American Go E-Journal

Your Move/Readers Write: More on why we compete, and life and death

Monday May 7, 2018

More on go and why we compete: “I have read Janice Kim’s and William Cobb’s words with great interest,” writes Tony Collman. “While looking for something else, I serendipitously came across words from the Chinese philosopher Chuang Tsu (Zhuangzi), which touch on a point raised by William: “He who is contending for a piece of earthenware puts forth all his skill. If2018.05.07_518px-Dschuang-Dsi-Schmetterlingstraum-Zhuangzi-Butterfly-Dream the prize be a buckle of brass, he shoots timorously; if it be for an article of gold, he shoots as if he were blind. The skill of the archer is the same in all the cases; but (in the two latter cases) he is under the influence of solicitude, and looks on the external prize as most important. All who attach importance to what is external show stupidity in themselves.”

More on life and death: “I’d like to add a little comment to Janice Kim’s response to William Cobb’s nice little piece,” writes Jaap Blom. “In real, physical, life, if you make a very serious mistake, you’re dead. In the idealized and stylized universe of the goban, if you make a very serious mistake, you have only lost the game. You can clear the board and start a new game together with your playing partner, your temporary ‘opponent.’ That enables us to learn by trial and error, a somewhat lazy but extremely effective method. And what else is the learning for but for the next game? Indeed a rich end in itself. After our bodies die, the thoughts we have had will for some time still resonate in the minds of other people. As long as this ripple lasts, your personality is still alive, albeit without consciousness. According to Euclid, a point is simply defined as a thing that together with another point determines a line. (As a line is a thing that is determined by two points.) Indeed nodes are the players; the games are edges.”

graphic: “The Butterfly Dream,” by Chinese painter Lu Zhi (c. 1550)