Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke:
A wise man once said that all human activity is a form of play. And the highest form of play is the search for Truth, Beauty and Love. What more is needed? Should there be a ‘meaning’ as well, that will be a bonus?
If we waste time looking for life’s meaning, we may have no time to live — or to play.
First, I find a contradiction in “all human activity” not including “looking for life’s meaning.” If I try to find implications in his juxtapositions, I might conclude that “to live” is “to play”, looking for life’s meaning is not-play (not living) as though the two are mutually exclusive activities by virtue of word choice.
I believe he’s saying that “looking for life’s meaning” is a meaningless extraction on its own, being done apart from searching for Truth, Beauty, and Love. But he seems to have extracted searching for those things from searching for life’s meaning (why or how any of those three things matter) as though they aren’t a part of “life.”
To “search for” something to me implies that the object of the search is a target. On one hand, the target can be defined, and you’re looking to find it. On the other hand, the target is ethereal and you’re looking to establish its existence for some reason. And “for some reason” implies some purpose or objective, which then implies meaning: what is Truth, Beauty, and Love such that they can be play; and why is searching for them worth expending playtime for?
For the sake of play? That can’t be. Too shallow.
Play is the quintessential example of “living in the moment” or the present. Living in the present does not mean living in ignorance of meaning beyond the present. It means being totally present in the now, with consciousness of interconnectedness and “meaning”…a meaning that forms awareness. Without this, “play” is reduced to nothing more than a bubble of self-indulgence or enacted daydreams, whereas it could be about exploration of consciousness. Play can be about the meaning of life and the magic that meaning makes possible.
Let’s focus on Beauty for the moment.
In Strong’s Systematic Theology, he argues that beauty, for it to be recognized, requires a recognizer — a being with the capacity to appreciate and enjoy aesthetics and masterfully applied design. And that being has some relationship to the abstract of beauty, some chemistry that produces joy of beauty in its recognition. Continue reading