Barthes and The Game Redux (Part 1)
Gary Hink, who studies critical theory (amongst other things), helped out by suggesting a (rbetter) way of thinking about Barthes and the relationship between the fan and the game. Referring to the previous post where I cited Nietzsche’s “dancing god” before quoting Barthes on his reaction to the great “works,” Hink quite correctly (and politely) pointed out that the distinction between “work” and “text” is crucial to understanding Barthes. Hink says,
whereas your quote describes The WORK (Modern Canonical Art by the Author-Genius), the Text is a ‘network’, in its “play, activity, production, practice”; “The theory of the Text can coincide only with a practice of [reader-critic-player’s] writing.”
Hink sent his helpful clarifications this morning, and I am rather glad that he did because it helped with a short debate between Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith about Chicago Bulls star and reigning NBA MVP, Derrick Rose. (You can watch it here.) Smith made one point that really resonated with me in the context of the Game as text as network. Rose had expressed that he was uncomfortable with the way that his fame had changed and continues to interfere with his off-the-court life, and Smith contends that this is a “good sign” of Rose’s humility and focus on the game. In addressing fame and today’s professional athletes, Smith listed social media, specifically Twitter, as one forum where an athlete could be distracted from his performance. (The example Smith gives is a player being more concerned with the amount of followers he has on Twitter—and the associated potential to market himself—than playing “the game.”)
Twitter is a medium to examine and test the theory of the Game as text as network in “its “play, activity, production, practice”: the chaotic interplay of, for example, the following. The (Twitter) Game and The Game (through) Twitter as Text is links to instant replay; live scores; fans comments; textual exchange between players and fans and media commentators; the combination of still images/video; retweeted comments; dead-end dialogues; continual monologue. There is no meta-narrative for The Game. It comes in (to?) multi-modal pieces. We can trace The Game as Text as network (within networks) through these threads, and the production, circulation, and diffusion of The Game fragments (post-game comments distilled into 140 characters; Gifs of the winning shot; Discuss!).