Logic of Sensation in the institution of bridge
Coloring-in book by Kristin Nedlich
Table of content
Seminar four: Feeling Kissing in public
Preface The Bridgetitution
Seminar five: Prisons and clinics Bridgegate
Seminar one: Affective introduction Language of the body
Seminar six: Museums Field of dreams
Seminar two: Sensation Recording time â€“ sensation and memory
Seminar seven: Control societies and corporate spaces A virtual card factory
Seminar three: Affect Effectively affective
Seminar eight: Secret societies and Hush
The Bridgetitution With this book I do not intend to teach you how to play bridge. I want to show you what goes on behind the scenes in the world of bridge. What makes us, the practitioners of this game, so completely and inexhorably addicted to these funny little pieces of paper? Now, you might ask, in what way is bridge an institution? I believe it to be an institution, because it has a set of rules and boundaries. Both in the game itself, but also in the society that it forms through its pracitioners. there is a body of organisation that goes from a local bridgeclub, to the municipal bridge authority, to national, and international bridgefederations. These layers of governing has the main purpose of keeping the bridge society in check by keeping a record of its members, evaluating and reforming rules, and hosting events and tournaments. In order to participate in organized play, one has to be a member of a bridgefederation. And in order for a country to participate in international bridge events, they have to have an active national federation.
Language of the body â€?affect is found in those intensities that pass body to body (human, non-human, part-body, and otherwise)â€? The affect theory reader, An inventory of Shimmers, Gregory J.Seigworth & Melissa Gregg p.1
In bridge, one could say that a player can have table precense; that he/she feels the game, rather than thinks it. This is especially visible in those who are considered natural talents, those players who have never been in contact with the game before, and therefore have no acquired knowledge. Table precense can be described as a sensation that the cards come alive. Before a thought has even come into being, the player knows what to do, and reacts in an instant. This can be due to practice; an intuitition that evolves from repetition and experience. But, many times we encounter problems that are unknown to us, and there might be a way to logically figure out what the answer is, given enough time (which you don't have when you're in a competition).
Most decisions have to be made within a split second, otherwise the moment is lost, and in that split second there is no room for concsious thought. One has to feel the cards, and let them work through you, and vice versa. Affect is also flowing between the players, from ones partner, the opponents, people watching, etcetera. And this can sometimes cause disturbances in the flow of thoughts, when suddenly you realise that something is off, or something is about to happen, but you don't know what. This can be quite confusing because the feeling hasn't yet been processed and translated into a logic thought. The effect of affect is something that is constantly in question in the bridge world, because many times it threads on the thin line between what is allowed, and what is cheating. But, it's there, and no matter how hard we try to get away from it, to distance ourselves from each other using for instance computers (thereby putting up one more barrier to stop the affect from coming through). 4
Language of the body
Recording time - Sensation and memory “Not a “minute of the world passes”, says Cézanna, that we will preserve if we do not “become that minute” PercepAffectConcept, p.169
A human body is not simply made up of flesh, blood and mind. It is compiled by thin slices of time pressed upon each other. Each slice then adds to the abstract volume of the body, which expands much further out than its actual physical limitations. As sentient beings, we like to say that we experience time, and we have even invented various tools to measure time. But to render time is the real mindbender of our existence. Sure, we can record it, and depict it, but we can never make it. As with all the fundamental physical laws of the universe, we are unable to control time, and we must either find a way to succumb to it, or go down fighting and screaming.
When holding the cards in your hand, it is like time stretches, shortens, scratches and sometimes disappears into nothingness. Time becomes supersubjective, one player thinks that everything is going excrutiatingly slow, and the other thinks that it was all over in the blink of an eye. It can be virtually impossible (unless you have timekeeper or a camera present) to give an accurate account of how long a play has actually taken, because every player will be too subjectively affected. This is often discussed when a match is in shortage fo time, and one or both of the teams risk getting a time penalty. The one side thinks the other side has taken too much time, and the accused side will generally not agree.
