last time in french class, i learned the name for chess: échecs. its etymology traces back to the eleventh century, when it was first played by the persians. échecs derives from "shah," or king. checkmate is "échec et mat," dead king. the word also means "failure." that really got to me. that chess is really called failure. it felt, at that moment of discovery, that i'd learned something very essential, one of those inexorable things, not often spoken of, about being human.

i expressed this aloud in class. laure, our teacher, said "well, isn't it true that we learn more from our failures than our victories?"

and left it at that, moving on to the other linguistic mysteries inherent in etiquette and plumber...

image courtesy of here.

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