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Federer as Religious Experience.docx

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Simon Fraser University
Jon Smith

Federer as Religious Experience By David Foster Wallace - Mimics the 5 paragraph essay - Passive voice - Good combination of lists, long sentences and short sentences “We’ve all got our examples.” - Casual/informal “There’s a medium-long exchange of groundstrokes, … Federer’s still dancing backward as it lands.” - Puts you in the moment by not adding periods, instead using many commas and ‘ands’ - Achieves the sense of immediacy as if you are watching the game - Watching television doesn’t do the game justice - You cannot capture a Federer moment on camera; same with writing, you can never fully capture in words what you want - This is an example of when form compliments the content “How do you hit a winner from that position?” - John McEnroe, one of the best living tennis players - The more you know about tennis, the more awesome Federer sounds (which usually is the opposite, the less you know the more amazed you become) “Federer had to send that ball down a two-inch pipe of space in order to pass him” - Beautiful phrase: a two-inch pipe of space “The Matrix.” - An allusion - Someone as good as Federer, he sees the tennis balls as slow as the bullets in The Matrix “I was down on one knee” - Part of the religious experience watching Federer play “sacred grass of Wimbledon” - Part of the religious reference “bloody near-religious experience.” - He can’t lose his self-consciousness while writing - Trope: a type of figure of speech; any figurative language - Metaphor - Writing always comes a little bit short from where you want it to be - Cliché ways of writing about stuff; saying something old - Writers want to write about stuff in a fresh way and Wallace is self-conscious about this, how can he write about this without using clichés “Beauty is not the goal of competitive sports, but high-level sports are a prime venue for the expression of human beauty. The relation is roughly that of courage to war.” - Beauty is to sports as courage is to war “human beings’ reconciliation with the fact of having a body.” - Some concrete thing as simple as a guy playing tennis is put in a bizarre description “You too may find them so, in which case Spain’s mesomorphic and totally martial Rafael Nadal is the man’s man for you — he of the unsleeved biceps and Kabuki self-exhortations.” - Nadal is the antagonist; that person to person conflict - Nadal is too traumatic for Wallace’s liking “the glass slits above the south backstop” - Beautiful sound of language “ This Wimbledon final’s got the revenge narrative, the king-versus-regicide dynamic, the stark character contrasts. It’s the passionate machismo of southern Europe versus the intricate clinical artistry of the north. Apollo and Dionysus. Scalpel and cleaver. Righty and southpaw. Nos. 1 and 2 in the world. Nadal, the man who’s taken the modern power- baseline game just as far as it goes, versus a man who’s transfigured that modern game, whose precision and variety are as big a deal as his pace and foot-speed, but who may be peculiarly vulnerable to, or psyched out by, that first man. A British sportswriter, exulting with his mates in the press section, says, twice, “It’s going to be a war.”” - The paragraph is a total cliché - Talking in partial metaphors - Stuff about war - Wallace doesn’t want to give us this cliché, he tries to look at the beauty of it “Plus it’s in the cathedral of Centre Court. And the men’s final is always on the fortnight’s second Sunday, the symbolism of which Wimbledon emphasizes by always omitting play on the first Sunday.”; “make their ritual bows to the nobles’ box”; “ there’s a ceremonial coin- toss to see who’ll serve first. It’s another Wimbledon ritual.” - Religious reference “Right before play, up at the net, there’s a ceremonial coin-toss to see who’ll serve first. It’s another Wimbledon ritual. The honorary coin-tosser this year is William Caines, assisted by the umpire and tournament referee. William Caines is a 7-year-old from Kent who contracted liver cancer at age 2 and somehow survived after surgery and horrific chemo. He’s here representing Cancer Research UK. He’s blond and pink-cheeked and comes up to about Federer’s waist. The crowd roars its approval of the re-enacted toss. Federer smiles distantly the whole time. Nadal, just across the net, keeps dancing in place like a boxer, swinging his arms from side to side. I’m not sure whether the U.S. networks show the coin- toss or not, whether this ceremony’s part of their contractual obligation or whether they get to cut to commercial. As William’s ushered off, there’s more cheering, but it’s scattered and disorganized; most of the crowd can’t quite tell what to do. It’s like once the ritual’s over, the reality of why this child was part of it sin
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