Monday, July 22, 2013

people love sports, the beauty of the useless

yes, as a teenager, i was one of them, playing basketball, football, golf, tennis, and baseball - and all badly. i can still fall into the mood on special occasions. once i watched the Supebowl. San Francisco played. In the last five minutes, the quarterback threw three touchdown passes, booting up the home-team. what was his name? it will come back to me. after that i never had the urge to observe this annual ritual, nothing could top the experience i'd had. 

once in awhile, i'm in the mood for the ballet of the common people. I'll feel almost beyond human when the right fielder makes a dramatic catch before the ball goes over the wall, or a tight end passes through a dozen pursuers, snatching the pass and weaving his way to the goal posts. who wins, who loses, i try to forget, these people the members of corporations seeking a major profit at the expense of our naivete. 

"only the useless is beautiful,' quoting the poet fernanado pessoa, saying it way more beautifully than i possibly could, and so i give you a lengthy quote from his 'book of disquiet':

     "The present is ancient, because everything from the past was in the present when it existed, and so I have an antique dealer's fondness for things precisely because they belong to the present, and i have the wrath of an out rivalled collector for anyone who tries to replace my mistaken notions with plausible and even provable, scientifically based arguments.

     "The various points that a butterfly successively occupies in space are various things which,. to my astonished eyes, remain  visible in space. My recollections are so intense that...

     "But it is only the subtlest sensation of the slightest things that I like intensely. Perhaps this is due to my love of futility. Or maybe it's because of my concern for detail. But I'm inclined to believe - I can't say I know, for these are things I never bother to analyze - that it's because slight things, having absolutely no social or practical importance, are for that very reason absolutely free of sordid associations with reality. Slight things smack to me of unreality. The useless is beautiful because it's less real than the useful, which continues and extends, whereas the marvellously futile and the gloriously minuscule stay where and as they are, living freely and independently. The useless and the futile open up humbly aesthetic interludes in our real lives. What dreams and fond delights are stirred in my soul by the puny existence of a pin in a ribbon! What a pity for those who don't realize how important this is!"

and i would like to add: everything in art is useless, and that is it's marvel. 

this reminds me of a little story from chuangzu i read over forty years ago and which has remained with me ever since. i'm too lazy to re-type it. click on the picture and it will pop to life:

Hui Tzu said to Chuang Tzu:
“All your teaching is centered on what has no use.”
Chuang Tzu replied:
“If you have no appreciation for what has no use,
you cannot begin to talk about what can be used.
“The earth for example, is broad and vast,
But of all this expanse a man uses only a few inches
Upon which he happens to be standing at the time.
“Now suppose you suddenly take away
all that he actually is not using,
so that all around his feet a gulf yawns,
and he stands in the void
with nowhere solid except under each foot,
how long will he be able to use what he is using?
Hui Tzu said:
“It would cease to serve any purpose.”
Chuang Tzu concluded:
“This shows the absolute necessity
of what is supposed to have no use.”
- Chuang Tzu

make yourself useful? big mistake! 

and to add more quotes, read these from the disgraced guru, bagwan shri rajneesh, dance your way to god: