Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Fall of Tiger

You can't escape the story - even the New Yorker is writing about him, the highest-earning athlete ever, falling, falling. It made me think of Icarus, who flew too close to the sun.

I know him best from W. H. Auden's poem "Musee of Beaux Arts," which is read aloud in the YouTube selection above. The painting is "The Fall of Icarus," by Breughel, which the poet is looking at (or recalling). Icarus desired to fly to the sun, but his wings were fabricated of wax, and they melted, and he fell into the sea. (In the Judeo-Christian tradition, Satan is similarly represented as an angel who became too proud.)

Auden notes that in this painting, no one cares about Icarus. Even as his legs are disappearing into the sea (in the right foreground of the painting), the great ship (of the world) has somewhere to get to, and moves on. It will be the same way for Tiger Woods. Last year, A-Rod. Last month, Michael Vicks. Next year, who? Winning comes at enormous cost, and fame is so easily lost.

Tiger's posters are being taken down all over the world by Accenture, the company that paid him obscene amounts of money to let them use his name and image as a symbol of focus and perfect control. Just now, it must be terribly hard for him. Flicking past TV channels, you get the feeling that people fall upon the wounded great man like eager wolves. Maybe it would be better to be ignored as you fall into the sea. Meanwhile, a poet encourages us to remember our compassion, even for the rich and famous.

1 comment:

  1. In his instructions for the new millennium, H.H. The Dalai Lama said, "Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it." hmmmm... Yes, good to remember compassion...! Great post...thanks