This piece is historical and prophetic in a synchromystic fashion we are accustomed to here at Twilight Language.
Today something special: A guest essay from writer Thomas McGrath. He wants to share some insights from across the pond, having watched the United Kingdom experience interesting times.
"Football" in Europe, of course, is what we call "soccer" in America. To say it is popular is an understatement. Football in the UK is taken very seriously, and major changes in leadership are felt on a societal level.
McGrath tackles the resignation of Sir Alex Ferguson, the manager of the well-known and honored team, Manchester United.
Before launching into McGrath's contribution, let me just add a note or two about Alex Ferguson's name, etymologically.
Alexander is derived from the Greek "Αλέξανδρος" (Aléxandros), meaning "defending men" or "protector of men", a compound of the verb "ἀλέξω" (alexō), "to ward off, to avert, to defend" and the noun "ἀνδρός" (andros), genitive of "ἀνήρ" (anēr), "man." Alexander is an example of the widespread motif of Greek (or Indo-European more generally) names expressing "battle-prowess," in this case the ability to withstand or push back an enemy battle line.
Ferguson is a Scottish-Irish surname and given name. The surname is a patronymic form of the personal name Fergus. The name Fergus is derived from the Gaelic elements fear ("man") and gus ("vigor", "force", or "choice"). Thus the name "Ferguson" literally means the "son of a man of force/vigor" (the "male offspring of a strong powerful father").
The combination of the two names make for a powerful mix.
In perhaps the most famous opening scene of all, King Lear divests himself of power and divides his kingdom, so that he might “unburdened crawl towards death.”
Didn’t quite work out like that, of course, Lear’s attempt to separate who and what he was. His story, though, is one with plenty of relevance to 2013, which is emerging as a kind of Year of Lear.
First, Pope Benedict XVI retired. Which felt like a kind of paradox. People made sympathetic faces, but beneath these, there was often a little discernible disappointment, and even contempt. It was as if, in the great mystery play of Roman Catholicism, the lead part had simply decided to break character, ruining the illusion for some, and the illusion of the illusion for everyone else. No wonder lightning struck St Peter’s Basilica.
Then there was the death of Thatcher.
In her case, death itself was a kind of afterthought. Her real demise, as is well known, occurred on the Conservative Party’s own Night of the Long Knives in 1990, when it took turns to stab at her political power, a virtual assassination that nonetheless seemed to kill the actual woman, leaving behind a shell whose subsequent longevity sounded less a retirement than a surreal waltz on the border between two worlds.
Unlike a Pope, a Prime Minister is only meant to borrow the robes of office, not take them to the casket. But just as Benedict XVI was unable to go on existing with the burden of his role, Thatcher (more Caesar than Lear) was unable to go on existing without hers.
What, then, of Alex Ferguson – can a mere football manager (those quintessential kings-for-a-
In recent years, I often thought of Ferguson as an embodiment of humanity's quirky relationship to the grave. It is one thing to see a twenty-five-year-old player roar and raise a trophy high into the air, celebrating a victory dependent upon a vast suspension of disbelief, but the absurdity is always that much more stark when the man with his arms in the air is of an age where, in ancient Japan, you were expected to shave your head and prepare for eternity.
Ferguson, it was clear, was hiding from death in the make-believe world of sport (itself only a diorama of our own, wider world of make believe). He admitted as much himself. Now, this self-made Pope of the Red Devils has retired too, causing at least as much shock (in the UK, anyway) as his Catholic counterpart.
“All perform their tragic play,” Yeats wrote in “Lapis Lazuli,” along with Shakespeare imagining his