Essay
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Notes on balance

The contest is over for the players, but not for the camera professionals and commentators. The spectator is presented with portraits of joy, relief, agony. Zoom to a clutch of players: all hands to heads.

All the evidence is in and the critics make their case. Preparation? Lax. Leadership? Too relaxed. The team? Undisciplined. Would-be heroes had spent too much time nurturing their second-curve careers in fashion and idleness.

For almond trees, poor soil [is preferable], for if the soil is deep and rich, the trees experience an exuberance [hubris] because of all the good nutrition, and they stop bearing fruit [a-karpeîn].

Theophrastus About the aetiologies of plants 2.16.8, trans. Nagy.

A headstrong defender presents himself for interview, shirtless, tired, bare. He scratches his head as he delivers his analysis.

It’s very, very difficult to express the situation in words. We believed in ourselves until the end, even after first goal against us we were looking to turn the game around, but just couldn’t find the goal, none of us could. We had the opportunities. I should have scored when I had the chance in the 86th, no excuse… None of the favorites are getting through easily, except perhaps Belgium and England. The so-called smaller teams are doing a good job defensively… There are a lot of points that we have to look at. I won’t say what publicly. The last convincing game we played was last autumn. After the first defeat we improved our positioning… It wasn’t bad today either up until the 65th minute when we lost order, left our positions, went a bit wild, bad passes and, if I may say so, we did well to defend against strong counter-attacks… If I had put that ball into the goal in the 86th we’d be talking about how great it is to move into the next round. It’s a bitter evening.

Mats Hummels, Post-match interview.

Success begets confidence and investment. Reputations are made, fortunes beckon. The pleasures of victory lead to overabundance and hubris. Past success is a risk factor.

In spite of recurring ups and downs … there seems to be an underlying faith in the eventual arrival of a period without cycles and without social problems as a result of the operation of the system. This mixture of ideas and convictions with yearnings and desires resurfaces with great strength during two particular phases of the surge: Frenzy and Synergy. In the first, it is the growth of the financial bubble and the incredible profits achieved that create the delusion of a new economy, which is all the more credible the more money arrives at the believer’s bank. In the second, it is the steady growth and the gradual diffusion of well-being for a relatively long period that create the illusion of an ever-improving society. The first mirage will be broken by the bursting of the bubble; the second by the growing social discontent followed by the economic decline of the established production structure.

Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital, C. Perez

The most enduring wine is made where climate and soil conspire to discipline the vine. Good taste depends on a good struggle. Viticulturists support, train and prune to keep growth within limits. Balanced wine comes from balanced growth.

Into the almond tree they drive an iron peg, and, having thus made a hole, insert in its place a peg of oak-wood and bury it in the earth, and some call this ‘punishing’ the tree that is committing hubris.

Theoprastus, trans. Arthur Hort.

The game between Uruguay and Portugal has just evened out. It is said that the Uruguayan team is built around the quest for a balance of beauty and grit. Its coach Oscar Tabarez is an admirer of Che Guevara’s adage: “You must toughen yourself without losing tenderness.” Will they get it right?

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