Seeing is Believing – Blindness metaphors and understanding

“My excellency, I could illustrate the greatest manuscript of all time for you. Since my eyes will no longer be distracted by the filth of this world.”

Quote from ALIF in My Name Is Red by Ohran Pamuk

A desaturated image of a page with miniature illustrations from an old Irish book“Seeing is believing”, “a lens for the world”, “visionaries”, “point of view”: The eye is a metaphor for understanding or belief. But why do we connect the eye with our understanding of the world? Do you see what I’m talking about?

What if you couldn’t see the words that I have posted here?

What if, as this post continues, you descend into a pit of blindness?

Is it easier to only believe what you see? Or is there more to be seen if you can figure out a way to look beyond the traditional, the typical, the incidental?

The idea of blindness is discussed in Orhan Pamuk‘s book My Name Is Red. Blindness is used as both a metaphor and a story-telling device, but it was chosen by the author (partly) as a symbol of the commitment of master miniaturist painters such as Bihzad and their dedication to painting even as their eyesight failed them. Blindness, in the book, is seen by some as a mark of pride of a true master miniature painter. It is put forward that only through blindness can we really see the world for what it is. Continue reading “Seeing is Believing – Blindness metaphors and understanding”

Fool’s Mate – Language and storytelling in games

Chessboard before any moves are madeOnce upon a time two armies assembled, opposed to one another on a battlefield. The crystal army, led by a foolish king, charged their king’s guard forward without thinking of the consequences. They left their king open to attack…

In “A Course On General Linguistics“(1916) Ferdinand de Saussure made comparisons between chess and language. Saussure was observing some intrinsic relationship between language and games, showing how changes in the design of pieces from ivory to wood make little difference, but changes in the movement or number of pieces distort the “grammar” of a game of chess. In The Medium Is The Massage, theorist Marshall McLuhan put forward a concept that the messages that we receive are not so much in what is said, but in what is used to say it.

Fool's mate opening move (edited photograph)There is a saying in school games, “to have pax”. This reminded me of chasing (tag), and something that we used to say as children, “tax” (probably a distortion of “pax”). The origins of the word pax are in Latin – it means peace. We said this in order to take a break, for example when we needed to tie our shoelace. I posed the question to my Facebook community about what was the common term in their school-yards, and received a spate of alternatives from across Ireland, from “boxed”, “tax” and “pox” to, bizarrely, “keys” and, predictably, “f**k off I’m tying my shoe”. There are many variations (my American and Canadian friends suggested “Time-out”) but the rule is the same regardless of where it is played. When you have pax, you are outside the game. Continue reading “Fool’s Mate – Language and storytelling in games”