A GBG Test Case Move:

Mark Line's Game and William Horden's Intrachange

This piece contains the responses I received from Mark Line and William Horden to my suggestion of a "test case" move for GBG designers

Charles Cameron


Some while back, I proposed a possible Glass Bead Game move as a "test case" for those who are attempting to design GBGs. The idea was that those of us working on GBG design could comment on whether or not this particular move would be possible in our various Games, and if so, perhaps illuminate the way the Games are played by describing the way in which such a move would be "recorded".

The move in question was one which might easily be made in one of my own HipBone Games, and I was fairly sure it could also form the basis of a viable move in one of Terence MacNamee's linguistic games, one of Ron Hale-Evans' Kennings games, or in Dunbar Aitken's Glass Plate Game.

But what of the other attempts that are afoot?

I received two responses to this post which illuminated, respectively, the ways in which Mark Line's Game and William Horden's Intrachange would handle the move in question, and those two responses. I was gratified by these responses, which gave me a much better understanding of what the two games in question might look like in actual play, and am reproducing them here, after giving a brief account of the move itself.

The move itself:

I described the "test case" move thus:

Michael Ventura has a very interesting observation in the wonderful essay "Hear that Long Snake Moan" which can be found in his book, Shadow Dancing in the USA.

His insight is based on the idea that Dixieland jazz emerges from Voodoo seances in New Orleans: at a time when voodoo was strongly prohibited, the drums of the sacred dance continued to beat as the drums of the secular -- and that when the drumming reached such a pitch that in voodoo one of the dancers would become possessed by a loa, in jazz a soloist would take flight.

In Ventura's view, the relationship between ensemble dancing and the emergence of individual trance in voodoo, and ensemble playing and the emergence of the solo in jazz is not merely a fortuitous and close parallelism, but the direct translation of the moment of ecstatic breakthrough from one medium to the other.

Mark Line's response:

I would like to propose this insight as a sort of test case for our various game approaches, so that I could ask you these questions:
I'll answer them for my game, with the caveat that my game is still under development; in particular, the 'analytical language' is something that I want to stabilize through play, not by fiat. I'll take a stab at this nonetheless.
In your game, would this move be possible?
Yes. This is the kind of structure my version of the game is made for.
If so, how would it be notated?
There are very many ways it might be notated, depending on how much detail the player(s) choose to include and how many players there are. It would also be a function of how detailed the available Canon is (i.e. how much can simply be _assumed_ from the shared ontological commitment).

The most likely possibility is that Ventura's idea would be represented as the result of a completed third-order game with 1, 2 or 4 players. Simply put, a completed first-order game is a semantic network with certain graph-theoretic properties; a second-order game is a pair of completed first-order games that share the same topology (same relationships between entities, if you will, but with different entities); a third-order game links up all the entities in each of the halves of an underlying second-order game with its own relationships (sometimes introducing new entities of its own).

I don't have a glyph language to throw at you at this point, and using my conlang would have no added value here since I'd have to define every term in English anyway. So in the notation below, I've simply written the [Entity] glyphs in brackets, and left the Relation glyphs free. One notational aspect is important, though: [Entity] glyphs can never be added to any game (of any order) more than once; once you've inserted an [Entity], any Relations that touch it all touch the same glyph. So where I've written the same [Entity] more than once below, you have to imagine a graph structure linking the Relations to just one instance of this [Entity] glyph. This anchoring rule does not hold for Relations: you insert a Relation glyph for each Relation you're asserting. I'm not even going to try to draw an ASCII graphic of this network, but I'll see if I can draw something HTML-embeddable tonight. Bear with me.

