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Bad Is the New Good?

This essay is dedicated to my beloved Sarah who has been an unfailing infuence in the creation of it...

Football hooliganism has been studied strictly as an in-and-outside the


stadium phenomena, while violence on the playing feld, the pitch, has
been rarely talked about. This year's Afro-Euro Russia World Cup 2018 is
about to change all that. Hopefully! (Excuse me, I'm just dreaming!) The
major portion of games played has witnessed a free-for-all of fouling that
clearly impinged upon the traditional nature of the game itself—
football/soccer was created with the idea of putting the ball into the net to
win points for the teams and their highly-paid members. Instead,
football/soccer now has become a game of possession bent on keeping the
ball out of the net. How utterly boring! And at all costs: broken ankles,
bruised hips, head butts, scarred shins, et alia. (One famous football player,
upon retirement, suffered leg pains so severe, he contemplated amputation
of them.) No wonder Vladimir Putin does not like football/soccer. Should
we blame him?

A good example of on-the-feld aggression is the embarrassing England-


Colombia match (Afro-Euro Russia World Cup 2018) refereed by an
American whose patience received a severe testing over and over again. He
had all to do trying to cool down the tempers of both sides—particularly
the Colombians who, continually shaming themselves and eventually losing
the competition, committed one foul after another in a fray part of what
seemed to be a mini riot and not a professional sports rivalry.

The bleachers were flled with exuberant fans who had traveled from the
four corners of the world, and they behaved more or less decently. There
were no reports of rooter eruptions that might have caused damage or
injury—thank-you's going out to the infexible Russian security forces.

Observing the camera scansions of the crowds on my TV here in Italy, I


wondered what part of the assemblages might be considered genuinely
rampageous or potentially so. Then came to mind the “bell curve” that I
believe verifes the fact that 10-15% of any human population/society can be
depended upon to be outright dangerous to themselves and others; while,
another 10-15% would do their utmost to avoid vehemence to themselves
and others. The remaining population consists of individuals who not only
would not be capable of authenticating themselves, they would not be
interested in going about doing so. They are too self-absorbed in
themselves—not wishing to ask what they can do for their countries, but
what their countries can do for them!—to think of anything or anyone
beyond the orbits of their own self interests. They will watch a violent
football/soccer event feeling just jolly it is not themselves risking their lives
on the playing feld. Most human beings are too stupid to do harm to others
because they would not want that same hurt to befall them. Even the oft-
criticized English hooligans were in their seats there to have a good time—
screaming their lungs out. Many had silly adornments, even paintings on
their persons, and the most important assumption to be drawn was one of
some kind of hope for our rapidly expanding global aggregation. Just think.
The world is not going to self-destruct simply because most people would
not permit it to do so; they would not want harm to come to their little
worlds of eatin' and sleepin'. Isn't it marvelous? Stupid people will save us
from an Armageddon and not intelligent ones! Parenthetically, the
Senegalese partisans were particularly jubilant and folklore-like in their
behavior, and they truly set an admirable model for anyone coming to
attend this world-famous sports spectacle. Will I ever see a football/soccer
player with a book—even a Kindle!—in his or her hands? And how about
their most hardcore devotees? Do they know how to read?

The word “catharsis” is attributed to the Poetics of Aristotle (384BC-322BC),


who similar to Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931), created an academy of
philosophical underlings to work for him and build-up his reputation.
Edison is famous for his 1,093 patents much of the work for which might be
attributed to his “scientifc stable.” “Catharsis,” a cleansing of the emotions,
has been employed throughout History to tame the violent emotions of
individuals in need of it. Whether it was the feeding of Christians to the
lions for the Roman hoi poloi, or the dramas of Shakespeare for the gin and
tonic English people, the occasion offered to purify one's gut feelings by
living them out in the arena, or on the stage, has been ever so popular and
productive—blood and guts, beer and hot dogs, panem et cercences! Modern
“cathartic” experiences can be found in promising religions, Hollywood
movies, electronic games, and relatively recently, sports. Football/soccer is
considered the world's most mammoth sports drawing card, and
governments all over the world are chiming in to make some populist
football/soccer splash always keeping in mind the purging of their
compatriots' innermost, violent impressions. The government of the
People's Republic of China is taking extraordinary measures to hype
football/soccer into the everyday lives of the Chinese people. Kung Fu
Chinese football/soccer!

I caught glimpse of this choice of words, BAD IS THE NEW GOOD,


printed on the t-shirt of, I guess, a 13-year-old Italian girl—glued to her
smartphone—on a bus I too was riding in. I cannot say whether or not she
would have had anything silver-tongued to say about the locution that put
me into a tizzy. I remember posting a short pithy statement of mine, I'M
HAPPY I'M NOT HAPPY, on a social media and it caused a mini storm of
debate; while, my now worldwide famous AMERICANS ARE A
WONDERFUL PEOPLE—IF THEY ARE NOT BOMBING YOU, met with
“planetary” approbation on six continents! Yet, BAD IS THE NEW GOOD
stymied me. BLACK IS THE NEW WHITE? SADNESS IS THE NEW
HAPPINESS? STUPID IS THE NEW INTELLIGENT? BAD IS THE NEW
GOOD just doesn't hold water—so to speak. What sense could these words
eventually possess?

I suppose an English teacher would defne BAD IS THE NEW GOOD as


some sort of pun—a droll play on words. Even drivel? The logician,
perhaps, would think it a contradiction of terms, a non sequitur. But, what
would the ethicist think? (“Ethics is about how we ought to live;” [Ethics,
edited by Peter Singer]; Oxford University Press, 1994.) Is that 13-year-old
Italian teenager suggesting to us that all of Western Civilization's reams of
ethical theory, are baseless cant, that all along we have confused what is
“good” with what is actually “bad?” That this pretty kid knows something
we do not? That she has hopelessly resigned herself to a coming world,
hers, of despair and indifference? That this charming fanciulla is seeking
something in her someplace—whatever!—to give her just one spark of hope
that she cannot fnd anywhere else? Or, most likely she does not
understand English!

Is Western Civilization One (Europe) and Western Civilization Two (the


DisUnited States of American) on the wane? Is Alain Minc correct to say we
are on the verge of Le Nouveau Moyen Âg e (Editions Gallimard, 1993)? Are
we drowning in the misapprehension of the words we use? Alain Minc:

“Hier, nous avions le droit d'etre fatalistes par optimisme:


nous devons désormais être audacieux par pessimisme.”

Authored by Anthony St. John


6 August MMXVIII
Calenzano, Italy
www.scribd.com/theword warrior
Twitter: @thewordwarrior

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