Our favorite poet/sports correspondent is back, this time with a meditation on Lionel Messi.
On a sunny Saturday afternoon in Seville. On an overcast morning in New York. Sometime past midnight in Tokyo. A Saturday in Abidjan. This is how you live now. This is how you have lived for nearly half of your life. You’re in one place, playing a game, which is to say doing your job, which is playing a game. You’re in one place and you’re in all possible places; at times encircled, at times cursored, at times turned into a digital shroud of statistics that mark how fast you’ve run at your fastest. The shorn-smooth grass you walk on—you mostly walk, like a painter let loose on a meadow, while everyone else runs as though late for a meeting—is black ice for the rest of us. We see you there, infected with data. We watch you in the simulacrum. We love you because the simulacrum tells us to love you. We hate you because the simulacrum tells us to hate you. The pontificators and the screamers have their say. Some of us have no interest in you, but the simulacrum makes sure we know who you are. We parse from all of this what we consider pleasure: love, hate, indifference. You’re standing in one place, one patch of grass on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Seville, playing a game, which is to say doing your job, which is playing a game. A ball floats in the air toward you. You’re in one place and you’re in all possible places. Your name is stamped between your shoulder blades. You turn your back away from the ball. We all know who you are. You balance yourself and focus. What you’re about to do has no name.