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The Achillean Dilemma
Banjo and the Hobo Discuss the Plight of the Maimed Hero: 2/13/22
Hey James, 
I hope all is well for you, or well enough.  Are you familiar with the boxer Edwin Valero?  I'm amazed at his abilities (power, footwork, aggression, he seems to be able to almost batter into the pocket with a weird finesse and then move out of the pocket just as his opponent is able to throw only to hit him again on the back step (see minute 10 of video).  
**spoilers**
He got in a motorcycle accident at the beginning of his career and got a cte.  His doctors told him not to fight anymore because it could wreck his brain.  He took some time off and continued fighting but couldn't get cleared to fight in USA so he fought in South America and Japan and was a sparring partner to many famous guys (got kicked out of De La Hoya's camp for dropping too much heat on him).  So he fought in South America and Japan.  It appears that violence outside of the ring became common for him as he lost his temper a lot (sign of CTE? here)  Eventually he beat and eventually murdered his wife and hanged himself.  
Valero was faced with the Achilean (is that a word?) choice after his initial injury.  Fight, gain fame and die young or transition into another life.  This idea was the subject of a movie titled The Rider about a true story of a bronc rider that had a brain injury and was told he will die if he gets another knock on the head.  The story chronicles his choice.  I highly recommend that movie (all the stars of the movie are played by the actual people the story is about).    
What does a man do when he cannot do the thing he excels at, the thing that people praise him for, the thing that puts him in the spot light?  While the transition would be devastating I would probably just take the non Achilles route which pains me to say but I guess I'm lucky I was never really good at anything so I don't have to worry about this problem haha.  
Any thoughts about the Achillean dilemma, the life and boxing of Valero and CTEs in boxing.  As for the latter how does a recreational boxer avoid brain injury or is it unlikely?  
Take care James.  I hope we run into each other soon, 
Banjo
Banjo, this is the second time I’ve seen this documentary. Valero was such a savage!
Of course, having the most beautiful woman in a shit-hole nation marry the most brutal man, well, that is timeless seedbed for marital dysfunction.
As far as brain damaged fighters and anger, my experience, personally and through historical reading, is that most of the gradual erosion of mental function due to repeated head trauma makes fighters nicer, more mellow, less dangerous, reduces balance and crushes reaction time. Having been deposed as chair of the American Neurological Association for altering my Negrology Certificate as fraudulent proof of my back alley brain surgery record, I must admit to not being qualified to speak on the results of car-accident levels of brain trauma.
Now, the Achillean Dilemma should be in our lexicon and thank you for introducing it to me here. I do believe I have read it before, but do not recall where.
Like you, I have been spared praiseworthy excellence in this life, particularly in physical pursuits. So I don’t have to worry about my identity being crushed by the oncoming failure of my every power. Not having power, is an inocculation against this Plight of Achilles, I suppose.
I do recall how I dealt with praise of my physical prowess the one and only time I was declared to be the best at something. Gym teachers were measuring myself and a boy coming off of an illness, who was short and fat, in a timed 220 yard dash. I liked to run each morning and was a good mid-range sprinter. As I tore around the track, these developmental teachers ignored the kid having trouble even running and cheered me on as I was clearly going to hatter the Trinity Middle School record in the 220. I dealt with that moment by quitting and walking in, sneering at the bitch and the sissy and by standing surly and un-prepentant before the football coaches as they lectured me. I then refused to run in any more races and signed up for shot put, discus and javelin.
For some reason, other boys in the class did the same thing, as we had been told to chose at least 3 events of ten. I was removed from physical education and placed in a darkened auditorium for a few months, which I loved.
In discussing Achilles, we are discussing “The Best” warrior and his identity crisis. I suspect that Homer wrote The Odyssey as an answer to this plight. For after Achilles and Ajax died, Odysseus was thence the best warrior of his race. This earned him the jealously of gods and men as it had Achilles. Odysseus deals with this plight through cunning, through heroic valor and deception as appropriate.
Lets explore slightly.
Achilles was the preeminent spear-man, meaning the apex battle figure, his weapon being essentially the weapon of Civilization, and his level of masculine agency incompatible with the feminine manipulation matrix that is civilization, with all men essentially the barre bride of The State. Achilles was trapped.
What was the weapon of Odysseus?
The bow, the weapon of the hunter, not of the soldier.
Odysseus and his acts can be seen as an example of how men might be able to rise again as agents of their own instead of agents of the state, once the state structure collapses. Achilles was killed by the war that felled a civilization—that felled 7 civilizations circa 1177 B.C.
Odysseus survives that war and then wanders the Dark Age it begat, even visiting his better, Achilles, in Hades, and rescuing his own tiny kingdom from lesser men even as greater kings like Agamemnon, his master fall into woe.
I think the answer is age—perhaps Fate—as Odysseus was granted additional years as the coal of contention that smoldered longer, even as Achilles, the torch that burned brighter, fell cold first.
I would say, that I our own Time, that seeking to satisfy or deny the Earthly Powers are both traps that net different types of our kind, and that our hope to remain men in a post-human world is to conduct an Odyssey and negotiate the collapse of our falling civilization as the mortal and immortal obstacle course that it is.
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