Meaningless magnificence

BOOK OF THE WEEK; The Meaning of Cantona: Meditations on Life, Art and Perfectly Weighted Balls by Terence Blacker and William Donaldson (Mainstream Publishing, hardback, pounds 9.99)
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The Independent Online

When the trawler pulled in, the thinking seagulls gathered. Two of them have filled their net with sardines.


Intellectual sardines. Poetic sardines. Semiotic sardines. Deconstructed sardines. Ironic sardines. Mon genius as signifier, Brian. As the title puts it, perfectly weighted balls.


From the back streets of Marseilles - "Who is this skilful boy with his strange dreams? And why does he wear his collar up? - to 2,047, when an old man plays boules, his head full of dreams, Eric pursues beauty and truth, truth and beauty.


The book is written in the aphoristic style popularised by the much-travelled German midfield general, Friedrich "Butch" Nietzche, and the Rapid Vienna and Cambridge United playmaker, Ludwig Wittgenstein, "Wittgo" to his team- mates.


Which is to say in bits. Like this. Numbered bits. There are 630. Biographical, philosophical. Chocker with pithy pensees and episodic epigrams, parodic premises and cod conclusions.


Some of it is true. Most of it is false. Some of it is a little bit naughty. "Ash in the mouth" indeed. This contravenes Wittgo's dictum in his 92 Sportspages Book Of The Year, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: "What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence."


Cantona: what does the word signify? An apparent paradox. The measured flick that makes a dichotomy of the back four, the measured kick that removes the disruptive opposing supporter to the back of the stands.


Et ce livre? Il signifie quoi?


Jean Luc Godard, Benny Hill, wee Strachany, the Skeggie Nude Ballet. Herr Hans Bowler, whose head was shaped like a traffic cone. Venners singing "Rhinestone Cowboy" at the Scribes West karaoke night. Herbert Lom and Peter Osgood. The psychology of football positions. Ravanelli discovering his inner child. Eric taking English lessons from Jan Molby, Eric going to meet his good friend Chappo in the snug bar of the Goat in Boots.These are some of the exquisite pleasures of this book.


And now the king has abdicated. Among the previous works of one of the authors, Terry Blacker - Tel - is Alone and Just Fine: A Guide to Mid- Life Independence. This is not, strangely, about Eric. But it could be.

Chris Maume