The Transcendence of the Flesh

In Simulations, contemporary French sociologist Jean Baudrillard asks:

What becomes of the divinity when it reveals itself in icons, when it is multiplied in simulacra? Does it remain the supreme authority, simply incarnated in images as a visible theology? Or is it volatized into simulacra which alone deploy their pomp and power of fascination — the visible machinery of icons being substituted for the pure and intelligible Idea of God? (p.8)

How is a religion born? How is a deity created? How did a man from the outlying Roman territory of Galilee called Jesus become the Jesus of Christianity's Holy Trinity?

I cannot pretend to know the answers to these questions, but I can note their significance, since Nike is in the midst of executing its 500-year plan — namely, to create a religion with Michael Jordan as its central holy figure.

Mars Blackmon prophesied this …

courtesy of Nike

Michael Jordan's miracles are legion: off the top of my head, I recall The Banishment of False Gods From The Temple (63 vs. the so-called "Basketball Jesus" in 1986 playoffs), The First Distortion of Gravity (dunk from the foul line to win the 1988 NBA dunk contest), The Second Distortion of Gravity (hanging game-winner vs. Ehlo and Cavs in 1989 playoffs), and The Conquering of Influenza (38 points vs. Utah in 1997 Finals). Stories have been passed down reverently, his name has been whispered and shouted: MJ, Air Jordan, Jumpman, 23, Michael Jordan, Mike (who I want to be like).

We are now in the midst of witnessing his latest (and final?) miracle: The Transcendence of the Flesh.

The Student
Courtesy of ESPN.com
I am not Michael Jordan.
I did not attend the University of North Carolina.
I did not get drafted by Chicago.
I have not won 6 world championships.
I have not been selected to 14 All-Star Games.
I have not been the league's Most Valuable Player.
I am not Michael Jordan.
I am Carmelo Anthony, his student.

The Designated Hitter
Courtesy of ESPN.com
I am not Michael Jordan.
I can hit a big league curveball.
I can hit a 2-seam fastball.
I can hit a slider.
I can hit a knuckleball.
I can hit a change-up.
And I do not have a lifetime batting average of .202.
I am not Michael Jordan.
I am Derek Jeter, his designated hitter.

The Alter Ego
Courtesy of ESPN.com
I am not Michael Jordan.
I am not graceful and elegant.
I am not smooth and refined.
I don't care what people think about me.
I don't care what people say about me.
And I don't weigh 216 pounds.
I am not Michael Jordan.
I am Warren Sapp, his alter ego.

We see it in the TV commercials of the latest campaign: as MJ's flesh becomes weak, no longer available to produce meaning for Nike and its image-signs, the distilled essence of his excellence — his aura, that invisible Air of Jordan — transcends the body and morphs or transmogrifies into the bodies of his disciples. That is, Jordan has passed his Holy Spirit on to those who will follow in his Jumpman footsteps: for now, it is Anthony, Jeter, and Sapp, but it could be anybody, in any sport — even you.

Courtesy of Nike

So, children, I say to you: behold the sign and honour its greatness!

Comments

One response to The Transcendence of the Flesh

- rss feed for this comment thread
  1. sportsBabel » Michael Jordan, Inc.: A Pro Forma Statement says:

    [...] and Warren Sapp — Jordan's student, designated hitter, and alter ego, respectively. Resample: "As MJ's flesh becomes weak, no longer available to produce meaning for Nike and its [...]