«... La vérité emphatique du geste dans les grandes circonstances de la vie.»


the virtue of all-in wrestling is that it is the spectacle of excess. here we find a grandiloquence which must have been that of ancient theatres. and in fact wrestling is an open-air spectacle, for what makes the circus or the arena what they are is not the sky ( a romantic value suited rather to fashionable occasions), it is the drenching and vertical quality of the flood of light. even hidden in the most spalid parisian halls, wrestling partakes of the nature of the great solar spectacles, greek drama and bullfights: in both, a light without shadow generates an emotion without reserve.

there are people who thing that wrestling is an ignoble sport. wrestling is not a sport, it is a spectacle, and it is no more ignoble to attend a wrestling performance of suffering thatn a performance of the sorrows of arnolphe or andromaque.*

Thus the function of the wrestler is not to win; it is to go exactly through the motions which are expected of him. It is said that judo contains a hidden symbolic aspect; even in the midst of efficiency, its gestures are measured, precise but restricted, drawn accurately but by a stroke without volume. Wrestling, on the contrary, offers excessive gestures, exploited to the limit of their meaning. In judo, a man who is down is hardly down at all, he rolls over, he draws back, he eludes defeat, or, if the latter is obvious, he immediately disappears; in wrestling, a man who is down is exaggeratedly so, and completely fills the eyes of the spectators with the intolerable spectacle of his powerlessness.


Illustrations: Pepitagraphics, Jacqueline García
Text: The World of Wrestling by Roland Barthes