proxemic

a board game
STRUCTURE  

This is a game for two to four players. It contains the following;  

A board (composed of six adjoining triangles); figures (4 humans, 4 animals, spare animals, stands for figures and counters representing baby animals); trees (20 with stands); circular discs (21 with spares); Instruction cards (16); Language cards (16); Sensation cards (16); Failure cards (16); Shadow cards (16); Creation cards (16); Contagion cards (16); weapons tokens (20); 1 numeric dice; 6 language dice; one timer.  

Additional requirements; paper and pen (for score-keeping)  

The board is made of six triangles of differing colours. Each colour represents a specific zone as follows;   White : Language

Red : Sensation

Black : Shadow

Grey : Liminal

Khaki (x2) : Wild  

 

Every triangle should have at least one side touching the side of one other triangle; the khaki triangles should adjoin one another, and the grey triangle should adjoin at least one side of a khaki triangle and at least one side of another colour. Apart from these restrictions the triangles can be arranged in any formation.  

The figures are composed of a human and animal twin. Each player has two figures, but players do not play their own animal – each plays the animal of another player instead.   The trees are available for use by the animals (ref. Principals and Mechanics).  

The circular discs should be laid out (11 contagion, 10 creativity) text down, one on each of the full spots (not half-spots) in the Liminal zone (grey triangle).  

The cards should be arranged into separate piles according to their type.   The weapons tokens should be arranged in a separate pile.  

PRINCIPLES  

Each player must decide whether their aim is to unite or to permanently separate their Human and Animal twins. Each player can have a different aim to the others, but their aim must be stated publicly from the start.  

A player who wishes to permanently separate their Human and Animal twins will play the game largely in the Language zone, and can place their human figure on any full spot in that zone to begin the game.

A player who wishes to unite their Human and Animal twins will play the game in the Sensation zone and can place their human figure on any full spot in that zone to begin.   Players must swap their Animal figures so that no player plays their own Animal. Each Animal figure can be placed on any full spot in the Wild zone to begin.  

On each alternate turn the player will play their Human or allocated Animal figure. The aim of the Human figures will be to gain enough points through the playing of the game to acquire weapons to trap and either kill or fuse with their Animal twin (depending on their stated aim). Any player who succeeds in killing or fusing with their Animal twin is the winner. Any player whose Human figure is killed by an Animal is disqualified.  

The aim of the Animal figures will be different. They will set out to gain territory (this they can do by breeding), to evolve adult Animals of their own kind (also achieved through breeding) and to construct their own environment (through the placing of trees) for maximum protection. They will seek to avoid capture at all costs.  

An Animal will rarely kill a Human, and can only do so under very specific circumstances (see Mechanics).   Animals are anarchic and will have occasion to change and invent rules. While Humans must respect the borders between zones, and can only cross under certain circumstances, Animals will be able to cross more freely between zones (see Mechanics).  

Human figures will occasionally receive an instruction to pass into the Liminal zone to retrieve a Creativity token. This they will do by landing on one of the circular discs placed on the spots in the Liminal zone. They will not know until they land on the disc whether they have picked a Creativity or a Contagion token – whichever they have picked, they will draw a corresponding card which will give them instructions. Contagion cards are not to the advantage of the Human figures in the game.  

Animals can retrieve tokens under certain circumstances (see Mechanics). In the event that they retrieve a Creativity token, they can acquire certain skills that will aid their goals; Contagion tokens may be more advantageous to Animal than to Human figures.  

Human figures will occasionally be instructed to draw Failure cards, which will impact negatively on their aims. Some Failure cards will instruct the Human figure to relocate to the Shadow zone. The Human figure will then be forced to play in the Shadow zone until released (see Mechanics).  

An Animal can choose to forego their turn in favour of having a Human figure of their choice draw a Failure card.  

Animals will breed through the playing of the game. Each baby animal that they succeed in acquiring will take the form of a counter which they can place on a spot in the Wild zone or on unoccupied spots in the Liminal zone. As this spot becomes unusable for the other players it represents a form of territorialisation. When a certain number of baby animals have been acquired, the Animal will be able to trade them in for an adult.  

An Animal player who has more than one adult becomes very formidable and difficult to trap. Other players will actively try to prevent this from happening, by capturing the babies of another Animal (see Mechanics).  

Under certain circumstances, Animal figures will be able to acquire trees, which they will place on a full spot in the Liminal zone. Trees will greatly increase the Animal’s capacity to evade capture and to escape from threats posed by other Animals.  

All figures will move differently, depending on their location or ontology.  

MECHANICS  

1. General  

Animals will not use dice but can make a single move from any red spot to any other red spot within the zone that they are in, or any zone that has a border with the zone that they are in, as long as that spot is not already occupied and is at least one spot away from the closest occupied spot.  

Humans in the Language zone will move by throwing the six language dice and turning over the timer. In that one minute they will make the longest word that they can and will be able to move the number of spots corresponding to letters used, along the visible lines between spots only. If the player cannot make a word they cannot move.  

Humans in the Sensation zone will move by throwing numeric dice and will move along the visible lines between spots; each dot on the dice corresponds to one spot on the board. 

