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AdventureElephants's avatar

Why do we play with fire?

Asked by AdventureElephants (1397points) December 24th, 2015 from iPhone

I’m asking about actual fire. I pride myself on making a beautiful fire, be it in the fireplace or a fire pit. I’ve tried to master starting one naturally and with matches. I rearrange the logs, I poke it with a stick, I stare at it. I take pictures of my fires. At night, around a campfire, I get lost in thought staring deep into the embers. I wave my hand over the flames. I experiment with sticking my marshmallows deep into the depths versus being patient and rotating them slowly just out of flames reach.

Why do people play with fire? What is so alluring?

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11 Answers

ZEPHYRA's avatar

May be some primordial thing.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Fire is what separated, and saved, us from the animals that eat us. No doubt for millennia a flame on the end of a stick dissuaded more than a few saber toothed tigers and short-faced bears from snacking on our ancestors. After tens of thousands of generations the creatures that mastered fire were the ones that survived to tell their story.

ibstubro's avatar

I agree that it has a strong tie back to the survival instinct.

It’s a lot more exciting than water, by and large, but harder to control, playing wise. Two of my chief pastimes as a kid were playing in the burn pile and playing in the creek. The creek was more satisfying because it was less supervised, and I didn’t have to worry about it running away and washing the house down.

kritiper's avatar

To dream. It allows your mind to wander while the flames diminish.

Pachy's avatar

Al of the above plus it’s just so damned interesting to watch.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Pachy And it destroys the evidence.

Zaku's avatar

Scholars have written books on this subject…

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

In my experience, this is particularly a male thing. I haven’t met many women who love lighting fires, but many men I know love fire. We once lived in an estate with lots of newly built homes and no fences and it was a pretty regular occurrence that one man or another would build a fire for some reason. After the fences went up, a former next door neighbour got a little over ambitious with his fire building and almost burned down our party fence. My husband admits to loving fire.

Why do men light fires? I think it is a primordial thing as @ZEPHYRA and @LuckyGuy have suggested.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Habit. We played with it originally because it was required to get by.

msh's avatar

A nice fire is relaxing. Add coloring pine cones. Or different types of wood. The scents.
Patterns, glowing embers, sparks going up like stars, quiet sounds, a chance to sit still and be quiet….And for telling some great scary-assed ghost stories.
I’ll gather, or add on wood once it is going.
Building the original- not my forte.
Then there are those fire-makers who use a whole can of lighter fluid. Tsk-kha!

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