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  • Writer's pictureJoël Tibbits

Play, the stuff of the universe?

Updated: Mar 23, 2020

When I began constructing the concepts and theories that go into "The Books of Magra" series, I found myself drawing together elements from different modalities and fields that were all very engaging and exciting to me: Bach Fugues, architecture, quantum mechanics, mythology, heavy metal, space travel, modular synths, metaphysics, cosmology, insects, and several more.

Other than knowing that I liked all of them and that I was attracted to them, there was no initial logic or reason for their associations, it was all just an evolving swarm slowly weaving together. But then I recognized that bringing them together felt good - felt right. Eventually I learned that those elements were showing me how they wanted to come together. And the less I questioned that mixture, the easier it became. And soon I was feeling an enthusiasm and energy I had not felt since I was much younger - I was PLAYING.

The process of publishing the first book and album late last year revealed to me with profound clarity that Play is essential to the process of creating "The Books of Magra." In fact, one of the fundamental concepts of the series is Integration which means "the inherent unity of all and our participation in that unity." This I believe to be another way of acknowledging Play. However, as "The Books of Magra" is about the exploration of consciousness, within the concepts of the series, this idea of Play has begun to move beyond human experience and involve more, namely experience itself.

"It was a musical thing..."

Alan Watts, the British philosopher, speaks of the universe being at play: “Existence, the physical universe, is basically playful. There is no necessity for it whatsoever. It isn’t going anywhere. It doesn’t have a destination that it ought to arrive at." For him, the intent is to move with the universe, to participate, like playing music or dancing without focusing on getting anywhere but simply being with the process. "We thought of life by analogy with a journey, a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at the end and the thing was to get to that end, success or whatever it is, maybe heaven after you’re dead. But we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.”

Is it possible to recognize and formulate an appropriate law for universal Play? Perhaps the key to that is in how we choose to regard it.

"What's the Point if I can't have fun?"

David Graeber wrote a fascinating article, "What's the Point if I can't have fun?" in which he questions the doubt that many scientists have that animals play. He makes the point that, "Our minds are just a part of nature. We can understand the happiness of fishes—or ants, or inchworms—because what drives us to think and argue about such matters is, ultimately, exactly the same thing."

It is FUN, it is playful to think and analyze, to measure and compute, just as it is to dance and sing, to run and jump. And here I find the importance of the argument for Feeling is so strong. As it has been for me in my creative evolution of "The Books of Magra," Play is a resonant factor that comes with an acceptance and acknowledgement of one's whole-self, and this depends on how I feel. In this respect Play is a sort of glue for all the elements of me that then allows them to permeate one another and function as they would in no other context.

Some may believe that play is purely recreational, largely the providence of children, or that it is a form of rest and is not a means to getting things done, but to recharge before you do. Certainly to put forward to scientists that perhaps the universe is governed by Play, as Alan Watts has expressed, may well be received with a quick objection or a simple dismissal. But the view that the universe does not have a goal or an objective is possibly the most potent law there could be, because it suggests that it is of boundless creativity and a profound nuance of shifting relationships in which Feeling has a role.

It seems to me that a valuable guide to Play on individual, communal and universal scales is in our willingness to BE WITH OF, to be Of the universal dance, to be Of the universal chorus, because this is an experiential willingness. It involves our whole-selves, and as we human beings are still attempting to understand and thrive with our awareness of Being, it requires being with the unknowns of ourselves as equally as those of the universe. Play is an attitude without fear and desire for control; it is continually fluid and adaptive; it is full of wonder and awe; it is rational and intuitive.

For me, this experience of Play is at its height when I am creating "The Books of Magra," it is a wholistic and experientially rich state. My awareness and energy is broadened and heightened as thinking and feeling merge, they amalgamate and bloom beyond what I have ever imagined they are. And perhaps, that too, is a factor in finding the Play of the universe, admitting "I do not fully understand or know what is happening, but I am fully with it."

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Thank you for expressing this! I believe that playing, going along with something not fully understood, may be the only way to create something... it can lead to dark places as well as bright ones, but the bright ones make it worth the risk. Love the Alan Watts quote!

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