Knowledge Is in the Cards

I was recently introduced to a card game called Dixit. The goal is to figure out which picture card another player is thinking of, based on a hint they provide. I figured I’d have some fun playing with friends and then go about business as usual. Instead, it changed how I think about “meaning.”

Here’s a summary of one of the rounds. The hint was, “I have a dream I hope will come true. That you’re here with me and I’m here with you.” The five picture cards were:

1. A couple playing chess
2. A woman sleeping near the ocean
3. A train going through the countryside
4. A person in a house alone
5. A man in prison smiling up at the ceiling

All of these could make sense with that hint. But I knew right away that 2 was the correct answer. I recognized the hint as a quote from the Pixar short Lava, which is about two singing volcanic islands, one male and one female, that are separated from one another. The other player guessed 3. They had never seen Lava. One past experience transformed that card’s meaning.

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