Die Schachnovelle von Stefan Zweig gehört seit langem zu den Klassikern der deutschsprachigen Literatur. Zuletzt hat Jean-Philippe Toussaint in seinem autobiografischen Roman « L’échiquier » dieses Werk nochmals gewürdigt. Die psychische Belastung der fortgeschritten Schachspielenden macht spannende Lektüre. Bei Stefan Zweig ermöglicht das kognitive Training mittels Schachspielen die Bewahrung vor dem drohenden Wahnsinn durch Isolationsfolter. Gedankliche Fokussierung auf das Schachspiel und Spielen gegen sich selbst im Gedankenexperiment werden Rettung und Flucht in virtuelle Welten. Dennoch hinterlässt die Intensität der Erfahrung Spuren. Absorption ins Game, heute als Gaming meist verharmlost, lässt sich in vielen anderen Lebenssituationen wiederfinden. Es kann zur Sucht werden und Personen komplett absorbieren. Alleine Rauskommen oder vom Trip runter kommen ist schwer. Glück haben diejenigen, die professionelle Hilfe suchen und bekommen können.

Marathon Berlin2023

Berlin celebrates its 49th Marathon in September 2023. The first Berlin Marathon in 1974 had less than 300 participants. To separate this from Olympic games, these runs were coined “Volks-marathon” at the time. 5 events had already taken place in New York when these annual events started to catch on in Berlin. In 2023 there are close to 50.000 participants mostly drawn from a lottery of about 500.000 entries. So, you can call yourself one of the lucky few, if you manage to get a place. The event is a drain, but it creates a fantastic hype not only for the runners. The many cheers and bands along the running track transform the inner city into a huge party zone. The Berlin marathon is known around the world for its fast track. In 2023 Berlin is proud to be the city where both the women and men’s world record are held currently at the same time. This is quite an achievement.
Personally, I enjoy more the courage, stamina and will power all the participants gear up to. Months, if not years of preparation find their climax in getting to the starting line in the “Tiergarten”, just where you had (have) the “Love Parades” some weeks before. The finishing line is 300 meters away, once you have passed the “Bandenburger Tor”. From a public health perspective, we applaud the encouragement such events give to all those that have an active life style and to some to get started on such a trajectory. The media coverage is enormous and with all sponsorships, equipment, hotels, meals and travelling involved such events have become big business, too. No such event and going to health limits is without risk. This is, of course, also the case in Berlin. The emotions run high for almost all, except for a few, who go too far beyond their limits.
The medical assessments of exhaustive endurance sports are an ongoing research issue. A recent literature review reveals that there are quite substantial numbers of previous smokers or persons with previously unhealthy life styles participating in popular marathons. Running, probably, has been part of overcoming bad habits of the past. It is therefore, not surprising to find that some of the participants are at a risk of wanting to run too much or too fast for their current state of health. The hypnotising effect of music and stimulation from being part of a huge crowd, contribute to the effect to go beyond limits. Cardiovascular events or brain lesions are, therefore, part of the ex-post risks of participants who have had specific medical check-ups. Know your limits, train them wisely, but respect that limits exist. This seems to be a reasonable summary based on sports medical research. Berlin 42km finishing line2023

Barbie explore

The film on Barbie after more than 60 years of the first puppets to arrive on the market is a huge money spinning exercise. Hitting more than 1 billion $ is really a huge box office success. More interesting even is the banning of the film in some countries like Algeria. This gives the film an interesting subversive touch to it, which we in the Western countries no longer see as something special. Emancipated women pose a threat to authoritarian regimes.
However, we see in the stereotypes of beauty-driven dolls not that much of an emancipatory chance. To view emancipation independent of the looks of a person is another interesting twist to the role in stereotypes of beauty. It is not only fun to play around with stereotypes, that is mostly, if you are not negatively affected by them (age, gender, ethnicity, extraordinary persons). A nice task for sociology and psychology to explain the working of stereotypes in society and possible remedies. Tolerance is a competence that needs to be learned and updated continuously, from early age onwards.
Therefore, the website created by the US Design Agency Rvnway offers an entertaining way to play around and learn about stereotypes. Perceived, generalized beauty or gender roles can be explored using the tool. Maybe some see themselves differently after such explorations. Everybody is a model. This is the message. will let you explore other formats of yourself. After 3-D rendering and printing your children or grandchildren will decide what role they would like you to play in their playfull, or virtual “real” life. I suppose many of us will be up for a big surprise. Go on and imagine in 4D. In the age of selfies all around us, all the time, we believe we are very modern, but the artists of the 19th and 20th century following all great painters before, frequently started their careers with an “autoportrait” or “Selbstbildnis” or series of those as they were aging.

Special 3

The special Olympics (SOWG) are competitive games just like other Olympic Games. The athletes compete with all it takes to win. Some with more success than others, as usual. The disciplines of Volleyball and Basketball give an advantage to mostly tall persons. Few exceptions are created by good team play. The warming-up exercises were already a challenge for the athletes preparing them very well for the match to come. Once in the game, all concentration is focused on the sport. Extraordinary athletes are no exception to the rule. There competition succeeds to get or to keep persons focused on the specific task.
In rhythmic gymnastics the musical talent is asked to complement the physical effort. Gracious moves, difficult with a ball, ring or rope need to be coordinated to the rhythm of the music. Great to see the special athletes live up to the challenge, too. The roaring applause in the sports hall is surely encouraging them to continue on their athletic trajectory. The special athletes encourage everybody to keep exercising to make the most of our capabilities. Thanks for the lesson.
Additionally, in a hall next to the SOWG non-competitive games were presented as an accessible form of fun exercises that invite everybody to move and enjoy. Just being together and moving together is the basic form of happiness. Even having fun is exhausting after a long day and still lots to do in Berlin for all the teams on their way back to the hotels. sowg video
sowg video basket1.

Special HK

The Special Olympics World Games are special in many respects. The broad range of people with special abilities is only one of them. I had the chance to ask permission to take a photo of the athletes from the team from Hong Kong when the took their team photo at Berlin Alexanderplatz. This is indeed special as the all wore proudly their team dress showing in big letters Hong Kong on the back (participant example). Hong Kong is the unfortunate island that was passed on from Imperial phase from the United Kingdom time to the Chinese rule. Despite an official 1 China, 2 political systems promise, Hong Kong’s democratic movements were soon threated and imprisoned. It was a special moment to me to witness the spirit of the Hong Kong athletes at the beginning of the special games in Berlin.
Other athletes whom I congratulated on the way to the competition were proudly asking me, whether I had seen them on TV yesterday. Beyond the 2 weeks of competition, special athletes are part of our public images of sports persons. This enlarges our perspective of what a sport’s person presumably has to look like. The SOWG question our traditional stereotypes and put inclusion and integration into practice. At least some of the disciplines should go mainstream and be part of the next Olympic games in Paris 2024. But, as we all know the official, not so special, Olympic games are primarily about big business and merchandising rather than inclusion and diversity. Hong Kong athletes remain a unique experience reserved to the special Olympics.