Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Logic of Play

TBIPS’ Relational Study Group is reading a very interesting paper this fall by Shachaf Bitan
[Bitan, S. (2012). Winnicott and Derrida: Development of Logic-of-Play. Int. J. Psa., 93:29-51.] Bitan writes, “Winnicott [In Playing and Reality (1971)] was concerned with play as a special form of experiencing and being in the world” and that creative living is “playful relations between opposites...”  The logic of play is “both a conceptual framework for theoretical clinical thinking and a space of experiencing in which the therapeutic situation is located and to which it aspires.” Winnicott viewed the “[t]herapeutic encounter … as a playful space in which analyst and analysand continuously exist…” and Bitan proposes that the logic of play is “the basis for the therapeutic encounter….crucial…for two-person psychology.” He says that both Winnicott and Jacques Derrida, eschewing dichotomy, viewed oppositions as paradox, peacefully coexisting (Derrida), playfully coexisting — not complementary or contradictory. Furthermore, says Bitan, “Winnicott and Derrida emphasize playfulness as an inherent element of experience and language.”

Bitan thinks that the therapeutic situation becomes a playful space when two subjects are not starkly distinct, but coexist peacefully. He considers play as “an ongoing movement” rather than something to be examined, both a frame and infinite possibility. Play is paradox, both real and created, what Bitan calls ‘finding’ (in externality) and ‘founding’ (as in a foundry, manufacturing, that is, created, as in fantasy).  In play, it is not necessary to resolve discrepancies or close gaps (just be mindful of them, allowing them to be “respectfully associated with each other”). Bitan notes that [Cartesian] logic is an attempt to control reality, and that this logic limits possibility. For Derrida meaning comes from identity and difference “through a repetition that is already penetrated with difference…. Each pole is revealed to be contaminated by its opposite, thus being itself paradoxical or, more accurately, playful…” (Bitan tells us that Derrida does not use the term ‘paradox’ because it inherently carries two violently clashing, contradictory poles; Derrida prefers peaceful “inter-coexistence.” ) And where does this ‘contamination’ occur: in play –where neither opposition is defensively negating the other—in the transitional space of not ‘either/or’ but ‘and.’  “In playful relations (Bitan’s italics) oppositions coexist and interpenetrate each other, such that they are no longer ‘certain opposites’. Within the logic of play, dichotomous oppositions become interpenetrated by each other…The playful movement suggests an ongoing process of found-ing of meaning through a dialogical discourse with an-other.”

1 comment:

shachaf bitan said...

Hi There,

I have accidently get to your blog, and was delighted to find such illuminative summary of my paper. I hope you have enjoyed it, and that it enriched your theoretical and clinical thought and work.