Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Correspondence with Dan Fox

Reprinted with his permission:

In response this his article on comebacks, I wrote and referred him to my postmodernism post. My main point was Buzz Bissinger was a modernist looking for a story arc and could not appreciate the sport in a postmodern sense (as I understand the term) as many of us do.

His response:
Thanks for your comments. I really enjoyed the post (and the blog) as well although definitions of postmodernism that I've read(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodernism) don't seem to really capture the differences you mention. It seems to me it is more a scientific mindset ala Richard Dawkins in his book "Unweaving the Rainbow" (brought to my attention by another reader) where he quotes physicist Richard Feynman, responding to a claim that scientists miss the beauty of a flower by studying it:'

The beauty that is there for you is also available for me, too. But I see a deeper beauty that isn't so readily available to others. I can seethe complicated interactions of the flower. The color of the flower is red. Does the fact that the plant has color mean that it evolved to attract insects? This adds a further question. Can insects see color? Do they have an aesthetic sense? And so on. I don't see how studying a flower ever detracts from its beauty. It only adds.'

Anyway, you're probably right that it is indeed a different and perhaps incompatible way of looking at things. Take care.

I'm not a philosopher and don't completely understand postmodernism. I do believe that postmodernism has a skepticism of story arcs and morals, and I do think that people who are constantly looking for only a story and moral in a baseball game are inherently limited in their understanding of the game, but his analogy might be more appropriate.

At any rate, I thank him for his kind words about my essay.


At 4:11 PM, Blogger Oisín/Wizlah said...

PK, for what its worth, I mentioned the postmodernism post to the Ma who is passing through town today on her way to give a paper. She knows that stuff and works with it frequently - and she's also a baseball fan and the reason I'm one now. She thought you'd hit on something alright.

Then again, Mike B at A Citizen's Blog might disagree - postmodernism often allows a multiplicity of views considering each equally valid, but Mike's view (mike, you reading this?) is more that james and sabremetrics represents some kind of Kuhnian paradigm shift - its a new truth/way of seeing the world. But I agree with you about Morgan's distrust of James - it is rooted in Morgan's belief in the idea of a strong narrative of values and sporting virtues.

More philosophy in baseball, says I. Just keep it away from Charlie. he's enough to be thinking about.

At 5:30 AM, Blogger Pawnking said...

Any time I start to think of myself as an intellectual, I remember folks like my friend Oisin, who keeps me humble.

Kuhnian paradigm shift. Uhhh, yeah. I was about to say that.


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