Friday, July 07, 2006

About Last Week

Miscellaneous Musings, Images, and Observations on the Trip that Was:

(1) "We are shaped and fashioned by what we love." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. And how true thou art, good Sir. A pleasure to visit your home and see you fully in the spirit.

(2) "One cannot divine nor forecast the conditions that will make happiness; one only stumbles upon them by chance, in a lucky hour, at the world's end somewhere, and holds fast to the days..." said Willa Cather once. You wonder about the perpetual need to seek rejuvenation on the road. But it is hard to question what always works.

(3) When the capital is truly devoted to the cause, when the "Kaiser" Beckenbauer is deemed Chancellor for the month, when the Reichstag itself serves as a mere backdrop to the spectacle, you know you are in excellent hands. Torsten - the only man I will ever see drink 2 litres of beer in 65 spectacular seconds - was on edge right until the final Lehman save. He emailed me after the semi-final loss to say he was not "crying in the streets like some". Like so many, he just wanted it to last. And Germany will play on the second last day.

(4) "The physicist Richard Feynman used to make a joke about a posteriori conclusions - reasoning from known facts back to possible causes: 'You know, the most amazing thing happened to me tonight. I saw a car with the license plate ARW 357. Can you imagine? Of all the millions of license plates in the state, what was the chance I would see that particular one tonight? Amazing!' His point, of course, is that it is easy to make any banal situation seem extraordinary if you treat it as fateful." - as taken from Bill Bryson's Short History of Nearly Everything.

And yet, it is still difficult to doubt that magical power of coincidence to overwhelm. Who are all these beautiful people in the streets, in the rail stations, in the beer gardens? Where did they come from and why are they here?

(5) "You are crazy, James. Though I suppose people have been telling you that for a long time now..." So says my old friend from Glasgow, Renate.

Yes, dear friend. They have.

(6) Often overseas on the quixotic 10 day voyage, I found myself asking that ever-enigmatic question: just what the hell am I doing here?! Then you read the Times' Simon Barnes and his column on the day of England's last match:

"But what’s the point? In the end, it’s just 22 men trying to kick a bladder between a pair of sticks.

The point is that it is a story. It happens in front of us, and 20 million or more people in this country will watch and care. What happens at the World Cup will become a shared memory of triumph and disaster, agony and delight. It is the formulation of a living myth, a tale we will tell for years. We humans are a species of fabulists, and that is why sport is the most fabulous thing."

A species of fabulists indeed, at our best. I googled the phrase and Barnes seems to have coined it direct. Magnificent. As good a definition as why sport is so highly esteemed as you will ever see expressed in words. Or you could just look to those two Italia goals from Tuesday that sent them through.

... from Frankfurt International, you can go anywhere. Samarkanda not listed on the big board, but surely you could catch the train from Moskau. As you can see, Casablanca was the next gate over, departing at the same 14:40 hour. If they allowed you to exchange your ticket on the fly, I just might have tried it. To live, ay, is to dream. 'Twas such a wonderful World Cup.


Blogger Devin said...


With regard to number 6, I tell you that you are crazy all the time.


5:48 PM  

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