18 August 2008

Laying low

I appear to have come down with my customary case of Olympic Fever.

Only once every four years, for 16 days, to I give myself the freedom to embrace the ignorance necessary to believe in the possibility of global unity, fair play, achievement, and general happy-making embodied by the ideal Olympic games. This includes, but is not limited to, believing in the amateur athlete (which I've been informed is a very old-fashioned manner of looking at the Games), believing in the purity of the competitors and the unimpeachable judges, believing in an even playing field, believing in the noble intentions of both international bodies of sport and nation states, and believing in the goodwill of all countries towards others. It means knowing but choosing to then ignore things like, oh, the maximum amount of coverage for female athletes dictated by the governing body of beach volleyball; the troubling interlocked economic policies and environmental legacy of the host nation; the, as friend JS puts it, confusion of the ersatz and the real often seen in China; the dismaying possibility that the Iranian swimmer chose to plead sick rather than get into a pool with an Israeli; Russia invading Georgia; the US President then running his mouth off about a sovereign nation's territorial integrity; the treacly, oversentimental and massively jingoistic American television coverage of the games; Usain Bolt's borderline showboating at the finish line, the machismo of which makes me think of his home country's high danger for homosexuals; and the very real questions of the Chinese women's gymnasts' ages and what that means for children's rights, for women's rights and safety.

So I know it's out there, all of it. But I only get 16 days to pretend the world is what I want it to be, with all competitors supported by coach and country, competing on a level playing field without advantages of a first-rate first world training system or of drugs. I only take a few weeks--and it's always in an election year--to tell myself the very comforting lie of global peace and pleasantry, of the sageness of presidents and prime ministers, of the universal acknowledgment of and fight against inequality and suffering for all. This is my romantic global moment, in which I see no wrong in My Beloved, in which I ignore all flaws and abuses, in which I am sure *I* can change My Beloved for the better.

So I guess I'm saying I'm still on vacation. And that I sure do geek out over the Olympics.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Donovan said...

Seriously, what is UP with all the volleyball? It's soooo stultifyingly boring. My friend George calls it "the Law and Order of the Olympics." Cuz it's always on. Except volleyball doesn't have Sam Waterson delivering a noble monologue at the end of each match. Ergh.

I think the connection of Bolt-->Jamaica's rampant homophobia and hate crime is a bit confusing, though there clearly is a tangled mess of gender and terror in that underexamined country. I really hate that some bands in of my favorite music genres in the world is responsible for such despicable polemics...

Anyway, I'm betraying the immersion into the Olympics, but you offer some food for thought. I too have loved the romantic imagination it spurs...

5:05 PM  

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