Effectively affective “Affect for me is inseparable from the concept of shock. It doesn’t have to be drama. It’s really more about microshocks, the kind that populate every moment of our lives. “ Massumi and McKim of microperception, p. 4 When we are in the middle of the game, it is as if our gaze is locked but at the same time wide open. Intense focus, and extreme sensibility are at work together. We try to see through the back of the cards, try to read them, see them, understand them and predict how they will fall in the end. Variation upon variation intertwining series of events, where a wrong turn or a brief moment of unawareness can bring it all down. In bridge, it has been said, there are three major “zones” in which a player can find her/himself. Where zone 1 is the danger zone, where everytihing just goes wrong and the player has to be wary of every move, every decision. because in this zone,
the sensory and mental capacity can not be trusted. This generally occurs when in a state of learning, when you have recently absorbed a lot of information, knew knowledge, knew tricks and finesses, but they have yet not been processed in to the brackets of the brain that can operate autonomously of deliberate thought. in zone two, these processes have come about halfway. Now is perhaps the time to start trusting your instincts and your logic. but, do not venture too far, because then you will falll right back itne zone one. Just play an easy, solid, and (on the verge of being) boring game. In zone three you are on top, everything goes your way, your decisions are impeccable, your instincts are alert and accurate. When you feel that it is the right time to venture out on a limb, it will work. other players who see you play think that you are super natural. they say to themselves, and each other, “how could she do that?, how did she know what to do?, how lucky!, how clever! 8
Eff ectively Bild 3 affective
When displayed in public, in front of non-players, it may appear to be almost as emotionally offensive as some kind of real, actual, physical act between two “However long or short, however socially constrained or more people. When we move out of our allotted or erotically desiring, a kiss is the coming together of two similar but not identical surfaces, surfaces that sof- space (i.e the club, our home or the internet), and impose ourselves in a public space (a train, a bar/ ten, flex, and deform when in contact, a performance café, park etc). of temporary singularities, a union of bedazzling convergence and identification during which separation is Bridge doesn't really need a large space to be perinconcievable yet inevitable.“ formed, but when performed in a public space it does create some sort of boundary, both physical Sylvia Lavin, Kissing architecture, p.5 and psychological. If we were to put up a table in the middle of the street and start playing, people Unlike tennis, football, or many other sports, would automatically avoid invading our playing area, because we would appear to be doing something real bridge doesn't need more than a deck of cards, four and important (important to us, anyway) and that players, and a level surface. Which means that it is would in itself create a type of architecture, through possible to play anywhere, anyhow. As a matter of invisible boundaries. fact, in modern day society, one doesn't even need an actual deck of cards, online play is increasing and this makes it possible for anyone to watch, or engage It is the body of players that make up the architecfrom all over the world. Which makes the kissing not ture of bridge, and within that body, we mingle, mix, exchange infomation and thoughts, and sometimes only public, but global, and it acts on a completely we may even kiss. superficial, non-physical level (computer screen). 10
Kissing in public
Kissing in public
Bridgegate “A real subjection is born mechanically from fictitios relation.” Foucault, Panopticon, p. 202 In 1965, one of the top pairs in the world was accused of cheating. The pair consisted of Terence Reese and Boris Schapiro. Reese is and was considered to be one of, if not the best bridge player in the world. The accusation came up during the world championships, and they were found to be guilty. In the following years, Reese wrote several publications, stating his innocence, and in 1968 the world bridge federation stated that the suspension ould be lifted, and they were allowed to play again, albeit never again as a pair. As a result of this case, and others after, competitive bridge has developed many means to prevent cheating, or more so to prevent inadvertent signals being transmitted between players. These precautions include bidding boxes, screens, symmetrical decks and specific rules.
At the club-level the means of which the players are ”controlled” is usually by having the director seated at a point from which he/she can see the players and be called by them if there is a problem. In bigger tournaments there are usually several directors on the floor, and one head director who has the superior rank of the directors. The organization of the room is usually so that the players are as far away from their teammates as possible. The positioning of tables is also important, all those who are sitting in the east chair for example, should be aligned so that if a player accidentally gazes on another table, the only cards that he/she can see are those of the other east players. Which means that they all have the same cards, so there can be no unallowed information gained from watching other tables close by. These disciplinary tools are not implemented because it is believed that all players are inherent cheaters, but to eliminate the accidental cheats. In regular club bridge it is however often so that there is ”innocent” cheating going on, but those who cheat don't actually realise that what they're doing is cheating. 12
Field of dreams â€œWhile museums and expositions may have set out to win the hearts and minds of their visitors, these also brought their bodies with them creating arcitectural problems/...â€? Tony Bennett, The Exhibitionary Complex, p. 68 The tournament directors gaze washes over the field of green tables. Almost every players face is familiar. She knows how they look, how they are dressed, to whom they like to talk to before they start the play, and which ones that are sometimes unruly. Around the top playing teams tables there is already a small crowd waiting, eager to watch the elite's every move. Their tables are carefully placed at the top end of the room, to allow enough space for the audience that soon will be surrounding them on all sides. Some of the kibitzers are there to try and catch some of the elite players magic, some are there to be seen.
A new face enters through the door, and the tournament director follows his move through the narrow aisles, looking a bit overwhelmed and confused. He seems to have noticed the messiness at table 1, with all the kibitzers huddled against the players it almost looks like there are 12 players at the table, instead of four. Apparently he understands that this table must have something extraordinary to offer, and he duly walks towards it. He finds a spot behind one of the players who is currently contemplating a problem of some sort. The man with the unknown face says something to he man standing next to him, who curtiously whispers something brief back. A couple of annoyed looks are directed to the new face, who quietly turns his focus to the play. The play goes on, some kibitzers leave, either for home or for some other table that happens to look more interesting for the moment. Come pause, the discussions are lively, both between the players and the kibitzers. The noise reaches a peak and then slowly dies out as the players return to the tables and resume play. 14
Field of dreams
A virtual card factory
“Disciplinary man produced energy in discrete amounts, while control man undulates, moving among a continuous range of different orbits.” Deleuze, Postscript on Control Societies, p. 180
To be a professional you really have to treat it like a regular job, you have to study, practise and deliver something of value to your client. The value can of course be income in the form of prize money, but most importantly it is the value of an education.
