9/22/2009 7:37

Thorstein Veblen

In teh actual reality game many plays are made by fully conscious human players and may even be based on largely rational choices.

And then there are other plays.

For myself, there are times when under emotional stress I find myself obsessing on a single word or phrase. The classic case for me is the word "green" (as in "Green Bay", or so I have always supposed). I can remembering walking into West High School focused intensely on the word "green" as if somehow that would justify, if not my entire existence, at least my presence at that particular doorway.

Yesterday morning I woke up with a sore shoulder, a tense body, and thoughts of my brother and sister running through my head (54 years after their deaths). Thus I was not completely astonished to discover that a certain pointless phrase was running over and over through my head.

But why "Thorstein Veblen"?

The choice to devote any significant portion of my intellectual resources to repeating the name of this early commentator on the game was neither rational nor conscious. (Nor, so far as I have noticed, was it a particularly productive move.) But it was another play in the game and it has implications and impacts on subsequent plays. On the one hand, the obsessiveness itself precluded me from making some other plays at the time; on the other hand the unexpected appearence of this name has shifted my attention. Not only did I take time to look Veblen up (then then also his hometown of Cato) but some of Veblen's commentary on the actual reality game casts a slightly altered light over other matters which have been on my mind over the past day.

My playing of the game is thus affected as if there were a second player in my mind, a player whose playing of the game is not clearly rational but who still affects my playing. There is, so to speak, a new piece on the board: Thorstein Veblen has reappeared within the space where I am making my moves. What is more, Thorstein Veblen's old moves in the game are made relevant by the play of my unconscious mind.

Why "Thorstein Veblen"? I have no clue. But here is Veblen, dead since 1929, effectively back in play in the actual reality game of 2009.