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Deep Play Rewrite

clarsen's picture


     Since reading Ackerman’s “Deep Play” article, I’ve keep an eye out for it in my day to day experiences and have tried to use it as a lens on assigned trips to Philadelphia.  Searching for such an intense and heavily emotion based sense has proved difficult, however, and it’s become even clearer that “deep play” is entirely natural and in the moment.  A hunt for deep play is not fruitful as it involves overanalyzing and planning.  As I open my sketchbook, paint a canvas, or begin a sculpture, I find myself incredibly focused and elated.  I suppose it shouldn’t come as a shock to me that I’ve been experiencing deep play when doing what I love most.  Art has always been a large part of my life and is therapeutic along with enjoyable.

            Ackerman defines “deep play” a number of different ways and uses words such as “freedom”, “thrill” “whole”, and “sacred”.  She states “there are times during deep play when one feels invincible, immortal, an ideal version of oneself”.  When practicing art, I feel as though all problems and worries melt away and the only thing that matters is the piece at hand.  It is remarkably fulfilling and I can feel myself “in the zone” where I am so thoroughly focused.  Deep play is an experience where one gains an extraordinary amount from an event.  It may be an extreme understanding or happiness or simply where “one finds clarity” and an “acceptance of self”.

            One word used when defining the many faceted “deep play” is realization.  I haven’t made many outlines when writing essays this year yet I’ve noticed that when typing ideas and concepts spill out.  Deep play in writing is realization.  After writing, the author should have a greater grasp on the topic at hand.  Not through research but rather through a self-discovery with words eventually falling into place.  Writing and thinking freely allows for this to happen naturally. 

            Writing with extreme concentration is also an important key to deep play. Full immersion when writing can also lead to a therapeutic experience, which can be component to deep play.  When I was a child, I religiously wrote in my diary, which served as deep play writing for me.  I documented my day-to-day experiences and thoughts and because of this was able to make many self-realizations and discoveries about myself. 

            When writing essays for this class, I have found that I’ve practiced “deep play” in some aspects.  I usually succeed in gathering my thoughts together and grasping a new concept or conclusion.  The ideas don’t always naturally flow out however, and I feel I could have utilized deep play more in my last essay on Eastern State Penitentiary.  Rather than spending such a great portion of the essay focusing on facts, I could have shared more opinionated thoughts or even written it from the point of view of a prisoner, reformer, or guard.  Deep play both in writing, life, and art should be something that comes organically with little thinking involved.  It should allow you to take risks, push the envelope, and be fully engulfed in the moment.