Parable of the Game
(Excerpted from Against Ethics by John D. Caputo, pp. 134-137. Author unknown, but listed fictionally as Felix Sineculpa)
the beginning was Being, and Being was unimaginably black and dense.
Being clung to Being without void or division, without light or
manifestness. Being was without non-Being, undivided, without difference
or otherness. Resting within itself, in perfect concentration and
self-identity, Being was wholly gathered to itself, altogether without
strife or movement.
Being was unable to keep this pact with itself, unable to retain its
almost perfect self-compactness, unable to contain itself within itself.
Accordingly, the aboriginal unity burst asunder in an explosion that
cannot be measured by the laws of physics because it was of such
aboriginality as to antedate the laws of physics.
an event that is older than time, in accord with laws that are older
than law, in a world that antedates the cosmic order, Being swirled
outward in vast concentric rings, forming a vast, smooth, seamless sea.
Swirling around and around, sweeping and circling, the vast sea at
length began to differentiate and divide itself, to cluster here and
there in spectacular arrangements, thickening here and thinning there,
producing space and multiplicity from out of itself.
a stretch of time for whose measurement we lack the measure, after a
time that produced time, Being had become a flowing movement, racing
outward in every direction, more Becoming than Being. After a time for
which there is no clock, the swirl of events had settled into certain
regular patterns. These patterns, which It had itself produced, would
come to be called laws, though they are not the laws Being obeyed but
the laws Being produced, the patterns of its drift, the lines and
directions Being forged when It first loosened its grip on itself.
aboriginal energy of Being's great beginning, of the great dense
blackness, was now redistributed across multiple centers of energy,
divided into innumerable smaller clusterings and configurations of
forces, into events that competed endlessly with one another in a great
cosmic Game. The forces vied with one another for supremacy in endless
strive, the weaker forces succumbing to the stronger, the stronger
forces themselves falling before forces stronger still, the whole
growing strong from the struggle of all with all.
had become a Great Game.
was no meanness in Being, no ill will, no will at all, and hence no
guilt. There were only the various victories and defeats, all of which
belonged to the same vast economy, the one great innocent Game, which
did not add or subtract an iota from the whole. Growing larger and
stronger and concentrated in one place took place at the expense of
growing smaller and weaker and more dissipated elsewhere; forces
declined here but grew stronger there. But it was all good sport, all
part of the perfect innocence of the Game, of the round dance of events,
of the Game that Being, which had become a play, played with itself,
without rancor or sorrow.
The play was without care. When one force went under, that was a part of the total economy of forces, the justice of the whole. The whole was just, just because there was no justice of an invidious sort. The play was all and all was just. This was a justice without equality, a justice of unrestricted giving and taking, going over and going under, augmenting and declining, in a total economy without loss. If Being robbed and stole from itself in one place, it was only in order to give and restore to itself in another. If some forces lived off others as predators, that was only in order to allow certain forces to shine with beauty and splendor and so to justify the whole. Coming to be and passing away, in incessant becoming and strife, the whole played the innocuous Game, an innocent war, a war without victims or injustice.
is nothing unjust in the little victories that the forces win, nothing
unfair in their harshness with one another, nothing cruel in their
little contests. Being itself is not cruel or benevolent; it is without
good will or bad; It is without any will at all unless the forces
themselves constitute an army of little wills , of multiple micro-willings
and strivings, struggling with one another in endless, innocent war
games. But war is the father of the events and it bears no ill will
toward its own offspring.
Game was really quite beautiful in those days. It had made itself
beautiful by making itself over into a beautiful swirling dance, a
magnificent pageantry of lights, of battles and clashing swords whose
sparks illuminated their play, whose thunderous noise filled the air
with the music of their play. Everything was charged with the energy of
the Game, everything laughed with the exuberance of the events as they
danced and played. The forces glowed with beauty, going over and going
under in a brilliant display of power and energy and good health.
long ago--although countless aeons after commencement of the Great
Game--in a far-off corner of the universe, naked men wrestled under the
shining Aegean sun, their luminous forms matched in contests that tested
them to the limit, it was as if the Game had forged an image of itself.
