Fischer Attention Span

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org &Attention Span
Knatz.com / Personal / Stories / Others’ /
@ K. 2005 10 29

Bobby Fischer Attention Span

Bobby Fischer
thanx moovyboovy

I suspect that one reason my teachers so regularly interrupted me without absorbing what I was saying was not only that they lacked interest in original ideas, or that they lacked the subtlety to follow them, but also that they lacked the attention span, couldn’t concentrate beyond thirty seconds. Oh, I’m sure they could concentrate if the subject was something already advertised: Shakespeare, Milton … Bergman, Godel; but in a new environment, surrounded by new species, they’d notice none.

Now I was trying to communicate, I was trying to stimulate their attention. But teachers loose points if they have nothing to say about Hamlet; they loose no points if they haven’t identified new comets. I wish here however to repeat at least part of a story about Bobby Fischer, who was not normally trying to communicate: except through his chess. My friend Phil was a Fischer fan, and he told me this story. I forget parts of it, but not the important part: the attention span part.
Fischer was not famous for being easily interviewed. Not every reporter is patient with being insulted: or ignored. Few reporters could follow beyond the shallowest levels of chess.
Bobby saw deeper into the game than any previous human. I can regularly see three or four moves ahead, sometimes more. The masters can see five or six, sometimes more. Bobby could see five or six, and routinely, much more. Deep deep. (And he saw the “whole” board.)

Anyhow, one reporter, didn’t know shit about the game, but was determined not to be dissuaded by the obnoxious genius. He persisted till he got an interview, then he hung on like a leech.
Actually, the interview wasn’t going badly. Some time into it, Fischer said he was hungry. The guy follows Bobby to a Chinese Restaurant, dines with him for a couple of dishes, sits and watches while Bobby devours another couple of entrees by himself, accompanies Bobby back home … and sits and sits with him.

During diner the reporter asked Bobby another question. Bobby was answering, then stopped, ordered more dishes, ate them.

They went back to Bobby’s place. Bobby sets up the chess board, fast as always, furious, knocking pieces about. Bobby plays game, after variation, after variation, fast fast, always against himself, silent, ignoring the reporter.

The reporter held on, fascinated: at the piece of … what? Humanity?
And midway through his hundredth solitaire chess game, hours after the question in the restaurant had been abandoned, Bobby continued his answer: picking back up in the middle of his original sentence.

The electro-magnetic spectrum goes from low frequency to very high frequency. Visible light is high frequency, each color a different high frequency. Radio is lower. Then there are invisible lights. Microwaves are higher in frequency than visible light.

The universe is fourteen-some billion years old. I’m fond of imagining: there may be high frequency vibrations we haven’t detected yet because they’re too high. And there may be low frequency patterns we haven’t detected because they’re too low. How about frequencies so low that the second wave hasn’t yet been generated?

Anyhow, on many an issue Bobby seems to be an ordinary enough nut. In chess though, some of Bobby is still unfathomable. I’m glad that there was at least one reporter with the stubbornness to have experienced, and then repeated, that story.
Though his version would have included what the question was, what the answer.

2013 11 18 I wrote the above a year before my arrest. My stint in jail, fifteen months shuttling among a half dozen jails, made me a much better chess player than I’d ever been previously.
I tried showing the other guys Fischer positions to little avail, the guys were younger, had never heard of him. One guy knew the rep but didn’t want him mentioned: unwelcome competition?

Stories by Age by Theme by Others

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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