Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Model For An Endgame

Ever drop a nickel down one of those hyperbolic coin funnels and watch it roll around and around, its circle getting smaller and smaller until it finally spins madly at the center, loses traction against the sides, and falls down the hole?

The end of a presidential second term couldn't get any simpler than that.

The coin funnel is a good model for a lot of kinds of endings, including death itself. As a chess game near its end gets down to fewer and fewer pieces, the players make long sequences of short moves trying to position themselves for the checkmate, or to avoid it. I've read that the Romanovs, Russia's ruling family, slowly spent all their money after the revolution, trying to recover their lost wealth. Unable to rule, the only motion they could make was to sue, which they did until their money ran out.

A curiously similar model for the beginning of a game is the cornucopia, the Horn of Plenty. From a tip as small as a mustard seed, all creation flows. Fruits and vegetables and many mustard seeds.

Cornucopias and coin funnels are happening all around us, every day. Somewhere between the cornucopia and the coin funnel is the world of what survives from day to day. If we can avoid getting caught in a coin funnel or smothered by a cornucopia, then in this world, day by day, can we do good, in this world can we help freedom be discovered.

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