The Only Rule You May Be Told Is This One

May, 2007

The game of Mao has many rules, but only one that is spoken: "The only rule that may be told is this one." This game models a rule set located in the social in such a way that the articulation of the rules is prohibited while their obsessive instantiation is required. The splitting between the utterable and the unutterable cleaves the social into the contradictory territories of the said and the done. The telling is mere nonsense; it is truth by a technicality. It performs its vacuity endlessly, yet it disciplines the receiver to abandon discourse, attend carefully to the knowing speaker, and follow submissively and ever in fear of unintended disobedience. The law is given, Pavlov style, by reward and punishment. If this game sounds fun to you, it is because you have already learned to enjoy playing it.

The alternating sessions of random and programmatic recitations of the rule will take approximately eight and one half months to complete one cycle.

The Rules

  • Speak one of the 3,628,800 permutation of the ten words in the phrase every three seconds.
    • In even minutes utter a permutation of the phrase in the order.
      • Write the word in white on black.
    • In odd minutes utter a permutation chosen at random.
      • Write the word in black on white.
    • Write the phrase at the top of the screen.
    • Move the phrase down at the rate of one line per three seconds.
    • Fade the phrase out in proportion to its time on screen.

(Political Allegory [visible | audible | computable])