This was a great pleasure! Not just being sought out by Varoom magazine's editor John O'Reilly, who is an academic at St. Martin's Art School in London, and who asked very meaty questions (the full interview text is below).
But also the final manifestation of the interview in the magazine itself (see the PDF copy) - which felt physically like a copy of a mid-80s NME (see above - and very appropriate, given all the references!).
The layout itself is also cool, accompanied by witty Lego illustrations from Christoph Niemann's New York Times Abstract Sunday blog, and its "I Lego NY" project.
Varoom is a magazine for illustrators, who occupy a niche between fine arts, advertising, design. I was invited to explore much relevant ground to the creative classes - and found myself anticipating some of Paul Mason's arguments about postcapitalism and "networked individuals" in his new book.
As ever, all comments and shares welcome.
ORIGINAL INTERVIEW TEXT:
John O'Reilly: You published The Play Ethic in 2004. Its subtitle, A Manifesto For a Different Way of Living signalled its breadth of discussion and its existential urgency, but it also also captured and focused a concept which had become increasingly prominent in debates in the Humanities since the 80s as translations of philosophers such as Barthes, Lacan, Derrida, Baudriallrd, began to be published.
It was also a kind of sensibility partly driven by Guy Debord and the Situationists in the 60s, indeed the opening pages of the book begins with a quote from Raoul Vaneigem’s 1967 book The Revolution in Everyday Life. And for you the practices of the Post-Punk culture is a major driver. Why do you think interest in the notion of Play became such a hot-button idea in the early 2000s?
Pat Kane: A number of reasons. For one thing, the increasing cultural prominence (and mass usage) of computer games and web culture - the immersion and competitive power-ups of the former, the sheer exchange, modifications and social “interplay” of the latter.
As writers like Fred Turner, John Markoff, Erik Davis and Stewart Brand have noted, there is a directly link between Californian “counterculture” and world “cyberculture” - not just in terms of personnel (Steve Jobs, etc), but in terms of the values of self-expression, imagination, experimentation both technical and social. When network society began to mature in the early 2000s, to me it was no surprise that the ethos of openness and experiment - a playful ethos - was, as it were, “baked” into the very technology itself.
As a “theory” and “post-punk” child of the mid-80s myself, I do also think that we (the Euro-UK-Atlantic humanties grads!) were mentally ready for the recombinant potential of net/web/game culture. Having an understanding of semiotics and the mutabilty of signs and images (Barthes), appreciating language as a network of difference (Derrida), accepting that simulated realities have power to shape the course of events (Debord, Baudrillard)… all of this prepares you for not being surprised by cyberculture and its mutations.
I could go deeper, and say that the European experience of social upheaval (68 in France, the hot seventies in Italy and Germany) generated such an intellectual ferment that it even anticipated much of our current network society - Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of “rhizomes”, and their position in general that societies are suffused with potentials for change that don’t always rely on full human intention (ie, sometimes on “assemblages” of technology, environment, people). It now feels, in an age of memes, flash events in the stock market, robomania, that their time has just about come...