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Reply To: Riddle Me This,” with mythologist John Bucher, Ph.D.”


    John, your response was most kind and deeply appreciated. And since we are at the deepest interaction level of human communication at a subliminal level when we play games, your post immediately struck me like a thunderbolt that “winning” is to me is of special importance. So let me introduce the idea of what winning means at an archetypal level, and all the different variations winning can have on the psyche; (especially when considering what “losing” can also mean), to whomever it effects; as either an “affect” of an archetypal image result; (we lost, or we won) and how the entire psyche interprets the results. Whole lives can be impacted by either. “But the goal of most games is usually to win.” So, we have a powerful archetypal force in “Play” that usually takes place between human beings.

    Now if we take the idea of play and take it into a much deeper level where emotions rule; then again, we have endless possibilities because as Jung stated: (I can’t remember exactly where); “the mind is a curious thing”, and at the subconscious level it’s often difficult to tell exactly what kind of mischief gets stimulated by playing a game; depending on whether it’s with people or oneself. A child plays one way with the imagination; and adults often play other ways while assigning meaning to an outcome; (whether personal or abstract, emotional or detached), and now you’ve got psychic elements involved like the ego, shadow, anima/animus, and persona mask; and a whole system begins to move about while the game is in process; and then the end result produces an outcome that this system has to interpret.

    Does this outcome produce something the individual is happy with, or does losing produce disappointment, both leaving a memory that can wind up in the landfill of the psyche; (that like Joseph mentioned can be conjured up by the Shadow from an emotional trigger in the form of something symbolic that the unconscious has buried, and the psyche has to process it before it delivers an emotional response. Sports are great for this kind of projection, but also serious emotional scars from a relationship trauma of some kind as well. My friend betrayed me, my team lost the championship, you want to play catch?, I’m going out to play – want to come? Let’s play that boardgame we use to as kids called Monopoly; how about checkers instead? Then there is that most important of games that of romance; (the game of courtship: “the game of love”; the dating game, the game that grabs you and will not let you rest until you have won. Or lost. The battle of the sexes where the ego gets involved and the heart is not necessarily in play.

    And then there are the final results from the game of life; for after all life is a game, is it not? And we bring the meaning to whatever game we are playing. And like that wonderful line in: “The Dead Poet’s Society”; where high school English Teacher John Keating is talking about the meaning of Poetry and asks: “The powerful Play goes on; what will your verse be?” Or even a better revelation from Joseph Campbell.

    Thank you again for your kindness; your input about games is a joy.