Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Don't let yourself be consoled

I suppose there are exceptions, but crowds generally seem like a bad thing. Perhaps there is something to be said for transcending egoism by merging with a mass of people, but losing yourself is usually losing yourself in something, and what this is matters (it seems to me). So waving a lighter while singing along with thousands of other people to "Free Bird" or "Sunday Bloody Sunday" can't be good, even though those aren't bad songs. If you're going to give up yourself it should be for something better than that. This has something to do with integrity or honesty. Roughly: you should sing your own songs.

The idea of a non-conformist crowd is absurd. So this story about political slogans at a football match seems to miss the point. Fans holding up banners that read "The Truth Is Always Revolutionary" and "There Are No Idols" are not being political so much as absurd. Art doesn't make football political. It makes politics absurd. This in itself could be political, puncturing overinflated myths perhaps, but obscure, arty slogans are quite different from the more common, thuggish politics associated with, say, Lazio (nicknamed Nazio by some because of their fondness for fascist salutes and banners).

So I like the 'philosophical' banners as a kind of joke, but I don't expect them to change the world.


  1. I'm not sure what to make of the banners. Interesting project, I suppose. It doesn't strike me as real politics, as you suggest. What's really intolerable, apparently, is when players and managers bother to get political--I'm a baseball fan and have been reading reaction to Ozzie Guillen's latest outburst about the lack of support young latino players get (in this case, in contrast to a Korean player who has a personal translator) when they come to the US to play. (He's the manager of the Chicago White Sox, and he sings his own songs.) A lot of people say, Shut up and manage. But that seems stupid, since his 'political' remarks have to do with the culture within the sport. That seems perfectly acceptable. But it disrupts the "entertainment value." Sport is big business and (real) politics is bad for business. (So I won't be surprised if Guillen goes away, though he's really a perfect fit for the south side.)

    (Sorry, this is a little to the side, but your post got me thinking about this again.)

  2. Sorry but you dont have any idea about what are you talking about.

    If you think that 2000-1500 are a crowd, you are not living in contemporary world (please think in people in a traffic jam going to their jobs, that´s a real crowd)

    In the other hand, please, read about Ultramarines, these hooligans in the project, they are antifascist and antiracists, they kicked out nazis from the stadium, are they political?

  3. Matthew: no apology necessary. That's an interesting, if sad, story. Perhaps all controversy is bad for business, but certainly I can see how this kind would be. The best solution would surely be to address the problem that Guillen is pointing out, rather than to shoot the messenger. It surely isn't hopelessly idealistic to think that this might happen some day. Calling his complaint political seems to be a way of trying to dismiss it without actually getting into whether he's right or wrong (perhaps because he's obviously right). It's a little like people calling vegetarianism a personal preference. The issue is sealed off so it can be ignored without its ever having to be addressed, which might be uncomfortable.

    DEMOCRACIA, you're right. I live in a small town in rural Virginia. It's not very contemporary at all, and 2000 people here is a crowd. Six cars at a traffic light is a traffic jam here. So I probably do have a skewed view on this.

    Kicking out Nazis from a stadium seems like a good thing to me, and certainly political. Philosophical banners at a football match seem like a good thing too. But these two things are surely not the same. Perhaps something is lost in translation, but the slogans on those banners and scarves seemed more like exercises in surrealism to me than part of a serious political act or movement. I'd be happy to be told more about the context and background if I'm wrong.

  4. Sorry, if my post sounded quite rough

    as you can see, english is not my mother language

    this use of slogans only could seen political as propaganda, but this is a way for art to talk about politics.

    Here the goal is to point that Ultramarines is not a simple bunch of fans but a political group. Usually, hooligans are described as nutty heads, violent people, but Ultramarines are a political community, they reclaim their space at the stadium, and they have a strong working class pride. Of course they are anarchist and extreme-left wing, their political position is not at the polls

    These slogans are reflecting their political position from philoshopy and poetry.

    Last but not least, you are right, this is more art than politics. Here the art project is revealing politics in football, but the political action is in the hands of the hooligans.

  5. Thanks (and no apology necessary). The Ultramarines sound very interesting--much more so than the kind of hooligans I associate with Red Star Belgrade, Lazio, or (at least at one time) Chelsea. My fear about art talking about politics in the form of propaganda is that, when art gets involved, there is a danger of mistaking style for substance. Propaganda that leads to action is one (potentially good) thing; propaganda instead of action is bad. But if the slogans reflect or express the views of a real political community, then that is OK with me. That wasn't the impression I got from the article, but that doesn't mean it isn't the reality.