Thursday, May 28, 2015

Think of a Self-Effacing Missionary Tending the Vices of a Problem Tribe

Ligeti György, to honor the Hungarian (and Bajoran) naming traditions, born 92 years ago today. I find fascinating my hottest current novelist crush, Krasznahorkai László, is Hungarian, and two of my decades old and enduring musician crushes, Ligeti György and Bartók Béla are Hungarian. I am a quarter Hungarian. I don't speak Hungarian, I've never been to Hungary, what I know of Hungary's history is from my grandmother's books and magazines on the 1956 Soviet invasion (and I only looked at the photos and read captions). Still, I wonder if I'm not reading Krasznahorkai László and listening to Ligeti György and Bartók Béla with some small but tainted tribalist overrating. The same novel by a Bulgarian, the same music from Moldovans, would I rate them as highly as I do the Hungarians?

The question that got me here: of all the motivations for yesterday's Oligarch's Decision to Try FIFA for the Crimes of The Oligarchs which is the strongest? My first thought: what's more important in the move to austerity than assuring the peasants of the "integrity" of their tribal entertainments? Sepp Blatter is a lesser gangster than Lloyd Blankfein, FIFA a lesser casino-laundromat than Goldman Sachs. If, as friend Hamish Mack suggests, FIFA consists of particularly assholish Oligarchs then this could be the Blankfeins' warning to the stupidly greedy Blatters to cut the crudely greedy shit and run the tribal carnival so it seems as least plausibly legit. This is no doubt true. It also stinks of an attempt by the Oligarch's to signal they are self-policing - and they are, selectively, for ignoble reasons.

But I'm stupid re: over-estimating sports and tribalism. I think it important to the Oligarchs that when the out-of-work in Liverpool sit in their crumbling terrace housing that Blues who hate Reds and Reds who hate Blues still believe the entertainment on the field is legitimate and agitate about awarded penalties instead of empty larders. Hey, this is new:


John Fuller

Think of a self-effacing missionary   
Tending the vices of a problem tribe.
He knows the quickest cure for beri-beri   
And how to take a bribe.

And so the mind will never say it’s beaten   
By primitive disturbance of the liver;   
Its logic will prevent its being eaten,   
Get it across the river.

But faced with this assured inconsequence   
That damns the very method that is used,   
It leaves the heart unproselytised and hence   
Admits that it’s confused.

I know I’m acting, but I still must act.
I melt to foolishness, and want it ended.   
Why it continues is this simple fact:   
I’d hate to end it.

For now the jungle moods assert their terms   
And there’s no way to check them if they lie:
The mind attempts to solve the thing, but squirms   
And knows exactly why.

The world is everything that is the case.   
You cannot see it if you are inside it.
That’s why the tortoise always wins the race:   
the very terms decide it.

I cannot help it if I am contented
With being discontented that I falter:   
That’s why psychology was first invented   
So that we needn’t alter.

It is a strange position to be in.
It would be different if I didn’t know   
Why the unlikely animal should win,   
Which cannibal should row.

You’d think there’d be a way of cutting out   
Those self-destructive layers of introspection.   
To reach the truth at last without a doubt   
Of making the connection.

That’s why the missionary, on his guard,   
Is wondering why the cannibal’s so merry,   
And why it is so very very hard
To be a missionary.


  1. From what little I've read, the FIFA prosecutions look to have been prompted by the politics surrounding Palestine and Israel, given the scheduled vote tomorrow to suspend Israel. See for example:

    Love the Ligeti. It's been too long since I last listened to him.

    1. Of course, this could just be American Oligarchs getting pissy that FIFA didn't accept *their* bribe money for 2022 World Cup. The Big Dog was involved in the American bid - it's entirely possible he called this down on the Qatari Oligarchs.

  2. Agree with your comment that 'Dog' must've greased the wheels that had already been churning once his bid was denied. There's also a tad of the anti-Putin about this—esp. after his thumb in the eye of the world assault on Ukraine after the Olympics. Don't forget the careerism of Lynch & Comey, making their bones while moving up the law enforcement ladder.

    The most poignant piece I saw was a 'man in the street' interview on MSNBC outside their studios. Correspondent stuck his mic in the face of a German tourist and his son & in a heavy Deutsch accent the man complained about how he has to pay a fee for his son to play futball every season and that money goes up the chain and disappears into the pockets of the Blazers and Blatters of the world. That was poignant when you think about the kids in the favelas and slums of the world who pony up to FIFA to play organized soccer. The correspondent, for some reason, couldn't get away from the man quickly enough so he could ask the next American whether this would sour him on the sport. That, to me, seems to be the real news here. It's not just bribes from marketing agencies, nations, etc.; it's ripping off the poor kids for whom the sport is a passion. It's not just the corruption. It's how do the American people FEEL about soccer now knowing it's even more corrupt than NFL.

    Thanks, too, for the link!

  3. 1) i agree with jim h. - the real news is ripping off the poor kids - maybe i should've explicitly included sports in my MICFiC acronym - MICSFiC? MICFiSC? MICFiCS?


    2) my high school class is having its 50th anniversary reunion this fall - five years ago i sent the above link to my closest high school friend as part of a longer 'life review letter' - he never replied - i was not too surprised, as in my cover letter i noted i had seen his name on an 'economists against obamacare' ad, and expressed my own support for the single payer plan advocated by the american public health association, of which i am a former member

    this year he has just retired from teaching economics at a university in michigan and moved to the tampa bay area - five years ago as part of researching my former associates before sending them my life review letter i also found him listed as a donor for several republican political candidates - so it goes

    this was my closest friend in high school - or perhaps another way to put it is, i had no close friends in high school

    i did hear back from a majority of those who i wrote then (high school classmates - 2; college friends - half a dozen - grad school and later - another half a dozen)

    my retrospective analysis in 2010 was triggered by the death within three months of my two closest male associates at that time - my father, and my cat

    may the creative forces of the universe have mercy on our souls, if any

    3) and speaking of souls, i followed your link above to 'dostoyevsky for today?'

    as excellent as it was, i was a bit disappointed

    i had hoped it would be pointing to a new modern dostoyevsky - instead, it was about the the dostoyevsky we already know, and his appeal for moderns

    and speaking of modern novelists, and jim. h., i wrote of margaret atwood's review of dave eggers' book the circle in the comments at jim h'.s blog

    as i might well have said, but didn't, fine metaphors abound

    to be a bit more explicit, all the satellites of the sun have elliptical orbits, not circular ones - the circle is an ellipse where both foci are in the same place - the further apart the foci are, the less circular - more eccentric - the orbit

    in psychosocial terms, the sun might be seen as conventional norms
    the other focus as one's own individuality

    the further apart these are, the less conventional the person

    as i think back on my high school days, i am appreciating more keenly just how weird i was (and still am)

    who knows if it's good or bad?

    may the creative forces of the universe stand beside us, and guide us, through the metaphorical night with the symbolic light from a higher plane of existence, if any