Friday, April 1, 2011

Play Play Talk

Robin Hanson discusses play talk. We of course see this sort of thing in a great deal of literature. Shakespeare is, of course, famous for it -- and rightly so: "Strong drink giveth the desire, but taketh away the ability." (from Macbeth). That's one of his more obvious lines, meant to play for laughs, but we see a great array of play talk among his characters, especially in his comedies. In hsi tragedies, we also see such play talk, but it is play talk that is simultaneously deadly serious, and is designed to be duplicitous.

Why would one see a great deal of play talk in plays? I suppose one could ask what is more obviously play talk than what is said in plays themselves? More, literature can often allow one to say what cannot be said. It has been said that literature says the unsayable -- and it does so through play. But this can also be true for what is unsayable politically or socially as well. A work itself may be a metaphor for some social or political situation. Yet because it's not obvious, because it's play talk (and play action), there is plausible deniability. It may be that plays and other forms of literature came about precisely because it allowed people to say what was politically and culturally unsayable, but which the authors felt needed to be said.

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