[ExI] Pistorius

Tomasz Rola rtomek at ceti.pl
Tue Jul 31 19:52:57 UTC 2012

On Sat, 28 Jul 2012, Anders Sandberg wrote:

> I have been asked to write a piece on Oscar Pistorius participation in the
> olympics (and not the paralympics). Not being very sports interested myself, I
> would be curious to hear what more sports interested members of the list (if
> any) make of the whole thing.
> Normalization of enhancement, the olympics as a biomedical freak show,
> personality cult, or recognition of enormous tenacity?

As far as I can tell, sport has two aspects about itself:

1. A popular one, where "folk" would gather and see how "our guys" (out)do 
"other guys" and be proud etc etc, there is also some connection with 
religious rituals, festivities, show of power and maybe more. There is 
also this thing about people from the slums who by their own willpower 
and spirit raise themselves to the level of the mightiest of the world, 
i.e. heroic tale told/printed part after part by the media ("see, you 
could have done this too, if you worked hard enough") - compare to 
gladiators who could gain freedom and wealth if they entertained 
spectators well enough.

2. Competitive one, where "guys" want to be the first because it gives them 
lots of money, their sponsors can bet and earn even more. So we have 
erythropoietin and anabolics (as well as pregnancy-abortion cycle used in 
the role of doping, I hear), and computer-designed shoes and helmets and 
bicycles, and computers analysing and optimising body movements and so on. 
Heroic aspect slowly dims and is outgrown by industrial-financial aspect. 
Sporthumans become less amiable, and it is harder to identify with them or 
their success as they are more and more a living laboratory glass.

With this in mind, and remembering we love heroic stories, Pistorius fits 
very well. Without his prostheses he would have been limited and maybe 
even pitiful. Now, add his strong will to carbon fibre and we have great 
man. I feel much more sympathy to him than to few other sportsmen, even 
though at the same time I try to analyse the issue without emotional 

The first aspect will have to stay because there is a growing need to feed 
masses with entertainment and cheap bread. The second aspect will have to 
stay too, only behind the courtain. So Pistorius is enfant terrible of 
sport, unable to hide his legs under the rug and use them at the same 

Tomasz Rola

** A C programmer asked whether computer had Buddha's nature.      **
** As the answer, master did "rm -rif" on the programmer's home    **
** directory. And then the C programmer became enlightened...      **
**                                                                 **
** Tomasz Rola          mailto:tomasz_rola at bigfoot.com             **

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