Heidegger and Beckenbauer

I’ll be visiting Jan van Bakel’s site again shortly to quote from his extraordinary collection of letters written by Flemish soldiers in Napoleon’s armies, but here‘s another strange thing I found, which he quotes from Rüdiger Safranski’s Martin Heidegger – Between Good and Evil (1998):

Heidegger by then was a venerable old gentleman, and his former brusqueness and severity had mellowed with the years. He would go to a neighbor’s house to watch European Cup matches on television. During the legendary match between Hamburg and Barcelona, he knocked a teacup over in his excitement. The then director of the Freiburg theater met Heidegger on a train one day and tried to conduct a conversation with him on literature and the stage. He did not succeed however, because Heidegger still under the impact of an international soccer match, preferred to talk about Franz Beckenbauer. He was full of admiration for this player’s delicate ball control – and actually tried to demonstrate some of Beckenbauer’s finesses to his astonished interlocutor. He called Beckenbauer an “inspired player” and praised his “invulnerability” in duels on the field.

I hope someone reminded Heidegger before his death in 1976 that he had actually played alongside Beckenbauer in one of the greatest matches in history, and that no one could have stopped Socrates that day. An excerpt:

Well here comes the referee, K’ung fu-tsze (Confucius), and his two linesmen, St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas. [Referee spots the ball and the captains shake hands.] And as the two skippers come together to shake hands, we’re ready for the start of this very exciting final. The referee Mr Confucius checks his sand and… [referee blows his whistle] they’re off! [The Germans immediately turn away from the ball, hands on chins in deep contemplation.] Nietzsche and Hegel there. Karl Jaspers number seven on the outside, Wittgenstein there with him. There’s Beckenbauer. Schelling’s in there, Heidegger covering.

Ah, fame! I reckon there’s a miniscule bestseller waiting to be written on the relationship between football and European philosophy in the twentieth century. You know: all that old logos vs physis stuff, but then with a song or two.

Similar posts


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *