The Chess Players (1831) by Frederich August Moritz Retzsch
More information HERE about the painting above:
“Your Dream-book is a numinous Computer...”
It’s been a couple of years since I’ve posted to this shimmering wall of iridescent canopy; the senselessness of it all, the sense of sensing nothing at all, or sensing ‘Everything’ at the same instance—thinking of something like a scrub-away ‘erasure’ in the calendar, in the Time of ‘ALL’ (or nothing), something like rushing back to see a wolfpack plotting.
Wolf——A—us Mo—art, the visible Wolfengänger.
Invisible Music begins playing like a wall of jukeboxes only heard by children.
Thinking of Chess. Thinking of playing Chess.
Thinking recently of discovering a kindred-spirit, fellow artistic soul, who’s family background is “full of chess players,” including herself, naturally, and interesting that lately—as Shakespeare’s Tempest thought of the swirling oceans within me first to become what it became, and now, the longing, the ache having manifested itself into a rainbow that shoots through me like a prism, pulling out the yarn of my soul, unraveling my DNA, knitting outward the color of everything that I behold—I realize that not only does collaboration or the mere discussion of ideas make a wall of erupting glistening-listening-dances of bliss explode throughout my ever-starry body, but it is so powerful, at times, that I feel like my very words could raise Shakespeare from the dead! He would shake off his graveclothes and I’d put them on like a halo around my head.
Interesting, ‘roundabout this time, I’d discovered one of my favorite writers—Sir Thomas Browne (who, quite frankly, is on par with Shakespeare, in my opinion, but oft little known or obscure!)—who I had discovered was apparently a lover of the game, as well—who said about Chess (out of his Religio medici):
“I know that Manna is now plentifully gathered in Calabria; and Josephus tells me, in his days it was as plentiful in Arabia; the Devil therefore made the quoere, Where was then the miracle in the days of Moses: the Israelite saw but that in his time, the Natives of those Countries behold in ours. Thus the Devil played at Chess with me, and yielding a Pawn, thought to gain a Queen of me, taking advantage of my honest endeavours; and whilst I laboured to raise the structure of my Reason, he strived to undermine the edifice of my Faith.”
One cannot help but to think of Thomas Middleton’s comical satirist play, A Game at Chess, which was first performed by “The King’s Men” in August of 1624 at “The Globe Theatre”. Interestingly, Middleton was arrested in London after producing the play, which satirizes the proposed marriage of Prince Charles of England with a Spanish princess. After his arrest, the play was censored and wasn’t allowed to be shown again. What a bunch of powderpuffs!
Mostly gloriously, as one analyzes (without the “paralysis of analysis”!) further into the lush regions of Browne’s chess-glinting spaciousness; his love for chess was apparent, for, one rapturous stream from The Garden of Cyrus, Browne says about Chess this sparkling-water of sea upon the subject:
“In Chesse-boards and Tables we yet finde Pyramids and Squares, I wish we had their true and ancient description, farre different from ours, or the Chet mat of the Persians, and might continue some elegant remarkables, as being an invention as High as Hermes the Secretary of Osyris, figuring the whole world, the motion of the Planets, with Eclipses of Sunne and Moon.”
In Sophia Psarra’s book, Architecture and Narrative: The Formation of Space and Cultural Meaning, she writes about Browne’s text:
“[Browne] suggests that the pattern of ancient plantations was the quincunx, which captured the mystical mathematics of the city of heaven. In the opening chapter [of The Garden of Cyrus] he proposed that the original pattern was not the square but the lozenge generating a triangular grid. This configuration allows closely packed circles to be formed, providing the densest planting of trees in an orchard (Moore, Mitchell and Turnbull 1988: 161). For Browne this was also the original pattern of chessboards that brings us to Albert’s question to Yu Tsun: ‘in a riddle whose answer is chess, what is the only word that must not be used? ... The word “chess” I replied’ (Borges 2000a: 85). Albert’s question aimed at demonstrating that in Ts’ui Pen’s book, an enigma whose answer was time rather than space, the word time was deliberately omitted. The association of the quincunx plantation as cosmic model of heaven, with the chessboard and the maze, expresses the relationship between the human mind and the world whose logic it deciphers in the form of the ordered patterns of geometry, mathematics and language (Irwin 1994: 140).”
