Even out here in Goma, images from the Olympics can be had. Coverage is spotty and one cannot actually sit down and watch the Olympics, but visual impressions and reports are getting through in drips and drabs. Watching synchronized diving, or gymnastics, it's obvious that the Olympic ideal is perfection of form as the pinnacle of beauty. Very few can achieve this ideal, hence the rarefied competition among elite athletes. Echoes of classical Greece are obvious, a vertical society despite its democratic pretensions. Cosmology can do that to a people.
The Olympics are tailored to this particular ideal of beauty as the rarefied perfection of form. No room for fractured beauty, obviously, as that would disqualify. Although pristine beauty is by definition more rare than fractured beauty, I tend to champion the latter because it's more pedestrian, more democratic because accessible to all of us, if we open our eyes wide enough. I love cosmologies, but only for their literary value. It's too late to actually believe in one. Fractured, democratic, horizontal: that's where I'm most comfortable. Zeitgeist I guess.
Of course, fractured beauty abounds here in Goma. As my boss and I bounced along these terrible roads the other day, inhaling pounds of volcanic dust (always in the air) and diesel fumes blasting into the car from all the trucks lumbering by in the other direction, the boss mused that we were on a merry go round. Everybody's on the narrow road at once, with dozens of moto taxis blurring past, honking constantly (think rickshaw madness in Delhi). The 360 degree view is just heads bobbing up and down, some buzzing past, others slow or stationary--pedestrians lost in the melee.
So instead of being overwhelmed by the oozing human morass of it all and thinking cynical thoughts about the Congo, my boss reverts into a childhood reverie and comes up with the merry-go-round comment. A kindred soul: he can appreciate fractured beauty too, I thought.
The first thing I'll do when I get off this merry-go-round and return home: ride my beloved bikes, of course, then open a book of Borges stories and sit by the sea. Nothing could be more pristine ... or magical.