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ABSTRACT. This essay, capitalizing on one of Emil Cioran’s unforgettable statement (when you know quite absolutely that everything is unreal, you then cannot see why you should take the trouble of proving it) examines several theories in relation to play and game, seen as formative of culture and identity. Unlike Johan Huisinga, who sees play as foundational of human culture, I see play as the modality of the social game, which is a complex web of identities inscribed in language, where all players acquire and maintain a role, with some room left for improvisation. Art, I believe, is where players of the game of social identity find some respite from the restrictions or rules of the game, yet art can never fulfill its promise of existing outside the game, as language always finds a way to appropriate it. Several theories aid in my claim, mainly Huisinga with his discussion of play, Jean Baudrillard with his discussion of reality as simulation, Jacques Derrida with his discussion of language as repetition and replacement, and Jean-Francois Lyotard with his discussion of legitimation, and of art as pagan festival. In the end, I claim that we all fear that the game’s lack of reality can be exposed at any moment, so we legitimize the game and thus maintain our identities within it. pp. 100-108

Keywords: play, game, game theory, legitimation, art, Huisinga, Baudrillard, Derrida, Lyotard

Liana Vrajitoru Andreasen
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South Texas College, United States of America

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