10.11 – The Current Means and Goals of Play


This translation is a first draft, and has not been independently proofread. However, to the best of my knowledge this text has never been translated into English. Therefore I am making it available in this form with the caveat that there are likely to be mistakes in it. PLEASE APPROACH IT WITH CAUTION!

Draft 0.0 (26 May 2016)

The Current Means and Goals of Play

Marcel Giuglaris (in France-Soir 4 August 1965) has described the construction of a massive area and a series of exercises undertaken (with enormous resources) by the American Army to test the application of its war effort in Vietnam: “If a date is to be chosen to mark the change in the American strategic understanding of the Vietnam War, it’s that of Operation ‘Silver Land’ [1].” After it, the Americans will no longer improvise. Using every minute detail they know, they rehearse every action to be undertaken in Vietnam, on the west coast of the United States. In spring 1965, over an area covering the entire western United States (from Seattle to the Mexican border – a distance of more than 2000 km, and more than 1000 km inland to just beyond Las Vegas) the Americans set up representations of [a number of] countries: Lancelot (South Vietnam) – covering the South of California – is “a country where guerrillas have harassed government forces so much since 1964, that in December it appealed to the UN for American military assistance.” Merlin (North Vietnam), north of Lancelot, is a country under a dictatorship that inspires, arms, supplies, and aids Lancelot’s guerrillas. Modred (China), is a large country that borders on Merlin, that possesses nuclear weapons, and is of the same political allegiance as Merlin, a country it holds in its sphere of influence. Finally, Neutrala 1 and Neutrala 2 (Laos and Cambodia) are more or less neutral countries which border Merlin and Lancelot. It’s not necessary to be a real expert to recognise the likenesses: but if these aren’t already obvious [2], six Vietnamese villages (with the smells, hens and black pigs) have been recreated in Lancelot around Camelot, an urban area on the coast. Due to the lack of natives, and in order to ensure the same language problems, people who speak only Spanish (most likely Mexicans) were located there… “Silver Land” brought into play not only 80 vessels ranging from aircraft carriers to nuclear submarines but also tens of thousands of men. The scenario was incredibly intricate. Incidentally the exercise was modified so much, and at such short notice, in its execution, that a number of unit leaders were unable to get any sleep.” 

Through its concrete significance, its futility, its alienation from the ludic, and the practical ignominy of its objectives, this American war-game can be seen as a counter-example of our concept of the “constructed situation” – formulated to address the liberating potential of these times.

[1] The name of the exercise was actually “Operation Silver Lance”.
[2] au cas où celles-ci échapperaient