a sum of spectacles
January 2, 2016, 11:33 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags:

M. Barthes’ essay on the difference between boxing and wrestling in point form here and his paragraph below:

Boxing / Wrestling

shows excellence / excellence unimportant

outcome driven / logical conclusion is unimportant

has a constructed narrative arc / only the moment has meaning

crowning moment of a result / sum of spectacles

This public knows very well the distinction between wrestling and boxing; it knows that boxing is a Jansenist sport, based on a demonstration of excellence. One can bet on the outcome of a boxing-match: with wrestling, it would make no sense. A boxing- match is a story which is constructed before the eyes of the spectator; in wrestling, on the contrary, it is each moment which is intelligible, not the passage of time… The logical conclusion of the contest does not interest the wrestling-fan, while on the contrary a boxing-match always implies a science of the future. In other words, wrestling is a sum of spectacles, of which no single one is a function: each moment imposes the total knowledge of a passion which rises erect and alone, without ever extending to the crowning moment of a result.

Roland Barthes, Mythologies


2 Comments so far
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I agree with Barthes on these things overall. But I do wonder if one has to make a distinction between Olympic style Graeco-Roman wrestling and professional wrestling. Also, don’t we need to update this to take into account how narrative driven professional wrestling has become to the point of just being actual narration (sometimes over the course of years)

Comment by Keith Wayne Brown

I think he was talking about professional wrestling. Do you think the years long narrative of WWF makes it more like boxing or is it just a stringing together of individual spectacle moments?

Comment by Peter Rudd

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