The Metaphysics of Ping-Pong
Table Tennis as a Journey of Self-Discovery
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When a mortifying defeat to his teenage son rekindles his lifelong passion for table tennis, keen philosopher Guido Mina di Sospiro sets out to learn the game properly.
Guido’s love for spinning a feather-weight ball takes him from his local Ping-Pong club, populated by idiosyncratic players with extraordinary stories to tell, to training drills with a world-class coach. This seemingly harmless game also leads him into sticky situations in the CIA headquarters and the ganglands of Washington, DC. Woven throughout his Ping-Pong epiphany are philosophical ruminations on Plato and Aristotle, metaphysicians and empiricists, Jung’s dark shadow, Sun Tzu’s war tactics, the I Ching, and much more.
As Guido’s journey takes him from Big Sur to a nail-biting showdown in China against a string of elite players, he finds Ping-Pong can teach us a surprising amount about life.
"A fast-footed, inspiring book about winning the inner game of life in sport." --Iain Finlayson, The Times
"Like nothing I've ever read and all the more wonderful because of it, this is a non-fiction masterpiece which deserves a position on the sports writing podium." --Ben Keenan, Press Association Syndication
"Erudite, experimental and engaging, Mina di Sospiro has given us a work that breaks new ground. Whether or not you ever pick up a paddle, The Metaphysics of Ping-Pong provides an initiation into a visionary life, igniting the fires of inspiration through an intriguing intimacy with the mysteries of daily life that is available nowhere else." --David Metcalfe, The Daily Grail
"An enthralling guide to the mystery, mastery and practice of Ping Pong." --Eric Idle, from Monty Python
"At first blush, readers might wonder just how the game of ping pong can be related to the metaphysical enterprise. But di Sospiro sees in the question "to spin or not to spin" a deeply spiritual quest for understanding of the self and of one's place in the larger philosophical search for meaning and understanding. The author acknowledges no borders-- the I Ching takes its place alongside Plato in the rich tapestry of esoterica laid out here. Readers will be fascinated by di Sospiro's growing passion for the game of ping pong as he challenges remarkable players who offer him both stiff competition and an opportunity to grow in self-understanding. Breezily written, not for the scholar but for the layperson, this excellent work can constitute a perfect introduction to the vast history of humankind's quest for philosophical clarity. And where else can you find Sheryl Crow, Carl Jung, and Google mentioned side by side? Readers wanting to experience the broad flow of philosophical exploration will find this to be a gold mine." --Publisher's Weekly (Sept. 2015)