aku-aku: v.. To move a tall, flat bottomed object (such as a bookshelf) by swiveling it alternatively on its corners in a "walking" fashion. [After the book by Thor Heyerdahl theorising the statues of Easter Island were moved in this fashion.] source: LangMaker.com. Aku Aku also has another meaning to the islanders: a spiritual guide.
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in/finite games
Posted by dav at 2005 January 14 09:51 PM
File under: Events

Although I didn't really want to leave Indochina, and felt an especially strong sense of stationary inertia in the village of Pai in Thailand, it is nice to be back in the stimulating environment of San Francisco. A few days after I got back I attended another Long Now seminar, entitled "Religious War in Light of the Infinite Game" delivered by James P. Carse.

Carse is a retired NYU professor who taught history and literature of religion (is this different than 'religious literature' I wonder?). He wrote a popular book Finite and Infinite Games which describes a finite game as one where the participants' intend to win and an infinite game as one where the goal is to keep the game going.

He offers War as the ultimate example of a finite game and Religion as the ultimate example of an infinite game. It was an enjoyable lecture, despite my nigh-psychedelic state of jet lag. He told some charming anecdotes from his personal life and gave brief overviews of his ideas including relevant bits from Hegel and Nietsche.

I'm not sure I agree with his assertion that the popular religions of today are the longest running infinite games. It seems to me that life itself, in terms of biological molecular entities (complex adaptive learning machines) playing in an ecological arena, is the longest running infinite game.

Update: I weaseled out of actually typing in my notes from the lecture, but someone else wasn't as lazy so if you want to read more about Infinite Games check here.

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