RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Friday, June 7

what I read in bed last night

With World Cup qualifying going strong, I've had that on my mind. I've been compiling a ridiculous amount of nonsense over the past year in anticipation of a Football Metaphysics style preview book for next year's World Cup once the field of 32 is set (currently still 117 national teams eligible), and basically with the injury of RG3 last year, so was destroyed my interest in the NFL. I already had a hard time giving a fuck about Dan Snyder's Redskins, once I realized they were his and not mine, but RG3's charisma and excitement pulled me in. However, seeing that young man be allowed to go out and potentially destroy himself like that, it was inhumane. And to know he is recovering ahead of schedule, likely the recipient of questionable medicinal techniques that will probably be outlawed by the NFL in a couple of years, if they are not already technically illegal, I don't know man, I can't really get down with the NFL any more.
So I turn to the world's football, which is beautifully chaotic, and everywhere, like crabgrass. So here are a pair of articles basically related to the sport...

WHEN THE BEAUTIFUL GAME TURNS UGLY from ESPN
A long-winded piece from ESPN's Wright Thompson came out this week regarding Mario Balotelli and Kevin-Prince Boateng of AC Milan, and them dealing with racist Italian football fans. First off, before you click the link, let me warn you about this piece. You know how when you watch a movie and sometimes it's great acting, but sometimes it's just an actor acting great? Like, he's doing what would stereotypically be regarded as great acting, but it's not really great on its own? That's what type of writing you have in this article. It's not great writing, but it's a writer writing great. He does some forced cornball shit that probably seems like pretty great writing, but it kinda pissed me off. Most notably like this is everything relating to the character Wright Thompson refers to as The Hooligan. Horrible stuff. And the reason it pisses me off is if you are given this wealth of material, this story to write, and you don't execute, you have wasted it. Anybody else who tries to do it will not be considered the guy who first wrote the article, thus later attempts to get it write and dig at this in an actual meaningful way will be tainted by not being the first one. That sucks.
Nonetheless, there are some interesting things I took away from this. First off, I'd just like to say, regardless of racist assholes doing monkey sounds at him, beyond this article Kevin-Prince Boateng has never seemed like anything other than a complete asshole to me. I tend to root for African squads in the World Cup, so his German national ass fouling up the Ghanaian team in 2010 with his asshole bullshit sucked to an extent. But still, he is obviously the victim of racist taunting, which seems to be way more common than you'd expect in southern and eastern Europe right now.
The weird thing about this article is how it so easily just does the Mussolini thing. But the same thing is happening in Greece right now. How do you explain that? Same thing is happening in eastern Europe. No Mussolinis in their history. So what is it causing this? Pure racism?
That's part of it, for sure. But there's something more going on here that I was thinking about. When you have this push for global multi-culturalism, to some extent it's not so much an appreciation for all cultures as it is an assimilation of all cultures into this one sort of United Colors of Benetton ad. And I can understand why people would think that sucks. If everybody ends up being a watered down version of everything else, we lose the histories and cultural individuality that makes every foreign place so wonderful in the first place - it is foreign to us. So I can understand people being resentful of that.
Of course, crossing over into taunting people as monkeys (which seems ridiculous, but shit man, I can believe it happening), that's not chill at all. That will never be chill. But using that as a reason to just force mass assimilation onto the world is not chill either. The whole this-or-that, black-or-white argument gets tired anyways. "If you are not for this, you are obviously against it." No man, there are shades of grey everywhere (stupid book), and we should be able to have discussions about what points on this spectrum of greys are best for people.
The Balotelli part of this is interesting to me too, because he's not of Italian blood, which seems to be the biggest gripe against him, even though he was adopted and raised as Italian. No one chooses where they were born. This is why borders and immigration seems so weird to me sometimes, because as a baby you are just accidentally birthed inside of some arbitrary political boundaries. And this binds you from that point on. It goes to the old nature vs. nurture argument too, because Balotelli was nurtured as an Italian, from age 3, but was not naturally an Italian. Is it nature or nurture that creates the individual's identity?
Oddly enough, years ago I did a bunch of reading on psychological profiles of Siamese twins, who share nature and nurture completely, and those motherfuckers were always way different. So again, perhaps it's not black-or-white, nature vs. nurture, but shades of grey.
Of course, nowhere does the ridiculousness of arbitrary political boundaries play out more amazingly than the World Cup, which is going to be in Brazil next year. Speaking of which...

