Re: Confidence: A Basic Politics Puzzle

Steve Witham (
Mon, 24 Feb 1997 02:22:54 -0500

Hal sez-
>Another area where people feel they know more than the professionals
>is sports. [...]
>What do professional sports have in common with politics?

Ritual. I'm reading a book called "The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life,"
by Thomas Moore. Moore talks about sports as providing occasion to
contemplate (not the same as think about) the big issues of life (and
this is the chapter I'm reading right now):

"Sports are especially important in our culture because apparently the soul
needs to contemplate its own reality much more frequently
than our style of life allows. Some cultures are almost entirely
ritualistic and poetic, while our culture sees ordinary life as separate
from poetry and religion. We have the arts, religion, and sports to
offer us the kind of ritual contemplation we need, but with the arts
made marginal to the culture and with religion in relative decline,
especially in its communal ritual elements [he means as opposed to the
superstitious and moralistic elements], we are left with sports as a
last resort."

Sports, including politics, provide something to care and have opinions
about, without the consequences, a big screen... Oh, of course, did
someone mention how people set themselves up as experts on how
celebrities ought to live?

Minsky called music "chewing gum for the mind." Similarly rituals like
politics are chewing gum for the heart and soul. (But I hope in both
cases the danger of these dismissive phrases is apparent.)


--           Steve Witham  
"...the Vild, where the manifold was as dangerous and deranged as a
 Scutari shahzadix in heat." --David Zindell