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Cicadas, Tebow and Comet Kohoutek

June 15, 2013

Cicada-swarmageddon When I heard that zillions of cicada’s would emerge to greet the sun in June, have sex and, according to the journal Science, create a “nightmare” of unrelenting cacophony, I had a flashback, – not to 1996, or even 1979 but to 1962 – when I lived in Westchester, NY – and the summer of my 8th year was accompanied by the wall of insect sound Science  warned about.

But nothing – nothing – has happened. The Silence of the Cicadas. All quiet on the Connecticut Cicada Front.

When the silence became deafening,  Comet Kohoutek immediately came to mind. In 1973 Kohoutek was touted to be the “”Comet of the Century”.  According to scientists (different, I am sure, than those timing out the Cicada Wall of Sound) it had been out there so long that its visible tail would be a “spectacular display of outgassing”.  (Something I usually associate with the over consumption of legumes) and light up the night sky for weeks.

kohoutek_lrgIt didn’t.

While the Silence of the Cicadas is a let-down, the hype that preceded it has no real impact. Kohoutek was so hyped that Journey wrote it a rock anthem, Pink Floyd had a bootlegged album named after it,  and Kraftwerk, Sun Ra, Burl Ives, Peanuts and finally after it flamed out the Simpsons used its non-event as joke, and REM used its non-appearance as a metaphor for romantic failure..

But most disturbingly a cult, children of God took the hype ball and ran with it declaring the world would end in January 1974.

Its failure to enflame caused it to be a never ending Carson riff, and made us all, once again shrug our shoulders. Scientific non-events are just one bit of non-self-fulfilling prophesies.

Tim Tebow won every conceivable honor a collegiate athlete could in his sophomore year – 2007, including a Heisman Trophy, his last 2 collegiate years also were terrific, but not as amazing, and yet the Denver Bronco’s traded up to get him in the 2010 draft, and his 2011 season had a bizarre run of improbable success.

Tim-Tebow-Florida-Gators-Loser-Crying-Scripture-Abuse-Bible-John-16-33-cry-baby-football-jesus-hates-the-gators-(2)-708277Those who know football and saw him knew 2 things: he is a very mediocre quarterback by NFL standards and yet an extraordinary leader of men. Unlike the Cicada or Comet Kohoutek, Quarterback Tebow created his own hype by heroic effort – often rewarded by victories, despite some bizarre ineptitude. The bugs and the blob of space ice and dirt do what they do ignorant of the human apprehension of their performance. All the expectations are on us – we humans who create scenarios that are impossible for these rudimentary performers to fulfill.

The Coming Ice Age of 1978 became Global Warming of 2000 and is now Climate Change. The Higgs Boson morphed into The God Particle. Tebow just plays, often poorly, and yet has the innocent intensity of extreme commitment that forces you to either believe in him, a la Tinkerbell, or  “bah, humbug” his potential.

Either way, our overwhelming desire to possess the truth, often an unknowable future truth often creates its own fleeting reality. Those who want so desperately for Tim Tebow to be triumphant as a man of God, or wish that he would just go away fall into the human trap of wanting to possess the future.

Tim Tebow may be a fairly lame quarterback but he is a great football persona. He has the dynamic full-on physical force, the radiantly glowing vibrant love of bodily expression that I find unique to football. His genuine, intense love of his teammates and his obvious unthinking willingness to sacrifice himself to get his team in a better place inspires those who, like those who clapped for Tinkerbell, feel the reality of his gifts.

Like the silent cicadas or the black skies of a Kohoutek night, Tebow’s obvious failures  allow those who “know” he is useless in the NFL at playing quarterback to revel in his incapacity.

Tim Tebow does not seem to promulgate his own myth – that lack of pretense and innocence in the wash of hype put him in the position of the silent cicadas and the invisible Kohoutek – despite the fact he is aware how much he can, and can’t, do.

Tebow just kicks ass as hard as he can, others are moved by it, and those who feed off it ran with it. Now, in a Peter Principle moment, he has probably been advanced beyond his ability to perform – the hype is now recriminating against him.

Just like the quiet cicada and the dark comet, he  is no victim. But he holds up a mirror to our folly of hope in the human capacity to possess the future and control it by predicting it, with a surety that becomes absurd in retrospect.

For now Tebow may yet be the hero of our expectation, but he, and the cicada and Kohoutek are not the perpetrator of anything other than being who they really are – versus how we “know” they are.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 15, 2013 9:19 am

    Way to go, Duo! While we need to be hip to hype, we must also applaud those who manage to escape the gravitational pull of ordinariness. We don’t need to comment on comets, or chatter about cicadas, but there’s no harm in cheering for Tebow, the all-around good guy. It’s Tim’s time!

  2. June 16, 2013 8:31 pm

    I had a pair of Heckelphone 6’s back in the ’80’s…

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