Play Drives the Modern World

Source: NYTimes, Nov 2016

“You will find the future wherever people are having the most fun,” Johnson writes

our ringmaster in “Wonderland” plays fast and loose with his central definition. “Play” here designates by turns novelty, delight, sport, games, prettiness, music of any kind, gambling, magic shows, spectacles, illusions and fashion. The word slips and skips like a pinball. If Johnson can show that the primary purpose of some pastime is not, strictly speaking, money, war or sex, he labels it play and closes his case.

Related Resource: How We Get to Next.com, Aug 2016

the same overarching structure: six chapters, each focusing on one facet of the modern world, tracing the history of brilliant ideas and forgotten innovators and unintended consequences that led to our present reality.

Wonderland also makes a larger argument about the disproportionate impact that delight and wonder have had on our history.

a surprising amount of modernity has its roots in another kind of activity: people mucking around with magic, toys, games, and other seemingly idle pastimes. Everyone knows the old saying “necessity is the mother of invention,” but if you do a paternity test on many of the modern world’s most important ideas or institutions, you will find, invariably, that leisure and play were involved in the conception as well.

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