Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The final checkmate

When it comes do death, some know that the game definitely is over and some believe that the pieces are set up anew somewhere they don't know - this post is in memoriam of my old chess team pal Kurt.

He has been a pillar for us in many team matches. He has been the best supporter of young players at our club (see photo). He has got so frail that, in his last days, he wished to die as one of our teammates told us yesterday. Most likely he died from an organ failure, sleeping, at age eighty-seven. He died of old age, one would have said in earlier days. I am about to leave for the funeral, being fully aware of the fact that, sooner or later but inevitably, I'll be in his place, that is, a small heap of ashes.

I have always asked myself what makes chess playing so attractive even for those who lose all the time. And I have come to the conclusion that one of the best feelings in chess is setting up pieces anew after a game is over. In chess, there is always a new game. And this feeling may be most rewarding after a lost game because losing raises the likeliness that the next game will be better.

Wishful thinking

The belief in a life after death, in my opinion, can be explained by the survival instinct of every living being. Death must be avoided at any cost. Even at the cost of free thinking for many of those who, in general, base their thinking on science and facts. Afterlife belief is survival instinct extended to a point where the subject that is supposed to be saved no longer exists. Thus, the whole idea of an afterlife is getting absurd.

Another question is whether the conceivable forms of such an afterlife would be worth living or not. I have spent some thoughts on this question and I suspect that any "eternal" afterlive might be the worst torture that could be conceived. I have not worked this out yet and will come back to it in a later post. Just some hints for the moment. Orgasm is the most pleasurable feeling we can have. But what about an orgasm that goes on for hours, days, months and years? I'll bet my fortune that the victim of such a state would beg for being shot on the spot.

A non-conceivable difference

I have tried to figure out the difference between two variants of what has happened tonight while I have been in my deepest and dreamless sleeping stage, between two given moments, starting with moment A. Moment B is one minute later when I have been still alive, still deeply sleeping. Moment X is a hypothetical moment when I could have died from any cause that would not wake me up. Now, trying to figure out the difference between the moments B and X, I cannot find any such difference. Both moments are so fare away from me as any moment in history, even before my birth. Both moments are just "nothing", and the difference between nothing B and nothing X is again nothing.

I even cannot find any difference between Kurt's moment X and mine. But I am happy that, next Tuesday at our club, the pieces will be set up again, and, as ever, I hope to win my club championship game. And, oops, I should not neglect my chess blog!

P.S. I just have discovered this excellent article by Greta Christina: Comforting thoughts about death that have nothing to do with God.

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