Leaving out lots of details that may reasonably be filled in from the Canon, the notation of Ventura's idea as the result of a third-order game might be along these lines:

Second-Order Game:

First-Order Game #1:
[VoodooDanceGroup] Perform [VoodooDance]
[VoodooAdept] Perform [VoodooTrance]
[VoodooAdept] MemberOf [VoodooDanceGroup]
[VoodooTrance] EmergeFrom [VoodooDance]

First-Order Game #2:

[JazzEnsemble] Perform [JazzEnsemblePlay]
[JazzSoloist] Perform [JazzSolo]
[JazzSoloist] MemberOf [JazzEnsemble]
[JazzSolo] EmergeFrom [JazzEnsemblePlay]

Third-Order Game:

[VoodooDanceGroup] CommonAttrib [Gulf/Caribbean Black]
[JazzEnsemble] CommonAttrib [Gulf/Caribbean Black]
[MainstreamSociety] Permit:Not [VoodooDance]
[MainstreamSociety] Permit [JazzEnsemblePlay]
[VoodooTrance] KindOf [DesiredEcstaticEvent]
[JazzSolo] KindOf [DesiredEcstaticEvent]
[VoodooAdept] Experience [DesiredEcstaticEvent]
[JazzSoloist] Experience [DesiredEcstaticEvent]

It is possible that First-Order Game #1 might have been played and stored in the Game Archive, pulled by new players and expanded to the Second-Order Game and likewise stored in the Game Archive, being pulled finally by yet another player or group of players to develop it into the Third-Order Game we see here.

William Horden's Intrachange

In your game, would this move be possible?
Yes, this move is possible within the Intrachange model.
If so, how would it be notated?
It would be notated using established Intrachange notation. Since different Players would doubtless represent this move via various strategies, I cannot give the "only" notation.

However, I will give my own and, begging everyone's indulgence, provide the symbolism of that notation.

In what follows, I will use the nomeclature found in the Intrachange website, assuming that the least bored Players will refer to the information therein.

For demonstration purposes, I will assume that the Black King is located on Square 55 and that the White Queen is on Square 49.

The notation for this move, then, is:

Black King 55 : 48 = 49 K x Q
because of the nature of the concepts involved, I would play this out within the Higher Levels of Play (Self-Realization Level and Artistic-Creative Level). This implies that I would not be concerned with the strategic advantages/disadvantages of placing this piece on this square at this time (as I would were I playing on the Game Level).

from the Master Correlation Chart

I would choose to represent this Move with the Black King because the King represents the Intelligentsia, the Savant, and I would focus on the spiritual and artistic "underground" to which both fields (jazz and voodoo) belong as facets of subversive worldviews (subversive to the mainstream culture within which they exist; both are, of course, life-affirming, constructive, activities in and of themselves).

I would have the Black King capture the White Queen because the queen represents authority and the ruling class, etc.

from the Keywords Master List

The King's move from Square 55 to Square 48 results in an Exoteric Move from Nonspecialization to Internalization: for me, this would symbolize the background dynamics of a people uprooted and dragged into a culture for which all their cultural values and norms provide little preparation, hence a concentration of the energy (spiritual, psychological, cultural) within themselves. in other words: without established outlets (specializations) by which to express themselves, a dislocated people internalize the values, beliefs, and cultural norms in order to preserve their identity in a hostile social environment.

This particular Exoteric Move results in an Esoteric Move Move from Square 48 to Square 49, whereupon the White Queen is captured. Beyond the specific symbolism involved, the Esoteric Move signifies, generally, an ulterior, hidden, private, higher, or more subtle, motive (strategy). The movement of the King from Square 48 to Square 49 represents, in the particular, a movement from Internalization to Communion. For me, this move would symbolize the "deep" purpose (Communion) of the "surface" acitivity (Internalization): the concentration of cultural energy within a dislocated people finds expression in acts of communion (with the spirit-world and with one another).

This Esoteric move results in a specfic change in the 6th degree (the King, the Savant) named Spiritualization. This symbolizes a process, of course, in which the apparent meaninglessness of the profane is is channeled, transformed, into the meaningfulness of sacred acts, activities, or participation. The capture of the White Queen on Esoteric Square 49 would symbolize the psychological or spiritual defeat of the mainstream status quo and its authority.

Having thus established my background context, I would again refer to the Master Correlation Chart and attempt to synthesize other Correlations--especially those of Ontology, Psychology, Sociology, Language, and Music. Each of the three Squares involved in this Move can be represented by a series of corresponding forces within the two domains of the Situations, or Contexts, within which change takes place: Inner Nature and Outer Nature.

