Sunday, October 23, 2011

a game in a game

The girls are playing. Una is a dog. She has bunches in her hair for ears, and a scarf stuffed into the back of her tights. Fred wants to join the game. She gets the stethoscope from the dress ups. She's the vet.

But Fred the vet is bossy and interventionist, and it was Una's game. Una comes to us. "I don't want Fred to be the vet, I just want her to be normal." By normal she means she wants Fred to be a dog too. 'I'll play my own game,' Fred says. Una wants Fred to play, she just doesn't want Fred to be a vet. This is an ongoing daily drama. Fred running from every disagreement with a quick and cutting 'I'm not playing!' and Una's copious tears. Martin starts to intervene. That way madness lies. He gives up. Fred goes down to the bedroom and comes back with an armful of stuffed toys which she dumps on the ground.

'I know!' Una offers. 'Fred could be a dog playing a game that she's the doctor. It could be a game in a game.'

Her words give me a shiver. A game within a game. A story within a story. A girl within a girl. Are metatexts are as primal as stories themselves - peeling back layers and layers of reality and illusion? Or is this trickery learned? Putting one Russian doll inside another, another doll already concealed inside the first.