007: Quantum of Progress (A Vignette)

14 11 2008

Quantum of Progress

Computer: target proper?  Negative.

Her eyes narrow as she scans the crowds.

I know they’re here somewhere.

She furtively flits to a better vantage point, unnoticed by the individuals around her.  Let the commotion distract them; she has an appointment to keep.

Computer—no, she already sees it is wrong.

This is harder than I thought it would be.

Her first assignment back.  Already she feels each wasted, unforgiving second dropping away, like bullets on steel.

In, execute, out.  What more is there to it? OH SH—

She leaps into the air, cursing herself for losing focus.  Away, down, regroup, now! There are foreign parties here, with the same assignment, she is harshly reminded.  If she does not find her target soon…

Safe now, she resets.  Warily reapproaches the epicentre; the target is here, she was told.  But where?

Computer: profile: global-scan:

Too old. Too loud. Too short.  Wait—no, too troubled.  Damnit!

Her ammunition begins to self-activate.  A warning sign: she should have begun her next assignment by now.  No panic, but thinking fast.  What’s missing?  One more try.

Computer: Recalibrate assignment parameters: Profile: Global-scan:

What?!  What’s going on?!!

Target proper: positive.  Target proper: positive.  Target proper: positive.  Target proper: positive.

Her eyes furiously sweep the scene.  Unlike before, no matter where they land, her orders mandate it is appropriate to take action.

They’re ALL targets?!!  Every one?!!

Then, she realizes. Not every one.  Anyone.

The data…it was corrupt.

She circumvents the crowds, darts straight towards the centre of the ring, where her assignment had been all along.

Who was it who just bought in, again?

It doesn’t matter at all.  She begins to play.

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3 responses

6 12 2008
skymandr

This was a very witty, though at the same time thought provoking post! The pivotal point for me is the next to last sentence: “It doesn’t matter at all.”

It is true, it really doesn’t matter at all, but still – especially, I find, in the more informal rodas of normal classes – there is a definite tendency for the participants to be very preoccupied with who entered last. The words “Who should I buy?” [1] are hushedly (relative to the sound of the battería that is…) uttered all around the roda, and it is an implicit, but firm, assumption that buying the “wrong” person is a very bad thing to do. At least it is so in my academy. And the most irritating thing of it is that though I know that it on the whole it doesn’t matter, I myself comply to this implicit code of conduct. I know that otherwise the person expecting to be relieved will be confused, as will the rest of the roda. My point isn’t that you shouldn’t aim to replace the most tired of the players, but that keeping track of who went in last is of too little importance to let it control how you enter the roda.

Let me go off the immediate topic a little to elaborate further on the subject of “appropriate” buying. Besides the one addressed above I have another problem with buying (well, two actually, but the second being that I am – still after several years of this – very shy is perhaps not that interesting for a general discussion), namely that I always feel I should allow the players the chance to get a game going before buying myself in, and consequently on of them out. Though this is of course all very nice and considerate of me, I seem to think this more important than most, with the effect that several games can pass from the impulse to the time when I actually enter the roda. There is also the subject of being overly roda-concious and thus spotting when someone else is starting to move as if about to enter the roda. I for one always feel it a little rude to interrupt then, though sometimes I allow myself the reprieve of pretending not to see it…

This reply turned into a jumbled mess I just realised, but I think the bottom line is something like this: In the roda there is a balance, perhaps even a fine balance, between taking up space for yourself and allowing others to take space for themselves. If you buy too quickly, the balance is tilted when others will either realise this and copy the behaviour, or be left out – both effects leading to less interesting capoeira games. The solution is definitely not in consciously waiting longer between buys, as this will simply leave you standing. It is rather, I think, in paying less attention to what is “appropriate”, and again I think you nailed it with that all important statement: “It doesn’t matter at all”!

Comments anyone?

/Skyman

—-
[1]: Though in Swedish…

24 12 2008
Joaninha

Hi Skymandr,

I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about, and have struggled probably way more than necessary with the same things myself during rodas!! You should read my other post about this topic, I think you would really enjoy it… 10-Step Guide to Rocking the Capoeira Roda (by A. B. Ghinner)

I practically ALWAYS let other people go ahead when I was a beginner-beginner, but after 1-2 batizados that became restricted to just people from my class…then just friends…then just beginners or friends whom I noticed hadn’t bought in at all yet…haha. Of course it always also fluctuates and depends on the situation, timing, how I’m feeling that day, etc. Oh, and this only counted when they were actually waiting at the roda entrance, if they weren’t actually there yet, even if they started to walk but were still some distance away, then too bad XD

However, in this post I was actually trying to get across more that it doesn’t matter who is currently playing when you buy in, not necessarily who bought in last. As in, I wasn’t so much concerned with “Who bought in last?” (although you’re definitely right that that’s a huge part of it too, so thank you for bringing it up!), so much as “Is it okay if I buy in with a kid/higher belt/teacher/aggressive person/floreio-addict/etc. etc. etc.?” ! Because if you think that way, which I used to, then you end up waiting—as my teacher would say—“FooorrEEEVVVVVEEEEERRR”!

31 12 2008
skymandr

Haha! You’re right, I did enjoy that one immensely as well. I especially recognize paragraph 4–insightful friend of yours, that A. B, Ghinner!

The point you make about not playing persons with certain traits is definitely one I agree with as well. At times. of course, you simply don’t feel like playing a player you know to be aggressive or floreiro-centric. Though making a habit of not playing “those people” will hamper your development there is certainly nothing wrong with being picky every now and then.

There is, however, one exception of sorts in my book–I don’t think it is ok not to buy a game just based on the colour player’s cordão [1]. A lot of people–beginners and advanced students alike–tend to see the cordão before the person (not so chocking perhaps, it’s quite a contrast to the white of the abadas…), and this affects their buying habits and attitudes to their fellow peers. Though the grade system has definitive pedagogical advantages this inhibitory backside of it really annoys me. It seems very wrong to me that something which is essentially external to capoeira should have such a profound impact on how capoeiristas–myself included–practice it.

Or perhaps it is just me being conservative… 😉

Feliz ano novo para todos!

Skyman (“Buddha”)

—–
[1]: A mestre, for example, is not just a mestre based on his cordão, so though it is probably a good idea to play mestres as often as possible I think it is understandable to be reluctant to buy in that case.

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