Variations

I have an inordinately high IQ (as you dear reader in fact do). At least that’s the case as tested; mostly nonverbally but as I’ve aged and matured too—verbally. I don’t have any kind of autism, Asperger’s, or anything of that nature, however, being not infrequently anxious and having anxiety for no good reason. And at times, I can appear, at least I believe, quite slow and dim witted to the world and like a tortoise, even internalizing this perception or often “feeling” that way. I think that stems from the fact that I’m often bewildered, amazed or even stunned at what another will do or to what level they will stoop; me, taking time as it were to compensate my external actions and behaviors with what was immediately cognitively or “internally” registered and slowly acted upon.

For instance, just the other day I was playing a game of chess with someone. She’s a competent player, playing always rather swiftly and quickly—always it seems to me in bullet or blitz mode—buzzing so to speak. However, on this day I noticed when she opened with her pawn to e4, she was playing white, afterwards, rather expeditiously sliding this piece ever so subtly over to f4, that is, simply performing a right shift. I was, as I pointed out —stunned. Who does that, I thought. When I finally brought it to her attention, waiting as it were some sixty seconds to do so, she abruptly and rather complaisantly, patronizingly or superciliously slighted me, disparagingly saying, “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” continuing on with her moves as if nothing in the world of that sort had ever taken place or would for that matter. A sort of, how dare you!

Oddly, I continued playing, opening with black in a rather mundane way, the Sicilian defense—pawn c5. Later on, after about ten moves, I again noticed her treating a bishop as if a queen, moving the bishop laterally three squares which brought her great advantage. And again, I was dismayed. Yet, I said nothing, continuing on, anyhow, thinking about this in the background the entire time. What kind of person does this, I thought. Is she psychopathic? No. I’ve seen her, met with her before, and nobody I know thinks so. Then it slowly dawned on me. Politics!? No, I thought, not that. Surely she’s above that. After all, she’s a good player and does not need to stoop so low. Be that as it may, she is morphing the game, changing it, mutating the rules to suit and give her obvious advantage. Are those her rules? Namely, does she operate with the rule;

1. Mutate the rules as needed.

Does she then add a rule;

2. Vehemently and categorically deny she’s changing the rules when so confronted. Indeed, are these rules value–added, that is; political enhancements a person gives themselves or their team before offering any behavior or acting onto the world. In the old days we simply called this—cheating, and the person was so chastised. Nowadays, it seems to be some norm, some new standard that some old fogey like myself cannot or refuses to understand. But as an experiment I decided to move as she did. So, I slid my pawn over one square, an gainful move on my part. She looked at me appalled, her jaw dropping to the floor, saying, “How dare you cheat!” I couldn’t believe it. I’d called her on that very move and she scolded me. Now she was throwing a fit, going so far as to say, “That rule exists only at opening, for the first four moves.” Wow!?—I thought. Confused and bewildered, that’s all I could say. And as I was playing black, how could I ever catch up so to speak, she first modifying the rules and then me adopting that said rule only to be countered because I am always—one move behind. And so, rule 3;

3. Each rule she adopts can be countermanded by her on the very next move if I so adopt that rule.

Of course, this was no longer a game of chess, morphing as it were into something completely different, something completely foreign and me left without any ability to ever implicate or embrangle her. I tried to imagine if life itself had this kind of instability. If the rules constantly changed. If the charge of an electron changed from moment to moment, if gravitational “constants” were gravitational variables, if right became left and left right, if up down and down up invariably. If black were white...wait a minute if black were white. Then I said to her, “I’m now playing white.” She laughed. “No,” I said, “I’m white from now on.” After all, she’s changing the competitive rules and in midstride, what’s to stop me. And if I’m now white, do I not, being the initiator of this whole mess to begin with, then get to–make the rules. And so I told her, “We now play the rules of standard chess. And if you’re to idiotic to follow, then I suggest you take up another game.” Meaning, of course, that is she’s truly bright, truly intelligent that is, then she can follow the rules and play within those said boundaries, creating all sorts of interesting strategies and stratagems for that matter. However, if she’s not then I suppose what I’ll get is a person that perceives unfairness as just a part of life. And that if I want fairness, well then, as she might say, “Go take a flying #$#% on Mars.”

I suppose that’s why I like mathematics, science, board games and even IQ tests as such. Each presents to me a set of rules, a set of absolute though self–defined and self–referential standards that I adopt and then create within. If doing mathematics, there are boundaries. I simply cannot, add as I like, multiply as I will. Each has standards, rules of conduct, allowable moves and moves disallowed. This makes for interesting creations, interesting mathematical objects. Even IQ tests. There’s a standard. Something or some pattern set by the test designed prior to one taking the test, your job being to decrypt those patterns. And if successful, that’s deemed intelligent, if not unintelligent. But these patterns, these oddities of nature that subvert and confound all until a sort of Tower of Babel ensues, what are they? Political. And what is politics—evidently the art of changing the rules in mid competition. The art of moving the goals, changing the definitions, changing whatever it takes to gain—and gain what? Well, that’s the interesting question. Indeed, win what? A palace, an empire, a bigger and better ego? What is it these people gain? Fame, fortune? I will truly never understand. Because for me, it’s important to have a base, a quasi standard approach to the world. A way to think, even if that involves myriad possibilities, eliminating noise, clustering similarities, disjointing differences, self–definition etc. And what do we have otherwise. Simply—a mess. One very much like today. A cacophony of noise, a foolosphy, a love of savage, rude, and uncultured thinking. A world unable to tell the difference between means and ends. Ah—a paradise. The End 

Kenneth Myers

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