盤上の夜

劉慈欣の『三体』三部作の第二部が書店に並んでいた。具体的な数字は記憶にないが中国ではシリーズを通して大変な売り上げだったそうで、実際前作は流行現象を引き起こすのも納得がいく程度には面白く、決して突出しているとは思わないものの、普通によくできたSFであった。僕にとってその面白さの肝は作中オンラインゲーム「三体」の存在目的と理解できない怪奇現象(?)の推理過程に有ったのだが、それらも前作ラストで解明されており、続編は読まないつもりでいた。しかし続編がこうして並んでいるのを見ると手を出しそうになる。

一つだけ趣味を残すとしたら、僕は読書を採るだろうと常々思っていたが、3ヶ月近くもお預けを喰らうとどうやら運動が第一に来るらしい。スポーツジムが解禁された今は読書する時間が取れないので、上下巻ある『三体』続編よりは手軽に読める表題本を手にした。何となくSF気分であった。

表題本は盤上ゲームを題材にした6つの短編集である。それぞれ囲碁、チェッカー、麻雀、チャトランガ、将棋、そして囲碁に戻る。チェッカーとはチェス盤を用いるチェスよりは単純なゲームであり、チャトランガは古代インド発祥の、将棋やチェスの元になったゲームだそうだ。これらのゲームに纏わる話が同一ジャーナリストの視点で語られる。どれもそこそこに面白いが、人に勧めたいほどでは無い。SF要素は殆んど無い。

なぜ本書をここに載せたかと言えば、言葉の本質に触れる記述が有ったからだ。第一章、とある事件により四肢を失った女性棋士の話である。腕を失った人が手先の感覚を覚える幻肢という現象がある様に、彼女は囲碁盤に感覚器を延長し、ゲームの流れ(囲碁のことは殆んど知らないので適切な言葉が出てこない)を感覚として知覚し、神がかり的な強さを発揮する。そして五感の一般的な感覚に対応する言葉がある様に、彼女はそれら盤上の「感覚」を表現する言葉を探す。彼女の本棚には日本語・英語のみならず、様々な外国語、果てはブルシャスキー語に関するの本まで並ぶ。ブルシャスキー語と言えば僕は『現地嫌いなフィールド言語学者、かく語りき』で初めて知った超マイナー言語である。それでは彼女はなぜ言葉を探したのか。

以下は僕のいい加減な理解なので間違えているかもしれない。言葉は茫洋とした意識の核になるからだ。取っ掛りと言い直してもいい。ともかく、自身の意識にある何か茫洋と喚起されたものを言葉は要約し(あるいは枠に嵌め)、意識の中に取っ掛り(核)を作る。核は別の核を喚起するが、その喚起作用は個々人の経験と、ある程度は言葉の枠組みに依存する。この喚起の連鎖を時間の流れに沿って手繰っていく作業が思考であると思う。取っ掛りが有るからこそ安定して思考を続けることができる。核となる言葉が無ければその連鎖は泡沫のように安定せず、直ぐに消え去る。この状態を女性棋士は氷壁を登る様と表現する。彼女は盤上感覚に基づく思考を深めるために、言い換えるなら氷壁に確かな取っ掛りを刻むために、それらを表現する言葉を必要とした。

しかし、そんな言葉がどこの言語にもあろう筈がない。言葉の存在理由は相互間コミュニケーションにあるからだ。自身の意識に浮かぶ「何か」を言葉で他者に伝え、全く同じは有り得ないだろうが、同等の「何か」をその内に喚起できればコミュニケーションが成立する。そこで使われる言葉は二人の間で同じように経験されてきたものでなければならない。或る個人のみが認識・経験できることは既存の言葉を尽くして表現するか、新しく言葉を作るしかない。そしてそれらの言葉は当人以外の他の誰にとっても意味をなさないだろう。かくして彼女は何らかのコトバとも唸りともつかない音の連なりを盤上で発する。「悟る」とはこういう境地を言うのかも知れない。一月後にはこの本のことを恐らく覚えていないであろう、だからほんの少し心に残った印象を書いておく。どうにも分かり難い表現になってしまったが、僕にはこれを適切に言い表す言葉が無い。

本書はSF成分があまりにも少なかったので、『三体』続編への弾みになったかも知れない。

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