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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/855

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particular in the choice of the end we shall seek; we may not care whether that end is worth the trouble we are taking; but, for all that, we may not be willing to have our faculties at work for nothing. We fix upon some end that we shall reach. If I take a walk, I say that I am going here, or there, or will walk so many miles. If I play a game of skill, I want to win, to make so many points, to accomplish something; I am not, then, seeking merely the pleasure of acting, but I try to reach a result agreeable in itself. Games of chance have no attraction if one is not interested in the play. Sometimes, this interest is conferred by the hope of a material or pecuniary profit; most frequently in the pursuit of the honor of having won. But, is working for glory disinterestedness? Pascal's analysis was more complete. The hunter loves to hunt, not only for the pleasure of walking in the fields in pursuit of a hare, not only for the pleasure of bringing his game home, but chiefly for the proud joy of exhibiting it. It may be said that this is all vanity; that the object is not worth the pains it has cost. But that matters not to the argument. I do not say that play is an affair of well-defined interest; but that we are excited in it by considerations of interest. At the moment when I am striving to arrive at that end, I do not measure its importance, I do not think of the reasons that first started me; there is the goal I have proposed to myself, and I run for it. If the thought occurred to me for an instant that this was all futile, only a pretext, my ardor would be cooled down at once. It is also easily seen that, when we engage in any exercise or game, we by a mental effort exaggerate the importance of the end sought. If we play billiards with a strong adversary, we call it a match, and hire a hall; and the players please themselves by imagining that they are staking their reputation on each carom-shot. A game of chess becomes very dramatic, and the player's hand trembles when he makes a decisive movement. When we start on a canoeing excursion, it pleases us to imagine for the moment that we are going to travel into distant regions. Walking in the forest, we say that we are exploring the country, and are going to make discoveries. In this way we try to satisfy the spirit of adventure that the usages of our too well regulated society have not wholly stifled. It is, therefore, an essential quality of play that, to take pleasure in it, we must mount the imagination, and fancy that what we are doing on a small scale is done on a grand one; must substitute mentally, for the futile activity in which we desire to be absorbed, some mode of superior and more fascinating activity. Tell me that I am willfully fooling myself, if you please. Tell me even that I have a secret consciousness that it is an illusion, and that I am more than half a dupe of the pretext that I have given myself. It is nevertheless true that the pleasure of action for the