May 28, 2009

Two Tribes

Filed under: culture,east-west — Kim @ 12:44 pm

As is well known, the world is divided into two types of people: those who divide the world into two types of people, and those who don’t. For the purposes of this post, I am going to plump my arse firmly in the former camp and be lavish with my dichotomising divisions.

You have to have binaries if you want to have meaning. Without yin there can be no yang. Without evil there would be no meaningful good. Without contraries, there is no progression. Where is West without East? Where would North Korea be without the South?

And what is a nation without a foil? The Irish stand-up Tommy Tiernan once pondered aloud the question “What does it mean to be Irish?’ and quickly answered, “It means we’re not fucking English…that’s what it means!”

And what is a match without two teams? Last night saw Man U and Barcelona square off and sitting behind me and a few other English teachers were some French students. Gauche young men full of beer and Dutch courage, and good illustrations of the “football is vicarious war” thesis. Just before kick off the chant went up “Les anglais sont homosexuels!” and – many beers later – when Messi headed in the second goal, one of the well-oiled Gallic provocateurs could not resist getting all too literally in the face of an Englishman Man U supporter, taunting him with his loss. Red mist descended, the words “French cunt” were spat out and invitations to a pugilistic encounter were proffered. But it didn’t kick off.

The English and the French were enemies for centuries but I do not and cannot feel any tribal hatred for them. ’Twould be absurd. To my surprise though, I did feel that there was some hatred of “Les Anglais” in the air last night and not just dislike for a rich and successful football machine/team.

Oh well, the world can be divided into two types of people: Tribal and post-tribal. And I fear the former still massively outnumber the latter.

Alas, plus ça change…

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