Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Great Game

"About these matters I do not know. How should I? But I think that
all of us take part in a moving and a shifting and a reasoned using
of the things which are Koshchei's, a using such as we do not
comprehend, and are not fit to comprehend."

"That is possible," said Jurgen: "but, none the less--!"

"It is as a chessboard whereon the pieces move diversely: the
knights leaping sidewise, and the bishops darting obliquely, and the
rooks charging straightforward, and the pawns laboriously hobbling
from square to square, each at the player's will. There is no
discernible order, all to the onlooker is manifestly in confusion:
but to the player there is a meaning in the disposition of the

"I do not deny it: still, one must grant--"

"And I think it is as though each of the pieces, even the pawns, had
a chessboard of his own which moves as he is moved, and whereupon he
moves the pieces to suit his will, in the very moment wherein he is
moved willy-nilly."

"You may be right: yet, even so--"

"And Koshchei who directs this infinite moving of puppets may well
be the futile harried king in some yet larger game."

"Now, certainly I cannot contradict you: but, at the same time--!"

"So goes this criss-cross multitudinous moving as far as thought can
reach: and beyond that the moving goes. All moves. All moves
uncomprehendingly, and to the sound of laughter. For all moves in
consonance with a higher power that understands the meaning of the
movement. And each moves the pieces before him in consonance with
his ability. So the game is endless and ruthless: and there is
merriment overhead, but it is very far away."

"Nobody is more willing to concede that these are handsome fancies,
Mother Sereda. But they make my head ache..."

--from Jurgen: A Comedy of Justice, by James Branch Cabell.