August 24, 2006

PGA: What Year Is It?

PGA: What Year Is It?

This was kind of a tricky one. Either it was going to work like the best kind of parlor game — a vigorous match-up of fun and wit — or it risked everything that pryoung warned us about: superficiality and Eurocentrism. Overall we think it worked. Our guests did warn us about the dangers of historical analogies — but then plunged enthusiastically into the game. And taught us something about a broad historical view while they were at it. Anyway, who doesn’t like to talk about the Treaty of Westphalia every now and then? We even managed to tear ourselves away from Europe and try to picture what kind analogies Iran might be drawing right now. So, pryoung, how would you score the game? Here’s Chris’s take on it:

Chris’s Post-Game Analysis

As a parlor game it surely worked, on air and on the page. Talk extemporaneously about these numbers/dates: 115, 1187, 1219, 1429, 1648, 1914, 1919, 1938, 1942, 1948, 1972, 2006. Make a point that’s not about the numbers but the unfolding of a story that we know is not simply circular but has repeating motifs. And by gum, people did it — and made us feel familiar inside an hour with such things as the Second Khanate in Persia and the Treaty of Westphalia (not a “Western failure” at all, but the cornerstone of the modern system of national sovereignty). My takeaway, from Tom Barnett especially, was that the “mission impossible” we’ve been assigned is to smash the detested model of imperial domination so as to reach an unprecedented globalism of spirit and also commerce.

Also: where but a parlor game could you draw analogies to the future? Like this one from the comment thread:

The year is actually 2046. Jenna Bush is in the middle of her second term as President. The country is still embroiled in a war in Iraq, which President Bush invaded a few years earlier hoping to “get it right this time.??? Sources in the government claim they are on the verge of capturing Osama Bin Ladin, who at 89 is still quite sprightly and rumored to be hiding somewhere in Pakistan. Israel has invaded Lebanon to get rid of Hezbollah once and for all. The fundamentalist Christian government of Iran is said to be planning an invasion of Israel in order to bring about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. In 2046 nothing ever changes.

John Swift, in a comment to Open Source, 23 August 2006

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