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We know that, although it’s a truth likely still lost on Brazilians, it was just a loss in a game. It shouldn’t be—and really wasn’t—a national humiliation, or anything like it. It was just eleven guys having a very bad day, most of them millionaires who work and often reside abroad.
There is no such thing as national honor, or if there is it should be synonymous with national common sense. Our honor, as people and countries, lies in being seen to conduct ourselves with kindness and mercy to the less fortunate, not in winning games or battles. Nations lose wars, and games, for many reasons, none of them curable by reprisal or self-mutilation. The Brazilians should be inclined to fix Brazil because Brazil needs fixing, not because they lost a game, of a kind that they will very likely win the next time they play one like it. Nations are not humiliated in this manner, though sometimes the pride of their rulers—or of eleven players and a coach—may be. We should banish for good the language of national honor and credibility and humiliation, and replace it with the language of common sense and self-interest and sanity. Add the language of pleasure, of sex and romance, to that, and no one will argue—certainly not, even with all their pain this week, the Brazilians.
Far-right political parties are gaining ground in France. Most of Germany’s soccer hooligans are now neo-Nazis. And this spring, Switzerland voted to curb immigration, defying the spirit of laws that allow citizens freedom of movement across the European Union.
But amid all the bad blood, has anyone thought about how sending immigrants packing would affect the teams playing the world’s greatest game? Broadly defining “foreigner” as anyone with at least one foreign-born parent, Switzerland would lose two-thirds of its players. France and the Netherlands might be knocked out of contention. And Algeria, Ghana, Turkey or even Suriname could win it all.
“I spend my life chasing the storms that emanate from the hundreds of billions of cells that inhabit our brains. What we want to do is listen to these brain symphonies and try to extract them from the messages they carry.”
What kind of a person looks upon the world’s largest land animal — a beast that mourns its dead and lives to retirement age and can distinguish the voice of its enemies—and instead of saying “Wow!” says something like “Where’s my gun?”
There was not just one “tank man” photo. Four photographers captured the encounter that day from the Beijing Hotel, overlooking Changan Avenue (the Avenue of Eternal Peace), their lives forever linked by a single moment in time.
In my opinion, it is regretful that this image alone has become the iconic “mother” of the Tiananmen tragedy. This tends to overshadow all the other tremendous work that other photographers did up to and during the crackdown. Some journalists were killed during this coverage and almost all risked being shot at one time or another. Jacques Langevin, Peter and David Turnley, Peter Charlesworth, Robin Moyer, David Berkwitz, Rei Ohara, Alon Reininger, Ken Jarecke and a host of others contributed to the fuller historical record of what occurred during this tragedy and we should not be lured into a simplistic, one-shot view of this amazingly complex event.
One theory says that if you treat people well, you’re more likely to encourage them to do what you want, making all the effort pay off. Do this, get that.
Another one, which I prefer, is that you might consider treating people with kindness merely because you can. Regardless of what they choose to do in response, this is what you choose to do. Because you can.
[…] The film is really a plea for an extended and revitalized Japanese-American alliance. The real threat to the world are the Mutos, not Godzilla, who ends up defending America, after the lead Japanese character in the movie promises the American military Godzilla will be there as our friend (don’t kill me, that is not a major spoiler as it is telegraphed way in advance).
The Mutos, by the way, are basically Chinese mythological dragons, and an image of two kissing Muto-like beings is shown over the gate of San Francisco’s Chinatown three different times in the movie, each time with greater conspicuousness. The Mutos base themselves in Chinatown in fact. Note that the Mutos can beat up on Godzilla because of their greater numbers, but as for one-on-one there is no doubt Godzilla is more fierce. And the name of the being — Muto — what does that mean? I believe loyal MR readers already know, and apologies for reminding you. General Akira Muto led the worst excesses committed by Japanese troops during the Rape of Nanjing, perhaps the single biggest Chinese grievance against The Land of the Rising Sun, and thus the beings are a sign of the Chinese desire for redress and revenge. Unless of course the right military alliance comes along to contain them and save the world…
The references to Pearl Harbor and the Philippines are not accidents either.
It’s never been so easy to pretend to know so much without actually knowing anything. We pick topical, relevant bits from Facebook, Twitter or emailed news alerts, and then regurgitate them. Instead of watching “Mad Men” or the Super Bowl or the Oscars or a presidential debate, you can simply scroll through someone else’s live-tweeting of it, or read the recaps the next day. Our cultural canon is becoming determined by whatever gets the most clicks.
What we all feel now is the constant pressure to know enough, at all times, lest we be revealed as culturally illiterate. So that we can survive an elevator pitch, a business meeting, a visit to the office kitchenette, a cocktail party, so that we can post, tweet, chat, comment, text as if we have seen, read, watched, listened. What matters to us, awash in petabytes of data, is not necessarily having actually consumed this content firsthand but simply knowing that it exists — and having a position on it, being able to engage in the chatter about it. We come perilously close to performing a pastiche of knowledgeability that is really a new model of know-nothingness.
The information is everywhere, a constant feed in our hands, in our pockets, on our desktops, our cars, even in the cloud. The data stream can’t be shut off. It pours into our lives a rising tide of words, facts, jokes, GIFs, gossip and commentary that threatens to drown us. Perhaps it is this fear of submersion that is behind this insistence that we’ve seen, we’ve read, weknow. It’s a none-too-convincing assertion that we are still afloat. So here we are, desperately paddling, making observations about pop culture memes, because to admit that we’ve fallen behind, that we don’t know what anyone is talking about, that we have nothing to say about each passing blip on the screen, is to be dead.
[…] The World Cup is a bit postmodern in that way, akin to George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, which is told through the perspective of more than a dozen different characters. And like Game of Thrones, the tournament can only be appreciated if all of its narrative threads are grasped. That means that if you are serious about having the best World Cup experience that television can offer, you should count on watching all the matches — every last one.
Because the fact of the matter is that if you only watch the big-ticket games, or limit yourself to supporting your country, you will likely miss the most memorable moments of the World Cup. I’m not talking about fantastic goals, though there should be plenty of those. I’m talking about the high drama that only the World Cup can produce. Over the course of a single month, we will see human beings at their finest and lowest, a Dickensian cast of heroes and scoundrels, and the purest euphoria alternating with operatic swells of grief.
You might ask: Why does any of this matter? Why would anyone roll around on the floor because a thousand miles away, on another continent, a ball failed to reach the back of a net?
It matters, of course, because we have chosen to let it matter. Soccer is like any endeavor we bestow with our commitment and imbue with meaning, whether it’s in the realm of art, politics, or sport. It matters less what the specific framework is, than that its parameters allow us to see what we can do. So when Gyan stepped up to the spot he was not actually confronting a goalkeeper from Uruguay, much in the same way that the writer’s true enemy isn’t the blank page. Gyan was coming up against his own limits: his talent, his nerve, his integrity, his courage. The essence of the World Cup is watching a man come face to face with himself, on a patch of brightly illuminated green surrounded by thousands of people.
It is nothing less than astounding, then, that Gyan was the first to step up for his team when the penalty shoot-out began. Moments after making the biggest mistake of his young life, he went back to the spot — and scored.
That’s why you should watch every single match of the 2014 World Cup. Because of Asamoah Gyan. Because you never know when you’ll see greatness emerge from such humble material. Because all the world really is a stage, and there’s no bigger one than this.