Thursday, 5 November 2009
The poetry of Dennis Bergkamp / poetry and winning
All day with poetry mentee, Nick, up from London. These are long intense sessions and quite tiring by the end for both. We talk about detail but also about ideas, about distinctions between performance and private reading, about range, about poetics and grace. Nick is an Arsenal supporter. He was asked recently what he would be if he weren't a poet? A poet was what he wanted to be, he insisted.
But let's put it another way, I say. If you were forbidden to be a poet but had to choose between being Cesc Fabregas, Thierry Henri, Emanuel Adebayor or Martin Keown which would you be? And this makes sense because there are certain qualities associated with these individuals that can be identified with aesthetic values.
Could we throw in Dennis Bergkamp? he asks.
Certainly, I say. So he could aspire to be the Dennis Bergkamp of poetry.
We could just as easily play the party game where we try to guess which person someone is thinking of by asking questions like: If X were a car which car would X be? Or a city? Or a tree? Or anything. There are qualities in all things we quickly learn to associate with whatever we desire, need, or aspire to.
Good friend Ed, the philosopher, was writing a paper on beauty and goalkeepers. He was talking about beauty in the moment of the great save. I doubted - partly out of mischief - whether one could build a case about beauty entirely predicated on given moments of a competitive sport where the main idea was not to perform acts of beauty but to win. Isn't winning the point of the game?
No, he replied, not necessarily. I go to Arsenal to see beauty, he said.
The question is not so much whether I believe him, though I am tempted to, but whether he would say the same of a QPR match. Ed has been a QPR supporter for many years. I wouldn't, I say to myself, accept the answer that QPR should win by playing beautifully. He would have to maintain that it wouldn't matter if they lost - and kept losing - providing they played beautifully.
But then I am hoping he would stick to his guns and say it didn't matter. In fact I am hoping I myself would say it. Of whatever I cared deeply about.