Thursday, May 01, 2008

A Football Match at Rondebosch

Otto Landsberg painted this quaint scene of South African rugby footballers in 1860, and its nineteenth-century flavor in dress and manner have a certain appeal. Just as in the early days of baseball and cycling, their athletic kit is both functional and handsome.

This scrum seems also a good starting point to quote the great polymath Joseph Bronowski, a man lauded by the likes of that most wonderful of thinkers, Carl Sagan:

"Every human action goes back in some part to our animal origins; we should be cold and lonely creatures if we were cut off from that blood-stream of life. ... Yet such differences [between man and the other animals] are secondary by comparison with the overriding difference, which is that the athlete is an adult whose behaviour is not driven by his immediate environment, as animal actions are. In themselves, his actions make no practical sense at all; they are an exercise that is not directed to the present. The athlete's mind is fixed ahead of him, building up his skill; and he vaults his imagination into the future." The Ascent of Man, pg. 36.

Image: Alexander, Lucy & Evelyn Cohen, 150 South African Paintings

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