Saturday, May 12, 2007

Battle of the Wordsmiths, pt. 2


Perhaps never before in baseball history has something happened like what is set to take place in just a few scant hours. Manly, bearded American lit professors, sharpen your thinking caps and tell me: have two novelists ever faced off against one another in a single week, righty versus righty, pen versus pen. DeSalvo versus Batista; "Love's Travels" versus "The Avenger of Blood"?

We knew all so well of Batista's poetic bent, but news that young master DeSalvo, a 26 year old rookie, likes to throw the words around, well, made us blush with joy. Here's what the New York Times gleaned from the E.M. Forster of the Bronx, currently reading Confucius, for our reading pleasure:
"I like to read different philosophies, just anything, the way I see the world. We spend a whole lifetime trying to figure ourselves out. Like I'll read a book and try to think, what's this mean to me? And I'll apply it to myself."
We at the Rag feel the same way. We did this with stereo instructions for our new multi-region DVD player the other day and now we have S-video and RCA cables running out of our orifices. It's handy because we work with pretty much all systems. Anyhow, back to the Poet from Penna., the Writing Righty, Matt DeSalvo, who recently read Camus' "The Myth of Sisyphus," and had this analysis of the seminal existential work:
"I took a lot out of it, like the struggle of humanity, how Sisyphus rolls a boulder up a hill and he finally reaches where he wants to be, and the boulder rolls down the hill. Most people in that situation, what do they do? They're like, 'Aw, man, I got to go get this.' But what he says is, why not see the boulder as your ultimate goal? It's almost as if you're proud to be pushing that boulder, that boulder's giving you meaning. And even though that boulder rolls back down, you dwell on how you succeeded in pushing it up and dwell on life -- Hey, I have something to do still. So it's almost like giving meaning to your life."
Just so happens we read that book in a senior year course on L'Existentialisme with noted philosopher Valentin Yves Mudimbe. Mudimbe, hailing from baseball mad Congo, had a slightly different interpretation of the central subject of analysis in that essay, one that more or less totally broke down and mocked the DeSalvian interpretation of the myth, instead describing a symbol of futility and suicide, and a man made aware of the meaningless of life by the very living of it. This is what Camus called an "Absurd Man," and hey, sports fans, sounds like we just came up with a nickname for the Yankee rookie starter.

Today, Matt "Absurd Man" DeSalvo, author of an unpublished novel on what Tyler Kepner says is "the way a person's concept of love changes over time," faces off against Miguel "Blood Avenger" Batista. Heady stuff.


*if we have time later, we'll dwell on Kepner's strangely hostile attitude to literary achievement by ball-players. Jealous bastard.

2 comments:

Tom said...

DeSalvo's clearly the better writer. Batista claimed afterward that he was tipping his pitches, which I took to be inattention to subtext and my friend Mike saw as heavy-handed foreshadowing.

Schmutz said...

Good point.

What's really striking is DeSalvo's consistent uses of metonymy to take on the role of the uber-pitcher, the only one capable of beating the Mariners with any regularity, and thus representative, in a word, of the entire staff of the Yankees. I think this is best expressed as "DeSalvo and Four Days of Rain."

Batista is currently working on a serious of sprung rhyme pitches on unfavorable counts with private pitching coach Jerry M. Hopkins. He claims that with a carefully controlled non-english metric foot, he can really pull the rug out from under traditionalist iamb-happy righties.