It must have seemed to them that Being had cleared a space for itself in
which It could present itself as It is in itself, in which It could
celebrate itself and shine in naked radiance. Once long ago, there was a
time and a place where it seemed as if the Great Game found words to
express itself, temples to enshrine itself, a language and a people to
call its own., where all its wondrous beauty could find a home. It must
have seemed that the Game gave itself with a marvelous generosity that
made the people--its people, its own people--who celebrated the games
rise up in wonder.
length, one of the forces drew up lame, no doubt too much abused by the
harshness of the Game. It soon became weak and ill and seeing how the
other forces prospered in the play it withdrew within itself and became
quite ugly. It curled around itself and hissed its tongue. It grew black
and filled itself with vile humors; it became sullen and sneaky,
malicious and humorless, and it began to smell quite bad too so that it
was not pleasant to be around. Instead of singing and dancing, it began
to crawl and lay traps. It crept across the surface of the other forces,
leaving behind a gossamer net in which the forces would get themselves
trapped and become themselves sick and motionless. It grew more and more
angry and spiteful and filled itself with seething feelings of rancor
ill will toward everything that flourished so in the Game.
Game is evil," the sick forces hissed. "War is a cruel father.
Going under and going over are unjust. More and less, stronger and
weaker are unfair. Becoming is unjust. Life itself, for life is
becoming, is unjust. Movement is wicked and causes pain. Be still. Pain
and suffering are a refutation." "Evil, unjust, unfair,
negation, stop, no": large, black, bloated words crawled into the
throats of the healthy forces and choked them, suffocating them, making
them ill. This was a very cunning stratagem on the part of the lame
forces, cunning and clever. For they had found a way, despicable though
it might be, to win at the Game, a way to undo the healthy, dancing,
stronger forces. They had invented a fiction for themselves that served
their interests well. The lame had invented a way to make the healthy
forces trip, to trap them in their web and then poison them with their
fatal bite. That was very shrewd. They had invented a way to cope with
the Great Game, but it was a base and mean way, which cursed the Game.
was a bad time, but it was only a time, a short time, and it had to pass
away. The Game has all the time it needs, for Being produces time and
Being suffers no loss that It cannot regain in time. The Great Game that
Being plays, indeed which Being is, cannot experience defeat. The Game
is itself made up of victors and vanquished but It cannot itself as a
whole be defeated or suffer a loss. Being plays on and on, swirling and
rolling, configuring itself now this way, now that, in an endless
innocent cosmic dance.
enough, the sick, twisted ugly, ill-smelling forces would themselves
submit to their cosmic fate, would themselves go under according to the
rule of the Game which governs the events, which rules over everything
that happens, everything that comes to be and everything that passes
away. Soon enough, the little bit of cosmic dust on which the sick
forces made their home would vanish. For it too had been spun off by the
Great Swirl and was no more than an infinitesimal speck that revolved
around a tiny little star in a distant, wholly insignificant galaxy far
off in a remote corner of the Great Swirl.
is evil," the sick little forces shouted from the surface of their
tiny little spot of space, their hands cupped to their twisted little
mouths. The Game laughed and danced another round. "Murder is
unjust," the sick forces shouted all the more loudly, growing even
more infuriated at Being's insouciance. But the game gave no answer.
Being laughs and dances, plays and frolics, rolls and swirls in great
cosmic sweeps--but It does not listen. It gives, but It does not hear.
It has no ears to hear. There is no one there, no one to listen. The
Game does not know the forces are there. It does not know them at all,
does not care to know them, does not care at all. Indeed one could speak
of the Game's great stupidity, its great, stupid swirl. It plays because
It plays, without why.
So long after the sick forces perished, for aeons and aeons, the Game continued its mighty swirl. The venomous black words disappeared without an echo, leaving behind not the slightest trace. All that remained was the laughter of the Game as It danced and played across an endless space.
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