Outgrowing Chess Idiot: The No Dream Situation
This next blog could almost be titled „Growing Back Into Chess Idiocy”, but it isn't; that is, if I'm going to be consistent with my previous article, I won’t title it that way; after all, there's a picture of Herodotus there for some reason! Here’s how things are.
I promised to follow up this with a blog on the actual manifestations of what constant exposure to chess actually is like, especially for a total super-beginner such as myself, who, on top of that, also seems to lack the practical mind necessary to see even the most basic consequences of their moves on the board; now, that has improved in that I no longer blunder my Queen as I used to, but pathetic, painful blunders of another sort do come up, and down this page you might find one; but more on that later (or you could just jump to around that section – but then, you’d just skip the path that’s leading you there, and I really wouldn’t do that!).
Well, this blog won’t exactly be an enumeration of effect, basically for one single reason: the diploma paper (if you’re not really in the know as to what that has to do with chess, you might like to go back to the previous article). Since that is really looming ahead darker than ever (not that writing it is something I loathe doing, but still, the deadline is not the thing I love the most), I stopped studying chess for the last couple of weeks (well, for exactly the last 10 days, to be more precise). That means writing about what I wanted to write – that is, the bunch of almost magical effects that prolonged exposure to chess has on the brain - is like to be a bit harder now, in that I just won’t be able to present said effects as accurately as I would have wished; but I’ll give it a shot, anyway – and that shot will only aim at one single effect.
I mentioned in my previous article the no-dream situation; now, that is actually a really interesting thing that has happened to me at about two weeks after I started getting really passionate and studious about chess. I’d play or read or watch some chess videos up until right before I got to bed; chess-themed thoughts would then circle around my brain, combine with other chess-unrelated thoughts and then quicly dizz me (or should I say, myself? since the brain is the one that’s doing it, and that would also be some sort of me?) into a pleasant, dreamless sleep.
Now, I should probably tell you that I’m not the kind of guy that falls asleep like a rock and wakes up like a cock (uh, that’s an ugly pun, but let’s just have it). Actually, before I got into chess it used to take me some time to fall asleep, and then I’d often have clear dreams that would sometimes wake me up in the middle of the night. You probably know that falling back asleep doesn’t come easy after you wake up in your dream.
What’s really interesting to me is that not dreaming seems to be a sign of some sort of psychological well-being. Take for instance Herodotus and the Atlanteans; what the historian tells us in Histories, Book IV, is that these Atlanteans do not dream; they are a superior civilization, they live near the house of their gods (which is, of course, a mountain), they do not eat living things and they do not dream!
What that shows is that, were it true, these Atlanteans must have had a really sound, strong inner life. Common psychoanalysis, which has almost become pop-culture, has it that dreams are windows into one’s psyche, most specifically into their subconscious – or even to their unconscious -, and that they reflect one’s hidden wishes, repressed desires and needs, and so on. Troublesome dreams are therefore thought to be signs of a muddled psycho-emotional life; not dreaming would, by implication, be the sign of a sound, healthy one! Herodotus’ work seems to point in the same direction, albeit in an indirect way.
Not dreaming is, therefore, if not necessarily a sign of a pink and bubbly inner life, then definitely an indication that there is nothing really that bad inside you, psychologically speaking; that your psyche is not plagued by repressed thoughts and emotions that just wish to crawl out of you. That’s really pop, unscientific psychology; but I trust I’m not a million miles away from the truth, anyhow.
Let’s just have a short recap, to put things into a satchel before tying a knot over it: chess seems to make you not dream, not dreaming is a sign of mental stability, therefore chess leads to mental stability. That would be desirable, wouldn’t it? It seems that if one cares enough about chess in order to devote at least two hours per day to it, one will gradually strengthen one’s psyche. Don’t take it as an advice, because holes might be found somewhere along my line of thought; plus, I don’t feel any tangible psychological improvement – but, although not tangible, I definitely feel an intangible one, so to say; and I do feel that I’m less prone to feeling bad for no reason (actually that has pretty much dissappeared, now that I think of it;that must be something!), and also that I’m more productive (when I do actually start doing something, which still is a problem – and I’m again thinking of that diploma paper...).
I’ll tie the above-mentioned knot in a chess-like fashion, and that’s just to keep my word about that blunder that I mentioned earlier; it’s also a pleasant enough mistake to enjoy as a close-up to this rather long article: (by the way, I don’t know about you, but I’ll just go back to reading my Lasker, since now I know that’s good for me)