Just finished reading James Carse’s book “Finite and Infinite Games.”
I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s incredibly dense for such a short paperback book (177 pages). It might take a while to get through, but it’s worth the consideration and effort!
The book isn’t strictly about “games” in the sense that we usually consider them, but applies the concept of play to human life in general – one of the things I like most about it!
Regarding fitness and health, here’s a nice quote for you:
Physicians who cure must abstract persons into functions. They treat the illness, not the person. And persons willfully present themselves as functions. Indeed, what sustains the enormous size and cost of the curing professions is the widespread desire to see oneself as a function, or a collection of functions. To be ill is to be dysfunctional; to be dysfunctional is to be unable to compete in one’s preferred contests. It is a kind of death, an inability to acquire titles. The ill become invisible. Illness always has the smell of death about it: Either it may lead to death, or it leads to the death of a person as competitor. The dread of illness is the dread of losing.
One is never ill in general. One is always ill with relation to some bounded activity. It is not cancer that makes me ill. It is because I cannot work, or run, or swallow that I am ill with cancer. The loss of function, the obstruction of an activity, cannot in itself destroy my health. I am too heavy to fly by flapping my arms, but I do not for that reason complain of being sick with weight. However if I desired to be a fashion model, a dancer, or a jockey, I would consider excessive weight to be a kind of disease and would be likely to consult a doctor, a nutritionist, or another specialist to be cured of it.
When I am healed I am restored to my center in a way that my freedom as a person is not compromised by my loss of functions. This means that the illness need not be eliminated before I can be healed. I am not free to the degree that I can overcome my infirmities, but only to the degree that I can put my infirmities into play. I am cured of my illness; I am healed with my illness.
The crux of this book is critical for those of us who want to change the way fitness is approached – by ourselves or by the “industry.” “Functional” fitness, all the rage nowadays, is part of a larger outlook on life that confines individuals to boundaries, and attempts to confine Nature similarly.
In order to create change, we have to change the way we speak about things. We need perspective. This book will help. Get it!