She goes on:
“Irwin argues that Ts’ui Pen’s labyrinthine book alludes not only to Browne but also to a garden that is both a labyrinth and a chessboard—the garden of Looking-glass House in Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking Glass (1994: 75). Carroll’s book creates temporal reversals and spatial inversions. Gardner comments that Alice’s dream of the red king who dreams of Alice suggests infinite regression like two mirrors facing each other (Gardner 2001: 198). For Gardner chess encompasses the notion of the mirror by the reflectional symmetry of the opposing chess pieces at the start of the game. The allusions to Carroll and Browne then seem to suggest that by reading The Garden of Forking Paths we are reading a riddle whose answer is chess.”
“Calvino in Invisible Cities has also used chess as a metaphor for the structural relationships underlying a narrative. For Peponis it refers to Saussure’s comparison between language and the game (Peponis 1997a: 43). Each move on the chessboard is understood within the structural rules, in the same way in which words in a sentence are understood in terms of their relationship to other words. It can be added that the comparison with chess points also to another fundamental proposition by Saussure. The mode of signification is governed not only by sequential operations (of noun and verb, subject and predicate etc.) apparent in a sentence, but by structural laws of association which relate each signifier to other potential, but not actually present, signifiers within the total system of language (Saussure 1983: 124). In Calvino’s Invisible Cities, laid out as riddles, Kublai Khan tries to decipher their logic with the help of the chess game. The name that is not used but is always implied is: Borges.”
Game of Chess (1535) by Giulio Campi
I find that my Surrealistic psyche’, the dream theory and the ideas, that proposed to spin around me at a young age, propelled me to create images along these same lines, but images that are not self-conscious (un-self-conscious?), but are reflections of my own dreams, imaginations, and perhaps a collective mindfulness of surrealism, poetic language, the oneiric, et al. Having a life, early on, that was primarily sheltered, a lot of my work early on was taken ‘in-doors’ (which, incidentally, was brought to my attention by one J. Kelso, of which I recall when we first met, as we discussed our work, photography and art in general, etc.: “I’ve noticed that most of your work is shot in-doors,” he said! So I suppose it’s quite conspicuous to other people—not that it’s such a mystery or secret, considering it’s quite obvious to see that I do a lot of shooting in-doors, but it is what it is.
In the way that Chess, Physics, Dreams, and Image-making seem to be intermingled, I feel that the Camera is a kind of Time Machine with a nature of never being a split-second early or a split-second late. Photographs seems as real, yet as elusive, as moonbeams (one has to observe closely). Photographs must have heartbeats that could beat our doors down; our walls, our rooms, pulsating and flashing like neon lights that spray color on all that they touch. Photographs never seek to be liberated from anything—they are what they are, nothing more. I envision a camera “running away” with a photograph in some romantic rendezvous.
Mindful as I am now—one refers back to my newfound kinship: our future chess-playing, and new collaborations with iridescent curtains in wide-open fields, like portals we walk into, out of, back into again. Like playing a game of chess with ‘Death’, I’d mentioned Ingmar Bergman’s masterful film, The Seventh Seal to her, in which she said it sounded familiar. Bergman had seen Albertus Pictor’s painting/fresco of ‘Death playing chess’ from the 1480s, which is showcased in Täby Church in Täby kyrka, Täby, north of Stockholm. This:
Scene from The Seventh Seal (1957), Chess With Death!
This makes me think
of the thought of the skeleton
underneath my flesh
making my bones rattle with glee
as the world spins, spins, spins on its rusty hinges.
Tattooing myself with a dewy wind;
from my skin, new clouds
to follow me, like trained vultures.
I am caving into my own body with crossed fingers.
Life burns like lightning and lightning refuses to stay still, like a natural flame.
The pendulum swings into the congested disorients of flowing Surprise Confetti.
I sit here by the window, the light on my body speaking in a different language, yet there is silence, a cold silence, like someone sitting in the blackest darkness, waiting to be phoned by no one.
Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, La Partie d'Échecs (The Chess Game) (1943)