Public Texts: Public Talk
Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 7PM, Bagnani Hall, Traill College:
Mark Kingwell, author of Fail Better: Why Baseball Matters
Andrew Forbes, author of The Utility of Boredom, Baseball Essays
A message from Lewis MacLeod…
Full Disclosure: I was a middling philosophy student. There seemed to be so much knowing going on. Like, you had to understand what these guys were talking about all the time and they didn’t seem especially helpful as regards the helping with the knowing.
Let’s just say that literature found me rather than the reverse.
One of the things I learned in lit classes (from MH Abrams, in fact) was to differentiate between “the mirror and the lamp.” The mirror, you see, is a mimetic supposition. In mimetic works, the thing in the book reflects something in “real life” (like a mirror, get it?). A lamp, however, illuminates something that might otherwise be shrouded in darkness. Its impact is derived not from recognition (“That exact thing happened to me!”) but revelation (“I’ve never noticed/seen anything like it before!”).
I was thinking of this yesterday, after my home-made crackerjack experiment “failed to satisfy program expectations” and caused a minor kitchen fire.
I still wanted to give you guys a verisimilitudinous ballpark experience. I’d failed at crackerjack, but was I undaunted?
No, I was gonna “Fail Better.”
Did I find you an authentic cringe-worthy hotdog dispenser?
Yes I did!
Did I get involved in protracted Kijiji negotiations about comparatively small amounts of money and time?
Did I manage to pick it up?
That’s called failing worse. (If you’re wondering, I think he’ll probably sell it for $40 now that I’ve softened him up)
I did, however, get you an old school popcorn popper which you’re invited to operate (4 teaspoons oil, one cup popping corn) when you’re not involved in the pitching contest (starting, say 6:30).
Patricia got us a real radar gun.
I digress, however!
The point about the mirror and the lamp is this: some books show you what you already know in detailed and convincing ways; others enlighten otherwise mysterious topographies you never knew you didn’t know.
I watch a lot of baseball. I’m sure I know how it all works. I can reflect its workings back to you any time you like.
Then this, from Fail Better:
“Only the pitcher can regard the ball as an ally; it does things for him and to everyone else…In baseball vulnerability and security follow closely on one another; and one may be caught in the wrong place at the wrong time…Success cannot be gained without risk– no runs are scored if I do not venture onto the basepath–but defeat can be swift. The ball returns with a vengeance, agent of my defeat: if it touches me I am out; I cover space as a mortal while the ball flies over it, a winged harpy of destruction.”
Now watch this:
Success and Failure? Security and vulnerability? That’s the lamp, people.
That play happened Monday.
Kingwell and Andrew Forbes happen tonight!
You’d be sort of a failure if you missed it.
PS: Wear your baseball caps and whatever other arcane gear you’ve got at home. Prizes for anybody who shows up in full uniform. Hall of Fame induction for anybody who shows up in full uniform with high socks!