I have travelled through sixteen countries in corona time and the Netherlands is really the only one where they put those dull, pedantic and childish signs along the road, signs like ‘Corona, we can solve that together’. No, seriously, there was no sign of corona anywhere along the roads. And although I don’t watch television, I don’t think there is any place where the news programmes are so dystopian as in our little country. Yesterday something very special happened, Eline Roebers defeated a Russian grandmaster and won an international tournament with a beautiful game:
But it wasn’t even in the digital news. What would improve the brain more substantially, reading great literature or learning to play chess at a high level? It is comparing apples and oranges somewhere, but I am coming to the conclusion pretty quickly that the meter is pointing in the direction of chess.
The wonderful phenomenon of the ‘release of intelligence’ that I discussed in the Piranha is, of course, not present in chess; chess is more rational, more basic, more autonomous too, I would say. This monarchist propaganda is surely one of the most wonderful inventions of mankind, and remembering the headache that a certain tournament gave me at the age of 11, if I had not taken up chess I might have become one of those terribly successful people with a fine job and you would never have heard of me again. So anyway, you read this, I was screwed, I was chessed out of my skull.
I remember that at one of those tournaments back then, I had won one of those plastic PVC tubes with which you could shoot darts, a fancy one with a funnel in front of your mouth. I digress, we were talking about what is really good for the brain.
Chess, reading and eating mushrooms. One of the strangest experiences I have is a memory: I remember the taste and texture of eating raw Lion’s Mane. Delicious, but I really have no idea where this memory originates. But I am an unrelenting fan of Lion’s Mane, in the long run you can’t miss that little extra bit of brightness and sharpness.
There was something in the 1970s that drove us to play chess en masse – was it the Cold War? Or was it the utopia of eternal progress, which then still hung over everyone’s lips like a very slowly melting candyfloss? Goodness, how strange that the nasty cold war was so utopian compared to the present time.
Just that one little extra edge can really be more important than it seems.
What a strange time – in the eighties and nineties you were constantly told that the government wouldn’t be Santa Claus, now they throw money around like there’s no end to it, all to the credit of the grandchildren they apparently can’t believe in anymore.
Apocalyptic thinking is dangerous. No, not for yourself, of course. But it is for the rest of the planet. Pushing sky-high bills into the future is nothing but ‘after us the flood’. And the extremely dangerous banding that reduces everything to the wrong approach to problems (fighting climate change instead of biodiversity-decline, maintaining the meat industry and solving everything with fiddling numbers) – it reminds me of a pizzeria in Pitigliano, where we were told to pay inside. Inside, a man sat at a counter with no less than forty calculators in front of him. The pizzas turned out to be expensive after the confused ringing of all sorts of calculators. A nice piece of theatre, so touching that you think, well, that was actually worth the extra five euros. I fear that we will not be thinking that about today’s politicians in 10 years or so.