Encircled

December 31, 2013

“In chess, you have to kill to win. In go, you have to build to live. The aim of the game is not to eat the other, but to build the biggest territory. The rule regarding taking stones says that you can “commit suicide” if it is to take your adversary’s tones and not that you’re strictly forbidden to go anywhere you might be automatically taken. And so on.”

“When I think of go… Any game where the goal is to build territory has to be beautiful. There may be phases of combat, but they are only the means to an end, to allow your territory to survive. One of the most extraordinary aspects of the game of go is that it has to be proven that in order to win, you must live, but you must also allow the other player to live. Players who are too greedy will lose: it is a subtle game of equilibrium, where you have to get ahead without crushing the other player. In the end, life and death are only the consequences of how well or how poorly you have made your construction. This is what one of Taniguchi’s characters says: you live, you die, these are consequences. It’s a proverb for playing go, and for life.

Live, or die: mere consequences of what you have built. What matters is building well. So here we are, I’ve assigned myself a new obligation. I’m going to stop undoing, deconstructing. I’m going to start building.”

Muriel Barbery, Elegance of the Hedgehog

“I tell myself….”I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing……Only I will remain.” But this magic incantation does not seem to work this time. As I slowly find myself slipping into stasis…vacillating…making excuses…anything not to make a commitment. Anything not to make a decision. To even slowly allow this feeling of melancholy to course through my veins like venom, as it begins to poison my hope till all that remains is perhaps a militant refusal to do anything….to even allow a good thing to slip right out of my hands and to see it disappear forever…Just let matters slide with perhaps the sanguine knowledge, if one neglected a decision long enough, the act of neglect itself would begin to affect the situation, and not even allow myself to think what will come thereafter. Such is the version of political theory of the man who is prepared to watch a beautiful thing die right before his very eyes…..it has to be this way. As it is doomed from the very beginning. You see there is no way out…I tell you no way! Not even a sliver of hope to break out and run as fast as I can to that place I so want to be in…..it’s just doomed and I am encircled like an animal stretched in a pelt rack….”

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