Homo Bulla, Daniel Grossman, 2012
Empirical politics, that is to say the fact of democracy, is identified with the maritime sovereignty of the lust for possession, which sails the seas doubly threatened by the buffeting of waves and the brutality of the sailors. Th great beast of the populace, the democratic assembly of the imperialist city, can be represented as a trireme of drunken sailors. In order to save politics, it must be pulled aground among the shepherds.
The sea smells of sailors, it smells of democracy.
Jacques Rancière idles through my holiday snaps (On the Shores of Politics, pp. 1-2).
Palermo, May 2012.
Luciano Spalletti is a coach of legendary tactical acumen, surrounded by an enduring aura of diminutive, mocking beauty. The stories that have circulated about his first years in Russia rarely concur and often contradict one another. It has been said that he intended to replicate his former Italian exploits (including the famous striker-less formation of Roma and its consequent demotion of Francesco Totti); that he left behind, while in Budapest, a suitcase full of homoerotic poems which would reveal, among other things, that he had audiences with several Uruguayan war criminals; that when he paraded with a naked torso and a Franciscan Tau on his chest in the freezing winter it was not to avoid accusations of being a spineless Mediterranean man, but for the love of an aged Peterburgher who just happened to be newly widowed; that, during a visit to the city flea market, he fell in love with the hat of a KGB general, who was crucified by his own soldiers in 1944; and that, as a consequence of a night of steamy passion with a Romanian waitress, he now carries a red lip-tattoo on his left buttock.
His technical work, leaving aside the juvenilia lost in the icy peaks of Switzerland and the apocrypha buried under the Siberian cold, is one torrential and anarchic blend of all the literary genres that make up football: romance, spy novel memoir, history, political pamphlet. In some paragraphs of his Zenit adventure, Spalletti would seem to rely solely on his legendary feminine intuition, while in other plots he would elicit pseudo-scientific speculation about a testicular gland capable of producing exorbitant amounts of testosterone—the only thing considered able to defeat the old locomotives and dynamos of Moscow.
Stefano Gulizia catches the strange scent of a Petersburg victory.
The full force of a panorama of soccer and modernity opening to Walter Benjamin in Moscow.
This essay, by a comrade so far sadly confined to the internet, says most of what I think about football, and still has room for some Benjamin (no mean feat). The dedication is a gift that our lax attitude towards collaboration has not warranted. The website, www.catch22review.com, should be mandatory.
On December 5, 1931, the Church of Christ the Saviour, on the northern bank of the Moskva, was dynamited. The proposed replacement, a nonsense of a ‘Palace of the Soviets’ was abandoned in 1941 when steel from its germinating foundations was requisitioned for the war effort. In 1958, the flooded pit that was left was converted into this monstrous swimming pool. Without wishing to labour obvious points here about the persistent radicality of physical culture, Soviet inability to sublimate Orthodoxy, or the inadvertent Constructivist victory of those geometric lane ropes, it is worth noting that the heady process of swimming, its insistence of the repetitive nature of grace, has always been of a kind with the suffocating physicality of a well-sung Russian liturgy; incense smoke cloying the retinas as much as such an open sky as this is heavier than water.
"The dominant culture of eighteenth-century England was not averse to a spot of wild irregularity, not least when it came to gardening […] English ideology has always been canny enough to incorporate a fair amount of fancy and freewheeling, of that stubborn contingency which resists the high-rationalist schemes of the inhuman French."
Terry Eagleton on the Gothic in Hugh Grant’s fringe. (‘Allergic to Depths’, LRB)