Thursday, 30 April 2009

Brilliant Orange

En Vincent zag het koren and Vincent saw the corn
En Einstein het getal and Einstein the number
En Zeppelin de Zeppelin and Zeppelin the Zeppelin
En Johan zag de bal and Johan the ball

Leuk Koninginnedag! This year, Israel's Independence Day came one day before Koninginnedag. So it's only appropriate that i bore my 3 readers (Hoi, moeder & vaddertje! leuk dat jullie mijn blog lezen!) with a phenomenon that was introduced to the football world by a Dutch football club still called 'The Jews': Total Football. By the way, there's a lot of controversy about that, and even a book devoted to proving that there was never any official Jewish affiliation with Ajax. For an (interesting & bizarre article about it, click here. And just to add a tangent to a tangent, click here for a list of words or Amsterdam slang that is derived from Hebrew).

It's not exactly the normal content of this blog, but i've been reading David Winner's Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football; a fascinating study dealing with conceptions of space, design, architecture, art, and of course, football, in Dutch culture. Winner opens with the following question:

The football pitch is the same size and shape everywhere in the world, yet no one else thought about football this way. So why did the Dutch? The answer may be that the Dutch think innovatively, creatively and abstractly about space in their football because for centuries they have had to think innovatively about space in every other area of their lives (p.47)

In a manner reminiscent of Wright's Prairie style, Winner goes on to draw connect
ions between the impact of nature on architectural design, and expands into the realm of political philosophy:

‘We tend to think we invented the idea of land-use planning. Our problems with water meant we had to take collective political action in order to be able to build dikes. You can’t do that on your own. We always say that the origin of Dutch democracy lies in this co-operative dike-building’—Maarten Hajer (professor of public policy, University of A’dam), 49

Winner also describes the tolerance of Dutch society as evolving from the wide, open landscape. He also discusses the similarities between the terrifyingly controlled and ordered aspect of Dutch society and landscape. The decency in football, the preference for style and form over winning,finds its parallel in Holland's famously clean streets, which has its roots in strict Dutch Calvinism.

To Winner, Cruijff saw the football pitch like Pieter Jansz Saenredam saw churches. The conception, organisation, and execution of Dutch painters has always been a harmonious marriage of creativity, technique, and technical execution (like Vermeer and glazing). Perhaps one of the most distinct elements of Dutch painting is the depiction of space.

To measure distance is a natural inclination, an instinct for the Dutch people. We measure space quietly, very precisely and then order it in detail. That is the Dutch way of seeing, the Dutch approach to space: selective detail. It’s a natural, instinctive thing for us to do. You see it in our paintings, our architecture and our football too. 53-54

Perhaps the most attractive thing about Total Football is that it emphasises teamwork as requisite for transcending the ordinary game of football, and attaining the unity and harmony of the 'other-wordly', almost spiritual art-form that Ajax once introduced to the world.

1 comment:

  1. Dag schatje!
    Je moet een link van je blog doorsturen naar Kathelijne, dat zal ze vast HEEL interessant en leuk vinden!
    Oranje Boven! - Mumzie