Thursday, September 11, 2008

Conflict and Being Conflicted

I wandered around the chess blogosphere this morning and found myself at Liquid Egg Product’s post entitled “The demise of chess blogging”. Blue Devil Knight gave a Brief History of Chess Blogging in a brilliant distillation. He added an afterthought that brought on a brainstorm in my conflicted mind:

“On what generates the most interest: controversy, always controversy. Almost without exception, those posts with the most comments involve someone getting pissed off at someone.”

I had aspired to inspire mucho comments on my blog’s own merits like chessloser does rather than serve as a flaming forum like lizzie’s very active blog does. But perhaps my nature of avoiding conflict leads me to say things that are too bland to be interesting, just as BDK’s comment would predict. Proof of the antithesis that a gutless, risk-free blog is also insubstantial and uninspiring.

It occurs to me that perhaps I have an unhealthy understanding of conflict. Sure, I’ll recite Nietzsche’s “That which does not kill me makes me stronger” but do I really understand it? In certain ways, conflict is essential to life. If there is only one resource, I’d better damn well get it ahead of that other guy. Survival of the fittest, right? I guess it’s inevitable that Creationism evolved into Intelligent Design while Darwinism evolved into Evolution.

There is no good story without conflict. My favorite authors of late, Roger Zelazny, William Gibson, and Philip K. Dick almost always write of a distinct warrior or assassin class of character whose sole job it seems is to rub out problems in old fashioned mob style. Once on the series, Fox Mulder came across a genie who perversely answered his wish for "Peace on Earth" by giving him an uninhabited Earth, implying that war and its lesser shades are unavoidable portions of life.

Today is the seventh anniversary of 9/11, that day when Americans’ peace was shattered an the Global War on Terrorism started. The factions of Team McCain and Team Obama are deep in the middlegame vying for the trophy at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Even the USCF is fighting for its own survival as a house divided against itself these days with the lawyer/vultures circling its carcass.

Yet, when I encounter conflict in real life, I cannot help but think there are less wasteful ways of spending time on earth, so I avoid it. If I were to run for political office, my touchy feely platform would be “Peace, participation, and poetry.”

Today also happens to be the annual meeting of our chess club in which we exercise our democratic principles and elect members to govern. I have served as secretary, webmaster, and most frequent TD for five years, but this year really took a toll on me. Besides the usual getting in between players as TD for individual games, the conflicts between players about how the club and its tournaments should be run really grated on me. I believe the negatives began to creep into my chess playing. Who needs it? I've been a Peacemaker, where is my inheritance? In this respect, my reaction has become rejection of my own platform: Not finding peace, I shy away from participation and feel like I’m giving up on the poetry that is to be found on the 8x8 board.