Friday, May 08, 2009

Disavowal being Disavowal 

Open letter to Howard Bryant:

"Nobody can gloat -- not the Yankees, not the Red Sox, not the players (even though they all got to keep their money) and not management (which was able to make its money and tout its vigilance while the names who drive the product cheated). And not the fans, who like to believe they root for the only clean team in the game."

I enjoyed your article, which is one of the more coherent arguments thus far in favor of "taking steroids seriously." But I do disagree with one thing. I'm not sure I buy your suggestion that steroids are somehow tainting baseball-- testing the very "soul" of the sport. After all, the -one- beneficiary of the "steroids era" would be the media, and those in it who stand to benefit from neverending hand-wringing and outpourings of outrage and disappointment. But is the sport itself really in some sort of peril now?

You are neglecting the most culpable party of all in all of this, and that is the -fans-. This is not a nice thing to say, but it's true. Who, exactly, are the real victims of this "deception?" Who are the perfectly pure fans out there who somehow really believed that these big shots weren't on steroids? The truth is that everybody, save a few starry-eyed kids perhaps, knew about it. And a lot of people were okay with it, because they were entertained-- and still are-- by the sport. Maybe a lot of other people aren't so okay with it. They fall into an interesting category.

This category is what Freud calls "disavowal," in which one knows certain things but then claims to not know them. You could argue that most entertainment is premised on disavowal. We see things in movies that are absurd all the time, but still give ourselves over to the spectacle, knowing yet not-knowing that what we are seeing is fake. Many, many aspects of American culture have this structure. I know, but...

This is why we are unlikely to rethink our understanding of steroids-- to, for example, accept them as a part of sports that is one factor among many others. No chance. Even these supposedly terrible disappointments are welcome in our culture, as a way of sacrificing the very idols that we worship as their expiration date nears. This is the great American pastime-- soaring to fame and riches, and then brought back to earth by humiliating scandals. We can punish the deceiver for our own disavowal, and externalize our own rather strange addiction to entertainment-based pleasure.

I mean, just read this shit. This is sick. I have not the slightest doubt that this Masshole regarded Manny as a deity in 2004 and 2007. This is a pathetic sack of castrated masculinity attempting to recastrate himself, cut it off again, cut it off "Manny," find a new hole to hang it on.

It's true, the "steroid era" will never end. You, everyone needs the cycle to continue. Where would we be without sacred cows for the pyre, surrogates for our own desire?


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