Participatory Inquiry, episode 27: Playwork Identity

“In transition, we give life to our playwork identities, 
that bring us back to life.”


Some years ago in Sweden, there was something called 
Lorry: A comedy series for us who are used to being a tad bored.

“Man hinner inte med
riktigt längre.”
 — Stefan Sauk

For some strange reason, there’s very few swedes around, nine million thereabouts. Which means, that we need to take great care in what playwork identities we assume, when needing to ship our stuff to other places.

During the last one hundred years, Sweden has made 
a unique dent in the world:

& fika

Smorgasbord is all about putting way too much food of many different kinds on a big table in the middle of a way too big ferry between Sweden and Finland. The idea is to bring the dinner guests to a near comatose state, thereby making it possible to sell them lots of liquor and sweets. Pay a small surcharge and you’ll get a seaside window.

Ombudsman is all about unions trying to make life very complicated for anyone running a business. We got free education, free healthcare and trains running on time out of it as well, which means it’s not all that bad. But complicated. For those of you who code, it’s like cramming everything about a society inside GitHub, and actually getting it to work. If you see a fork in the road, pick it up, itemize it and cram that in there as well.

A Theory of Play and Fantasy

“I saw two young monkeys playing (I was still not aware that this simple encounter would require an almost total revision of my thinking). Now, this phenomenon, play, could only occur if the participant organisms were capable of some degree of metacommunication, i.e., of exchanging signals which would carry the message “this is play” and the realization that this message contains those elements which necessarily generate a paradox-a negative statement containing an implicit negative meta-statement.”
 — Gregory Bateson, A Theory of Play and Fantasy

Fika is how everything works in Sweden — we gather around a small table, add copious amounts of dammsugare, cinnamon buns and coffee and talk endlessly, until everyone understands exactly what to do, and actually does that as well.

“Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking of them.”
 — Alfred North Whitehead

Små Grodorna
Oh, and there’s a fourth thing as well, “dans kring midsommar-stången” but that’s only available after a very secret initiation. Please don’t tell any others that I shared this.


Most of us swedes do english with a very cute swedish accent. It’s a formidable secret weapon when dealing with others of a more normal english speaking persuasion, and is the core reason why we’ve managed to conquer the world, with ABBA, Ace of Base, Roxette and Kjell-Åkes.

Playwork Identity
You weren’t supposed to make it through the whole text all the way down here! Ok then:

“As with our senses, the development of the building blocks of being conscious of having an identity and comprehending what it is, starts very early. But if a child …”
 — Bob Hughes

You’re a bit curious about the three minute clip with that swedish actor? Here’s a translation:

“Man hinner inte med riktigt längre.”

American English:
“Let’s turn our potential high-performers 
slightly more agile.”

Oh, and for those of you reading this from Germany, please don’t 
steal any more Moose road signs. Thank you.

Participatory Inquiry, episode 27: Playwork Identity

Geran de Klerk