I promised to stop using analogies in the other thread, but I'd already written one. This makes a lot of sense to me. Maybe not so much to others.
Imagine that I am doing a thing with cards.
First, I play a simple game: I cut a deck of cards 10 times, predict which suit the top card now belongs to, draw the top card, and see if I’m right.
I call this game, “CARDING”. I am not very imaginative.
I have promised my friends (who are watching) that if I was wrong about the suit of the card I drew while playing CARDING, that I will take that card, and I will eat it.
I proclaim this piece of performance art, EATING. I am not very imaginative.
This activity, which includes playing CARDING and then performing EATING, is what I call HOW I SPEND MY SATURDAY AFTERNOON.
The rules of CARDING are governed by probability and game theory. When we talk about which cards could end up on top of the deck, we are talking about the GameState of CARDING.
To say that any card in the deck has the possibility of ending up at the top of the deck while playing CARDING is absolutely true.
To say that that cards that don’t end up at the top of the deck are still part of the game and have a specific place in the deck, even if we don’t know what that is, is absolutely true.
Other things about the GameState, like the arrangement of the cards before and after each cut, are also things that are true, despite whether or not anybody knows what they are.
When someone claims that whether or not the card that ends up on the top of the deck ends up in my mouth later isn’t an important part of CARDING, and has nothing of import to say about the GameState, as it will not affect the arrangements or cuts or anything having do with the game that I played before putting it in my mouth, they are absolutely correct.
If someone tells you that nothing can be known about the playing of CARDING until I start to eat the cards, they are wrong.
The RULES OF CARDING are PRESCRIPTIVE. If only cut the deck 5 times, I am breaking the rules. According to the RULES OF CARDING, if I only cut the deck 5 times or I draw from the bottom of the deck, I’m not playing CARDING.
The RULES OF CARDING are rules about what happens when someone cuts the deck 10 times and draws from the top.
I am now eating the card. It’s the Ace of Spades, by the way.
Any questions about how I chew the card, what condiments I put on the card, or whether I blast Motorhead while chewing, are not part of the rules of CARDING.
They can, however, be part of the rules of EATING.
The RULES OF EATING are DESCRIPTIVE. They might include:
“If you tear the card up before you eat it, you’re less likely to choke.”
“If you put sriracha on the card, it will taste better.”
“If you blast Motorhead while you eat the card, your friends will probably laugh harder.”
If I chose not to tear the card into pieces, add sriracha, or use music to accentuate the event, I am still creating a PRODUCT. I can still call it EATING. The quality of the performance might suffer, but it will still be art.
IF... in order to perform EATING, I MUST do one of the above things, those rules are now PRESCRIPTIVE. EATING is no longer a work of art. Now it’s a game.
“Josh must get the whole card down with all that sriracha on it before the Motorhead song is over!”
This is a game.
“Watch me eat this card! I hope you think my humiliating behavior is entertaining!”
This is art.
THE WAY I SPEND MY SATURDAY AFTERNOON is not playing a game where I shuffle some cards and then try to get one down my throat before a song is over.
THE WAY I SPEND MY SATURDAY AFTERNOON is this thing where I play a game called CARDING. That determines which card I eat in a piece of performance art called EATING.
If it were all just a game, EATING would just a subset of CARDING, and there would be no need to describe the whole thing with another label. If that were the case, it would mean that CARDING = HOW I SPEND MY SATURDAY AFTERNOON.
But that’s not HOW I SPEND MY SATURDAY AFTERNOON.