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Gambling in mythical temporality: ontological excess and virtual reality

Scanlan, John (2009) Gambling in mythical temporality: ontological excess and virtual reality. International political anthropology, 2 (2). pp. 179-195. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This paper looks at certain features of games of chance to examine in greater detail the ways in which they thrive in a “mythical” temporality. By examining the origins of modern gambling in the emergence of reason and its creation of an ontological excess that we refer to as “chance”, I argue that in order to understand the real significance of gambling in an age of virtual reality and virtual gaming, we must be able to grasp its existential dimensions and the ecstatic “disappearance” it permits. I suggest that the ways in which chance has been manifested as the non-human or automatic in gambling draw us closer to the essence of its existential character. Games of chance are explored as encounters with the sacred or divine which, in their connection to a mythic temporality, are seen as precursors of virtual gaming, whose technologies are now driving the growth of gambling.

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