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The Metaphysics of Ping-Pong Hardcover – 5 Sep 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Yellow Jersey (5 Sept. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224092162
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224092166
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 2.2 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 149,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Love the title of this book… Surely a must-buy for that fellow whiff-whaff nut and intellectual Boris Johnson" (Richard Brooks Sunday 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)

"Fast-footed, inspiring book about winning the inner game of life in sport" (Iain Finlayson The Times)

"Erudite, experimental and engaging, Mina di Sospiro has given us a work that breaks new ground in sports writing. 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 Daily Grail)

"An enthralling guide to the mystery, mastery and practice of ping-pong" (Eric Idle)

Book Description

LONGLISTED FOR THE WILLIAM HILL SPORTS BOOK AWARD 2013

Ping-pong: not just a sport for teenagers, ferociously talented Chinese players and East London hipsters – it seems that spinning plastic ball can teach us a great deal about life and the world we live in...

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Cubanologist on 10 Sept. 2013
Format: Hardcover
A trip through the metaphysics AND physics of ping-pong, passing through ancient Greek mythology, non-Euclidean geometry, fundamental human values and foibles, keen thought and sidelights into multiple areas of learning: thereby hangs a tale.
In short, a highly entertaining account of the author's initiation into and development of the sport, full of wit, wisdom and anecdotage. Mina di Sospiro's story brings to life a number of disparate, unlikely characters: novices, mid-level players and masters of table tennis from widely divergent fields and far-flung nationalities. He must have been well acquainted with them all, since they are too life-like and unusual to have been dreamed up.
The reader's reward is acquaintance with a fertile imagination and wide-ranging, well-told grains of truth, all brought out with insight and enlightenment against the background of a universal sport. As goes ping-pong, the reader is kept ever on his toes; no need to wade through punishing reams of abstruse philosophy to follow the flying, feather-light ball into the realm of reality and, yes, fancy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joe - pro visibility on 25 Oct. 2013
Format: Hardcover
I've been a "ping pong nut" for more than 50 years, and often wondered why... what exactly did I get out of playing, when I'm certainly not vying for the world, or national, or state championships, but having achieved a decent level of proficiency? The author answers the question, or at least starts the discussion, in a way not expressed before, in my experience.

His playing experiences seemed to parallel mine, as we discovered the wonders of spin, speed and control, while learning, unlearning, and re-learning how to play. In full disclosure, I am one of the players he identified, blind in my formerly dominant right eye, with double vision and blind spots in the left, making my playing journey over the past almost 15 years another very challenging re-learning process. There is a cleansing of the mind when playing, and cleanly concentrating on the singularity of the spinning ball, reacting without really thinking. Almost thinking of nothing... Perhaps it benefits us much like the benefits of REM sleep. Many years ago, as a track sprinter, I used to feel a similar "thinking of nothing" sensation when I ran my best races, but it is much more prolonged when playing TT.

I hope the readers will simply go out and try to experience what we're trying to describe, what the author, my friend, has done so well. I would have enjoyed this book just as much had he been a stranger,and had I not been mentioned. There is a brotherhood and a uniting of nations among those of us tournament and club players... we speak the same language, that of the spinning and bouncing ball.

I got a lot out of reading this book, and I think it will help me on my mental journey as I continue to try to overcome the visual handicaps, and follow the instructions I wrote on one of my t-shirts: "Shut up and Play".

Thanks, Guido!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Frederic B. Siskind on 22 Jan. 2014
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed this story of one man's ping pong odyssey. I have known Guido for several years through the club mentioned in the book and have borne the brunt of many a Guido spin. He really nails the experiences many of us have had in our table tennis lives. I, too, thought I was hot stuff when I went off to college only to run into the sandwich paddle, and later the loop, and still later, table tennis clubs full of talented players.

Middle agers with body problems; Guido gets that right: knees and lower back, elbows, wrists. Yet we persist. As Guido notes, we simply love to play. Young or old it's loads of fun! I can attest to many of the characters in the book - our club is a mini United Nations with players from all over the world.

Chaos Theory, Quantum Mechanics, the I Ching, non-Euclidian Geometry in a ping pong book?!!! Yes, and fascinating.

A fun and interesting read; I highly recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover
Maybe the antidote for the supposed "cultural decay" and "spiritual void" that many of us, westerners with scholarly inclinations, love to whine about, lies in paying close attention to activities that apparently don't seem to manifest the "gifts of the spirit". In this brilliant autobiographic essay, Guido Mina di Sospiro shows the reader that Initiation, and its inherent intellectual and spiritual discipline, may be more readily available than we think. It might even be lying dormant in our basement, neglected by our prejudices, shrouded by a veil of snobbery that distorts our senses and allows us to be easily impressed by arcane rituals, decorated aprons and other esoteric bling ... In this sense, "The Metaphysics of Ping-Pong" is a lesson abut humility, cultural competence and the importance of keeping our mind uncluttered by convention.
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