floralchessjuly The Garden of Cyrus floralchess2


Floral Chess:

I confess: On reading the brief for The Garden of Cyrus, the first thing I did was to google Thomas Browne. These days, aspirations to a universal learnedness like that of the great man are easily satisfied by taking recourse to the World Wide Web rather than by reading entire books. Ultimately, though, this virtual cosmos of knowledge is just a binary construct, made up of Zeros and Ones. It might as well be black and white. "In Chess-boards and Tables we yet find Pyramids and Squares I wish we had their true and ancient description, far different from ours, or the Check-mate of the Persians, which might continue some elegant remarkables, as being an invention as High as Hermes the secretary of Osyris, figuring the whole world, the motion of the Planets, with Eclipses of the Sun and Moon". There. Wikipedia could instantly provide the groyne which the meandering stream of my consciousness would wash up against: Chess. It seemed obvious, anyway. Browne, like anyone who searches for rules that govern the universe, its Hermetic blueprint and any geometric patterns that pervade it, would feel an affinity to this labyrinthine battle of wits, played out within the lattice of a checked square. Moribund blossoms as chess pieces implicitly spell out that ubiquitous spiritual Health and Safety warning of Browne's era: Vanitas - Mind That Death. Before you know it, it's yours. Yet, on a contemporary ground-level note, playing Floral Chess with people in Norwich's King Street on a sunny summer day should simply be a pleasant activity, to be enjoyed in the present moment.