CITY OF FEAR from Vanity Fair in April 2007
This is the story of P.C.C. - a prison gang that grew from a football team inside one prison - causing massive disruptions to Brazilian society, operating in the so-called "feral zones" of our modern world. For one, this is interesting because well the World Cup is going to be happening there next year, and there's a crazy element to Brazil (which I guess is no worse than South Africa in 2010), but also because no matter how hard governments of the wealthy attempt to keep everything in line, or at least limit the unprivileged into accepted zones of self-destruction, it spirals beyond the government of the wealthy's control. It always does. That's sort of what we're seeing play out in America right now, which is really exciting to see. You can force a grid of order over top a map of humanity, but humanity is a wild crabgrass, a dandelion springing from cracks in the asphalt, and the grid never holds. It might work for a while, and this current digital shackle we've all been operating under without being forced to acknowledge, it might hold things in place for a few more years or decades or whatever. But it never holds forever. Look at any empire in the history of man upon the surface of the earth. It never holds.
As someone who does not trust authority, locally or globally, this is a great thing to realize.
But also, within the organization of the P.C.C., it's interesting to note how these semi-autonomous groups lack the standard pyramid of corporate hierarchy, which we've been led to believe is the way things work. This swarm mentality has been evident with hacker groups too, as well as something as simple as downloading Game of Thrones through a torrent. When a swarm of hornets stings you, you don't know where the queen (or king, or leader or whatever the fuck) is at. This will become important as we move further into history, because they've got that pyramid with the all-seeing eyeball tip ironed the fuck out pretty good. But through the use of black block tactics and swarm mentalities or leaderless movements, you can circumvent this shit.
It's all very exciting to be honest. I know a lot of people are bummed about the NSA spying shit, but honestly, to think a Department of Defense developed technology like the internet was not being used in such manners is naive. It's also naive to think that just by these things being outed publicly through an inside leak that the American government is gonna be like, "Oh yeah, sorry about that. We will remain true to American principles and go back to not being dicks about everything using some vague threat of terrorism as the excuse." This is American government at this point. It is a corporate kleptocracy, and it's going to keep being that for as long as it can because never in history - not one single time - has some group that has been in power been motivated by the greater common good of all of humanity to step down from power and share it with everybody else.
And yet this article about Brazilian prisons shows two things - you can't maintain control when you basically make a majority of the population outsiders without access. And if you literally cut them off - which we are in the early stages of in America with cuts to alleged entitlement programs - you then make these large swaths of humanity foreigners to you, and potentially your enemy, especially if you're hoarding all the good shit.
Also interesting is how even when the P.C.C. controlled neighborhoods or jails, crime went down, as P.C.C. became the new pseudo-government that, though not providing certain normal governmental services, decided who was allowed to be killed or punished or whatever, through the means they had in place. This is something that has been seen in criminally-controlled communities everywhere, something that was glossed as the romantic side to the Mafia in old Hollywood movies like The Godfather - the code of the streets, so to speak. People are chaotic, but they want to be allowed to thrive. They want to not be fucked with, and just be allowed to live a chill life. Usually if you have a full belly and are not sitting outside in the rain and nobody's gonna come into your space and fuck up those things or infringe upon you in the moment, people will be good. They don't need the world - just a little fucking piece of it to live chilly.
What's going on right now on our earth is attempting to justify ensuring that right to a chill life, by disrupting that chill life. It's a weird thing to do, but shit man, it's happened over and over again during human history. We are dumb animals a lot of times, far dumber than we give ourselves credit for. But we have potential. We always have potential. We will constantly fuck ourselves up, and then constantly find a way to carve out something better within that mess. And we'll probably keep on doing that until we can't any more.
So yeah, the World Cup next year is exciting. What will our world political landscape be like? What about in 2018 when it happens in Russia? What countries will have new shapes, or new leaderships? And really, I think this is what has ended up drawing me to international football more than anything - it is this weird fabric woven into the background of the chaotic orderliness of human existence, all over the globe, far deeper than any other sport. That in fact makes it even more interesting that America doesn't dominate football, like it has been able to with most every other sport after a dedicated two decade effort. Good fun craziness.
And oddly enough, as much as the American government freaks me out nowadays, through no choice of my own, I was born here. And though my natural bloodlines have tastes of other countries running throughout me, I'm an American. So I'll be rooting for those fuckers. But there's only so far Clint Dempsey can take us, I fear. Maybe he should start stealing good players from other teams against their will, in order to protect us against the terror of America not winning.

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