The heat and humidity did one good thing for my family: it got us away from the TV last night and into the air-conditioned bedroom for a game of Chutes & Ladders. I’d never played the game before, and I have to say that it sure does neatly illustrate a fucked up cosmology.
Ladders to heaven, chutes to hell. That much is easy to read into a game where landing on a ladder square shows a positive action a child could take connected to a positive outcome at the top of the ladder, with chutes doing the reverse.
I’m down with that whole karma thing big time (turns out the game comes from India with roots in Hinduism), but here’s where it gets disturbing: you spin an arrow to find out how many squares to move. So whether you commit a positive or a negative act is determined only by a spin of the wheel. No active choice. It’s as if the game is telling you that yes, there are consequences for every action, but the actions you will take in life are themselves the result of chaos, random chance, and the haphazard collision of your DNA with the environment.
A terrifying model of the universe that just might be true, neatly packaged as a child’s board game. I bet there’s a story in that.