s book describes thought and culture in terms of what he calls “blends.”  It includes a meditation on

Clifford Geertz, “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight,” in Dædalus, Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, issue entitled, “Myth, Symbol, and Culture,” Winter 1972, volume 101, number 1

That Turner bases weighty ruminations of what he is pleased to call “social science” on the properties of cockfights suggests that the academic world is, in some respects, even more bizarre than the mental hospital described by Kaysen’s daughter.

Still, Turner’s concept of “blends” is not without interest.

Here is a blend based on a diagram of the fields in which Turner and Kaysen père labor:

“politics, economics,
law, and society” (Turner)

and “economics, sociology,
politics and law” (Kaysen).

In the previous entry we abstracted from the nature of these academic pursuits, representing them simply as sets in a Venn diagram.  This led to the following religious icon, an example of a Turner “blend” —

The Jewel
in Venn’s Lotus.

Here is another “blend,” related both to the religious material in the previous entry and to Geertz’s influential essay.

From my entry for
St. Patrick’s Day, 2003

Summa Theologica

How can you tell there’s an Irishman
present at a cockfight?
He enters a duck.
How can you tell a Pole is present?
He bets on the duck.
How can you tell an Italian is present?
The duck wins.

(Source: Blanche Knott,
Truly Tasteless Jokes)

Illustration for the entries
of Oct. 27, 2003:

El Pato-lógico and a

“dream of heaven.”


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