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Soup of This Day #306: Conscience Is Relapsing

April 7, 2013

Oath of the Horatii
French neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David’s 1784 The Oath of the Horatii. It was this painting that marked the birth of the modern day Roman salute, there being no evidence to suggest that it was used in the more ancient Roman Empire. Sadly those who drew inspiration from this artwork failed to notice the women in it, who are clearly wondering how they hooked up with these dumbarses – Image: Jacques-Louis David, 1784. Jacques-Louis David has no affiliation with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

I’m tired.

I thought I was tired before but then we added a 2nd child in to the Longworth72 family and now it’s like we’ve found a level of tired above the previous high.

And then just punched through that with a shallow dive out the other side and into a land of no focus.

Note that I said ‘no focus’ as in ‘not there at all’, not even as a concept. Previously I’d been tired with a soft dewy focus. The dew in this new land of the uber-tired has become a thick fog. With visibility down to minus 10m.

That’s right, the fog is so thick that you can’t even look inward.

I can measure all of this by the way I use words. Previously I’d struggle to find the right words when I was tired. I’d stumble over them, eventually getting it sort of right via a process of elimination and sometimes with an assist from a thesaurus or the Internet. So I might not have had the correct word but I had mechanisms to get to it, or at the very least an approximation.

Now though I’ve not just lost the words, but also the means to find them again. Not physically – I still have a thesaurus and the Internet. It’s a mental thing – Even as I stare right at them, I just can’t summon up the concept of a thesaurus or the Internet.

Let alone how to operate either of them.

Just the other day I was trying to write about God’s favourite knuckleballer Tim something. It’s ok for me to forget that it’s Tim Wakefield, even if he is a baseball hero of mine – I’m not related to the guy after all. The thing is that I not only could not recall his last name, but I also couldn’t conceive of a way to work it out. Which is strange, given that: a. I was sitting at a computer with access to the Internet at the time; and b. This whole blog is researched and written via the Internet.

Google ‘Tim’ and ‘knuckleball’, a fairly obvious combo of keywords, and Tim Wakefield is mentioned in at least the 1st 10 links. The 2nd link is his Wikipedia entry and you can see in the search results that Timothy Stephen Wakefield was born August 2 1966. Dig a little deeper and you can probably find his Social Security number.

Please don’t. That would be bad.

I couldn’t have done that even if I’d wanted to though. The fog was so thick I’d have had trouble typing on the typing thing if I’d gotten that far into the process. And even if I’d have worked that bit out the make-the-pointer-move device would have been just a bit too much.

This post may come out a little gawarbldoc-jarbled-mawunglified.

That’s sort of ok because this is a sporting blog and words are often demoted in importance in the world of sport anyway. There instead, actions speak loud and talk is often cheap and in clichés.

Sometimes though the words can be so controversial that they outstrip actions. You could be for instance a fantastic football player named Paolo Di Canio who has chalked up 532 games of top-drawer action in Italy, Scotland and England, in the process scoring 127 goals. Yep, a bona fide superstar who, as a 37 year old player for the Roman club Lazio in 2005 gave a Roman salute to the team’s fans.

The same Saluto Romano that was purloined by fascists in the early part of the 1900s and later gained notoriety as the preferred method of saluting Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler.

I’d not be doing that, even if I was in Rome and the Romans were at it.

That’s some pretty hardcore action there, but Di Canio topped it in a subsequent interview when he declared that he was:

‘… a facist, not a racist. I give the straight arm salute because it is a salute from a camerata to camerati.’

So that’s cleared things up then. Paolo was just saying hullo to his friends. His friends, the facists.

Maybe that fog is still wisping upside my brain but that doesn’t seem quite right to me. So I managed to do what I couldn’t for that Tim guy and went to Wikipedia for a definition. They provided many words, some of which I had trouble understanding. A phrase did stand out though, 1 which suggested that facism:

‘…asserts that “superior” nations and races should attain living space by displacing weak and inferior ones.’

Which kind of sounds racist to me. Mostly because of the reference to superior races and the displacing of everyone else. Maybe though ‘racist’ is the wrong label. Maybe we’ve got so used to hearing the same tired defence about how this person is not a racist and they have friends who know that because people who know them really know that they are nice to everybody.

Even though they are a self-proclaimed facist. Who in an autobiography professes to having been fascinated by Mussolini because:

‘I think he was a deeply misunderstood individual. He deceived people. His actions were often vile. But all this was motivated by a higher purpose. He was basically a very principled individual.’

In fact Di Canio was so fascinated that he had a latin reference to Benito the dictator tattooed onto his shoulder.

Yep Paolo is just a Mussolini-lovin’ facist waving happily to the other facists.

That’s not for me.

None of my friends are facists. Racism makes me sick to the gut so when somebody I know starts spouting that @#$% I just walk away, and not just for the short-term. 1 time, close to Christmas, my Nanna, who had lived through the threat of Japanese invasion in World War 2, asked me about how a good mate, who happened to be of Malaysian descent, was spending the holidays:

‘Is he spending it with his kind of people?’

His kind of people are my kind of people I fired back, before stomping out to spend some Christmas cheer alone.

Before I knew about the facism trip he has going on I’d have thought Paolo was my kind of people too. There was this 1 game in 2000 where the fiery Italian was playing for West Ham against Brother of Longworth’s Everton at the latter’s Goodison Park home. Late in the game and with the Hammers deep in attack, the Toffees keeper, Paul Gerrard, raced off his line and wide to the right wing to blunt an attack. Unfortunately while well away from his goal Gerrard collapsed, having suffered a calamitous injury. Quick as a flash the ball was crossed past his prostrate body and to the head of the penalty area, square in front of a gaping goal.

And where Di Canio quite deliberately caught the ball in both hands, stopping play and allowing the opposition stopper to be carried off for treatment.

It was a glorious gesture and all the more so because West Ham had lost their previous 7 games and were at the time level with Everton at 1 apiece, a score that was to remain unchanged. 5 months later and the London club were to finish just 3 places clear of the relegation zone and goal difference ahead of Everton.

In spite of those narrow margins I would like to think I’d do the same as Paulo if it ever came down to it on the pitch. The thing is though, that my friends are not fascists and neither am I.

And now Paolo Di Canio has been appointed the manager of Sunderland, a club that is as deep in trouble as those Hammers were 13 years ago. With 7 games remaining the weary Black Cats are just a point clear of the relegation zone and they have no room to just catch the ball.

Yet in appointing Di Canio that’s almost what they have done. The club’s vice-chairman, David Miliband, has resigned and even the Durham Miners’ Association, whose proud banner hangs in Sunderland’s Stadium of Light, have threatened to take their sacred cloth back. Maybe Di Canio can save their beloved football club from a relegation battle loss of no small proportions but there’s some feeling that it is at a price too high to pay. That a goal might be scored but that in doing so everyone gets a bit more jaded and tired.

And that’s when facism thrives – When we all get tired. Tired of standing up to it and too clouded in fog to work out where we turn or even to look within ourselves. And even if we could overcome all of that we’d have lost the words anyway.

So I’m writing them down here.

@#$% you facists. You lose.

Conscience Is Relapsing

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