Of Fetishism and Football

There are scientists who aver that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, our senses play a three card trick with reality. If you turn the pasteboard rectangle of existence over, it reveals – nothing. Life, as many an eastern sage discovers, is illusion. There are scientists (not necessarily the same ones) who affirm that emotions prefigure events and in some sense cause them. They are not the fall-out from our experiences that we might believe them to be.

These two motifs may together explain the strange phenomenon of fetishism – that absurd devotion to the trivial that raises it to an almost holy significance. How else can one explain people’s fixations with garden gnomes, stamps, shoes, trains, buttons, stars, gods and the devil unless one posits that they are delusions engineered by the firings of unthinking neural networks? They can only be self-defying con tricks, nesting resonantly alongside everything else, in the great illusion of existence. These obscure, unpremeditated mental gymnastics lead us to become collectors, stalkers, fetishists, fanatics – all of them faithful disciples of the absurd. The flashes and claps of thunder, crackling and banging along our mental pathways, project upon our consciousness obsessive longings and desires that give rise to an all-consuming intensity.

In a universe devoid of intelligent design, fetishism is just another crude signpost pointing to how meaningless everything actually is.

Yet even as I suffer the pains and tribulations of waiting for a final whistle, praying that my black and white striped team hold on for a Premiership victory, the fact of its total meaningless triviality is lost in the chaotic forces that flood me and drown out my reason.


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