Connecting forms to contexts in Rattlesnake Games

Dec 30, 2018 · 2 min read

The facts are commonplace, but their implications are unlimited. Liu Xie

Necklace from the Tomb of Li Jingxun, Xi’an, Shanxi Province

Rattlesnake games connect ideas and forms across all areas of knowledge and culture. But what exactly does it mean to connect ideas and forms to different contexts?

Connections can use the exact same form, or some part or characteristic of it, in another context:

  • the word Mercury as applied in chemistry, astronomy and religion
  • the use of lapis lazuli in different artefacts such as Li Jingxun’s necklace, and the Tsarevich Fabergé egg
  • the meaning of amber in the study of ancient trade routes, electrostatics, medicine, physical preservation

Connections can also re-express the idea of a form, or some part of it, as a completely different form in another context:

  • extending the idea of Mercury, God of speed, to the fast-growing hazel in the domain of trees
  • translating the idea of the lapis lazuli intaglio stag on Li Jingxun’s necklace into Harry Potter’s patronus, or via Yeats’ poem Lapis Lazuli into the idea that ‘all things fall and are built again’
  • amber as a re-expression of poetic preservation, or hardened sunlight

The phrases in this table show what kinds of connections can be made using the same, similar or different forms in a context, and involving the same, similar or different meanings/uses. It will add variety to a game if different types of connection can be used, and it adds difficulty if certain types must be used.

Some connections will be made through knowledge (e.g. linking a whelk bead to American Indian funeral rites), others through creative reinterpretation (e.g. a whelk’s spiral-based principle of growth and expansion appearing similar to that of a spiral galaxy).

The game embraces non-knowledge-based (i.e. spiritual, physical and emotional) and other playful ways of connecting, for example:

  • describe what you’re not sure about or would like to know more about the form/idea in the context
  • describe the smell, touch, look, feel, sound of the form/idea with reference/comparison to a context
  • describe how the form/idea could make you feel a certain emotion

There’s lots more could be said on the types of contexts to be used and ways of connecting with them. But basically, if it’s fun, it’s allowed.

There are some example games at @RatataLucchese on Twitter, of different degrees of difficulty and seriousness. I hope you will enjoy playing!

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