Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sailing the whale-road

I was gratified to see a link to this blog in the bookmarks of Ron Hale-Evans, an old-school Glass Bead Game grognard if there ever was one. :-)

In the late 1990s, Ron began developing a new "game form" for the GBG called Kennexions. All GBGs are about creating links between ideas, and this form uses the ancient Nordic poetic device called the kenning, a way of compounding words together to expand upon their interconnections (inter-kennextions, yeah, a little hokey). Kennings can be used to build up complex networks of associations between ideas, but they start with relatively simple analogies.  For example, you can start with:

" sun : sky :: candle : home "

i.e., the sun lights the sky in the same way that a candle lights a home. Then you can use this quartet of terms to create new expressions.  The sun is a "sky-candle."  The sky is the "sun-home." Then the key is to expand out the chain of ideas by using other kennings that share terms. Another old Norse kenning for "sky" is "moon-road," and another one for "house" is "hearth-ship."  There's a whole poetry of ideas that can flow from a simple beginning.

Of course, if it's just about the sky and candles, it could get boring. Some of the other examples that Ron discussed included mythology, alchemy, voodoo, and psychedelic drugs. You want deep meaning?  How about this four-part analogy:

" Hume's notion that humans consist merely of bundles of perceptions : Kant's purported refutation of Hume by his concept of innate categories of perception :: the English Civil War : the Restoration "

Expanding out that sucker is the work of a Ph.D dissertation!

Kennexions is still a work in progress. Ron Hale-Evans is a fan of constructed languages like Lojban, so that looks like it will have a place in this system. He also has a number of ideas for representing kennings and their networks by graphical symbols and glyphs. The actual rules of play, and the roles of cooperation vs. competition, don't yet seem to be nailed down, either. But someone looking to see how Hesse's Glass Bead Game could be built in the real world could do a lot worse than to delve deeply into Ron's Kennexions.

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