April 1st, 2008

Some thoughts that have been ruminating on the remnants of my brain since that torch lighting ceremony in Greece not long ago….

I think it was the (well warranted) cynicism of this post that finally spurred me into writing these thoughts down… No, I don’t think; I know.

Anyway, I saw the coverage of the rehearsals and dress rehearsals of the ceremony and the ceremony itself on various Chinese TV stations- mostly by default because it’s usually my wife who watches TV and not myself. My biggest impression of the whole thing was:


Really, I just could not get past the ridiculous pomposity of the whole torch-lighting ceremony in “Olympia”.

Yeah, incredibly and unjustifiably pompous, and amazingly poorly acted. Had I been the casting director of a B- grade Hollywood made for TV film, I would not have hired the actors involved in that torch-lighting pomposity.

And the none-too-subtle neo-paganism of the whole thing, as if sport in general, or more specifically, the “Olympic movement” were in any way an adequate substitute for more established religions, now that did nothing to add to my respect for the Olympics.

Now, don’t get me wrong: If you want to see the Olympics as pure sporting spectacle, then you have my full support, because that is all the Olympics should be. If you want to take the Olympics as they actually have been since at least 1984 (and probably since 1936), as the world’s greatest marketing festival, with sports as a mere medium for said marketing, then you have my grudging acceptance of reality. If you see the Olympics as some kind of “coming out party” for China, in which China demonstrates her greatness, then please, I do not disagree with you, I just wish you’d take a good, hard look at the trouble that plans on making an appearance in Beijing in August this year.

I don’t know how to express my opinions on the Olympics clearly, because my opinions are too tied up with the Olympics as the currently are, and I can only see trouble coming from outside to piss on China’s parade, and I don’t like that, I don’t see any justification for it, and I wish the world would just grow up, but still, all I can see is trouble. I can’t see the Olympics as a “movement” in any sense because they aren’t. They just plain aren’t. They have no ideals, no doctrines, no beliefs, no nothing, just a whole lot of fatuous 臭狗屁 (stinky dog farts) designed to keep us watching this big sports event every four years so the advertisers will be happy. Yeah, apparently there were other ideals back before the Olympics were politicised/marketingicised (is there a difference any more?), but that brings me back to the absurd and thoroughly ridiculous (and incredibly poorly acted) neo-paganism of the [cough; splutter] “movement”.

Put it this way: Every country that has ever hosted the Olympics has a shite hugh man writes record. I don’t know how you compare those countries, because I don’t know how you compare different kinds of evil: example: Which was worse, the Holocaust or the Rape of Nanking? Right, both were equally evil, but for different reasons. So what gives Seoul or LA or Atlanta or London or Sydney any greater right to host the Olympics than Beijing?

Exactly. They’re all bad, and they’re all good, and it doesn’t fucking matter because that’s how it is in this world. As Jesus himself said: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” (Gospel According to John, Chapter 8 Verse 7- but there is apparently some discussion as to the place and position of this story in scripture).

But I’ve lost track of what I was actually trying to say.

Yeah, there’s many things about the Olympics that worry me, and many, many reasons why I plan to spend August on a mountainside in Yanqing.

But what really disturbed me about the torch lighting ceremony and the subsequent following of the torch was not just the incredible pomposity of the whole thing, but the ridiculous neo-paganism.

I mean, it looked and sounded like a really childish attempt at recreating a religious ceremony by people who have never either seen or heard of gods or the spiritual or religions ever in their lives. As if they’d dredged the ancient worship of Zeus or whoever out of a books about the ancient Olympics and tried to recreate that without any particular spiritual or religious feeling themselves…. oh, wait…..

And I always detected that subtly neo-pagan undercurrent in the Olympics, or at least, I think I always did. It’s become ever more apparent this time ’round, though I don’t know whether that’s due to any particular aspect of the Beijing Olympics, my slowly advancing age, living in an “Olympic city”, or what.

Whatever, two things struck me about that torch-lighting ceremony: The pomposity; and the neo-paganism.

The pomposity is, well, irritating, but deal-able-with. The neo-paganism really disturbs me. I mean, seeing the Olympics as a sporting even supported by advertising is fine; seeing it as a marketing fest run through the medium of sport is perhaps more accurate, and still fine from a purely pragmatic point of view; seeing this particular Olympics as China’s “coming out party” is perfectly understandable and totally ok; using this Olympics as an excuse to bash Beijing is incredibly stupid and childish; using the “Olympic movement” to establish some kind of new pagan religion based on the physical potential of the human body, with the slogan citius, altius, fortius (or whatever it’s supposed to be) as it’s excuse for doctrine is beyond absurd, and yet, that seems to be the aim of the IOC.

And “Olympic movement” appears in scare quotes because a four-yearly festival of marketing through the medium of sports with a large but undeveloped neo-pagan undercurrent does not a movement make.

Yeah, I hope the Beijing Olympics go off with a huge bang and no hitches; I hope it turns out to be an incredibly brilliant celebration of human potential. Trouble is, I’ve seen too much of this world, and I can see too much of what plans to come Beijing’s way this August. I still plan to spend August this year on a mountainside in Yanqing, far, far away from the trouble I foresee.




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