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Larpy Argos

Jaakko Stenros’ Recurrence

 

meritorical consultation by Annika Olejarz, comic strip by XKCD


This post consist mainly of polemics with Jaakko Stenros’ attempt to define the term „Nordic Larp”. It is one of those posts I will probably feel the need to apologize for in some future. Also, there is more reasonable NL definition here and some approach to the „is larp inherently positive?” question. Don't worry, the last thing will receive another, grave serious article. There are few things to debunk before coming to this however. If you are not interested in a beatifull fractal consequences of logical construct contemporary treated as a definition for Nordic larp scene, or you already familiar with the term „tautology”, you can skip to the last, red paragraph.

 

Assuming that you didn’t, lets recap Jaakko’s definition:


A Nordic Larp is a larp that is influenced by the Nordic Larp Tradition or contributes to the ongoing Nordic Larp Discourse”


I am shitting you not, this is the sentence formulated be well known Finnish researcher. In fact, this version was called „loose”, while even the author realized that the „strict” version, with „and” instead of „or” in the middle was somehow pointless. The T-word was already mantioned in this article, but lets wait with referring to it for a while. Also, lets not go here to discussing elitarism and appropriation of all non-Nordic larps which were discussed by Nordic larpers. Forget for a moment that is creating and using two new undefined object. Lets just do a little mind experiment.



1. Replace the term *Nordic* in Jaakko’s definition (from this point abbreviated to „JD”) with your last name.

 

You will end up with JD for „Bartczak Larp”, „Raasted Larp”, and so on. All such definitions will be logically true. „Bartczak larp is a larp that is influenced by, or being…” And each of them will define the set of all larps which were ever created.

 

Last part may require a bit of explanation. Assumption that all exisinting larps are mutually connected by the influence and contribution to ongoing discourse is not obviously true. This would require that between each two existing larps there is a finite number of larps *carrying the influence*. So this mean that if there is a larp in USA, and another in Czech Republic, than creator of a first one get (or give) some inspiration from another guy, who get it from another gut, who get it from yet another guy, and in some numer of steps this leads to the inspiration, being inspired, or sharing inspiration with, mentioned Czech larp. This could not be true if there would exist parallel larp culture, not connected to the culture from which I, and You, dear reader, are coming from. Such cultures of roleplayers probably exist, but its extremely unprobable, that they are using the independently invented „larp” term. So, it much more likely, that if you are using „larp” term, you are a part of wold larp culture, and you do share finite number of steps of inspirational influence with each and every other larp on the planet. Oh, obviously, if you did not assumed that Nordic Larp Discourse is the only larp discourse.

 

Where were we? We just found that there is a larp genre named after you, to which all larps on Earth are belonging. You influential bastard! But this is just a beginning.

 

Lets repeat this action not with a last names of every larper, but with names of each larp. This would create JDs for such things as „Witcheresque larp”, „InsideHamletish larp”, etc. Also, all larps would belong to each of such genres. Also, each larp would belong simultaneously to all name-related genrres, and event-related genres.

 

Lets count the number of such larps. Lets say there there is a n larpers , and m larps in the world. Now, imagine Nordic Larp as one, single, defined phenomenon. Beside it, you would see n other genres, named after all larpwriters. This would create a serie, row, or vector of n+1 genres.

 

Now, lets realize, that there could be eclective genres, named both after larpwriter and larp event. Just like there is Scandinavian Nu Metal, there could be a Witcherssque Bartczak Larp. How much larp genres will be defined in this way? Thats right, m x n. We just used JD to defined not a serie, but a two dimensional matrix of larp genres. Beauty of JD’s recurence is beginning to unvail.

 

But some may say – Hi, but there never was a larp described as a „Witcherssque Bartczak Larp”! JD for such larp would be false. Well… there is one now. I can just pick some larp, call it „Witchersque Bartczak Larp”, and from this point, subject of the definitione is not empty. And because JD will imply that all the larps in the world belongs to this new genre, it doesn’t event matter which larp I pointed at the beginning. I can do it at random. Jaakko Stenros’ definition of Nordic larp is a pure tautology, sentence which is true because of lingual structure alone, without any meaning, or reference, to observable reality. Yes, I know that I am being a sarcastic little shit here. But you know what is worse, when you are a sarcastic little shit? Moments when you are right.

 

We see that JD created two dimensional matrix of true larp genre definitions. But why should we leave here? We can add any other criteria, like the color of socks of an organizer, to add one more dimension to the matrix. Defining red sock witcheresque Bartczak larp would make our matrix three dimensional. Defining No alcohol nerdish Swahili lingual red sock witcheresque Bartczak larp – six dimensional. Meaningles, yet still true.

