Finished a most interesting book over the holidaze, FAIL BETTER, by Mark Kingwell, a fan of Baseball who also happens to be a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto.
It was somewhat surprising to read about the POTUS in a philosophical book about Baseball, but then the Trumpster is everywhere these daze. He has monopolized discourse the world over for the past couple of years, to the detriment of all people on earth, so maybe it should not be surprising to find Putin’s TrumPet written about anywhere these daze…
Having devoted so much of my time to the game of Chess I tend to substitute Chess for some other word when reading about any game, and I ask you to interchange “chess,” or any other game you play, with “baseball” while reading an excerpt from Mark Kingwell’s excellent book.
“Not coincidentally, less than a week after the Cubs
fulfilled Angell’s wish and won that most excellent Series, using just the seven games granted them and every other team, the slyly mendacious Donald J. Trump, a gauche yet effective practitioner of lying and gamesmanship who probably doesn’t know the word “fey” (or “ephebe”), was elected the next President of the United States. Historians may recall that so comprehensive was his disdain for “losers” that he refused to admit he would abide by the results of an election if he lost. “I’ll keep you in suspense,” he said.
Who among us has not felt the inclination, when things are bad, to blame it on “a global power structure,” a conspiratorial league of omnipotent elitists, including Alec Baldwin, as Trump did? Usually, we then wake up and realize that the truth is less wild and a lot more boring: we are just losing at something.
Trump made it clear that he could not lose the 2016 U. S. presidential election. As his campaign more and more resembled a flaming airplane crash, his protests that the game is rigged grew louder and more desperate. “He either denies that he failed or he argues that he was cheated,” Ryan Lizza noted in the New Yorker. “Trump is either victorious or victimized, but he is never a loser.”
In the same magazine, satirist Andy Borowitz posted an imaginary news item with this headline: “Trump Warns Hillary May Rig Election by Getting More Votes.”
This wasn’t a mere psychological quirk, it was a fundamental ethical defect that sets a bad example for children and idiots everywhere. The consequences for politics are significant: Trump’s comments and actions undermined the Republican Party’s integrity, the validity of electoral process, and the idea of democracy. His promise to jail Hillary Clinton if he won made even staunch conservatives compare him to a raving tinpot tyrant from a bananna republic.
Worse, though, his attitude mocked the idea of human endeavour itself. “You can’t win if you don’t play,” the lottery ads say. You also can’t lose. The essence of engagement is that both possibilities must be live ones. Otherwise there are no stakes and no legitimate outcomes. It means nothing to win if you do not at the same time, and by the same logic, risk losing.
Being a loser doesn’t mean being a good loser, that coded insult for someone who doesn’t try hard enough. But neither does it mean being a sore loser, which is a condition just a few away from Trump Tower. Hate losing, avoid cycles of self-defeat, but accept loss as the price of being in the game.
Trump aroused appalled fascination because he was the pure creepy-clown avatar, the Donald McDonald of world-swallowing competitive attitude. In a bizarro twist, he had no concept of zero, like an ancient Greek mathematician. The resulting two-step paradox goes something like this: (1) everything, no matter how nuanced or complex in fact, must be reduced to a winner-take-all contest; and (2) just as I never apologize, I never lose.
If the latter trait destroys the idea of honest effort, the former impoverishes life. Baseball again: we enter the field of play accepting that the game is zero-sum, and we will be here-or the players will-until the matter is decided, even if it takes two days, 25 innings, and more than eight hours. A player can turn a year older during a single game (this happened to Yankees first baseman Mark Texeira in 2015).
But comprehensive zero-sum thinking makes us all less virtuous and more unhappy. Being a loser offers another deep moral lesson: all games matter, but not everything that matters is a game.
But then Trump won, and all was undisturbed in the world of his imagination. Democratic? Just? Well, this is a book about baseball, not politics. You decide.
Baseball perfectly embodies the aesthetic ideal of purposiveness without purpose. There is no need for the game of baseball. We can make it serve specific political or cultural ends, but the game itself will internally resist these, insisting as always on its complex, lovely patterns of repetition and difference. The resulting dynamic of purpose and non-purpose generates an eternally deferred form of meaning, the way all beauty does. What, after all, is the message of baseball? At a fundamental level, let’s call it metaphysical, because why not? Baseball is just baseball, and end unto itself. The moments of beauty called forth by the game are likewise precious, evanescent, pregnant with significance, ad entirely without purpose. Baseball achieves nothing. That is why it is so important.
Well, recall DeLillo: “The game doesn’t change the way you sleep or wash your face or chew your food. It changes nothing but your life.”
How does the game-anygame-do this, exactly? I can’t answer that for you. Only you can do that. There’s nobody else. Will you fail? Of course you will. Beauty is a stern master. The thrill of witnessing something without flaw, a perfectly executed double play or leaping outfield catch, reminds us of our own earth-bound reality, even as it suggests the heights of which we humans are capable of reaching. There is no perfection without defect. I can’t do that, but somebody can.
That’s how thing matter. That’s why this thing matters.”
Narcissism/ Intention Experiments
Host: George Noory
Guests: W. Keith Campbell, Lynne McTaggart
In the first half, Professor at the University of Georgia, W. Keith Campbell, discussed the epidemic of narcissism in our culture. He defined narcissism as having a grandiose or inflated sense of self– being a “legend in your own mind,” and thinking that you’re better than other people or better than you really are. Narcissism is a trait that most people have some of in their life, but when it reaches a certain level, it can be diagnosed as a disorder or condition, he said. There are certain signs that become more evident over time such as people always turning the conversation back to themselves, as well as an arrogant attitude, or a brazenness about self-promotion.
The trait appears to be on the rise– two thirds of college students in America in the 2000s had narcissism scores higher than the average student in the 1980s, he reported. Social media and “selfie” photography are newer tools that narcissists sometimes use to promote themselves or make themselves look good, he added. Narcissists sometimes make for good political leaders, and many US presidents of the last century have scored high in those traits, Campbell noted. They can also make for good partners, as long your interests and theirs align– if they don’t, that’s when narcissists may exploit or hurt people, he cautioned.
The Narcissism Epidemic
When You Love a Man Who Loves Himself
Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Threats Resemble ‘Narcissistic, Vengeful Autocrats,’ Says Ex-CIA Chief
Ex-CIA director: Trump shows ‘qualities usually found in narcissistic, vengeful autocrats’
Ex-CIA Dir. John Brennan breaks Twitter silence to call Trump a ‘narcissistic, vengeful autocrat’