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Triumph of the Will

September 13, 2020

in 1935 Leni Riefenstahl created a terrific depiction of a horrible reality. Nazi Germany was glowingly depicted in her film “Triumph of the Will”. Her aesthetic was not an argument, it was an aesthetic of human empowerment, content free beyond the compelling vision of human commitment.

A beautiful nightmare that froze the worst of us in the vision of what is our best reality: our devotion to something more than ourselves. The “more” here was Hitler, who embodied the very worst of humanity. Supported by the very best in any of us.

That the devotion of our will – my will, your will – can triumph is uniquely compelling for we humans. We might control what we can control, and if enough, we can, perhaps, make a reality that we want, not what we are consigned to accept.

This year, our will is almost completely subordinated by the reality of a plague. Almost.

Pockets of humans are attempting to do things against a dominant reality. Not for the hideous brutality of a lunatic, but for the desire to do what those doing love. Athletes can train, then even play together. Musicians try to make beauty together as much as technology and ingenuity allow. We are building things, as groups of us work to make things and not infest ourselves and those around us.

Of course humans love expression to the point of disregarding others. Like those in “Triumph of the Will”. But the varieties and redemption in our lives is without a rule book of “Can” and “Can’t” beyond our corporeal limits.

We do not need to do more than we should. But we want to. So we try. We focus and do fewer things with more focus and narrow our efforts to fully project our will into what we can.

Football is brutal. It hurts. It is merciless, but it is redemptive. Football projects devotion like few other venues.

A boy wanted to play football a decade ago, in a quiet New England town. He was devoted. He played some in his high school team that was traditionally quite good. But this boy was quite good for skills, but wanting in strength and size. But he was an athlete, so much so that he started his senior year as a lineman, and ended up as a wide receiver.

No awards, other than Varsity, no recognition. Just the joy of playing

But some people noticed. He was recruited by a Division 1 school. He went. His will transformed him to start at 300 pounds. He learned for 2 years. Graduated at 20, he went to a Great Football University to start his last two years. And receive the awards he could not in high school. Because he did not accept the past was prologue beyond the past of his extreme will.

He was drafted into the bizzarre world of NFL extremity. And he made the cut. He ended up both seeing and starting an NFL game for the first time today. His 5th year of starting as a lineman at the highest level after playing wide receiver to no acclaim beyond potential.

But he is just an island of reality.

The entire NFL tried to play in a plague, saying anyone could opt out, no penalty other than salary. The created an island of Will, in a place of danger. Anyone in the league is a millionaire, so there was ample latitude to avoid the danger of getting sick, and the danger of getting others sick.

But after initial efforts, there have been 5 weeks and 15,000 tests of over 2,000 people and one positive test.

The Triumph of the Will.

One Comment leave one →
  1. kim permalink
    September 16, 2020 7:10 pm

    Are you saying what I think you are saying???

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