GBGBG [sic], etc.

Date: Sun, 28 Sep 1997 04:42:10 -0700
From: Ronald Hale-Evans 
Subject: GBGBG [sic], etc.
Reply-to: magister-l@DRYCAS.CLUB.CC.CMU.EDU
MIME-version: 1.0


Familarity with my version of the Glass Bead Game is assumed for this post.
If you can't follow this post, please see the GBG pages listed in my
signature. (I have recently added material and will continue to do so.)

Before I say anything else, I want to announce that the Kenning Game has
been renamed. The new name is Kennexions, pronounced "connections." (My
book shares the title with the game.) A kennexion (lower-case k) is a
multiply-determined KENNing EXpressION. "Multiply-determined" is an
extrapolation of the Norse term _tvikennt_, which means "twice-determined."
A multiply-determined kenning is one with several parts -- what I used to
call a "nested" kenning. And yes, I have just discovered that the Norse
used simple ones! For example, if "flame of battle" means "sword" and "the
din of spears" means "battle", then "flame of the din of spears" is another
way of saying "sword".

Most of our knowledge of kenningar comes from the Younger Edda, or Prose
Edda, written by Snorri Sturluson around 1220 CE. Snorri was the first to
develop a theory of kennings, and he preserved hundreds of them in the part
of the Prose Edda called the Skaldskaparmal, including the tvikennt kenning

It is hard to find a translation of the Prose Edda that includes the
Skaldskaparmal. There was a 1916 version that included some of it.
Fortunately, the only complete English translation of the Younger Edda was
completed just recently by translator Anthony Faulkes, and is available in
an Everyman Library edition from Tuttle. This is available from
for around $8.00, and I cannot recommend it highly enough to those
interested in Kennexions.

Another book that has explores kenningar in some detail is _The New
Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics_, a massive tome. Charles has
quoted the kenning article from the original Encyclopedia on Magister-L
before. Charles, the new version has even more detail. I found my copy at
Barnes and Noble for the insultingly low price of $10.00 or so. Ah, the
joys of the "penny-bin."

There are also some books in German that are entirely analyses of the
kenning, but as I cannot yet read German, I cannot report on their
contents. See the bibliography to the Princeton kenning article if you are


Another thing I wanted to mention tonight:

I have been working on a typology of Glass Bead Games. So far there are
several categories. I include descriptions of these categories below along
with my names for them.

1) The Castalian Game -- This is the game as most of us first encountered
it in _Das Glasperlenspiel_. It is a purely fictional game and as such is
unplayable by those of us outside the world of Hesse's novel.

2) The One True Glass Bead Game -- This is a Platonic archetype,
unattainable by mortals. The Castalian Game and every other Glass Bead Game
developed, whether fictional or factual, is a shadow of this Game and an
attempt to bring it forth in the world of matter. It might be said that the
One True Glass Bead Game is both Transcendent Signified and Transcendent
Signifier. As such, it has been revealed to humankind under many other
names: The Magic Theatre and the League of Journeyers to the East in Hesse;
the Library of Babel, the Lottery in Babylon, the Book of Sand, the Garden
of Forking Paths, the Aleph -- all these and more in Borges; David
Zindell's Universal Syntax; Teilhard and Tipler's Omega Point; Carse's One
Infinite Game; the Hindu Lila; the Dharma; the Necronomicon and the King in
Yellow; the One Pearl; the I Ching, a "real" Magic Book; the Book of Thoth
or the TARO, another; the Law or the TORA, a third; the Tree of Life; the
Encyclopedia; Finnegans Wake; the Heavenly Quran; the Logos. One can adduce
an infinite number of others, "as many as the breaths of man."

3) The "shadows" of the One True GBG are what I call "gameforms," by
analogy with "artforms." Examples: Kennexions, HipBone, Ludus Sollemnis,
Glass Plate Game, Waldzell, Bliss-Member, and even the Castalian Game.

4) Properly also a gameform, but the highest we can attain, is the
GBG/GBGBG/GBGBGBG/.... This is a recursive acronym in the manner of "GNU's
Not Unix". It stands for "Great Big GBG": that which I have previously
called the "Grand Synthesis of gameforms." The GBGBG (etc.) is a sort of
intergame protocol tying together all our little gameforms (Kennexions,
HipBone, Waldzell, etc.) into a unified superset. The greater and more
inclusive the unity of the GBGBG, the more we are justified in extending
the acronym another few letters, and the closer we approach the One True
GBG in the Sky. I have made groping attempts toward the GBGBG and invite
you all to do the same.


Signing off for tonight. Just wanted to say that I have been printing out
and poring over the many thoughtful responses to my early "Kenning Game"
posts, particularly those of Charles, Steve Cranmer, and Derek Robinson,
and the challenges their analyses present have been of the greatest
importance to me as I mull over flaws in the Kennexions game and seek its



Ron Hale-Evans
Founder, Center for Ludic Synergy
Gamemaster, Kennexions
Charter Member, Bamboo Garden of Seattle

Kennexions GBG | Center for Ludic Synergy

Ron Hale-Evans

Last modified: 23 September 1999