Posted by: glue | July 6, 2011

Be the Polo

Playing Chora

When Peter Eisenman asked Jacques Derrida for a design idea (to be constructed as a folly in the Paris Parc de la Villette), Derrida proposed chora.  Chora alludes to trace, and we are approaching it now through the phenomenon of game, as part of the heuretics of avatar.  The function of avatar is consultation, and our purpose is to design an Internet practice bringing to bear contemporary wisdom on individual and collective decision making (electrate prudence). The method is grammatological, discovering first what tradition knows about image metaphysics.

We noted previously that a relay for understanding and experiencing how chora functions as measure to organize region as activity is to observe or (better) to participate in any game of stick-ball.  The historical prototype is polo, invented in Ancient Persia.  The sacred dimension of this game as ritual provided an allegory of life:  you are the ball, the club is chance, the goal is destiny, god is the player (not you, you are not the player but the object in play).  The word “polo” means “ball,” derived from Tibetan “pulu.” This allegory was made most explicit (in Paul Huson’s account) in The Ball and the Polo Stick, a fifteenth-century Sufi account, by Arifi of Herat, of ecstatic, self-sacrificing love.  Huson notes that the allegory is invoked also in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (eleventh-century Sufi poet and astronomer) to figure human helplessness before god.

The added value in our context is that the emblems representing the four elements making possible polo play  (ball, stick, hole or goal, and stroke) are the historical basis for the four suits of playing cards, most importantly the four suits of the minor arcana of the Tarot (pentacles, wands, cups, swords).  Tarot (along with the I Ching) is a major precursor for the Ka-Ching (electrate wisdom game) by means of which one encounters avatar.  Ka-Ching is a search engine not for information, but for wisdom.  The task is secularization and updating of these traditional image metaphysics, to do for electrate civilization what the oracles did for pre-modern cultures.

[See Paul Huson, Mystical Origins of the Tarot]

(This context made me think of Bobby Bare’s “Drop Kick Me Jesus Through the Goalposts of Life”).


  1. in a modern reading of the game as allegory of the human condition I am all the components in their interaction (just as Freud observed about dreams: the dreamer plays all the parts).

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