2013, April.

Meta Chess

This is a game that obeys all of Chess's rules with one additional rule:

At the end of each player's turn, the player must make a one-word edit to the Meta Chess rule book.

This game can get out of hand very quickly, for instance, a player my change "all" to "none", drastically altering the play of the game. Other edits can have subtler effects, such as changing "must" to "may". The Phrasing is important. I tried to make it difficult to 'solve' the game. In previous phrasings a player could easily take complete control over the rule book, leading to insurable victory. Hopefully the current phrasing does not have any immediately apparent holes.

I thought of this game while thinking about Saussure's concept of Langue. If Langue is an abstract field of rules that determines the fabrication of speach, I wonder if Langue harbors a rule for segmenting rules from other rules. (How else could you have multiple rules, especially if you suppose Saussurean negative ontology). Then I attempted to draw out the potentials rules about rules afford. playing a game against myself. Similar to the <a href'>kill the ant game, one player attempts to defend the position that Langue is a synchronic set of rules that govern differentially defined signs/concepts while the other deploys concept of rules about rules to dismantle the Saussurean definition of Langue.

The line of attack I persued was:if Langue requires rules about rules to distinguish rules from rules, what limits these rules to distinguishing one rule from another. Could you have a rule that re-writes rules? If this is allowed there the synchronic perspective is not a tenable vantage point for the study of Langue, let alone language. Moreover, if each rule requires a differential field of rules to maintain its identity, Langue may require infinite levels of (meta)Langue to keep its structure.

When I played, the defender kept falling back on concepts of hierarchal specificity (perhaps n+1 level rules have different limitations that n level rules) and conditionality (rules only come into effect when a condition is met). These responses seem to lead to A) a paradox in distinction and B) a loop respectively.

A) The paradox of distinction: hierarchy requires two types of distinction, 1) distinction between elements themselves and 2) distinction between elements and classes. If you have a purely negative ontology a la Saussure & subsequent "post" structuralists (Lacan, Derrida) what distinction can distinguish between types of distinction? A third distinction? What about that distinction distinguishes it from the others? A fourth, fifth, etc -> infinity. Distinction is hollowed out, becomes merely a relation inflected with a property, i.e. positively defined.

B) The loop occurs when the attacker asks the defendant what rule Langue has for specifying the condition for rules to obtain. This restarts the game.

A third path emerges from the possibility of rules rewriting rules. This path can lead back to the loop but it also allows for self referential rule 'nonrewritablity', and ultimately either total rule breakdown or rule robustness through < a href=>diversification and cloaking leading to infinitely recursive general rules used by both sides. Of course, once the defender allows this you are far from 'Langue' originally conceived.


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