income men derive from producing things
of slight consequence is of great consequence.
can we say -- no apology required -- about the fat of a baseball
bat striking a ball and someone chasing it down, or a golf club
whacking a smaller ball and sending it 350 yards yonder; cause
and effect sequences, that, despite their self-evident uselessness,
are universally applauded? And what can we say -- apology required
-- about the farmer who seeds his wheat in May and harvests
in September; an occupation -- universally regarded as useful
-- for which he is sometimes fairly paid but never applauded?
At first glance, there seems to be a major disconnect as it
concerns the extravagant monies and time we spend on the former,
and, on a good day, the mere after-thought we offer to the farmer
whose fresh bread we daily delectate.
to the philosopher Hegel, in The Phenomenology of Mind
(1807), 'Being' is the least category of existence. In fact
Hegel's Being is so insubstantial, like a nothingness that accidently
stumbles into something for an instant, that it doesn't even
merit the status of an idea , which comes about only when something
can be contrasted or differentiated from something else. But
out of this near-nothingness, an ever-expanding universe of
cause and effect is spun, and one of the spin-offs is the world
we inhabit. And we know this to be true because we are sentient
beings who have reached a consensus on the principles and axioms
that account for the basis of life on the planet earth and beyond.
Mere Being, a something as opposed to nothing, is the beginning
of everything, which makes the Big-Bang both an astronomical
and philosophical thought conundrum.
value aside, could it be, as with Hegel's minimal Being in which
a potential world is embedded, that there is unsuspected usefulness
in the apparently useless act of a wooden object striking a
ball, an observably fatuous undertaking compared to the enterprise
of the farmer or anyone engaged in the production and management
of life’s indispensables: food, water, shelter and clean
begin by offering thought to the essential objects involved
in the flight of a ball.
existence of the bat is not a fortuitous occurrence. Its particularized
manufacture is contingent upon a community of skilled and properly
equipped lumberjacks, the systematic felling of either ash or
maple trees, the transport of the raw material to the local
mill where the trees are debarked and treated, and then sent
to a company that specializes in the specifics applicable to
the game of baseball, which is one of many forms of entertainment
available to the public, is regarded as a frivolous amusement
or diversion, where a team’s winning or losing is inconsequential
compared to the farmer losing his crop to inclement weather,
the same cannot be said of the lumberjack, the semi-truck driver
and the mill worker, all of whom earn their living consequent
to the worldwide demand for bats, which are essential in the
unfolding of the apparently useless activity of a bat striking
a ball. Last but not least are the players themselves, who,
despite dedicating their lives to a useless activity, depend
on that very activity to earn their very handsome livings thanks
to available monies supplied by us, the viewing public, for
whom this particular useless activity provides varying degrees
of very useful pleasure and distraction.
all this holds true for every aspect of the game: from the construction
of baseball stadiums; to the design and production of baseball
gloves, shoes and uniforms; to the selling of game-related paraphernalia
(T-shirts, team logos, baseball cards); to the massive transport
(metro, taxi, automobile) required to shuttle the game’s
fans to the stadiums and back; to the contracting of food and
beverage suppliers, as well as accountants, lawyers and players'
agents. All of these ancillary activities are real and consequential
in that they provide employment to thousands of people. So out
of a seemingly useless activity of a wooden object striking
a ball, thousands of very useful activities are generated.
the existence of anything is the idea of it (essence precedes
existence). Before a rock receives its name of ‘rock,’
the mind contextually encounters the said object and names it
to differentiate it from, for example, sand, pebble and soil.
All entities that have not been meaningfully perceived and/or
encountered are fated to remain nameless. The
first obligation of any idea (all ideas are mental constructs),
is to find a carrier (a body), and ideally a carrier spreader.
