Displaced, culturally uprooted, and nonetheless trapped in dominant structures of thought: a stultifying contradiction for Vilém Flusser. He experiences the world as a network of rules for games; the establishment of rules is “the fundamental motive of all understandings between humans” (Kommunikologie, 1996, p. 257; translated from the German). Codes are used to change phenomena into meaning or as conventions of how to look at things. How can we get free® of all that? How do new elements come into play – without tumbling into “chaos (antigame)” (ibid., p. 331; translated from the German)? Flusser devises mental tools, instructions for playing in spaces of possibility: for example, intentional forgetting (Dinge und Undinge, 1993, p. 53), impossible journeys (Angenommen, 1989, p. 10), or “social games” (“Gesellschaftsspiele,” in: Hartwagner, Iglhaut, and Rötzer, Künstliche Spiele, 2013).
Society as a game? Flusser finds a “model of humanity’s being-in-the-world” in “players […] at the intersection of a number of variously constituted games” (Kommunikologie, p. 331; translated from the German). Connotation-ridden systems such as art, politics, economy, and science are reduced – as games – to abstract “quantiable models,” “equivalent strategies” (ibid., p. 336; translated from the German) “consisting of elements […] that can be manipulated according to dened rules” (ibid., p. 330; translated from the German). Here we are dealing with metarules, and changing these is a matter of: (a) expanding their repertoire, opening them up; (b) adding noise to them, making them informative; © crossing them, producing metagames. Those without a homeland are particularly competent as metaplayers (more competent than machines) and can translate the codes of a variety of games.
Even so, Flusser fails – perhaps because games must not only be imagined, but also made and played. Among the jongleurs de Notre-Dame, the “joculari [iocus, jest] were the real players” (Kommunikologie weiter denken, 2009, p. 201; translated from the German). Only in “second- order games” (Rötzer, Ist das Leben ein Spiel?, 2013, p. 18; translated from the German) is it possible to criticize the rules of play for a society and experiment with the application of metarules. The greatest danger is certainly not unfair rules; the greatest danger is the extinction of the ability to imagine alternative realities, other games.