Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More on Gype

I really wanted to write about Water today, in the waning hope that I might actually begin my studies of food. Yes, that sounds odd, I know, but even God seems to have started with water, and even the modern physics exalts "That Which Gives Birth To Water" as the First of all existing elements - though they use the word "hydrogen" since it is shorter and less tongue twisty. A proton being a hydrogen nucleus cannot help that it truly is the Kernel (Latin nucleus = kernel) of the First (Greek proton = first). Hee hee. So I got a little into a comment, but now find that I must talk a little more about Gype.

Which means I must talk about two things. Humour and Rules.

It is, as all computer scientists know - ahem, as all ontologists know - well, as anyone with any inkling of common sense must know - that it is impossible to be funny without rules. A word which has no meaning cannot be the root of a joke, the answer to a riddle, the pivot of a paradox, or so forth. In fact, we might go so far as to claim that Humour is the Eighth Gift of the Holy Spirit, as Chesterton observed:
What we [English] call wit they [the French] call esprit - spirit. When they want to call a man witty, they call him spirituel. They actually use the same word for wit which they use for the Holy Ghost.
["Heroic Wit" in Lunacy and Letters]
Yes. If a door is not a door when it is a jar, or a garbage truck is not something that has four wheels and flies, well - there has to be some sort of rule that makes such things possible.

Now, Gype is possible. It is a game which is intended simply and only (in the absolute sense) for fun, for enjoyment, for delight. I tried to suggest this by quoting a near-Chestertonian example from "Calvin and Hobbes" with his Calvin-Ball score of "Q to 12" which is quite a respectable score in Gype, assuming... well. Never mind what we are assuming.

But the very idea that Gype can exist without rules? Let us see what Chesterton says:
Friendship must be physically dirty if it is to be morally clean. It must be in its shirt sleeves. The chaos of habits that always goes with males when left entirely to themselves has only one honorable cure; and that is the strict discipline of a monastery. Anyone who has seen our unhappy young idealists in East End Settlements losing their collars in the wash and living on tinned salmon will fully understand why it was decided by the wisdom of St. Bernard or St. Benedict, that if men were to live without women, they must not live without rules.
[GKC What's Wrong With the World CW4:96]
Though that may be a bit misleading, since women can play Gype, and it has nothing to do with monasteries. (I have even heard that there are orders of monks whose Rule does not forbid the playing of Gype, even during Lent. This is a good thing. Gype is also among the most penitential of games.)

A shrewd commenter has indicated that "the rules for Gype are determined democratically" [Alas I have lost the reference but he has been busy goggling for Gype games in the e-cosmos so he will be sure to re-link for me.] This is an excellent insight, and is found almost verbatim in Chesterton, to wit (hee hee):
The people know that life cannot be conducted without rules. The people is the maker and keeper of all custom, tradition and convention, just as it is the maker and (except, perhaps, in modern England) the keeper of all religion.
[GKC Daily News for June 10, 1905 in The Apostle and the Wild Ducks]
Which links in a most dramatic sense to two other critical lines we must understand if we wish to learn more about Gype:
A wall is like ((a)) rule; and the gates are like the exceptions that prove the rule. The man making it has to decide where his rule will run and where his exception shall stand. He cannot have a city that is all gates any more than a house that is all windows; nor is it possible to have a law that consists entirely of liberties.
[GKC The New Jerusalem CW20:229]
And this, perhaps the foundation quote from which Gype once sprung:
when people are in exceptionally high spirits, really wild with freedom and invention, they always must, and they always do, create institutions. When men are weary they fall into anarchy; but while they are gay and vigorous they invariably make rules. This, which is true of all the churches and republics of history, is also true of the most trivial parlour game or the most unsophisticated meadow romp. We are never free until some institution frees us, and liberty cannot exist till it is declared by authority.
[GKC "The Banner of Beacon" in Manalive]
So you see that it is an ontological imperative: If Gype is for fun, then Gype must have rules, very stern and powerful rules, (which means, typically, referees with water-pistols) or it shall not be fun at all.

It would be quite pleasing at this point to consult a short and simple guide in which Chesterton lists several rules, most of which happen to relate in an ontological sense to Gype, but which he rather pedantically uses to explain how to write a detective story. [It was in G. K.'s Weekly for October 17, 1925, and reprinted in The Spice of Life] The first, of course, is that detective stories are not about darkness, but about light - that is, not about keeping something hidden, but revealing a secret. (Gype is about fun, not about winning.) The second is that the pivot of the detective story, the cardinal, the hinge on which it turns (see Tolkien for deeper meaning of "turn" in fantasy & fairy tales) must be simple. In the same way, any single round, inning, hand or period of Gype, in any of the countless forms it may take, must also be simple, regardless of the cumbersomeness of athletic gear, the size of the board, the variety of its pieces, the number of players, and the rest. Thirdly, the thing must revolve on something familiar, easily forgotten or overlooked, which means why a broom must appear on a football field (No, Harry, for sweeping, not flying) or a queen (Alice asks "of spades? or white?") on a scrabble board.