An idea that is unable to embed itself in another consciousness
is said to be stillborn, doomed to be interred in the ever-expanding
cemetery of useless, unrealized projections of the imagination.
was a time when Christianity was merely an idea, and, had it
remained in the single consciousness of the person who conceived
it, it would have remained in permanent oblivion as a disembodied,
useless idea, of which millions are generated every day in the
collective imagination of the species. But the idea of Christianity
quickly spread to other consciousnesses, and it didn't matter
a whit whether or not the idea was a fiction, a myth, or an
outright lie; it was sufficient that the idea quickly spread
from one consciousness to another, such that out of this mere
idea a real world of cause and effect arose.
if one day it is proven that there is no God, or Son of God,
or if there is a God it doesn't resemble in the slightest the
Christian notion of God, the real consequences generated by
the idea-as-fiction will prevail. The magnificent cathedrals
and the religious art work generated by Christianity are real
and useful as is the Magnificat music that was composed to amplify
the glory of the architecture that housed it. The enduring and
ubiquitous existential truths produced by Christianity render
almost irrelevant the very real possibility that the religion
is founded on a lie, or a spectacular misconception (that there
is a God).
its humble beginnings as an unsubstantiated idea proper to the
consciousness of a single human being, Christianity, for the
past two millennia, has provided for the employment of millions
of people (architects, engineers, construction workers, artists
and artisans, pamphleteers, exegetes) and its devotees have
dedicated a significant portion of their very real and limited
lifetime hours to the religion’s rites and beliefs. This
spending of time is real and deemed useful. Countless thousands
of believers have waged war and defended the idea of Christianity
to their death, despite the fact that the existence of God remains
an untested, unproven construct.
a ridiculous idea, provided that it affect other consciousnesses,
can generate real consequences. The notion of voodoo, the belief
that someone can revenge a perceived wrong by sticking a pin
into a doll, does not appeal to the rational mind. But among
those minds under the influence of the idea, real activities
are generated: from the employment that results in the manufacture
of voodoo dolls, to the writing of books on the subject and
the change in behaviour of the faithful.
the Greeks (Heraclitus, Plato) to Carl Jung, from the word enantiodromia,
there is a fundamental law of life that says everything that
exists over time evolves into its opposite. A game of fun and
distraction (cribbage) is practically speaking useless until
real money is waged on the outcome, and then, depending on the
wager, it becomes serious; the same for horses running in circles.
The useless activity of baseball that was originally played
in an abandoned field for fun is now deemed useful in that it
creates employment for thousands of people.
idea qua idea -- as an unembodied in potentia
-- as soon as it begins to generate real events and consequences,
can be said to be useful. The reification (concretization of
the abstract) of an idea or concept is tantamount to bearing
witness to something evolving (morphing) into its opposite.
notion of ‘something,’ as a concept, cannot exist
without a ‘nothing,’ just as a useless activity
cannot endure indefinitely without prefiguring usefulness. This
is the duality principle in operation and it is embraced by
both metaphysicians and positivists.
ideas are fated to remain useless, confined to a single consciousness.
But once shared, they become something in potentia,
earning a spectral but observable ranking among all that which
is transitioning into substantiality; either as entity or behavioural
the case of baseball, the two minds require the minimum equivalent
of a ball in order to play catch. They will have already recontextualized
something in nature that lends itself to being tossed back and
forth, just as a branch of a fallen tree will be repurposed
into something ready-at-hand that can strike a ball. This is
how the game of baseball evolved into what we know it today,
and its development tells the story of how an apparently useless
activity is anything but.
when we say “it’s just a game,” we think we
are referencing an activity that is strictly diversionary and
of no apparent consequence. But upon further investigation,
we discover that baseball is equally only a game as well as
the very real game of life that produces winners, losers and
consequences which reach far beyond the field where the game
unfolds. It is not for nothing that “the field of dreams”
has become the game’s defining metaphor because from out
of that field, out of that child’s innocence, a world
of cause and effect is generated, such that the dreamer one
day wakes to find his feet firmly planted on terra firma
where the stakes are no less than the meaning of life.
Salary = $7,000/plate appearance.