Well, the Canucks lost tonight.
And that’s all I want to say about that.
Seriously, I don’t know why I care so much about this stupid hockey club. I am sitting here asking myself how I could possibly be SO BLOODY CUT UP OVER THIS LOSS.
It actually makes less sense than a Ramada hotel advertisement (and those are obtuse in the extreme.)
One of the coolest books I read in grad school was “Imagined Communities” by Benedict Anderson. In his work, Anderson defines a nation as “an imagined political community – and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign.”
They are limited in that nations have “finite, if elastic boundaries, beyond which lie other nations” andthey are sovereign since no dynastic monarchy can claim authority over them.
(Anderson’s work is focused predominantly on the rise of European democracies.)
A nation is an imagined community because “regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship.”
The imagined community is different from an actual community because it is not (and cannot be) based on everyday face-to-face interaction between its members. Instead, members hold in their minds a mental image of their affinity, or their bond.
A great example of this is the sensation of “pride of nationhood” individuals share with other members of their nation when their “imagined community” participates in a larger event (such as the Olympic Games.)
Now, I won’t go into too much detail on the entirety of Anderson’s thesis (however, I will encourage you to read it without delay if your interest in the subject matter has been peaked).
But I will say that I am consistently drawn to him every time I find myself sitting here, questioning my (always baffling) relationship with ice hockey.
Do I watch because it’s been ingrained in me to watch? Do I watch because I love sport, and am, at the root of it all, a highly competitive person who gets off on watching excellence?
If I lived in Europe would I feel the same way about soccer? If I lived in the States, would I feel the same way about football?
Where is the dividing line between cultural (or national) assimilation, and personal autonomy? Or are these too, imagined constructs?
And why is it that I loathe so many elements of hockey (and so many other elements of professional sport)? Is this my individuality asserting itself over my imagined nationality? Or do I just hate goonery more than I love winning?
And why the heck am I assuming ownership over a victory that I played absolutely zero part in?
When I’m not thinking about Anderson, I’m thinking about Rome and the coliseum and the gladiators. I think about complacency and apathy and what is enough to keep a society happy and unquestioning?
And what about our appetite for gore, and war, and physical supremacy? Is this somehow manifesting itself in these sporting events, because we are unsure of how to address this need in the every day political activities and actions our “nation”?
I mean, here in ye Old Great White North, we like to advertise ourselves as a “peace keeping” nation, but don’t even think about the fighting out of our national passtime!
A GOOD BENCH CLEARING BRAWL IS WHAT CANADA’S ALL ABOUT!
Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to these conundrums.
And I probably never will.
All I know is that tonight the Canucks lost.
But Nadal won. So that brings a big old smile to my face.
Until of course, I start to think, would I feel this way if Djokovic was a Canadian?
Or if I was a Serb?