Monday, April 16, 2012

A TRY IS NOT A TRY



 It was an elegant move. The player chased the ball down, grabbed it close to the line, carefully controlled his balance as he ensured his feet were both just inside the line and, all with one graceful swing as he fell, passed the ball back to a colleague who ran across the line to place it under the goal posts. Rarely does Rugby League offer up such a pleasing spectacle. But there were still doubts. Was the line touched? Was the player on side? Was there any interference? These events all occurred within a couple of seconds, so the eye alone could not be relied upon for such a complex assessment. The referee lifted his arms and, with mirror movements of his hands, outlined a rectangular path in space. He was calling for the opinion of the video referee. After what seemed a long wait, the television screen switched from closeups of anxious players to large graphics. The eye stared expectantly at the wide white blank. Finally, text forms appeared, spinning through the void to declare in huge green, triumphant letters, the word 'TRY.' The font was bold and extended, as if to scream out the result with a certain finality.
 
'TRY' - isolated in this extreme manner, the word sounded strange. It was somewhat like the circumstance where a familiar word is seen for the first time differently, leaving one puzzled about its use and its spelling. 'TRY'? It was a strange name for success. One might have spoken about the way that the team had been trying without success for some twenty minutes to score. Now that the player has managed to get the ball over the line, the effort is named a 'TRY.' One tries to achieve outcomes in various other situations, but the outcome is not named a 'TRY.' 'TRY' sounds like an attempt that has not given the planned or preferred result. Why is it used here for success - when the goal has ben achieved? Indeed, other games call such an outcome a 'GOAL,' a word that seems to hold more logical sense in its context. Why does Rugby League have its own ironic naming? Is it just poor English - a player's try; his successful attempt?

Anyhow, one can be sure that whatever the case and the logic, the players will keep on trying to score a try. Yes, it's all rather trying, but it does highlight how complacent we can become with our language - and our architecture too. The presence of meaning is easily blurred by our familiarity with things. It was only when he knew that he was close to death that Dennis Potter came to understand that startling wonder of the presence of a simple flower. If we became more aware of our environments and their forming, then we might care more for our places and work harder to overcome our complacency. At least we could try rather than continue to enjoy our entertaining distractions. Consider: a door is not a door; a window is not a window.

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