Maximus: Wake up Stephanus. It’s your move!
Stephanus: Gosh. Sorry. Am I white or black?
Maximus: Oh for heaven’s sake Stephanus… and by the way, my knight has just taken your Queen so you’d better be a little more careful on your next move. What’s wrong with you tonight?
Stephanus: I apologize Maximus. I’m distracted, and the candlelight lulls me into a brooding sort of mood.
Maximus: Pray do tell. (Takes a draught of ale from his tankard.)
Stephanus: Well, I’m thinking about my students once again. (Sighs heavily.)
Maximus: What is it this time?
Stephanus: They argue about Art and its purpose. They resist anything truly challenging. They want a magic pill to solve problems rather than working through the really difficult stuff.
Maximus: Can you blame them? The world is harsh for them, and will be more so if they want to pursue careers as artists! Fortunately in my corner we deal with science, and that doesn’t require so much self-indulgent introspection!
Stephanus: Sometimes I envy your discipline Maximus.
Maximus: Please don’t. I brood on my students too you know.
Stephanus: I know, I know. But my students are like butterflies. They’re attracted by brightly coloured, ephemeral flowers that will fade. They only want to be comforted by Art, when they should open their eyes wide, and not turn their faces from suffering and emotion and conflict. They are our future generation, our problem solvers – I don’t mean your kind of mathematical problem – I mean they will be tasked with solving the daily problems of life and love and politics and getting on with it, and their Art will need to deal with very difficult things down the road. They must find a creative way to address suffering and injustice and horror, or Maximus, we are lost!
Maximus: Might I suggest something different my dear Stephanus? Surely, we must not turn away our faces from pain. Yes, we must open our eyes wide, but let’s open our eyes to beauty; to see absolutely everything, and perceive the beauty that is hidden everywhere; even the beauty in Mathematics…..and by the way, checkmate.