January 18, 2007

Deep in the back of my mind is an unrealized sound

Michal Rovner, Untitled, 1990

* Chess: the most human game. excerpt:

"As a fan, I could 'see,' for example, that chess pieces are not static entities but rather their power is constantly evolving based upon where they are positioned on the board and how effectively they are functioning relative to other pieces and chunks of empty space. A pawn can be a powerhouse and a knight or bishop a weakling.

"There are many such paradoxes in chess, much as there are in good writing or in life itself. As I watched more and more games I began to recognize that the little armies of pieces operate like fields of force, and top level games are abstract, deeply nuanced and emotional works of art.

"When chess geniuses collide, their technical abilities offset one another. Their knowledge is so profound, so masterful that a state of dynamic equilibrium often emerges; and at the highest level, games become psychological and philosophical struggles more than the fairly obvious tactical melees most of us equate with chess. This arcane game exudes humanness--it touches us like music and literature. I suppose that's why I fell in love with chess."
"In my conversations with Kasparov, chess felt like the embodiment of art, competition, resonant emotion, psychology--what a game! 'When you understand the hidden mechanisms,' he explained to me, 'you can make something brilliant from what might appear really stupid. Some positions are so complex that you cannot calculate two moves ahead. You must use your intuition. Sometimes I play by my hand, by my smell.'

"Kasparov talked about the game more like a poet than a calculating machine. This was good for my secret because I was comfortable with such language, and he and I shared sumptuous ideas over fine wine or walking through the Central Park Zoo smelling the chilly fall air. Once he said to me, 'At the highest level, chess is a talent to control unrelated things. It is like controlling chaos.' That made sense to me. In fact, it was thrilling."

* From Harper's February 2007:

-- Percentage of worldwide IPO proceeds in 1999 that were realized on U.S. exchanges: 56

-- Percentage last year: 18

-- Percentage of Nigerians living on less that $1 per day in 1985 and today, respectively: 32, 17

-- Total oil revenues that have flowed into Nigeria since 1974: $728,500,000,000

-- Minimum number of Texas death-row inmates who have MySpace pages: 36

-- Average number of times an adult worldwide has sex each year, according to self-reporting in polls: 103

-- Average in Japan, the lowest of forty-one countries surveyed: 45

* Fun Jeffery Lewis video for Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror.

* "An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way." -- Charles Bukowski


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