Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Airport, Train Station, Chess

Wie ein Schachzug nicht allein darin besteht, daß ein Stein so und so auf dem Brett verschoben wird, —aber auch nicht in den Gedanken und Gefühlen des Ziehenden, die den Zug beleiten; sondern in den Umständen, die wir nennen: “eine Schachpartie spielen”, “ein Schachproblem lösen” und dergl.
Just as making a move in chess doesn’t consist only in pushing a piece from here to there on the board — nor yet in the thoughts and feelings that accompany the move: but in the circumstances that we call “playing a game of chess,” “solving a chess problem,” and the like.*
I am listening to Chopin and rereading Wittgenstein, at lunch, in a “break room.” Ich schweige amid the conversations of politics, children, summer vacations and other activities of the world (for children do not seem to be beings insomuch as they are universes).

I find that Chopin’s mazurkas and Wittgenstein’s Philosophiche Untersuchungen are as calming as thinking of a lake, “belly breathing” or other methods of mental relaxation.

Because I am not relaxing. I am traveling along a great river of thought. Both in the notes of Chopin’s composition and Wittgenstein’s relentless dismantling, with the gentlest touch of a respectful engineer, the structures we call music and language. Which are, akin, in a way—like a train station and an airport: both take us elsewhere, but may be beautiful in and of themselves.

*Translation G.E.M. ANSCOMBE, P.M.S Hacker, Joachim Schulte. Philosophical Investigations: Ludwig Wittgenstein: ISBN 978-1-4051-5928-9

**Photographs of Wittgenstein and Chopin courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.