Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Always believe in your soul

So I write something for CiF about the Olympics and their tenuous relationship with reality, and in an act of supreme self-sacrifice I leave out all the obvious Baudrillard references, 'cos the punters don't seem to like them and then, bloody hell, that bloody Julian Baggini goes and writes the piece I wanted to write all along. So regard this (which appears the day after JB's) as the Reader's Digest version of his article; or the version that's been edited for airline use, with all the nipples and swearing and postmodernism cut out:

The big story of the Olympics is, we are told, the battle between China and the United States for control of the medal table; a microcosm for the struggle for political, economic and cultural hegemony in the new millennium, as the balance of power shifts from occident to orient.

At the same time, there's another intriguing scrap going on in Beijing: the tussle between surface and reality; what we see and what actually is. Cynics might argue that the Chinese authorities have long had an interesting take on the truth, from the announcement of bumper harvests while millions starved during the great leap forwards, to today's paranoid policing of the internet. But the Olympics have seen a new kind of reality avoidance...


More Monkey magic here.

3 comments:

Valerie said...

Dare I conclude that Salvador Dalí would have been amused?

One of the representatives of the company responsible for some of the altered reality seemed genuinely offended, on the radio yesterday, that anyone would criticize the occurrences. He repeatedly insisted that the footprint fireworks had occurred in reality (an overtalking reporter -- I think this was BBC World -- complained that he'd been there in person, and there was only a single footprint on the sky), and when the Lin Miaoke incident was mentioned, he said "You've obviously never been to a Michael Jackson or Britney Spears concert," which he quickly amended with "-- I'm not accusing anyone of anything."

Indeed...

doppelganger said...

What's interesting is the idea that there's something kind of pure and noble at the heart of it all that should remain untainted by the world of politics.... almost a reversal of the christian idea of the purity of the soul - in this case the body - the running, jumping, huffing, puffy physicality of it all is the personification of perfection that should remain 'untainted'...

Tim Footman said...

Yes, Valerie; it's the wounded protestations that I find most hilarious. The government's now claiming that it's fulfilled its human rights obligations (the promises they made to get the games in the first place).

Doppelganger: in a relativist, postmodern universe, there are few things that we know for sure. The fact that athlete A runs faster than athlete B is one of them. And now drugs and CGI conspire to make us doubt even that...