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On Solitaire and Recreation

recreation is a remarkable word, whose origins bear going into.  Let me come back to that in a moment.  First I want to write about solitaire.

Solitaire is a remarkable game.  It proffers virtually no social, intellectual, physical, sensual or spiritual stimulation.  It its simplest forms, it varies less from instance to instance than most any other recreation.  Those on a par with it in terms of limitation of choice tend to produce lasting (knitting, coloring by number) or temporary (braiding) results that can be enjoyed by others, develop some physical dexterity or strength (hackisack), or improve skills which are generally useful (holding one’s breath until blue).  The existence of solitaire is often defended with the explanation that it is a peaceful way to pass the time, yet so is most anything when unhurried — hygiene, cooking, stretching — and all with other satiating benefits besides.

Nevertheless, solitaire remains one of the most widely enjoyed recreations in the world, in many ways more prevalent than two-person pasttimes such as dice or rummy, and than such meditative activities as twiddling one’s thumbs, opening and closing the refrigerator door, or gazing off into space.

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