000 (2019)

To live comes to mean to be part of absurd games. Every question in relation to the meaning of games becomes metaphysics in the pejorative sense. To want to know if this or that televised program is “live” or videotaped, or if the character on screen is a politician or an actor representing a politician, becomes an “empty” question. In face of every program, the question that emerges is not: “how real is it?” but “how does it function?” The question of reality and falsity becomes a question in relation to the produced effect. What interests us in programs is not the input but the output.

This is another form of insisting on the current inversion of the vectors of significance. The symbolic games of which we take part do not represent any universe of concrete experience, but on the contrary, this concrete experience represents games. We live our concrete experience in function of games. Games are our ontological ground and all future ontology is necessarily game theory. Everything is fiction, nothing is real. We are chess players who are aware that it is a game, but for whom to live means to play chess. Certainly: instead of elaborating new strategies or meta-chess games, we can overturn the board. But in such a situation we would not emancipate ourselves from the game: we would fall into the wholly insignificant, trans-ludic abyss that hides underneath the games. It is in order to avoid such a fall that we are Homines ludentes.

Vilém Flusser, Post-History