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Bodies in Form, 2: Tabletop Roleplaying as Cosmic Poetics

Stein, Eric

Using Maurice Merleau-Ponty's concept of "motricity" and Alva Noë's concept of "organization," this paper offers a phenomenological and enactive approach to tabletop roleplaying games (ttrpgs) as a form of poiesis, making---both auto-poetic, as defined by Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, and sym-poietic, as defined by Donna Haraway. This self-making and making-with is not understood in the sense of either self-possession or self-realization, but as a mode of what Stefano Harney and Fred Moten call "fugitive planning," a planning with the potential for direct action at the cosmic scale. This cosmic poetics is a poetics that rejects "the assignation of traits," as Legacy Russell beckons us to do, delighting in the glitched becomings of "generic difference." Bringing this theoretical constellation to ground, this paper examines select examples from the recent boom in independent "lyric" games, situating them in their experimental aesthetic context in order to derive a praxis for the elaboration of the poetics here described.

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