December 20, 2011

"I like to play chess. I moved to a small town and nobody played chess there..."

"... but one guy challenged me to checkers. I always thought it was kind of a simple game, but I accepted. And he beat me nine or ten games in a row. That’s sort of like living in a small town. It’s a simple game, but it’s played at a higher level."

Quoted here. Worth contemplating. Seems like a metaphor for all kinds of things.

I like to write scholarly dissertations. I moved to the internet and nobody wrote scholarly dissertations there, but one blogger fisked one of my paragraphs. I always thought blogging was kind of a simple game, but I started a blog to defend myself. And that blogger shredded my first nine or ten posts. That’s sort of like living on the internet. It’s a simple game, but it’s played at a higher level.

21 comments:

Heart_Collector said...

Its easy to win when you never move your back row.

MadisonMan said...

I like to play chess. I moved to a small town and nobody played chess there but one guy challenged me to checkers. I always thought it was kind of a simple game

so I wrote a condescending article about it in The New Yorker.

My name is Stephen Bloom.

Scott M said...

Seems like a metaphor for all kinds of things.

Wow, does it ever. My father was born in a town with a population that, to this day, undulates between 40-50 people. We visited nearly every summer and that metaphor fits perfectly the goings-on I observed growing up.

Kit said...

The thing about humility is when you realize you have it, it's gone.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I live in a small town.

You you can't get much smaller than the one I live in/near with a population that is just slightly larger than an urban area high school graduating class. With outlying folks like us (20 to 30 mile radius), the entire area's population is smaller than the student population at Stanford.

I've lived in big cities and in small towns. When you live in a small town you HAVE to interact with people. There is no way to live a disconnected and isolated, above the fray life as you can in a big city.

The "urbanites" don't know their neighbors even though they are closer in proximity....cheek to jowl, literally living on top of each other. Sure, they know them when they see them, but they don't KNOW their neighbors. They don't really SEE them. They don't LOOK at other people, avoid eye contact, avoid casual conversations...too dangerous. Stay disconnected from people and keep connected with your electronic devices.

In a small town, you not only know your neighbors, their children, their lives, their hobbies.....they know you. This also means that there is a bigger onus upon everyone to behave and cooperate with each other.

Small town life is not for everyone. It is like being a family in a way. It is a lot of work.

Dan in Philly said...

It's harder to blog than to write a dissertation, I suppose (though never having written a dissertation, I might not be the best authority). When you Blog, you must be concise.

All who write know that it's far harder to make your point in a few words than in many.

ricpic said...

In a large town/small city you don't have to deal with the hassle and danger of big city living and you can also maintain the semi-anonymity which can't be maintained in a small town. A decent alternative.

edutcher said...

My best bud in college saw checkers the same way.

The simplicity made it more complicated.

Very bright guy.

traditionalguy said...

Checkers is over my head. But I play a great game of Tic Tac Toe.

That is about where my blogger skills are too.

Mike said...

The heavily degreed in our liberal nomenklatura will eventually learn that age and treachery will defeat youth and education most every time.

fleetusa said...

Smaller towns are the real strength of America.

Deirdre Mundy said...

I live in a mid-sized Indiana city (about 20K people). I know people who complain that "everyone in this town is stupid" and that "there's no one intelligent enough to talk to." These people tend to be completely miserable, but its their own fault.

The people they tag as 'dumb' are generally perfectly intelligent people who happen to have different hobbies and interests. The guy who restores antique tractors? Sure, he may not be willing to spend hours talking about the latest New Yorker, but trust me, get him started on tractors, and he's like an encyclopedia of tractor knowledge.

The key to enjoying life in a smaller city is to be willing to be interested in EVERYTHING. (And to be willing to ask after people's families.) The people who look down at their neighbors' "narrow interests" aren't particularly broad-minded-- they're just resentful because their neighbors aren't interested in THEIR narrow interests.

Levi Starks said...

Irony on parade

Freeman Hunt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freeman Hunt said...

I always liked Othello.

Ah Pooh said...

Othello speaks to me as well.

John Farrier said...

I've lived in small towns twice, and I really don't like them because everyone is in everyone else's businesses. Politics is everywhere. Like checkers, it's played at a high level. And the smaller the town, the harder it is to opt out of the game.

I now live in a city and I don't know my neighbors. It's a wonderfully anonymous, quiet life.

glenn said...

"It's a simple game but it's played at a higher level"

Profound remark and I'm not being snarky.

Jose_K said...

I have not played chess against a human being since Sargon II

Roy Lofquist said...

If there is a world champion tiddlywinks player you can rest assured that there is far more to that game than you ever imagined.

Carnifex said...

I taught my granddaughter how to play checkers at Cracker Barrel. I taught her tactics of mistake, Hobsen's choice, defensive tactics, and acceptable losses. She's now 12 and very good. Beats her great grandfather, her uncle, and her father. She beats me occasionally.

Never play poker with the man that taught ya'.