Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Combat is a guy thing

Shouldn't respectable newspapers have a policy against journalists writing on topics they've had only one shallow experience with? And if you are going to condemn from atop a respected soapbox isn't balance and factuality still expected? I came across an article from the latest NY Times magazine giving a female spouse's perspective on a UFC pay-per-view. Characterizations in the article were so off base I couldn't tell if it was due to naivety or self-righteous hypocrisy. I understand the Times doesn't exactly cater to the Neanderthal demo but the goal of making their readers feel cultured doesn't absolve them from accuracy. Alongside inexplicable allusions to 'biting and eye gouging' which DO NOT go on at these events, there are unfavorable comparisons to boxing which serve only to show the depth of the writer's ignorance on that sport as well. There is no mention of injuries and violence in all other sports, and only a line on NFL football which on balance is much more gruesome if we measure by injury rates. She claims her aficionado husband prompted the article, but I have to presume the poor guy got no wind of this piece because this Mrs. Virginia Heffernan is in sore need of a clue about martial arts, combat, and competition.

Being so offensive (to your nose and eyes) I'm not easily offended, but I find I'm offended by how offended some people are by the notion of a punch or a kick. It's as if they think that witnessing such a thing is on the level of watching rape. This journalist seems to be entirely alienated from physicality and violence, regular aspects of reality even within city limits. At least they are regular on the side of the city us morlocks wander, though maybe not in her sanitized quarter. I'm no chest-thumping warrior myself, but in my time here on this rock I've at least made an effort to learn about the martial heritage we all share as homo sapiens. Not everyone has the time or resources to train continuously but many sensitive people would benefit from just a few weeks in a boxing or MMA gym, or any martial art where the instructor sees to it you are subjected to some real force and roughness. Controlled fighting contests aren't equivalent to a murderous mortal sin, as much as it may offend weaker sensibilities of the over-civilized. You don't ave to like, in fact many advanced martial artists have issues with these events. Still if you are a critic of culture, especially popular culture, there is an obligation to give the plebes the benefit of the doubt instead of spewing your knee-jerk, squeamish reactions onto the page. Luckily it seems readers of NY Times on the whole aren't quite as soft as this writer, as they tear into the piece in the comments. Most make the effort to offer wordy contribution but the craptastic quality of the article is summed up tersely by #44...
44. "Yes, Virginia, there is a masculine mystique. Combat is a guy thing; you wouldn’t understand."
More commentary on the topic from a saint and an immoralist...

"Suddenly we noticed barnyard cocks beginning a bitter fight just in front of the door. We chose to watch......the lowered heads stretched forward, neck-plumage distended, the lusty thrusts, and such wary parryings; and in every motion of the irrational animals, nothing unseemly- precisely because another Reason from on high rules over all things. Finally, the very law of the victor: the proud crowing, the almost perfectly orbed arrangement of the members, as if in haughtiness of supremacy. But the sign of the vanquished: hackles plucked from the neck; in carriage and in cry, all bedraggled - and for that very reason, somehow or other, beautiful and in harmony with nature's laws.We asked many questions: Why do all cocks behave this way? Why do they fight for the sake of supremacy of the hens subject to them?
Why did the very beauty of the fight draw us aside from higher study for a while, and onto the pleasure of the spectacle?

-St.Augustine, De Ordine (About Order) A.D.386
"...let us not doubt that we moderns, with our thickly padded humanity, which at all costs wants to avoid bumping into a stone, would have provided {our ancestors} with a comedy at which they could have laughed themselves to death."

- F. Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

Thursday, March 5, 2009

rolex time is over, welcome to hard times

I've heard it said and agree that 'to practice philosophy is a form of atavism of the highest order'. That's why I've grunted before about its overlap with another high order throwback, professional wrestling. One Mr. Chauncey DeVega comments on the same here. Hate to chuckle at the poor guy's job troubles but in framing them with `80s wrestling interviews ("Dusty Rhodes Declares Hard Times" & "Ric Flair Flossy") he hit the nail on the head regarding this economy. Go watch them fellow brutes.