Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Things I had to look up: ludic

Once in a while I encounter a word that's new to me, and suddenly see it in more than one place, as if everyone had suddenly decided to start using it. Such was true of the word louche, which cropped up suddenly a few years ago and now I see it everywhere (and use it myself, because it's very useful). Now I encounter ludic:

The streak of sportiveness is there in Gosling's character, too, when he declares, "This is the big leagues. It's mean. When you make a mistake, you lose the right to play." Yet Myers is less ludic than his partners in the game, who've seen it all before; he behaves like someone seeing it for the first time, and his speech is larded with imperatives.

In his Life: A User's Manual of 1978, [Georges] Perec showed how the contemporary novel might emulate the epic sweep of Ulysses, the nested stories of The Arabian Nights. Though never as ludic as Perec, Bolaño found, through the idea of multiple interviews in the middle section of The Savage Detectives, and through the twin foci or magnets of the Sonora Desert and the writer Benno Von Archimboldi in 2666, a means of licensing a similar kind of narrative proliferation.

Ludic is said to simply mean "playful," but then why not just say "playful" in the above examples? What more does it mean? Is it significant, or just coincidence, that both examples use the word in the context of a comparison? Still hard to tell.

I'm still not sure what that last sentence means. "Licensing a kind of narrative proliferation"? What does it mean to license proliferation?

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