For the fourth, and perhaps most important of all these rules, I must quote GKC directly, and you must bear in mind that it applies to Gype as well as detective stories:
...the fourth principle to be remembered, as in the other cases, people probably will not realize that it is practical, because the principles on which it rests sound theoretical. It rests on the fact that in the classification of the arts, mysterious murders belong to the grand and joyful company of the things called jokes. The story is a fancy; an avowedly fictitious fiction. We may say if we like that it is a very artificial form of art. I should prefer to say that it is professedly a toy, a thing that children 'pretend' wish. From this it follows that the reader, who is a simple child and therefore very wide awake, is conscious not only of the toy but of the invisible playmate who is the maker of the toy, and the author of the trick. The innocent child is very sharp and not a little suspicious.
[I gave you the ref. already.]
That is, Gype is possible only if it remains what it was founded for: a joke. There will never be a NGL (National Gype League) or offical Gype sportswear. Thank God.

Finally, GKC concludes by saying "Every good problem of this type originates in a positive notion, which is in itself a simple notion; some fact of daily life that the writer can remember and the reader can forget. But anyhow, a tale has to be founded on a truth." You can read "that the ref can remember and the player can forget" if you like - provided that the game called Gype is also founded on a truth. Which means, (pace my friend and commentor) that Gype cannot be a matter of absurdity. It belongs to the universe of reason, and hence is the only sport which is Catholic in its essence. (More on that in a future discussion.)

If you want better rules for the game, quick, go buy the Collected Works. That's all the more you'll find these days, unless someone locates GKC's and Wells' notes... But by all means, play - and if you do play, please write it up (with full details of the score, etc) and send it to us. The Chesterton University team is ready to defend its title...


  1. seems like the "end around" is a common play in gype...a cloud of dust and no gain, could also describe the game...

  2. The noble game of inventing rules for non existing games of course also needs some rules invented.

    If not Gype will never become a hype.

  3. Gype of course is a polemical attack on gravity, or the gravity hype (for short Gype). Just looking at GKC, HGW and other players makes that crystal clear.

    So, the, Gype is about any gravity defying activity, showing that one cares so little for gravity that one won't even bother to challenge it.

    Gype lenght jump: The first player takes a small step. The next player a shorter, though not more than two inches shorter. And so on. Players not able to do a smaller step on his first effort, lose out, until there is no one left. The winner gets 8 points, #2 4 points, # 3 2 points, # 4 1 point.

    Gype hight jump: The first player does a small jump. The next player a lower, though not more than two inches lover. And so on. Players not able to do a smaller jump on his first effort, lose out, until there is no one left. The winner gets 8 points, #2 4 points, # 3 2 points, # 4 1 point.

    Gype running: All players line up. When the signal is given the challenge is to run the slowest, while definitely keep moving. The lastest to reach the 5 yard line wins. The winner gets 8 points, #2 4 points, # 3 2 points, # 4 1 point.

    Gype football: All players are given a ball, except one. You can imagine the rest.

  4. If you want the rules of making rules, do a Google search on "The Flying-Ins" and look at our articles labeled Gype. There is one called 'The Method of Game Design.' You may regret that you asked for the rules to rule-making when you are done with it :).

  5. Oh, I forgot to tell you...just in case the phrase "the Flying-Ins" is used more than once on teh internet, we are a blog. You can also get to it through Dr. Thursday's proflie.

  6. OFL, the web site is

    And for your future enlightenment, I will repeat the lesson where it shall not get edited out, and in a simpler form.

    In order to write the above I typed the following, but all together, and not on separate lines:


    I suggest you try this yourself, and you will soon master it. You could think of these motif musically as an accidental sharp with a following natural:
    1. you "start" it (the a href part with the address in quotes)
    2. you have your note (the second appearance of the address)
    3. then you turn it off (the slash a).

    The problem we have in writing about HTML in HTML is akin to talking about words with words, or quotes with quotes. It is the fun which can be found in the famous radio comedy usually referred to as "Who"'s on First. Indeed, the blogg you refer to is CALLED "Flying Ins" but that is not its name - it is "Chesterteens", just as mine is CALLED "GKC's Favourite" but its name is "FrancesBlogg" - of course.

    If you wish a more traditional discussion, the so-called locus classicus for this is in Chapter 8 of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass. Another, less famous, occurs in White's the Sword in the Stone which may be based on another Carrollean insight. More on this another time.

    It occurs because the "angle-brackets" mean special things to HTML, and are not "free" characters.

    Bjørn Are, from the evidence I'm not sure how much physical gravity really plays a role. We'll have to wait for the day when some intrepid Chestertonians make it into outer space, and see if they can play Gype there. But... obviously, since Gype is about fun, we must remember that "For solemnity flows out of men naturally; but laughter is a leap. It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light. Satan fell by the force of gravity." [GKC Orthodoxy CW1:326]

    Satan, of course, would never play Gype....

  7. The most hilarious thing about this word "Gype" is that I had an old friend who knew this guy (who apparently was a bouncer) named Gype.

    He always seemed to be having a beer.

  8. Of coruse Gype is about anty gravity. Did you think it was serious?

    And bouncers are named Benny, as in "Benny the Bouncer".

    At the Palais de Dance.


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