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[31] Philosopher King - A review of Eric Cantona, My Notebook - By Joe

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  • [31] Philosopher King - A review of Eric Cantona, My Notebook - By Joe

    Philosopher King - A review of Eric Cantona, My Notebook - By Joe

    Eric Cantona, My Notebook - order here

    When Eric Cantona wrote a book it was never going to be a ghost-written, chronological trudge through his upbringing, early career as a professional footballer, marriage, move to England, championship wins, dressing room drama, acting, divorce, beach football, marriage and political aspirations.

    As interesting as all that might be, Eric is clearly someone who lives in the moment. In a recent interview with James O’Brien for the ‘Unfiltered’ podcast (“Eric Cantona - Inside the Mind of an Enigma”), he spoke about walking through forests with his eyes closed, just listening.

    It’s no surprise then that he has chosen to publish a notebook. A collection of extremely brief, abstract and self-illustrated musings on life, death, love, politics, religion, reason and everything in between.

    Just like a good walk through a forest with your eyes closed, there is no discernible beginning, middle and end to Eric’s notebook; with the exception of a Preface and a final illustration involving an ‘exit’, which he describes and a “trompe-l’oeil” (optical illusion).

    The preface contains about the same number of words as the rest of the notebook put together, and is where Eric sets out the context of the notebook while also signalling his preferred philosophical tradition. He uses a Socratic dialogue between ‘Flip’ and ‘Flop’ to let the reader know that what follows will not contain any truths or answers; but a space to consider some questions and continue the dialogue with the reader.

    He is clearly mindful not to appear pretentious and gives another nod to Socrates in the illustration of a man looking at his reflection in the mirror, with a cock looking back at him, titled “Me and myself”. Indeed, wisdom is knowing that you know nothing.

    It is very difficult to write a review of what is essentially a dialogue between Eric Cantona and the reader, particularly when most of the ‘reading’ involves the interpretation of abstract drawings. There are some obvious themes, however.

    On Politics: There are several depictions of men subserviently interacting with a faceless giant, to portray Eric’s well-publicised views regarding the relationship between the rich and poor in society. From his performance in Ken Loach’s “Looking for Eric” in 2009, to calling on people to withdraw all their money from banks in 2010, it’s clear that Eric still sides with the little man (or ‘little Eric’).

    On Religion: In one entry, a series of equations are used to depict a relationship between revelation, religion and reason. Presumably, Eric knowingly chose sums as a deft nod to Comte’s ‘Positivism’.

    On the human condition: Love, courage, death and solidarity are all captured through various entries, with subtle humour and pathos. But, for a man who has always had an unpredictable streak, his entry on Destiny is most interesting. A body comprising a pencil with limbs and a head, sketching a sperm...

    Creativity in his DNA, or a ‘selfish gene’?

    Why not both? With either one, a legacy... A Legend.

    Eric Cantona, My Notebook - order here

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