Ilinx: Carelessness, Spontaneity, Dizziness?

Having looked at Huizinga, Caillois, Kallaila and Bruce, this section comes back to the issues of Ilinx, represented in Callois especially. Are the ideas of Ilinx really applicable to early childhood without violence to Caillois’ ideas, and synonymous with free-flow play?

If we think about the twelve features of free-flow play – or even the “formula” that Bruce has drawn up, I do wonder which of the four features of adult play from Caillois and Kalliala are actually applicable.

Certainly the notion of agon can be dispensed with; while there may be struggle, in Bruce’s features I can see little that looks like competition. Children in the Bruce play-world are involved in other things than proving themselves ‘better’ (faster, smarter) than their peers, although there may be elements of this. In the same way, there may be elements of alea – chance – in free-flow play, especially in the exploration of ideas and materials that precedes true free-flow play, but we are not thinking of games of chance, really. This “winning” is a product that Bruce rules out of free-flow play. So – not skill in competition, not winning by luck.

Mimicry comes closer to Bruce’s definition. There may be a fantasy play element, or an element of mimesis that allows children to “rehearse and recast” as Bruce puts it (2004, pp 149, 157).


However, it is Ilinx that I’d like to explore further.


The elements of carelessness would seem to me to correspond to the productless state that Bruce uses to define free-flow play; however, if we take Bruce seriously when she says that in free-flow play children “keep control of their lives” (2004, p 149), then I begin to wonder. Perhaps the being lost in play, wallowing, still retains an element of self-awareness that perhaps Caillois would see as absent from ilinx.


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