Square 55

Outer Nature: Completion - Fulfillment - Government - Space - Relaxed
Inner Nature: Interruption - Disintegration - Dissent - Matter - Longing
Square 48
Outer Nature: Creation - Imagination - Exploration - Abstraction - Driven
Inner Nature: Interruption - Disintegration - Dissent - Matter - Longing
Square 49
Outer Nature: Valuation - Transcendence - Myth - Affections - Belonging
Inner Nature: Interruption - Disintegration - Dissent - Matter - Longing

Likewise, using the same chart, I would map the specific meaning of the Esoteric Move in the 6th degree across the same Correlations to Ontology, Psychology, Sociology, Language, and Music.

6th degree: Well-Being - Disengagement - Savant - Counsel - Intent
Synthesizing the above, I would first note that all the changes occur in Outer Nature: the Inner Nature does not change across Situations/Contexts and I would focus on the sense of dislocation expressed by the on-going experience of having one's externally-determined "fate" interrupted, one's culture disintegrated, one's relationship with the mainstream culture being one of dissent, one's self treated as mere matter, a mere lump of clay devoid of feelings or personhood, all pervaded by an irreversible feeling of dispossession and longing.

I would note, secondly, the progression of Contexts moved through by changes in the Outer Nature. These move from a staus quo (55) to a creative, driven, phase marked by abstraction (48) to a situation of mythic import marked by an expression of values, transcendent experiences, free expression of affections/feelings, all within a re-capured sense of belonging (49). I would especially focus on the progression through the Language Correlation (Space - Abstraction - Affections), as I see in this evolution a way to speak about the experience of the invisible (forces within Space perceived seldom and by few; forces whose nature must be Abstracted from their actions; forces whose presence is marked by changed Affections and affects) as it "possesses" the visible--in this case, within the experiential fields of voodoo and jazz.

And, third, I would note the confluence of elements related to the Esoteric Move in the 6th degree: this Move is marked by an increased sense of well-being via a concentration of cultural norms allowing free expression of spiritual (voodoo) and artistic (jazz) acts; it also marks an increased sense of disengagement from the mainstream culture; it also places authority within the functional entity of the savant (voodoo priest/priestess and the jazz musician/virtuoso); the priest/priestess in particular is able to offer counsel to it participants--counsel that cannot be gained through the former authority of the church/state; and, it symbolizes a changed form of a long-held intent (to maintain cultural identity and individual autonomy in the face of repression).

The function of "intent" is important, since it is the corresponding correlate to Black King within the Music Correlation: it forms the bridge (Spiritualization) between the Exoteric Square (Internalization) and the Esoteric Square (Communion). Likewise, "disengagement" functions within the Psychology Correlation as a descriptor of the process undergone by the ego-identity during the altered state and subsequent possession of the voodoo practitioner (the same could probably be hypothesized as an accurate descriptor of the jazz soloist's experience during live performance).

I will halt my analysis of this Move at this point since I don't know if anyone's really this interested. But I will point out that further analysis could be performed (see "I Ching Material" and the Research Tools, including on-line search engines and dictionary/thesaurus/etc--all of which are on the website). It goes without saying, I suppose, that each facet of this Move relates to corresponding passages (hexagrams and line changes) of the I Ching.

Not only might another Player choose a different Move (within Intrachange) to represent the one suggested by Charles, but every other Player would respond to the Keywords in their own way, just as I have, and translate them into symbolism that reflects their own subjective perspectives. the express purpose of the Keywords is to provide archetypal concepts that trigger subjective associations--and individual expressions of their own unique Symbolism of the Moves.

This "move" as represented by Charles actually looks more like the "outcome" of a Move in Intrachange (Symbolism of the Move). In other words, the "approach" of Intrachange works in reverse as well: the Move as notated and analyzed could suggest associations that triggered a memory of having read Ventura's book and hypothesis, which could then be inserted as the Player's Symbolism of the Move--rather than (as in the current process) starting with the Symbolism of the Move (Ventura's hypothesis) and then arriving at a Move reflective of that symbolism. Both approaches are equally valid and, hopefully, equally meaningful.

If I were trying to do original work, I'd attempt to use the Move as a means of analyzing the relationships between these concepts in an effort to arrive at my original hypothesis.

Appreciative thanks to Mark Line and William Horden for these contributions.

Go to:

Mark Line's Game
William Horden's Intrachange
Hermann Hesse and Glass Bead Game Design sub-index
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