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  • Karol Olesiak

In Defense of Play


I have met many smart individuals in this life but most of them are only smart enough to be dangerous and not smart enough to do something selfless and good. There is a fundamental difference between intelligence and intellect. Intelligence is something we measure: the ability to remember, analyze, deal with abstraction.


Oxford English Dictionary describes an intellectual as someone who uses creativity to solve problems. The intellectual game requires an act of volition, a willingness to engage. A child is not an intellectual -- a child wouldn’t play a game that isn’t interesting.



When I was trying to learn more about my grandfather (who I had never met) I asked my uncle to describe him to me. He said that he was the kind of player that was able to play down to the level of any opponent for the sheer love of the game. That crowd played a lot of bridge. My uncle declared that he was not such a player. That he did not possess such patience.


In both lucid and abstractionless moments of clarity, I resolve that the game is one of the foundational tenants of reality. All higher intelligence animals (monitor lizards, crows, dogs, etc.) have an innate ability to play. I wrote a letter to Bernard Suits the author of The Grasshopper: Games Life and Utopia, the book had a profound effect on me, it felt like a determined destination. The book is written in a Socratic dialogue where Aesop’s Grasshopper defends his state of play himself to the industrious ant.


In defense of play, always check if the person you are writing to is still alive because without a recipient a message is an essay and my letter was not a worthy essay. The self has an immune system and a letter without a destination, to stand alone, triggers something. The way my grandfather played bridge might be the most masterful form of play. I think my uncle was insulting my grandfathers’ memory a tad.


Intelligent people have disdain for intellectuals because they bore easily. Boredom is a hurdle some never mount because there are no real prerequisites, a person could, especially if they are of means or find means, spend their whole lives never confronting themselves, confronting that they find themselves boring. There is an adage that only boring people get bored. The boring get bored seek out company. Even mentioning solitude evokes an aggressive response from stoics that need the definition of pack order.


There is a voice that is cultivated through an inner monologue that is paramount in engaging others. Conversation is an art -- for everything else you can ask a speaker -- do a google search. Being alone is the only way a person will do something that matters. Not compromising or democratizing yourself out of fear of isolation. Not afraid to face who you are, who you really are, what your actions say you are. Self-awareness does not mean knowing what you want.



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