 

If you have troubles with imagining 6-dimmensional space, I have some bad news. We are not even in the middle of all unimaginably beatiful consequences here. Because… who said that we need to use reasonable criteria? Since JD requires no reference to reality to be true, we can define Dachshund larp. Which means nobody-knows-what, but definition of it remains logically true. This would set the number of dimenions of considered larp genre matrix to some z, which can be high, but finite.

 

Wait. Why should it even be finite? We can just give number to the names of larp genres. Like „genre 530172”. This would set the number of possible values of each dimension to infinity. But it is still not the end, since this would be weakest, aleph-zero infinity. Just like the number of all natural numbers. We can do better than this. Because the number of dimensons of such matrix would also be infinite. After this, infinity of all possible larp genres defined by JD would have aleph of undetermined value.

 

Jaakko Stenros said that his definition of Nordic Larp may seem circular, but it isn’t. Thats right. Its spherical in infinitely-dimensional space. And here lies its beauty. It is so absurdly meaningless, that it can result in going to Wikipedia to check what aleph numbers are. If you like psychonautical experiments, i really advise to think about it while tripping on acid. Seeing logical fractals is one-of-a-kind experience.

 

This all will work analogically for a „strict” definition, with the „and” between conditions. Its thanks to the fact that term „Nordic Larp Discourse” is also self-referenced and will analogically inflate to cover all larp discourse which ever was.

 

And no, there is no poetic meaning lost here. No sublime self-reference which should have a meaning for educated or experienced eneugh. Idea that something can be referenced to in its own definition is just a lack of understanding of logical interaction of used words. Emperor is naked. Deal with it.

 

If you skipped my brilliant response to Jaakko’s definition, here is more meaningful part.


There is another question here. Am I so lifeless larp-geek that I have nothing better to do, than write elaborate pamphlets on some larp theory? Well, I am not the one to judge on this. There were a years during which I didn’t feel JD is something worth answering. It just so happens, that there is a ongoing discussion on Larpers BFF, which i found terrifying. The questions was

 

Is larp, in itself, as a form, an inherently empowering, emancipating, equalizing, liberating, democratizing, and community-creating practice?”

 

And to give a propper answer, I really need to adres not even the Jaakko’s definition, but the mindset behind it. Which seems to be similar to mindset of some persons involved in a mentioned discussion.

Behind JD stands a thinking that larp, or Nordic Larp, or First Generation Nordic Larp, or whatever new words was recently invented for this, is something so unique, that it cannot be comprehended with already known semantics and methodology. That it is so revolutionary, that defining it would requiring redefining the meaning of the term „definition” itself. This is obviously not true.

 

1. Nordic Larp is a larp movement, started around [Eirik Fatland will give you some date scope]. It includes group od larpwriters and larp enthusiasts sharing similar taste in larp design, which resulted in creating of couple of Nordic Larp – related larp genres, like Jeepform, Blackbox Larp, Nordic Blockbuster Larp, Nanolarp, Nordic Chamber Larp [probably some more larp genres here]


2. Though Nordic Larp is a cultural phenomenon, not a larp genre, related larp genres mentioned in 1) can be, and should be separately defined

 

Rest can be done by some Nordic Larper, no need to thank me. I don't believe I am the first one, or even not in a first 5, of guys who proposed this approach. Its just the feeling of complete uniqueness in a scale of a mankind’s history standing behind JD is much more appealing. And my humble approach would place NL behind other cultural phenomenons like Beatniks, Decadence, etc. To humble, right?

 

Please forgive me passive aggression, but there is a key, morally evil feature assigned to treating NL as something completely unique. And it is not a vanity of NL writers. It is unintended impregnating NL for a confrontation with findings about all other cultural phenomenons. It is making possible for some people to even think, that NL could be inherently positive thanks to its form, regardless of the content or intent of a writer. That it carries the wisdom and goodness of Nordic Larpers embedded to the way in which scenario is written, and pre-larp workshops are conducted.

 

This would be first such case in the history of a mankind. But it isn’t.

 

Roleplaying is a thousand years old. It has proven to be powerful tool for self-exploration, integration, empowering and self expression. Also, it is proven to be a efficient tool in inducing xenophobia, conditioning, inducing team-thinking, promoting authorities and creating sects.

 

NL is not a unique finding in a scale of written history. It is a wonderful, powerful, and potentially dangerous tool however. Please, understand it. To be continued.

 

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