Monday, June 12, 2006

World Cup Wins Often Reflect Passion

I’ve been in heaven since the start of the weekend, as I follow as many World Cup games as possible. I had to take my kids to a friend’s birthday party Saturday afternoon, so I just pushed record on the VCR and avoided the news, until I could get home and watch.

This morning’s first game featured Japan vs. Australia in a match that was without doubt directed towards a Japanese win. Australia has never scored in a World Cup game, much less won a game. Watching the game, Japan played like a predictable machine scoring then going on the defensive to protect their one goal asset for a “safe” win. Meanwhile, Australia stumbled over itself for 80 minutes without much hope of accomplishing anything extraordinary. Then the last ten minutes changed everything. Australia’s first-string heroes were replaced by the second-string benchwarmers as the manager and team basically conceded defeat. Eight minutes until the next four-year rest, the benchwarmers blasted out three goals to defeat a stunned Japan.

The Japanese team was a model of dedication in their disciplined approach towards securing a win. Unfortunately for Japan, the Australian second-stringers made it a game dependent upon passion rather than purely playbook techniques. At the 90-minute mark, the Australian players just wanted it more.

With a few exceptions (Hokusai comes to mind), Asian art history is rife with amazing work that has seen little change in over 2000 years. Everyone knows the stereotypes of a smart and disciplined Asian culture that can overcome any obstacle. But how often do we associate this culture with passion? Is zeal what set apart artists such as Hokusai from their fellow countrymen? Is his “passion”, the reason most people know his name above all other Japanese artists? I look at my own work inspired by the art history of the Far East and I wonder is it passion that allowed me to take on these styles and ultimately create a new approach to painting while still exploring my own culture and home landscape? Is passion ever really over-rated? I think not. Art historians will always love to study and teach stories of Van Gogh, first and foremost for his vehemence. – DN

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