Photo from Thi Nguyen

Philosophy and The Theory of Games in Fly Fishing with Thi Nguyen

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In Episode 175 we WadeOutThere with Thi Nguyen, from Salt Lake City, Utah.  As long as Thi can remember he has had a love of all kinds of games.  Thi was raised in California, studied philosophy in school, and moved to Utah to work as a philosophy professor at the University of Utah.

He started fly fishing to help counteract some of the negative aspects of the new remote teaching environment that arose during the pandemic, and fell in love with the sport and its congruence with his work in the philosophy of games.  He is the author of the book, Games: Agency as Art. 

This episode is a deep dive into the philosophy of fly fishing.  We discuss why we play the game of fly fishing, how fly fishing can be an infinite game, and a little bit about Thi’s experience learning to fish on the Provo River.

Every focus is also an exclusion. What it is to focus is to shut everything else out. And for me, the characteristic experiences of games is absorbed focus… And I think fishing in particular, because you’re away, and because it’s so sensorily intense, there’s so much to spend your attention on. You can just focus all day.

Thi Nguyen

Do we fly fish to escape? I’ve always shied away from this theory. For me fly fishing is more about focussing on one thing and letting that focus take over everything else. Perhaps the by-product of that is that I am not thinking about the other parts of my life. Maybe that is escape. But I think intention also matters, and intending to be in that state of flow we can find ourselves in on the water, is different than escape. I think it’s determination.

Thi reminds us that we can choose the games we play, and there are infinite games we can choose. I’m happy I choose fly fishing. And I’m happy that I had the chance to wax philosophy with Thi. I hope you enjoyed it as well.

Thanks for listening.

VR- Jason

Learn More

Thi’s Twitter:  @add_hawk
Thi’s website:
Games: Agency as Art

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