Did you ever read the Julian Jaynes tome, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind? It’s been more or less discredited as a theory, but in sum, the author suggests that consciousness (as we know it) is a human capacity that only developed in the last 3,000 years.
According to Jaynes, prior to this evolution, people didn’t make conscious choices when faced with a difficult or confusing or surprising situation. Instead, they’d obey the dictums of a voice or “god” telling them what to do. There’d be no questioning of these “orders” or even the realization that one was receiving commands as opposed to thinking and making a choice. Basically, we were all more or less schizophrenics.
But at around 1000 AD, there were mass migrations and some serious environmental catastrophes and it was only through the evolution of a self-aware mind—a mind that knows and is aware that it’s making a choice, not receiving the world from a super- or supra-natural force—that people were able to survive.
I mention this, because I’m really longing for a direct connection to the gods right now, or at least some force larger than myself that could just tell me what the hell I’m supposed to do here and now, with this team, the New York Knickerbockers.
As you’re well aware, in the last game before the All-Star break, the Sacramento Kings defeated the New York Knicks by a score of 106-101. This drearily bleak loss was barely indistinguishable from the slew of other bland, wearying defeats. The difference is, after this one, I didn’t feel anything.
I didn’t care when a double-digit lead vanished faster than Jimmer Fredette’s release, in the midst of a FARTDOG-fueled BYU nostalgia trip leading to a career-high 24 points. And yes, he joins Marco Belinelli, Lance Stephenson, Evan Turner and Brandon Knight as guards that have set a new mark in points this season.
I didn’t care when Isaiah “No relation” Thomas said that the Knicks were giving the aforementioned WAC Player of the Year vast swaths of real estate, even after he had nailed his first five shots, scoring 13 in a 4 minute span to start the second quarter.
I didn’t care when Woodson used Shumpert’s gimpy hip as an excuse (as if he needed one) to go bigball for the bulk of the 2nd Half.
I didn’t care when Woodson unveiled what must be his Christo-like, wrapping-all-of-Central-Park-in-orange-fabric-because-art masterpiece by actually going with Melo at shooting guard for a brief stretch in OT.
Pause for one sec. Everyone’s been giggling about the whole “X is big” thing for months now, with jokey tweets about a STAT-Melo-Bargs-Chandler-Martin five-man unit. That’s funny, but what Woodson did last night rendered all of our clever yuks moot. You couldn’t pen Onion-esque article describing a thing he could say or move he might make that isn’t an actual, possible thing. Congrats, Son of Wood. You’ve beaten satire into a helpless puddle of sickly, brownish-green goo.
I didn’t care when Melo shot 0-fer-his-last-8 to end the game, yet given two chances to win on the final possession, they went ISO both times. He’s now 1-19 in such situation, and I’m starting to think that old gypsy woman that’s been counseling JB Smoove might not actually have a connection to the mystical/occult world.
I didn’t care that, even after rolling his ankle in the 3rd, for reasons’ beyond the understanding and/or purview of mere mortals, Raymond Felton played the bulk of the 4th Quarter and all of OT, regardless of the fact that he couldn’t locate the bottom of the with a nautical compass of exacting precision.
I didn’t care that on the final two possessions of the 4th, Sacramento got the shot they wanted by getting the ‘Bockers to switch, leaving Amar’e to try to, you know, stop them.
I didn’t care that they lost to a team that had lost 10 of the previous 12 games, including all 7 on the road, and was playing in the second night of a back-to-back, having been trounced by the equally sad, foundering, squabbling Cleveland Cavaliers.
I didn’t care that Woodson seemed pissed as hell in the post-game presser (again), bored and condescendingly weary at the thought of having to answer the same, pointed questions, even if he’s never actually answered any of them in a way that suggests anything other than a man with the IQ of a slightly bruised, overripe cucumber or a pathological liar.
And hell, if Raymond Felton doesn’t care, why should I?
Stephen A. says he’s done with them too, so I’m not/we’re not alone in wanting to scurry away from this sinking ship as quickly as possible.
