The Philosophers Cup
‘Sporting events like the Olympics with their arenas and crowds are like our lives. Some exercise their minds in order to win glory in the contests. Others bring merchandise there to sell for profit. There are some – and these are not the worst – whose only aim is to listen to how and why everything is thought, and to be spectators of other men’s ideas, in order to judge and regulate their own’. Pythagoras
I heard the great despairing cry of ‘NON’ from La France when Althusser’s France was eliminated from the last European Cup by some no-account thinkers (homespun Moravians). I was riding my bike through the vines, half-hearing the commentary leak from the Walkmans of workers scattered all over the hills. The ‘NON’ was long and hard. Pain segging into stoic acceptance by way of Diogenes’s ataraxia, emptying the mind of all thought (the ultimate consolation of philosophy).
In the balcony across from mine, a symposium of bald young Existentialists are getting themselves drunk. I hear them in the background of my brain, like young Samuel Johnson half observing Sally Ford dancing in the kitchen yard as he does his homework. It concentrates the mind. France, freed from structuralist wrangles has made a come-back captained by Sartre (‘Accentuate the positive by being yourself’). They play Aristotle’s Greece in this year’s final at Athens.
It has been a thought provoking tournament. The opening rounds put paid to fancied outsiders such as Portugal and Denmark. Franscisco Sanches was chosen as captain instead of Schoolman Pedro d’Espanna, and he told the team to ‘play to their weaknesses’. While Kierkegaard’s Denmark, though brilliant in the air, hadn’t the legs. The elimination of Spinoza’s Holland, and England’s squad of Logical Positivists, came as no surprise. Spinoza’a mind was elsewhere, and the LPs were too sure of themselves. But Hegel’s German Idealists really should have done better. It didn’t help that Kant’s stand-back knocked down the referee. But in the end it was lack of realism.
Italy’s mistake was making Vico rather than Machiavelli the captain. The game plan based on abstract impressionisms spiralled out of control. Moreover, the neo-Futurists he picked to lead the attack were in the pocket of the Vatican Mafia who put their money on Bulgaria (led by an Ethical Pragmatist) springing a surprise. Spain should have taken Gracian’s advise and withdrawn gracefully since the only philosopher considered fit to captain the side was Sacristan Luzon. Averroes, the father of polymorphous perverse, was side-lined as he was deemed to have undergone a code change, figuring now as the Moorish Freud. Worse still, was the exclusion of Madrid-born George Santayana. Luzon explained ‘Spain had discovered America, and not the other way round’. Santayana was sorely missed as a sweeper (‘The body is an instrument, the mind its function’. Know that and you can always avoid an own goal).
The final score is nil all, largely due to Greece’s lack of imagination. Despite home advantage and strength in depth, the Ancients, relying too much on logic, proved predictable. Camus in goal had no problem in clearing the lines. But, alas, in extra time Pascal and Montaigne appeared to come to blows. Blaise said to Michel ‘You only think about yourself’. In fact Montaigne merely slipped while trying to agree with him, and their heads bumped. The ref was out of sight, but not out of mind, and awarded them both red cards. My Existentialists emitted a long, dreadful ‘aie’ (oh! no), a regression into Nihilism under the influence of the Etruscan non-thinkers of Nesar, believed to average ten and half pints a day of beer during the Holocene drought.
One of the Existentialists leapt off the balcony, landing on his feet. A feat that led others to follow him less propitiously. Their cries of pain were drowned out by the pompiers’s siren. Meanwhile Sartre called up Voltaire for the penalty shoot-out. He cynically put the ball wide with his left foot.
The match ended with the French team fighting amongst themselves. The Greeks joined it as that is how it should be according to Cup logic. Had the final result been the other way round, I understand that Greek supporters were preparing to take the hemlock. I really don’t know what all this fuss and nonsense on the terraces is about. After all, philosophy is only a game.
Materialists say it is about the purchase of visionary rights. But I only see and hear chauvinist cant, nostalgia for novelty and Saturday night in the casualty department. Maybe I should change my allegiance to accountancy, the croquet of intellectual pursuits. Its league is better regulated, I think.