Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Last Thursday Trev and I were sitting in our favorite "family restaurant" (it calls itself a "creperie" but has nachos and the occasional screaming kid), waiting for our clothes to dry at the laundromat next door. I reading Anthony Grafton's article on the library of the future in the New Yorker, when my eye was drawn to the television over the bar. A shirtless, heavily tattooed man was dancing under a spotlight. I thought it was some kind of dance-contest show, but then the man trotted down a ramp into a large octagonal ring surrounded by a chain-link cage. Another man appeared from the opposite direction, and the two of them started punching and then kicking each other in the head. I put Grafton down.

I studied karate for four years before destroying my ankle. These guys seemed to have some technique. Apparently they were engaged in a practice called Strikeforce, which I learn from Wikipedia is "an American professional kickboxing and mixed martial arts promotion based in San Jose, California." (At the time I thought that might just be the name of the company that made the mat.) The bout ended quickly, though I don't quite remember how, and then another bout started with two new heavily tattooed guys. These guys immediately went to the floor, wrapped their arms and legs around each other, and sort of scootched around the mat. Eventually the ref separated them, then they did the same thing again. They looked like a couple of brothers fighting, or a couple of drunks, as Trev said. It was impossible to tell whether they knew how to fight. The effect was hilarious and boring at the same time, suggesting that if no holds are barred, skill becomes irrelevant, and/or aesthetics goes out the window. Or perhaps they were really fighting. My karate teacher told us about a real fight that broke out during a sparring competition. The guys immediately dropped all their fancy training and started windmilling and slapping each other.

What does this mean for the library of the future?

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