- Ah, Dilbert. Earnest cartoon chronicler of everyday corporate insanity and consequent office misery. I'll take any excuse to mention you on the blog, even just a throwaway mention of our beloved/beloathed game:
- I don't feel quite as strongly about the works of the writer Nicholson Baker, and neither did ejh: the following passage from Baker's historical work Human Smoke didn't make the cut for his Chess in Literature series:
The doorman banged a saucepan to wake up Marie Vassiltchikov in Berlin: air raid, down in the basement. It was August 26, 1940.
A few nights later a pair of hundred-pound bombs fell on a Berlin street and blew the leg off a man standing in his doorway. A few nights after that, the RAF gave the city a "good strafing," wrote William Shirer. The next night, timed-release bombs fell in the Tiergarten; prisoners from concentration camps removed them.
Vassiltchikov described her air-raid cellar: "Small children lie in cots, sucking their thumbs. Tatiana and I usually play chess." When her sister had a slight fever, they decided to brave a raid above ground. The planes flew very low, and sudden flashes of light filled the bedroom. "Tatiana fears that if the house is hit I might be hurtled into space while she would remain suspended in mid-air, so I got into her bed and we lay hugging each other for two full hours. The noise was ghastly."
Still, in chess terms Human Smoke is a "positional masterpiece" - making the case gradually, carefully, little by little, for a reappraisal of the practical inevitability and moral permissibility of World War Two through small little moves like the above. Individually such passages seem like very little; imperceptibly they link up until Baker's vast tragic vision takes on its terrible shape.
- Leaving behind World War Two and back to contemporary culture: apparently this lady is a celebrity. I'm proud to say I have no idea who she is, although I confess I don't recognize the chaotic position beside her either - to which my eye was first drawn, naturally.
- And since we're dealing with a photograph, these four contemplative fellows might be more familiar...