Chess and Such by Kayne Belul

Pawn to e4. There are other options for sure, but it’s always a safe bet. One move into the chess game and there are already eleven common enough ways for black to respond. If both players are skilled and want a safe game, the first half of their match becomes choreographed. Certain moves just work.

A few weeks ago I attempted to have the protagonist of one of my stories play a game of chess with the omniscient narrator. I’ve since given up the idea. There are too many ways the story could play out. I can’t narrow the choices down.

I: The protagonist is sitting alone, in a park, at a stone chess table. A piece moves.

II: The protagonist only exists in the moments when his eyes are open. When his eyes are closed, he flickers out of existence and is replaced by the narrator, who wants to play chess in the intervals.

III: The narrator is standing in a white cube, watching a projection of the protagonist on one wall. To make a move, the narrator simply alters every slide from the moment when a piece moves to infinity. If he only altered one slide, the piece would revert instantly.

IV: The narrator thinks in the mind of a passerby, allowing him to play the protagonist in human form.

V: The narrator believes the pieces move, and so they do. The protagonist is driven insane.

VI: A homeless man acts as the king. The narrator half-heartedly attempts to kill him off while the protagonist tries to save him. Sort of like a word game.

And so on. None of the options quite worked.

Many people have made the case that pawn to d4 is the superior opening move. I don’t get it. I will eventually.

Kayne Belul, class of 2018

The HyperWebster by Kayne Belul

The HyperWebster is a hypothetical infinite dictionary, also capable of generating every piece of writing and snippet of thought ever conceived. It’s a more accurate and less cliché billion of monkeys typing out the full works of Shakespeare. The way this hypothetical text works is formulaic: starting with the letter A, it will cycle through all 26 letters. After it gets to Z, it will reset and add an A. Starting with AA, it will cycle through all possible combinations. When it gets to ZZ it resets and adds another A. This goes on infinitely.

If this were ever published, perhaps by four dimensional extraterrestrials, every piece of writing would become plagiarized in an instant. Since that’s not probable, I’m going to look at it from the perspective of a very 3D writer. 

Every draft of every one of my pieces would be contained in the Webster, including better edited versions of what I write. I’ve been thinking about that as I edit recently. Each piece has the potential to be perfectly edited; I just have to figure out what which words I am supposed to place where.

The Webster also relates intimately with playwriting; it illustrates the fact that a simple starting point or plot can develop into literally anything. Plays are meant to have a plot while most of my writing consists of abstract or absurdist concepts. It’s gratifying to know that, given the amount of drafts in The Webster, a simple plot can theoretically be developed into the greatest story ever written. 

The possibilities have always been there, but I’ve never seen it proved before. Sure, there are a lot of words in the English language, but not an infinite amount. Adding in the slang, kennings, and special characters that could be added to The Webster, it’s a lot more illustrative of the possibilities.

Math and writing are one of the typical left brain right brain examples, which is interesting because although creativity is a right brain trait, thinking in language is attributed to the left. In this way, it’s less strange to think of math and writing as kin, rather than opposites. Even science is more attributed to writing (given that it has its own genre). The Webster is a good example of math and language combined. Some more (as I trail off into recommendation) are the collection Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino and a good number of Borges stories. 

Kayne Belul, class of 2018