There are at least two kinds of games. One could be called finite, the other infinite.
A finite game is played for the purposes of winning,
an infinite game is played for the purpose of continuing the play.
— James Carse (1986, p. 3)
In The Parallaxis I have found an infinite game, one that I continue to play even as this doctoral journey comes to its conclusion. Carse writes that all infinite games are able to persist because they evolve ‘like the grammar of a living language’ (ibid. p. 9), recalibrating their rules to achieve sustained viability. As he further notes: ‘Finite players play within boundaries; infinite players play with boundaries’ (ibid. p. 10). I likewise hope that my methods of playing The Parallaxis will continue to evolve; that I will see challenges rather than limitations in the boundaries that I encounter. For as geographer J.D. Dewsbury notes of non-representational ways of working: ‘Part of the ethos of this type of research is to keep the researcher alive to change and chance, to prevent the researcher from stopping their travels and forging a safe methodological territory to re-use again and again impervious to new twists and turns of direction and focus’ (2010, p. 324).
This project began as an inquiry into ambiguity and the playful possibilities of subjective meaning-making. As the performative, reflexive nature of the project gradually became apparent, so too did the relationship between these twin concerns of the uncertain and the experiential. More participation. What I propose with The Parallaxis is this: to communicate creatively with the unknown is a practice, which constitutes a form of knowing. As Bateman asserts, ‘we should give up the idea that to know is to repeat propositions that are both true and justified as being so: isolated claims mean nothing. To possess knowledge, we must engage in practices — our own, and those of others too numerous to count’ (2016, p. 12).
The practice of The Parallaxis is the practice of play, as expansively proposed by both Carse and Winnicott. It is a practice that strives to play for real; to ‘allow for possibility whatever the cost to oneself’ (Carse 1986, p. 15). This play acknowledges ‘all the intricate perceptual practices of our living body that Maurice Merleau-Ponty drew attention to’ (Bateman 2016, p. 24), affording the possibility of knowledge that is ‘unharnessed and unprogrammed by thought’ (Vannini 2015, p. 4).
We gain much from knowledge practices that allow the uncertain to remain uncertain; that are able to accept the ‘symbolic data’ (Haseman 2006, p. 6) of our research as ‘polysemic and open-ended’ (Hunt 1995, p. 42). These practices assert ‘the power of the precognitive as a performative technology for adaptive living, as an instrument of sensation, play, and imagination, and a life force fueling the excesses and the rituals of everyday living’ (Vannini 2015, p. 4). In doing so, such practices offer us ‘a way to come to understand the world that does not simultaneously set the stage for limited use of that knowledge’ (Langer & Piper 1987, p. 280).
The scholar Michael Sherringham writes: ‘The project is a frame, but nothing that comes to fill that frame can be said to complete or realize the project, which always remains open and unfinished. Yet within its framework a shift, essentially a shift of attention, takes place. The project brings us into proximity with something that might have seemed familiar, but which we now acknowledge more fully’ (2007, pp. 146-147). The Parallaxis has been a shift in both attention and perception, through its enactment of a speculative epistemology of place. This epistemology offers ‘other diverse ways of knowing’ (Vannini 2015, p. 15) the city that we are continually creating, and that is continually creating us.
Would you step sideways into this subtle city, if suddenly a door cracked open?