That’s a new thing for me—emerging from two and a half hours of shitty basketball without a disfiguring scar being left somewhere on my soul. Part of me wants to see this as a kind of personal growth. If you’ve read my scribblings before, you know that I have repeatedly declared my intention to hold the entire endeavor of fandom at arm’s length.
Of course, I’ve failed. Time and time again.
In end, it is absolutely bat-guano crazy, this thing of investing emotional currency and personal self-worth in the results of any individual game or season or player or team.
And trying to enjoy this team (or any iteration of the Knickerbockers) with a measure of objectivity and/or distance has been an exercise in pure folly.
I guess what Oscar Wilde said is true: When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers. Because right now, even though I’m kind of thrilled that I’m not applying an ice pack to my head, what with the excessive pounding of said cranium into my desk that normally would occur after watching a poop fajita of a game like this one, I feel kind of lost, like Julian Jaynes ‘evolved’ humans. I can’t remember the last time I watched this team and the result literally had no impact on my state of being.
It’s like having a long-time, really persistent tormentor of mine vanish into thin air. While I’m sad to see the vicious bastard gone, I’m not sure what I’m going to do without him. I don’t know why I’d watch these games if I didn’t care deeply about the result.
I write these recaps partly out of a need to dump out all the serious #feels that I (and you all out there in KnickerbloggerLand) have about this team and this game that we love. Because when you say something—whether it’s out loud or on paper or converted into bytes or whatever—it takes away its power. We’re the opposite of Christian Scientists. Freudians, if you will: to name a thing—Toney Douglas or Bargs or Jerome James or any of the hundreds of sad, overpaid, failed Knicks that we’ve allowed to nestle in the bosom of our hearts— is to neutralize that thing.
So yes, that’s partly selfish. I’m trying to ease/come to terms with/better understand this bête noire. I really hope that you’ve enjoyed reading them and that, in times of unpleasantness, the things I (or Jim Cavan, or Kevin McElroy or Mike Kurylo or all the wise, funny, insightful things you have all written in the comments) have helped in some way, shape or form.
I struggle with this a lot. I worry that by delving into the experience of fandom and (at times) leaving out the finer points of what occurs on the court (as in this so-called “recap”) that I’m engaging in some kind of solipsistic, navel-gaze-y/snake-eating-its-own-tail MC Escher painting that’s pointless and dull. Of course, the old dictum of “write what you know” exists for a reason and what I know is fandom. I know its dark corridors and secret passages and I can recite the names of all the gods and demons that have market my time in service of this religion.
And make no mistake about it, fandom is a kind of religion—or at least it often walks and talks in a manner that makes it feel like a religion. It’s one that’s built on faith, even if the object of our worship is so clearly fallible, so preternaturally flawed that it calls into question the entire validity of the exercise of faith, of giving yourself over to an entity outside of your control.
In the end, no matter what entity or thing or force you choose to give yourself over to, this thing that’s clearly bigger than you and totally beyond your control has you in a pretty vulnerable state. The vulnerability is kind of the point, but it’s frightening. I don’t know whether this thing—fandom—is the kind of thing I want to be standing naked, shivering and powerless before. Not anymore.
Yes, I get the irony/contradiction of being tired of enslaving myself to a failed god/lover like the Knicks, and asking for a higher power to give me a better answer.
So I guess I’m saying I’m not sure what I’m going to do next. I’m sure once this gang-that-couldn’t-shoot-straight toddles into Memphis tonight, everything will be right as rain, and I’ll be screaming for Woodson’s shiny, bald pate on a platter or about some other crime and/or misdemeanor against basketball/humanity.
And if you said, “I really don’t care whether you care or not, Bob,” that’d be okay. I get that. I didn’t write this out of some purely egotistical drive because I think the universe is dying to get my #HotSportsTake on this, but out of the hope that some of you out there are in the same place; that this year’s Knick model is so profoundly bleak, so fundamentally flawed and wrong, that you’re ready to walk away.
Since I don’t really have an answer (and short of an oracle, we human beings/Knicks fans are going to have to figure this out on our own), I’m going to end this with a question. Have you guys stopped caring or at least are you caring less? And if so, are you still watching the games? And is it easier or harder or what?