Thursday, 9 September 2010

Of footballers and coaches

I have often used the example of footballers and coaches: to be a good coach, it is not enough to be a good footballer. You have to be able to talk about football. It is the difference between apprehensive and formative abstraction. The footballer, I think, grasps the universal in re; the coach grasps the universal in itself, so that the insight is no longer tied to the phantasm but the inner word has emerged and is free of the original phantasm and can be applied now to any number of other instances.

Phil made me aware yesterday, however, of another dimension: a good coach, he said, is someone who has a good memory, and is able to come to his task with a history of the game. He remembers different games, different tactics, different moves. He comes with a historical heuristic - but not merely with a heuristic, but a heuristic that is concretely filled with actual memories. He brings that dimension to his coaching.

So I guess Thomas is being updated by this kind of remark: the advertence to the historical aspect of the process of knowing / teaching.

Of course Phil also remarked several times that the goalkeeper awaiting the penalty shot, or the centre forward with the ball in his control, are WHATS. They are there with all of their memories - and good players have good memories - and they are completely alert, weighing all possible courses of action, and preparing to decide and to act.... Phil's point was that Whatting - questioning and thinking - is not something that happens only 2 inches behind one's eyes, but over the whole body. His great image was that of a child asking questions: the child tends to jump up and down. In contrast, people who have been "educated out of their minds" - which tends to include most of us sitting demurely and listening to Phil - either ask questions only with a hesitant show of hands, or not at all. But Navtej from Shelter R&D was a great exception: she just marched up to the mike and the board and asked her question.

Whatting with the whole what I am: not only a great image, but, I am beginning to see, a great truth. Every cell participates in my questioning and thinking. Every cell stores memories of the past - the Buddhist vipassana tradition recognizes this when it talks about the samskaras which are stored memories - evident when certain memories evoke a shudder or a thrill that passes through my length and breadth. And these stores of memories are completely involved in any questioning, any thinking. One way or the other. Either as completely collaborating with the process, or else as damaged by dramatic bias, individual bias, group bias, general bias....

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