Well, I was determined not to blog about this, but I cannot resist. This whole Bobby Fischer scenario is just too juicy to pass up. Our new countryman Bobby is due in Iceland tomorrow, now that the Japanese have agreed to release him from the immigration prison or whatever it is they’ve been holding him in. Already he’s delighting the general populace with rants on things like how we Icelanders should “kick [the Americans] out – kick them off the Base and close down the American embassy”. [That’s BF quoted on the midday news today…]
For those of you who are new to this, here’s the abridged version of Iceland’s infatuation with Fischer: He came here to play the world championships in chess in 1972, when Iceland’s small-nation complex was even greater than it is today. Bobby won against Boris Spassky. He then left again, but kept up a friendship of sorts with one Sæmundur Pálsson [known as “Sæmi”], who was his bodyguard at the time. Much has been made of this friendship over the years, which to YT sounds all a bit dubious as it has transpired that Fischer called his friend only when he was in some kind of trouble. Like when he was arrested in Japan for travelling without a passport, as the US had refused to renew it. He had been guilty of playing a chess match in the former Yugoslavia in 1992, when military sanctions were in place.
Meanwhile, in Iceland Fischer’s supporters pushed the government to grant him residency status [which in effect would be like asylum, only it’s not called that because there was no official extradition request from the US] to get him out of Japan. After that was done [oh-so-easily], the Fischer cheering section headed off to Japan to “bring him home”, only to find that the Japanese had no intention of releasing him. They returned, and before anybody could say “strained Icelandic-American relations” the government had approved a bill to grant Fischer Icelandic citizenship, as this would ensure his release from prison in Japan.
CODEPENDENT NO MORE?
Now, I’m all in favour of the whole humanitarian slant of offering Fischer a safe harbour and whatnot. After all, I really am hard pressed to understand how the “crime” of playing a game of chess in a country that the US had declared nobody should sell weapons to, should warrant the extreme fury towards our man Bobby. I’m more inclined to think that his anti-Semitic and anti-American rants rubbed US authorities the wrong way [to put it mildly] so that they’re now “out to get him”. And to my mind, that sort of knee-jerk reaction is just plain ugly. I mean, the man is a little off his rocker and he played chess somewhere he wasn’t supposed to – but does that mean he should be stuck in jail for 10 years?
Which brings us to the Icelandic position. Now, again, YT is all in favour of the whole compassionate aspect and in fact considers it eminently civilized. I’m even prepared to accept that Iceland as a nation has a soft spot for eccentrics. But frankly I must confess that it’s all happened really quickly and without any real debate and I sort of sit here and scratch my head trying to figure it all out. Because if the truth be told, the whole business reeks of codependency.
This is especially true of BF’s pal Sæmi. The man is undoubtedly very well meaning and kind, but I must say he comes off codependent in the extreme. I mean, this man literally loses sleep because he stays up whole nights listening to his “friend” Bobby’s rants over the telephone. And then goes out to Japan to bring him home, even though there is no assurance that he will be able to do this. And note bene, this is after not seeing the man for 30 years. I could hardly contain my amazement when Sæmi came on the news this evening and declared in a slow and slightly docile drawl, “I’ve told him he can’t make those rants any more, I’ve told him that it’s not fair to us or to those who have worked so hard to bring him over here. And I just hope he stops.”
So: he’s hoping Bobby will change. For them. Because they’ve worked so hard to bring him over here.
And yet Bobby has not given the slightest indication, as far as I’ve heard, that he’s prepared to change. Indeed, if he has some sort of personality disorder [which seems highly likely] is he even capable of changing?
Anyone who’s familiar with alcoholism or other types of addiction will recognize that this is a pattern doomed to failure: hoping someone will change simply because you’ve done them a good turn. [Just to be clear: I’m not suggesting old Bobby has a drinking problem – simply referring to a pattern of behaviour]. And the strange thing is that the Icelandic government seems to be dancing the same codependent dance around Bobby – allowing itself to be manipulated in some bizarre way that one just cannot quite understand. Meanwhile, Bobby continues to come across as the tyrannical child who has morphed into an adult and who does not understand that his words or actions can have serious repercussions – for himself and others around him.
MEANWHILE, IN OTHER ASTONISHING NEWS…
Easter is upon us! Here in Iceland we look forward to a five-day holiday, starting today. Rest and relaxation is imminent and tomorrow the YT clan plus friends plan to go mussel picking at very fertile mussel grounds not far from the capital. Which means that tomorrow evening there shall be a feast with said friends, yo!
This post has gone on for too damn long and my dinner is waiting so let’s just say it’s still mild and at the moment there’s a bit too much wind for my liking. Had my winter tires removed today and summer ones put on – ahhh, a much smoother ride, not to mention how much smoother one feels ecologically. Current temps are 9°C and day broke at 6.30 and night will fall at 20.41.