Disruptive Play: The Trickster in Politics and Culture journeys from ancient folkloric appearances of Tricksters such as Raven and Èṣù-Elegba, to their confined role in Western civilization, and then on to Trickster's 20th century jailbreak as led by dada and the hippies. Disruptive Play bears witness to how this spirit informs social progress today, whether by Anonymous, Banksy, Bugs Bunny, or unrevealed mischief-makers and culture jammers. Such play is revolutionary and lights the path to a transformed society.
Original Play is the frolic and noncompetitive play that animals and human babies do in order to have fun and to keep on playing...not to win or to lose. It is a substance of the universe that occurs in all life. It is the behavior by which love and belonging are expressed, given, and received.
When play moves into contest or other roles and rules, with winners and losers, it becomes Cultural Play. Issues of ego and narcissism are issues for Cultural Play, not for Original Play.
Disruptive Play occurs in the rare times when the rhythms of Original Play suddenly appear in a political or cultural setting, settings conventionally fraught with Cultural Play. Like driving a clown car across the field during an official NFL game. Or Raven tricking Chief into releasing the sun, the moon, and the stars into the sky. Or a surreptitious Banksy graffiti that invades a museum or the public commons. Tricking power into performing an act of love.
Disruptive Play: The Trickster In Politics and Culture connects knowledge from mythology, folklore, popular culture, art, politics, and play theory to make its casethatto be playful means not taking power seriously. At critical mass, power collapses and leaves us swimming about in the waters of the amoral Trickster.New values emerge and could lead to some version of the dystopia that currently drenches popular culture. Or, if people can discern between the authentic contact and exhilaration of play, and branded, mediated, alienated pleasure, then we just might stumble and frolic our way to the Play Society.
Disurptive Play is ideal for enthusiasts of the human condition and those who hold out for the vision, however slim, of the Play Society.
About the Author
Shepherd Siegel, PhD is an activist, previous professional rock and jazz musician, and educator in music, career + technical, and special education. His first teaching assignment was with youth in lockup in the County Juvenile Detention Center. Striving to make the greatest positive impact, he earned his doctorate from UC Berkeley while inventing innovative internship programs for troubled and troubling youth, including those with disabilities. Along the way, he played with the jazz trio Swingmatism and the power pop band Thin Ice. While more active as a writer, Dr. Siegel sustains a wide-ranging interest in music. He has written over 30 peer-reviewed and other published journal articles, a textbook that enjoyed two editions (Career Ladders), and the 2018 book Disruptive Play.Dr. Siegel is uniquely qualified to train his playful lens on politics and culture and tease out the Trickster element as it has shown up, tickled society, and then just as quickly disappeared. His diverse academic background--degrees in music, career + technical, administration and special education, and studies in anthropology--equip his scholarly pursuits. His activism grows out of the new visions forged in the bohemia of the San Francisco Bay Area. His presentations and talks have established him as a reliable and entertaining public intellectual on the subject of tricksters in politics and culture. Born in Chicago, Dr. Siegel has lived the longest in the Bay Area and Seattle, where he now resides.
A historically panoramic examination of human playfulness as a naturally healthy and politically subversive force....Siegel's thesis is philosophically provoative and original....combines intellectual rigor with a bracing optimism--he believes the history of disruptive playfulness provides empirical reasons to believe in its sociopolicical power.
Sometimes play can disrupt how people see the world.
--Jackson Fackler at 8 years old
Shepherd Siegel is looking at play in a very serious way. This book may tell us more about how to break down limitations and open creativity than all the gobbledygook self-help tomes of the past decade.
--Tom Long, The Detroit News
From the anti-war art of dada to the wit, wisdom and shenanigans of Lisa and Bart Simpson, Dr. Siegel reminds us that the play of art is always a play against power. This book is a timely and irresistible story about what play is and why artistically, politically and culturally, we should play more.
--Dr. Michael Vicente Perez, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, The University of Memphis
Somebody once said, "The beginnings of wisdom is a firm grasp of the obvious." That's what came to mind as I learned about Shepherd Siegel's Disruptive Play, an in-depth look at the power of play. Or maybe this work should be viewed, not as an historical review, but more as a DIY on play as an antidote to domination. Check it out, you might just see the forest.
--Daniel Barrett, Co-Creator and founder ofNavigation 101, a high school guidance and counseling program
I was in a better mood after I finished reading about the possibilities of play. I remembered there was a way to approach life that was based around joy and pleasure, rather than fear and drudgery. And that's a good thing!
--Alex Marshall, author of How Cities Work, The Surprising Design of Market Economies andBeneath the Metropolis; columnist for Governing magazine