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Deconstructing Recreation

November 17, 2010

When I think of Recreation, what comes to mind is hiking, camping, ball games in the park, throwing Frisbee, and ingesting various psychotropic substances.

What these activities have in common is that they’re a break from the daily schedule of work and activity. They present a chance to disconnect from routine – to re-energize – before returning to the grind. In essence, they provide the means to re-create yourself.

So this word which has become a catch-all phrase for doing fun activities literally means to take one creation and change it into something else. As if the initial creation wasn’t satisfactory.

What does this say about our culture?

And why are recreational drugs frowned upon? Could it be that the idea of re-creation – of questioning your preconceptions and changing what isn’t working – is threatening?

What about folk who’ve managed to meld the perfect combination of their interests into their work and daily schedules? Do they need recreation if they’re living life just how they want to?

They would probably tell you that life is re-creation; every moment is a choice. The person you create is the sum of your choices.


From → Rants

  1. I’d like to hear more deconstruction of recreation, including fun and entertainment. I bet all three of these words are pretty synonymous in contemporary, united states, popular babble.

    I appreciate your look at the word recreation as re-creation, and while I like that meaning, it’s not actually what the word signifies in popular discourse. I wish that recreation referred to re-creating ourselves (and for many of us it can) but sadly it commonly refers to, is bound up with, a reified notion of fun and entertainment which is usually, merely constituted by any behavior which produces dopamine or seratonin, etc. In popular babble, we see that sports, television, art, music, video games, apps, drugs, sex, hiking, and even ‘being social’ or making conversation are ultimately measured by the monotonous and homogenous yardstick of dope-ness, their capacity to get you high, when determining whether or not they are “fun,” “entertainment,” or “recreation.”

    What we need, in our culture, is exactly what you have extrapolated from the word, we need re-creation. Something more akin to creativity– whatever that is. Rather than television, movies, artwork which formulaically pleases, we need material that offers grounds for us to engage with in imaginative and generative thinking, acting, forming new synapses. Sadly even more and more non-fiction books are befalling this dull spell today: it is difficult to find deeply engaged works of study which offer themselves as a beautifully bound resource of language and research; instead “non-fiction” has become a form of entertainment– nearly all sedative beauty and vacant inspiration which only lead readers to feel like they’re getting smart.

    Intelligence and creativity is when we take the chance of thinking, feeling and believing, breathing independently (like, as your blog title suggests, emerson or thoreau) and we rip the world apart playing, swimming and piecing things together, following our noses to try to understand or build what we need and want, or simply being active and engaged, logically, emotionally, bodily, whathaveyou, in a plotline of discovery, of real consequence and fertility, that we are compelled to meander and peruse.

    • Hey Adam / soundreading, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I had to go back and re-read my piece before being able to respond. It’s been a while. I like what you say about creativity and agree, modern media has provided far too many means of tuning out without engaging. When you consider that spending time together these days often consists of sitting in the same room and staring at our miniature cell phone screens, getting ANY kind of mental or physical stimulation is a bonus. People with office jobs have to schedule exercise because it doesn’t occur naturally in their lives. It’s a strange time we’re living in – all this technology, but how much of humanity has changed for the better (or at all)? Sometimes I think the best thing we can do is ignore national and world events and focus on our own communities. Does my opinion matter if I’m not actively doing something about it? Is the whole Problem or Solution dichotomy a false sentiment? Maybe this is just what freedom looks like and we have to get used to it – or lose it.

      Anyway, I’m not doing much non-fiction these days. Writing fiction (and science-fiction) has been my re-creation. The hope is that the people in our culture will read my fiction, get sucked into a character or an idea, and find themselves challenged to engage their own imagination and creativity, much like reading a Philip K. Dick novel. Not that I’m at his level yet. 🙂

      You can find me somewhat more regularly at


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