Chess with Johnny Cash

Veronica Berenice

… and it is by focusing on something infinitely small, such as a dividing line, that we allow ourselves a first respite from the discussion on the great whites and blacks of life. 

Music plays a fundamental role in the lives of almost all of us, both in terms of its social functionality and its ability to trigger individual catharsis. «Camminare sulle righe come fossi Johnny Cash» (Walking the line as if I were Johnny Cash) is the refrain of an Italian song, which I discovered a year ago on Spotify, sung and written by Irene Facheris; it is also a good starting point for the thought I would like to offer.
The lyrics are a reflection of an existential practice that sounds almost anachronistic in today’s relationships between human beings; we talk an awful lot about relationships based on the following principle: make sure that everyone around you is well and that no one is compelled to ‘put up with’ someone else. This point of view sounds good but perhaps masks an inability to comprehend what efforts are necessary and sufficient in order to love and be loved. This is also because there has never been another period in history where suffering and – consequently – strategies and magic to avoid it have ever been so present. In other words, the singer focuses on how one should adapt accordingly to the presence of another person at one’s side:

Walking the lines and never straying from you
Concentrating my efforts because now I have you
Walking the lines as if I were Johnny Cash
Never feeling the efforts in time together with you

To help clarify this concept, we could exemplify it by imagining a chessboard made up of black and white spaces, where – whether it be a game of chess or draughts makes little difference – our pawns are used to move around the relevant squares. However, both Irene and Johnny have something different in mind: those lines that divide whites from blacks, i.e. the space of a point that is divided from the other by endless points, in that interstice that separates is also the common space; and it is by focusing on something infinitely small, such as a dividing line, that we allow ourselves a first respite from the discussion on the great whites and blacks of life.
In this case, black and white could be I ≠ you, the ego and the universal consciousness, night and day, good and evil, spirit and matter.
Love, which in my eyes, unifies but does not identify – and cannot behave otherwise. Thus, when we find ourselves caught up in conflicting thoughts we try to take ourselves to that frontier that places us closer to something different. And should we succeed in ‘jumping’ into that no-man’s-land, we may discover that it has an identity of its own and that what we think of as a tiny void is actually the experience of a mere fractal, that is, what in geometry is called an object endowed with internal homothety: its global shape is repeated in the same way on different scales.
Only then will we have the space of love that belongs to no one but to which everyone can belong that repeats itself in every experience. Walking the line is a mind pattern, a beautiful refrain to be sung like a mantra or a symbolic truth that like many others has the sole propose of getting people to think.

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