Bernard-Henri Lévy: The Zidane Essay

Sometimes even philosophers go nuts when it comes to soccer. Just ask Camus.
Here’s the “essay” everyone’s talking about:
Zidane: The French Hero who was, ultimately, just a Man.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
PARIS–Here is one of the greatest players of all time, a legend, a myth for the entire planet, and universally acclaimed. Here is a champion who, in front of two billion people, was putting the final touches on one of the most extraordinary sagas in soccer’s history.
Here is a man of providence, a savior, who was sought out, like Achilles in his tent of grudge and rage, because he was believed to be the only one who could avert his countrymen’s fated decline. Better yet, he’s a super-Achilles who–unlike Homer’s–did not wait for an Agamemnon (in the guise of coach Raymond Domenech) to come begging him to re-enlist; rather, he decided himself, spontaneously, after having “heard” a voice calling him, to come back from his Spanish exile and–putting his luminous armor back on, and flanked by his faithful Myrmidons (Makelele, Vieira, Thuram)–reverse the new Achaeans’ ill fortune and allow them to successfully pull together.
And then this valiant knight who is a hair’s breadth from victory and just minutes from the end of a historic match (and of a career that will carry him into the Pantheon of stadium-gods after Pelé, Platini and Maradona); this giant who, like the Titans of the ancient world, has known Glory, then Exile, then Return and Redemption; this redeemer, this blue angel dressed in white, who had only the very last steps to scale to enter Olympus for good, commits a crazy incomprehensible act that amounts to disqualification from the soccer ritual–the final image of him that will go down in history and, in lieu of apotheosis, will cast him into hell.

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4 comments on “Bernard-Henri Lévy: The Zidane Essay
  1. Yikes – the French take themselves too seriously.
    One man does a dumb thing -he just lost his temper. That’s it, no philosophy, no drama, no theater.

  2. This incident will be looked at in every way possible.
    Just for the USA; if one does news searches, even small town newspapers in Kansas; Pennsylvania are weighing in.
    Tough streets of Marseilles, we hear so often. Truly though, there have been the tough streets of Chicago and Buenos Aires.

  3. You should know that BHL (as he is known in France) is not taken very seriously by a lot of people in France – he’s seen as an eogmaniac glamour playboy type who bills himself as a great thinker, yet his are often the butt of jokes. He recently wrote an essay about American political culture (published in a few big name outlets here in the US) which was soundly ridiculed in the French press because of its grand pronouncements about a country he clearly knows nothing about.

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