Monday, January 28, 2008

Existence as a game of chance


In Nietzsche and Philosophy Deleuze discusses the importance of thinking about existence in terms of a game. This game has two moments and compounded with a third term. The first moment is the affirmation of becoming, the second is the affirming the being of becoming, and the third term is the player. Importantly, as with all of Deleuze’s philosophy, this game should be considered as immanent production. To describe the game of existence Deleuze considers it in terms of a dice throw. The first moment is when the dice are thrown and the second is when the dice fall back. The dice are thrown from the earth and the sky is where the dice fall back. However, the earth and the sky should not be regarded as two separate worlds, but rather two moments of the same world. Just like midday and midnight.
The significance of the dicethrow is the game brings chance into affirmation. Through throwing the dice the player is affirming chance as the dice are thrown into the sky from the earth. The problem for Deleuze is the player who does not know how to play the game: ‘The bad player.’ The bad player is the player who regards throwing the dice as a purpose, ‘the bad player counts on several throws, on a great number of throws. In this way he makes use of causality and probability to produce a combination that he sees as desirable. He posits this combination itself as an end to be obtained, hidden behind causality’ (p25). The bad player plays for himself. He uses reason and causality to obtain a desired end. He continually roles the dice and resents not obtaining his desired goal or being the purpose for playing. The bad player does not realise that ‘the universe has no purpose, that it has no end to hope for’ (p25). In short the bad player denies the continual affirmation of chance as the game is played to give it a purpose. For example, to play the game as a bad player would believe man is both the end and the purpose. The problem is this approach fails to realise man is part of the game.
Another problem is each dice throw is a different dicethrow. It is not a question of considering several dicethrows as part of the same act, but rather concentrating on each single dicethrow as the dicethrow is the eternal return of difference. Each dicethrow is thrown from the earth into the sky, an individuation, where the eternal return is the second moment. When the dice fall into the sky all the parts of chance are affirmed. I am tempted to say this is when something emerges. However, when something is affirmed in the eternal return it is a singular throw. If we do not view the dicethrow as singular then the act becomes part of the discourse of identity, where each dicethrow is done for the same purpose.
Lastly, the player should be view as tied to the space of the dicethrow. The dynamics of the game mean the dice require the player to throw them (or to pass a force through them). Deleuze states this point in Difference and Repetition, ‘a dynamic space must be defined from the point of view an observer tied to that space, not from an external position’ (p29). Literally, the player ought to be regarded as being plugged into the game. This means the player and the game are part of the single sense that is being realised/actualised.

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