My Comments on the Olympic Motto posted in Civic China


A second set of Comments posted at the same place:, under the same name Bismarck. I have nothing against the Ideal of the Olympic Games, when it is interpreted generally and generously. Citius. Altius. Fortius. A philosophy of transcendence, if you will. And yet, when the O. Games become connected with so many other things - not only politics - one might begin to wonder, whether or not a bubble is in the making. An Olympic Bubble is no less a bubble; it is just olympic in size.


A little more contrarian thinking for the interested:

1. Having outlined my suggestions for a different way to lay out the facts, I am inclined to give some thought to the Olympic Games, the Olympic Motto, etc. etc. First comes the Motto.

2. The Motto did not exist in ancient times, as it is asserted by the bloggers here. It was only a product of the 19th century; and in particular, of a French Dominican. See the following:

A friend of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, Father Henri Martin Didon, of the Dominican order, was principal of the Arcueil College, near Paris. An energetic teacher, he used the discipline of sport as a powerful educational tool.One day, following an inter-schools athletics meeting, he ended his speech with fine oratorical vigour, quoting the three words "Citius, Altius, Fortius" (faster, higher, stronger). Struck by the succinctness of this phrase, Baron Pierre de Coubertin made it the Olympic motto, pointing out that "Athletes need 'freedom of excess'. That is why we gave them this motto … a motto for people who dare to try to break records." This phrase, "Citius, Altius, Fortius" is the Olympic Motto. The Olympic Game is the international arena viewed by millions where the athlete's spirit, mind and body endeavour to excel and achieve the higher standard than the presently existing ones; thus fulfilling the Olympic Motto.

Pierre de Coubertin got the idea for this phrase from a speech given by Bishop Ethelbert Talbot at a service for Olympic champions during the 1908 Olympic Games. The Olympic Creed reads: "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well." The creed and motto are meant to spur the athletes to embrace the Olympic spirit and perform to the best of their abilities.


3. It might be true that Fr. Didon did mean "faster, higher, stronger," period. But when the saying was made the Olympic Motto by Baron de Coubertin, it was conceived in conjunction with the thought that "athletes need freedom of excess."

4. Looked at this way, with a little history in mind, the Olympic Spirit is, in fact, not something so peculiar at all: a venture capitalist in the Silicon Valley trying to crank out the most cutting-edge i-device may very well be said to be realizing the O. Spirit. Or an architect trying to erect a most spectacular tower in the middle of a desert. Or even a hedge-fund manager trying to out-perform the market. Why not? Faster. Higher. Stronger. The freedom of excess!

5. Many people, of course, do not want to take the O. Games this way, knowing very well nonetheless that today winning a gold medal takes more than the full power of a human being: You need state input; you need scientific research; you need all sorts of calculating and testing and shaping and moding. To host the O. Games successfully, you need international PR, commercial sponsorship, and, above all, some less-than-fully-honorable means to win the right to host them in the first place.

6. Yet, when we try to connect the O. Games with politics, we kindly neglect all these disturbing FACTS, but seek refuge in an allegedly ancient Motto. For we want to maintain a certain FANCY about the Games.

7. Now, when it is the state which tries to promote this fancy, critics would not hesitate to call it propaganda; but when it is the critics themselves who try to exploit the very same fancy, fancy is no longer fancy, but becomes an IDEAL.

8. There are many sorts of games in the world; but for inexplicable reasons the world is not inclined to take them in equally fantastic terms. Take the World Cup as an example. The world seems rarely so obsessed with the idealistic, and then political, dimension of this Game. Why? Isn't it world-wide enough? Isn't it sports? Isn't it a game that also demands "faster, higher, stronger"?

9. The O. Games have largely become a party. No longer the sports or the participants; but states, politics, architecture, commercial viability, media PR, NGOs, anti-terrorism, global civil society, protest, boycott, national pride, national coming out ... are now the major invitees to the gathering. What is this Thing really? Still a matter of "faster, higher, stronger"? Perhaps. But certainly not "faster, higher, stronger" in any innocent sense of the phrase.

10. So China is going to host a Great Party; and for this Great Party many people do harbor Great Expectations. It is likely to be successful, I believe; but in the case it be not, the decisive question, to be asked by many frustrated souls, would be, not how unsuccessful it was, but who caused its failure. If it be agreed by many within the PRC, that it was "they" who caused its failure, and "they" would rather likely be found, on that occasion, to be of an idealistic breed, the consequence could be disastrous. For then, no more a happy memory of "faster, higher, stronger," and some incidental talk of the O. Spirit; but an imperative, reissued in a yet more grudging way, to be "faster, higher, stronger" THAN THEY.

1 留言:

Jade 說...

Very well reasoned indeed.