Bridge in itself it would not put food on your table, or clothe you when you're cold. It is a completely virtual occupation that wouldn't exist in its current form if it werent for the fact that we have a society that allows for a large amount of the population to be materially non-productive (in terms of producing food or items).
Whether it be yourself and your partner (prize money), a sponsor (a person that ”hires” a team in which he/she plays wiht one of the pro's), or the audience in general (many tournaments are broadcasted on the internet. This value can be considered pure entertainment, or as training in problem solution, social skills logical thinking and philosphy.
What it does produce is the business surrounding it, the material necessary to hold big tournaments, or to sustain a daily club activity. Money is invested, or paid as entry fees in the large tournaments, and then distributed as prize money or pay to the workers running the show. Professional players, teachers and administrative personnel can make a living of it, and many happily trade their old careers for a bridge
Bridge embodies all those qualities and, strange as it may sound it sometimes feels like an abstraction of life, of how we interact, of how we learn from each other. No one can become a world class bridge player without understanding those elements, and that is what makes it stand out from other mind sports, such as chess, poker or backgammon (which are mainly individual sports). 16
A virtual card factory
Hush ”When we perform, we generate communication and thereby build forms of communality.”
”Corruption – the art of brokering the open secret – therefore is the mother of the coded forms of indirect communication that traditionally constitute high culture: sexual seduction, political diplomacy, economic bargaining, poetry, theatre, painting, etc.”
Jan Verwoert, Exhaustion, p.14 Jan Verwoert, Secret societies, p. 136 Bridge is all about performance, and according to one very famous bridge player (Bob Hamman) /...”bridge is a game of current form”. In other words; one cannot survive on old merits. The pressure to perform and to consistently do well in tournaments is sometimes extreme, and one can quickly become obsolete or regarded as a poor player. Once that happens, it is very hard to fight your way back. Sometimes when it comes to young players, it is, for a time, sufficient to show potential to be regarded as a good player. Although that shine can soon wear off, and when you're in the senior category, the competition can be fierce.
This competition is not only a competition between the experienced vs beginners, old vs new, it is also a competition between genders and familiars vs unknown faces. There is a considerable surplus of men in the bridge society, and there is a constant discussion about whetheror not women can achieve at the same level as men. This is not just a discussion concerning the factual living and social conditions which many women still have to succumb to ( career, family, etc. ). It is, astonishingly enough, also a discussion about women's physical attributes. Such as whether or not a womans brain is even capable of operating at the same level as a mans. 18
It has even been argumented (on internetforums and even printed media) if it is not so that womens ability to perform decrease during the menstruation period, and that that in itself would be a sufficient reason for rejecting women in the national teams. This discussion has been around for as long as I can remember, and I have also felt that if a woman is to really have a figthing chance to be a recognized player she has to either be the child of a well respected (male) elite player, or girlfriend/wife to one. This is probably not a conscious decision from the male part of the bridge community, but it is a sort of â€œtruthâ€? that everyone knows, but refuses to discuss on a logical level. In the states, there was a case a few years back, where a female elite player decided to sue the ACBL (American Contract Bridge League) because she felt that she had been discriminated when they decided against putting her in the national team, although she was clearly qualified. She won the case, but unfortunately things didnâ€™t really change for women in the rest of the world. This discussion will have to go on until the old secret of womens incapability has been completely buried.
Bibliography Seminar one Gregory Seijworth, Melissa Gregg ‘An Inventory of Shimmers’ in The Affect Theory Reader, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2010 Gregg, Melissa. ‘Affect.’ M/C Journal 8.6 (2005). 25 Nov. 2011
Seminar two -Gilles Deleuze, ‘The Diagram’, in The Logic of Sensation, London: Continuum, 2003. -Gilles Deleuze, ‘Painting and Sensation’, in The Logic of Sensation, London: Continuum, 2003. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, ‘Percept, Affect, Concept’ in What is Philosophy?, New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.
Seminar three -Brian Massumi, The Autonomy of Affect, in Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2002. -Brian Massumi, ‘Of Microperception and Micropolitics, in Inflexions online journal, no. 3, October 2009. http://www. senselab.ca/inflexions/
Seminar four -Nigel Thrift, ‘Spatialities of Feeling’ in Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect, London: Routledge, 2008. -Sylvia Lavin, Kissing Architecture, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011.
Seminar five Michel Foucault, ‘Panopticism’ in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, London: Penguin, 1991.
Seminar six -Tony Bennett, ‘The Exhibitionary Complex’, The Birth of the Museum: History, Theory, Politics, London: Routledge, 1995, excerpt, pp. 59-79.
Seminar seven Gilles Deleuze, ‘Postscript on Societies of Control’ in Negotiations: 1972-1990, New York: Columbia University Press, 1995. Seminar eight Jan Verwoert, ‘Exhaustion an Exuberance’ in Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want, Sternberg Press, 2010. Jan Verwoert, How do we share? The secret? How will we experience? The mysteries? in Cristina Ricupero, Alexis Vaillant, Max Hollein, eds. Secret Societies, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, CAPC Museé d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, Snoek.
Logic of Sensation in the institution of bridge Coloring-in boook