Tuesday, March 9, 2010


“'But I don’t want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.
'Oh, you can’t help that,' said the Cat. 'We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.'
'How do you know I’m mad?' said Alice.
'You must be,” said the Cat. 'or you wouldn’t have come here.'”
--Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventure in Wonderland

Since Alice in Wonderland is currently in the theaters, you'd think that my cause for posting this would come from that movie. But actually, I remember this quote from Batman's trip through the world of his nemeses in the graphic novel Arkham Asylum. Interestingly enough, Alice in Wonderland's sequel, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, replaces Wonderland's deck of cards with a set of chess pieces.

Chess and mental illness are often portrayed together. I'm thinking particularly of Luzhin Defence from Vladimir Nabokov's The Defense which is based upon Curt von Bardeleben. Paul Morphy and Bobby Fischer are popular fodder for psychoanalysis.

I personally can understand how chess can push a person towards mental illness. When I fell madly in love with chess during college, I neglected my studies and spent all of my waking hours playing chess on the old Internet Chess Server, reading chess books, or scouring bookstores for more chess books. I had many of the signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Paranoid Schizophrenia has made me stop posting a lot of club games at the Reno Club website for fear that the Las Vegas team is using it as preparation against us in our yearly match. A couple posts ago, I ranted that I had succumbed to Narcissistic Personality Disorder. A Dissociative Identity Disorder creates a voice inside of me that refuses to allow me to take full credit for my wins because they're "just luck". Especially after playing tournament games, I experience Bipolar Disorder's euphoria where my thoughts race and replay my game over and over and over, leading to insomnia. Wins make me manic while losses make me depressed.

Maybe I should take a break from this game soon.

No comments: