Friday, January 22, 2016

Funny And Not Funny

I was googling gotenbibel, which if you capitalize it is German for Gothic Bible -- or you could also call it die gotische Bibel, or the Ulfila-Bibel or the Wulfila-Bibel -- when I saw that someone named Eugen Gabowitsch claimed that it was a forgery. I had never heard of Eugen Gabowitch, whose name may or may not be commonly spelled Eugene Gabovich or Gabovitch in English. But on German Wikipedia I learned that Gabowitsch supported the ideas of Anatoly Fomenko, the foremost proponent of the silliness known as the New Chronology (Chronologiekritik in German), which asserts things such as that the conventional chronology of the past 2000 years is off by 1000 years or more, that Rome in Italy was founded by Aeneas around AD 1380, that the Bible was written during the Council of Trent (1545–1563), that Suleiman the Magnificent, who is the actual Biblical Solomon, built the Hagia Sophia, which is the actual Biblical Temple of Solomon, and like that.

Suddenly Michael Paulkovich doesn't seem so bad any more, does he?

When I saw that someone was claiming that the Gothic Bible, conventionally dated to the 4th century AD, was actually forged some time after AD 1600, I was not immediately convinced that this wasn't a competent scholar claiming forgery. The association with Fomenko is enough to convince me that Gabovich was a buffoon and non-historian. (And the Bible couldn't have been translated into Gothic in the 4th century if the Bible itself wasn't written until the Council of Trent, now could it?)

What disturbs me, and what might disturb you to learn, is that the other supporter of Fomenko's ideas about chronology named by German Wiki, other than Gabovitch, far and away Fomenko's most prominent admirer and booster, is Garry Kasparov, former world champion of chess, described by more than a few experts as the greatest chess player of all time. Right up there with Morphy, Alekhine and Fischer.

Unfortunately, Morphy, Alekhine and Fischer were all completely insane, and now it appears that Kasparov may be as well. I don't know. The connection to Fomenko is actually the first non-chess thing I've learned about Kasparov other than that he's interested in politics and opposed to Putin. Unfortunately, German Wiki isn't wrong, it seems that Kasparov really does support Fomenko's centention that 1000 years' worth of what most of us think of as the past 2000 years has been made up by a conspiracy of scholars. A Google search more than comprehensive enough to thoroughly refute Fomenko confirms the close and cordial Kasparov-Fomenko relationship. James H Billington, Librarian of Congress from 1987 to 2015 and one of the most highly-renowned historians in the US, suggests in his book Russia in Search of Itself, published in 2004, that if it hadn't been for Kasparov's support, Fomenko's New Chronology might never have been taken seriously by more than a handful of kooks -- as opposed to millions of kooks, which seems to be the case.

Morphy, Alekhine, Fischer and now Kasparov. I think we need to seriously consider the possibility that chess is bad for your brain. (I'm not the first to suggest it. This possibility is the main theme of Nabokov's novel The Defense, the source of the recent movie The Luzhin Defense.)

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