Anne Carson, Holding Midfielder Pete Segall
Problems With Narratives
The story goes: the players from Dynamo Kiev were shot — wearing their uniforms — for refusing to lose a match to a team of Wehrmacht soldiers during the German occupation of Ukraine. But that never happened. It’s a bedtime story for those swaddled in the blanket of history. They sleep dreaming of crying birds and lovers driving through unnavigable cities. The nonghosts of the nondead — wearing their uniforms — are the only ones fit to compose these dreams.
Nobody could believe that the United States beat England in the 1950 World Cup, in Uruguay. The score was 1-0. The man who scored the goal was a Haitian immigrant named Joe Gaetjens who worked as a dishwasher. Nobody knows what became of him. Possibly, he was murdered by the Tontons Macoute. Galeano misidentifies him as “Larry.”
George Best and Pele in a Limousine to JFK
“I understand Titan but I do not understand Io.”
“Celestial bodies are all liars.”
Non-Normative Value Systems
We the boys who did not win score compete in any sense but nominal decided that we could win in violence. The final score my elbow 2 that kid’s ribs nil.
The Intentions of Algorithms
If you search the website of an English bookseller for Gazza Agonistes, the book-length essay by Ian Hamilton about Paul Gascoigne, the English striker of the 1980s and 90s whose career and life have been mangled by alcoholism and mental illness, the first titles that come up are: Alcohol and Drug Misuse; Clinical Management of the Elderly Patient in Pain; GABA and Sleep; Retinoid and Rexinoid Signaling.
The demon-child who hoofs around outside my house loves to ring my doorbell and run away. I always know it’s him because the ringing is scorched. I don’t chase after him any longer, threaten to report him to the authorities or his demon-parents. When I did, he dangled from the gutter and sang his hymns. They were appalling and lovely, and he refused to teach me the words.
My Son and I Watch Panama Score Their First World Cup Goal Ever Against England, in a Pub Off of Tottenham Court Road
Let the doomed and the damned rejoice.
Camus, of course, passable goalie in Algeria: “What I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football.” Lev Yashin, Russian thaumaturge goalie: “The joy of of seeing Yuri Gagarin flying in space is only superseded by the joy of a good penalty save.” Handke, genocide apologist: “The goalkeeper, who was wearing a bright yellow jersey, stood absolutely still, and the penalty kicker shot the ball into his hands.” The spirit was met by Anubis, who was without his scales. He looked askew and splay-brained. How are you handling this, asked the spirit. Just gotta guess, said Anubis. Make it up on the fly. No instructions, no guidance. Just make it up on the fly. Ready to get on with it?
We all want to know how it ends. The contraption careens downhill. There are sparks in the dust cloud. Nobody listens to the sadsack saying we know what’s going to happen all along. His teeth are twenty watt yellow and his posture is wilting. Ask at the fairground sideshow. Or elsewhere. Voices crawl out of their burrows claiming to have information on tomorrow. A boy looks at what he’s done in the toilet for a picture of his life to come. Lake harpies say suspense is a conspiracy and hawk foreknowledge in bunches of six. The newlyweds, delirious from the oceans, trains, and roads, flip on the television in their hotel room. The cup final is on. The championship will be decided by a fairground sideshow the commentator says when the match goes to penalty kicks. She falls asleep under slashes of midday sun. He sits at the edge of the bed. The answer was right in front of us the whole time they each tell their lawyer, some years down the road.