excerpts from Pelé as a Comedian by Brian Phillips
…the beauty created by a great athlete playing a game can help us dream of transcending our own physical limits, can give us the sense, fleetingly, …that our bodies aren’t at odds with our wills, that we can do what we can dare
…the reconciling beauty of a great athlete doing the apparently impossible…
He makes acts that are extremely difficult to perform look easy. In the process…he creates moments of fantastic delight for the spectator.
…a form of aesthetic appreciation based on something different from and possibly deeper than character or self-expression: our innate sympathetic connection with other people’s bodies, and the thrill of seeing intention freely realized over and against all physical impediments…
Then it happens, and it’s impossible even though it’s happening, but it’s happening even though it’s impossible. Everything that’s wrong…suddenly seems right, because it merely provides the occasion for the astonishing thing he improvises. You laugh, because it’s exhilarating, and you laugh because the consolation it offers is not a consummate, religious consolation, but an imperfect, fragile piece of momentary happiness. It’s a consolation that was made to make you laugh.
The terrible thing about happiness is that it can’t answer any questions. But when it comes, you don’t need it to. And when it goes, well, what would you want it to say?