Not A Safari

South Africa's World Cup, as seen from New York City


Let us admit this as a general fact: it is amazing how quickly other people can get over what pains you, and though I see it sitting there—the temptation to make this about something serious, I mean—I’ll shimmy to its side and talk instead about something graver than death itself: our feelings when we lose a football game or when we fail to win one in which we expected to do better than tie.

Everything about this matter of losing is in question—the earth trembles because it is unsure of its grounding—and this intensifies the pain involved. We are bewildered about the very material of the “our” in question. Are we homooúsios (of the same substance) with the eleven men who play for us on the field—I am certain that scientists will discover that spectators’ neurons are activated in ways parallel to those footballers they are watching—or are we merely homoian (of similar substance) with them? We are angry that our vociferous involvement, even at televisual distance, was insufficient to sway the outcome. We are confused at how much deeply loss plunges than victory elevates, one a springboard, a matter of a few feet, the other a diving bell, ominous and far-fetched.

Above all, we are tainted by the bitterly concentrated flavor of a game in which we have been vanquished not by the opponents’ skills or by our own foolishness but by the misjudged intervention or miscalculated disregard of the referee. A murderous thought against this man boils on the shorelines of our brains like frustrated surf, it’s unfair, it’s unfair, though our expectation has never been that the game will be fair, only that it will be unfair in a way that favors us, and from the time we were very young, we have instinctively known that little joy would remain for us in this cosmic matter of football if the videographers, stenographers, and other mortuary specialists were allowed to grasp the game with their deadening fingers, to attempt to “improve” it, and to leave to chance nothing of what happened to have been seen or what happened to have passed unseen.

Keep your improvements. We prefer football.



Filed under: magic, pessimism, unexpected

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