Each Human will aim to land on a spot marked with an X (red or white makes no difference to the Human figures) where they can draw an Instruction Card. They must land on an X spot with an exact count; they can change directions for each turn, but not within a single turn. Upon drawing an Instruction Card, they will receive further directions. These they will carry out within that same turn, until they have carried out their instructions or exhausted their options.  

The instructions that the Human figures receive will facilitate or frustrate their attempts to gain points. Some instructions may result in the loss of points.  

On occasion the Human figures will be instructed to retrieve a Creativity token. To do this, they must travel into the Liminal zone and must land on a token by an exact number of moves – they cannot land on any spot that is occupied by another figure, nor can they land on any spot that is not more than one spot away from an Animal. They turn the token over and draw a Creativity card or a Contagion card according to the text on the reverse of the token. They will follow the instructions on this card, and on their next turn will retrace their path to the zone from which they started, using whichever dice they are allocated.  

When a Human figure has gained XY number of points, they will be entitled to purchase weapons (in the form of Weapons tokens). Upon completion of this transaction they will be free to set off into the Wild zone, to attempt to trap their Animal twin. Humans must go through the Liminal zone in order to pass into the Wild zone. They cannot approach the Wild zone through any other route.


more to come. . . .
proxemic - essay

What I find disturbing about pornography is not that the participants are de-humanised but that they are de-animalised. Although the bodies of the figures are fused in a compressed space, their faces exist elsewhere, in a realm of pure separation that Agamben sees as the present manifestation of fulfilled capitalism[i]. They are penetrated, not by one another, but by the spectacle.  

The face has been beautifully described by Alfonso Lingis as a ‘surface covering the head’ a blank wall for the inscription of signs, following from and followed by the word, with its cohesive linearity of meaning[ii]. There is, in the face, a covering up of and a distancing from the animal, captured by the assignation of that single term ‘the Animal’ to account for all creatures that live beyond the edge of ‘the Human’.    

“The animal – what a word!” says Derrida, considering this “heterogeneous multiplicity of the living” reduced to a single concept[iii]. And yet we must have the word in order to locate the animal within, the animal that can break through the surface of the face as Lingis has also described (I would argue that the staging of pornography works to erase this possibility). The animal within and the animal without have been sources of fascination for humans ever since the distinction between the two came into existence. Anthropomorphism/ zoomorphism are ancient and universal practices, one of the capacities of the human animal, often but not necessarily bound to anthropocentrism.  

“Underneath the smooth word “anthropomorphism” are hidden a multitude of anthropoi, of kinds of humanity – in this case, of kinds of mind – as well as the multitude of  morphoi, of shapes of understanding other minds”[iv]. The anthropoi, as Daston describes, is a slippery term, in a constant state of flux; contemporary pornography is one apparatus and effect of that process of slippage.  

Animals are immune to the spectacle, although they may be absorbed into it (the question of animals in pornography is one I have yet to consider) and indeed are regularly employed by the machine of the spectacle to construct a kind of humanity that is increasingly alienated from the animal[v]. It is in part this apparent innocence of the animal, its impenetrability that makes it so fascinating to humans, so available for cultural projections of all kinds.  

Fascination is the proper term to describe the human/animal relation, suggesting as it does a certain quality of attention-binding. The realm of the human is both bounded by and bound to other realms which “cannot be totally objectified”.[vi] The ‘abyssal gaze’ of the animal can be ignored but at what cost to the Animality of the human? What is the Human without the Animal?  

Do animals have mental states? Do they have private experiences? Do they suffer? Do they language? Do animals have a face? Can they have a hand? Is the difference between us one of degree or one of kind?  

These are questions that figure in philosophical considerations of the human/animal divide. To think at the limits of the human in order to multiply those limits is what Derrida is proposing to do, and it could be argued that thinking at the limits is the essence of philosophy, continually pushing out our understanding of ourselves and our relations to the world. And yet, while these exercises of the human faculty for thought are engaging and even entertaining, the question is do they matter at all? Isn't it too late already to rethink the human/animal relationship, when all animals are caught in a web of human actions, the consequences of which point to the end of animal life in great quantities?  

Because this end seems decided in advance, the only thing to do may be to engage in a means without end, to joyously forget one’s goal[vii], to play at Human and Animal in a shifting zone of undecidability where, at a price, boundaries may be breached and uncrossable borders crossed.  

[i] Georgio Agamben, ‘In praise of Profanation’, Profanations, pg 90

[ii] Alfonso Lingis, ‘Animal Body, Inhuman Face’ Zoontologies, The Question of the Animal, ed. Cary Wolfe, Minneapolis, 2003, p175

[iii] Jacques Derrida, The Animal that therefore I am (More to Follow), 1977

[iv] Lorraine Daston ‘Intelligences – Angelic, Animal, Human’, Thinking with Animals, New Perspectives on Anthropomorphism, ed. L. Daston and G. Mitman, New York, 2005, p 51

[v] An account of this theory is given in Cheryce Kramer, ‘Digital Beast as Visual Esperanto, Getty Images and the Colonization of Sight’, Thinking with Animals, ed Daston and Mitman, pg 137 - 171

[vi] Derrida, The Animal that Therefore I am,

[vii] Agamben, Profanations, pg 85