Sunday, April 13, 2008

We Need a First Life

On Marxmail, David Picón Álvarez inquired the opinions of the comrades on whether The Ultimatum Game has potential to represent “the capitalist assumptions about rational agent behavior”. This is my response:

If we apply to Hegel, rationality is not a set of fixed formulas that serve to calculate the existing order of things, but an equation contains some variables and expresses the proportion between rationality and actuality. I think this experiment indicates one thing at best: People have a propensity to adjust their rationality to the texture of actuality. Once an equation that provides a hinge for interaction has been established, some people attempt to revolutionize the actuality, some try to prevent it, some neglect to interfere in, etc. Also, these entire scuffle structures the rationality. If we force the subjects of this experiment to play this game 10.000 times, but not for a once and anonymously, we certainly reach very different conclusions.

Two weeks ago I read an article about “Second Life”, the renowned virtual 3D world. Then I installed the game client to figure out and experience the enjoyment of virtual reality. I spent the first hour by struggling to create an avatar which exactly looks like me, a bald guy wearing t-shirt and black jeans. And after studying the basic movements I was ready to vanish in the mist of virtual reality. Unfortunately, it didn’t took me long realize that I was doing the exact same things that I would do in real life if I suddenly plunge into an unfamiliar environment. I was stone broke and glazed the showcases of shops, wandered around without any effort to meet and interact with new people, watched the sunset in an exotic island, etc. After couple of hours, it dawned on me that I need a First Life in the first place. Then I quitted the game with the taste of dissatisfaction.

I am not eager to buy any of two common explanations of how people act in virtual reality: People tend realize their fantasies or reveal their true characteristics repressed in the real world by the restrictions of social order. Both of these are too simplistic and overlook the reciprocal manipulation processing between the subject and reality. Therefore, my own experimental fiasco in “Second Life” is largely because of my stubbornness to adjust my reality to the arrangement and procedure of virtual reality but not as a result of a lack of any fantasies and unrecognized desires repressed by social order. For instance, two weeks ago a bizarre scandal was disclosed about Max Mosley, the president of FIA, who was caught in the act of sado-masochistic sex orgy with some girls dressed as Nazi officers. The common diagnosis is he is a regular pervert racist who likes to get his ass whipped and can only get pleasure from sexual intercourse with the mediation of fetish objects. But there is another fascinating feature in this scandal: He knows the mechanism and the order of the sado-masochistic virtual reality so that he is able to realize his darkest fantasies in the regulations of sexual role playing game. He precisely knows the laws and principles of the game; therefore he is capable to manipulate the virtual reality: “Oh Mistress! Please spank me, I am a traitor”

When I started to play poker, I was ashamed to bet and raise or check-raise since my personality obliged me to regard this sort of moves as an insult to other players. I was a usual tight-passive donkey constantly losing money for the sake of preserving my dignity. Then I decided to read the most important books dealing with the game, from Sklansky, Harrington to Brunson. After I have acquired a fundamental understanding about the reality within the game, I started to manipulate and exploit its very reality. I had become a downright hypocrite, cunning, provocative player making the sneakiest moves comfortably. As long as I could adjust myself with the rationality of a given table, I secured permission to act like a complete lunatic, betting with nothing, folding with something and calling with the nuts, etc. to manipulate the dynamics of the game. It is not because of the possibility that perhaps I possess a swindler in me repressed by social reality. But the deceptiveness enveloping the order of the game had compelled me to adjust my naivety according to its regulation. After this continuous process of alteration has become intolerable, I quitted this game as well.

In “18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte” Marx said:

And as in private life one differentiates between what a man thinks and says of himself and what he really is and does, so in historical struggles one must distinguish still more the phrases and fancies of parties from their real organism and their real interests, their conception of themselves from their reality.

1 comment:

Renegade Eye said...

Even in Second Life, you need a structure, to give you permission to be a movie star, with tons of women.

The BDSM thing I understand. 1) People who are in position of authority, have fantasies about not having to decide so much. 2) Christ suffered, so should I.