The Original Cultural Context
“When it comes to games, never try to understand the Janra mind.”
-Oeildubeau, Urvanovestilli philosopher and anthropologist
It is known that Janra sports usually last for at least half an hour, involve a ball, two or more teams, running and acrobatics, and animated discussion. Beyond that, neither the Urvanovestilli’s logic nor the Yedidia’s intuition are able to make head or tail of them. In general, the teams appear to have unequal numbers of players; the players often switch teams in the course of play; teams are created and dissolved; the nature of the activities makes sudden and radical changes; there is no visible winning or losing. There are occasionally times in the course of play when some intelligible goal appears to be being approached… but then, all players seem to be approaching it in a rather erratic manner (when asked why he didn’t do thus and such simple thing and achieve the approached goal by an inexperienced anthropologist, one of the Janra said, “Technically, that would work, but that would be a very boring way to do it,” and then bolted back into play: the extent to which game play is comprehensible heightens its incomprehensibility). Late in life, Oeildubeau hinted at having suspicions that, if the Janra believe that they are being watched, they will spontaneously stop whatever sport they are playing, and instead begin a series of activities expressly designed to give any observer a headache.
- There is no winning or losing.
- The game has one ball, which must be kept in motion at all times. If the ball ceases to move, nobody may speak or act except to move the ball.
- Il est interdit de parler en anglais au subjet de l’objet du jeu.
- Any player may give any other player a rule point, provided that there is no alliance or “You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” arrangement between them, at any time. Any player who has a rule point may spend that point in order to add, delete, or modify a rule in accordance with the spirit of the game.
- Every player has a persona, or modus operandi, through which he is acting and answering questions. If any other player successfully identifies this persona or modus operandi, it must immediately be changed.
- There is no rule number 6.
- Each player must somehow touch another player before or during addressing him in speech.
- No player may move from one point to another without using at least one acrobatic, dance, or martial arts motion.
- Any use of a card deck or game board requires one change of rules for the card/board game per move.
- Any rules disputes are to be resolved by no judge, until all involved parties come to a confusion which is more chaotic than in its initial form.
- All players must wear one black sock and one white sock.
- We’re sorry, but rule number twelve is not available at this time. To leave a message, please rotate your telephone clockwise by ninety degrees, and simultaneously press ‘q’ and ‘z’.
- Any player who does not understand all of the rules, in their entirety, is immediately disqualified.
- Any player who attempts to memorize all of the rules, or attempts to play the game by keeping its rules, is immediately disqualified.
Q: What is ‘Springfield’?
A: Springfield is a game in which two people alternate naming state capitals, and the first person to name Springfield wins.
Q: What’s the point of that?
A: The objective is to be the first person to say ‘Springfield’ as late as possible. The point is to see how far you can go — and still be the first to say ‘Springfield’. It’s not a game of mathematical strategy. It’s a game of perception.
Q: What is Psychiatrist?
A: Psychiatrist is a game in which one person, the psychiatrist, leaves the room, and all of the other players agree on a common delusion (such as believing themselves to be the person immediately to their left). The psychiatrist then enters, and asks the players questions, attempting to guess the delusion.
Q: What is spoon photography?
A: Very well known.
Q: What is Janra ball all about?
A: Wouldn’t you like to know?
Q: Why did you answer my question with another question?
A: How else could it be?
Q: What are the teams like?
A: Highly variable, and not necessarily mutually exclusive.
Q: How do I get ahead in the game?
Q: Why won’t you give me a straight answer to my questions?
A: Come, come. Aren’t there much more interesting ways to grok the game?
Springfield, Monty Python, Calvin-Ball, body language, Harlem Globetrotters, sideways logic, Thieves’ Cant, intuition, counter-intuitive segues, spoon photography, creativity, Zen koans, Psychiatrist, adrenaline, perception, tickling, urban legend Spam recipe, swallowing a pill, illusionism, modern physics, raw chaos, F.D. & C. yellow number 5.