Il n’y a pas de hors-Giggs: Legal Liminality, Radical Erasure, and Escaping the Dribbling/Tackling Matrix

August 23, 2012

by Djibril Ponte-Veccio

Ryan Giggs (Apps: 638, Goals: 112) is the figure of the unnameable, the figure of the sublime, the overloading supplement that exceeds all referents. He exists both within the public sphere – his sexual exploits laid bare for all to see, there they are, there! Look there![1] – and permanently outside-the-law. His superinjunction, tweeted, retweeted, circumscribed by the indefinite, jagged hashtags of the blogosphere (or blog-elipse?), until drained of all secrecy, becomes a supra-injunction, underneath the law, behind the decrees of a monomaniacal phallogocentric culture.

Giggs exists both along and beyond this legal tightrope, through his initial inability to control the yearning demands of the phallus. Through the superinjunction, Giggs denames himself to apologise for, and evade the actions of his phallus – the exceeding phallus, in the wife of a brother, which enacts an incestuous inversion and dissolution of the footballing culture founded on so many spurting misnomers, the empty signifiers of rugged machismo, that come – le petit mort! – before him. The call to unname, to de-name, to prevent de-fame, exists within the future perfect tense, much like Giggs’ own on/offfield jeu – always anticipating, always already latching onto the stray ball, beating the man before he has even arrived:

Giggs… a rather weary run from Viera… Giggs… past Viera, past Dixon, goes back on him… it’s a wonderful run from GIGGS!’[2]

Qu’est ce qu’un goal. Whereas Parsons[3] stresses the goal’s self-negating quality, the unstable on/offfield imbalance within the ball rupturing the topos of the jeu at the moment of the net’s ruffling, the futurity of the goal here precludes a world of pure potentiality rather than blunt negativity. Giggs, extending his mazy dribble beyond the letter of the law, disappears and reappears in Tyler’s analysis three times across the course of his run. He disappears into the names of his interlocutors surrounding him. “Viera” is forced to fold back on himself, repeated twice by Tyler, reduced to the level of empty pleonasm. The box-to-box Gunners talisman is revealed as the originator of the future goal – the source of the lank pass and weary trackback which disappears at the feet of the unnameable. The sublime winger pounces on the ball, turning it into an orb of sublime ridicule, an objet-petit-à. When Viera reappears a second time, he has been emptied out of himself – he exists in the ‘past’ as Giggs moves ‘past’ him. Dixon too is swept into pastness in one movement – at this point the runner, the agent himself (or herself), has disappeared. Dixon’s dispossession is precluded within Viera, it emerges out of Viera – the superinjoined winger is nowhere to be seen, he has always already moved past them. If anything, it is Viera who scores the goal. Giggs himself only reappears in the back of the net. Giggs’ arrival, Giggs’ coming (Giggs-is-coming) supervenes onto the moment of the goal, marked, grafted onto the field of jeu by Tyler’s voice cracking like so many nuts. The sublime appearance of the impossible name, Wales’ answer to the tetragrammaton, in Tyler’s scream from the back of the net, the end of the field, marks both the conclusion of Viera and Dixon’s retroanticipated goal, and the reappearance of the winger who never was.

The coming of the goal in Seaman’s net, the coming of the unnamed winger’s semen, lapped up by the press and its fame-thirsty concubines. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. But Giggs’ supra-discursive in-game swerve, away from both Tylerian linguistic structures, and the defensive quadrology of Dixon, Keown, Adams and Winterburn (Das Dixeowdamicwinterbernheit),[4] evades the norms of legal discourse required for the superinjunction to take place. The unnamed winger who disappears in-game and keeps a low profile off the field refuses existence. As the goal’s moment of rupture is Viera’s, occurring not in the back of the net but within the stray pass to nobody, to the empty space that itself is superinjoined, the act of adultery that cannot arrive without an agent requires the agent’s cancellation for the superinjunction’s erasure of the act. The muffling motion of the law is one that necessary silences itself, blocking its own legitimacy, enforcing nothing in the name of nobody. This is classic Giggs.[5]

Giggs’ endless redrawing of the law’s circumference with the uncertain foundation of his own compass-phallus forces the law to let him off the hook. And if Tyler is to be believed, it is not Giggs who committed adultery, but Viera. As the culprit speeds away with the ball at his feet, the only guilty party in sight is the figure who attempts to impede and infringe upon Giggs’ culprithood. Viera the policeman, Giggs the naughty robber – but as is so often the case (a case closed, no less) the robber unveils the inefficacy of the crimefighter. The lawgiver chases after an absent presence that enables the crime, the goalgifter chases down and tries to tackle (in both senses) the winger who must score (in both senses) because he has allowed it to be so.

And what of Seaman? His sealing of Arsenal’s exit from the tournament is a dissemination, a scattering of the seeds of defeat – not just missing the goal but enacting Arsenal’s defeat into being. Typologically, it is near-identical to Giggs’ own supra-legal sexual escapades – just as the moment of insemination seals the law’s need to make its subject unnameable, Seaman sows the seeds and spills the beans of Viera’s culpability. So within the idea of the adultery and the goal both being Viera’s,  they are both – in their being, and in their bothness – Seaman’s. Seaman is spilt, and Seaman spills it. ‘It’ – the act,(s) the perpetual marking of the unnameable – is spilt, and is a self-generative self-spilling – the will-to-spill itself. This inseparability of agency and self-generation brings us to what we knew all along – that both ‘Giggs’’ goal, and ‘Giggs’’ adultery, were always already the same thing. Viera’s backpass and  the legal decree of the superinjunction – both exceeded and circumscribed within Seaman, were and are redundant repetitions of the possibility of a decree and a goal that had to happen. However, this redundancy, the failure to defend either a tabloid smear or a leggy dribble, were essentially offensive, on the attack. They were part of the same attack conducted by the nameless winger who not only performed both acts, but disappeared and disseminated himself in the act of performance. Viera and Seaman beat themselves to win United the F.A. Cup. Giggs runs away, into the beyond. The papers would, over a decade later, enforce this beyondness in their silence, where the actions of his tackle could not be tackled – Giggs keeps running. Still Giggs, PFA player of the year, a different man to the one in the papers, nowhere to be seen. Giggs… Giggs! … Giggs!!   …


[1] Shakespeare, W. King Lear, V.3.325 (Arden, 1998)

[2] Tyler, M. FA Cup Semi Final Replay: Arsenal 1 Manchester United 2, (Palgrave Macmillan, 14th April 1999), 110min

[3] Parsons, A. Who, Et All-the-pies? Crowd Mentality and the Rise of Ginsters in La Liga (Routledge, 1992)

[4] Kant, I. Critique of Pure Dixon, trns. Lovenkrantz & Floyd-Hasselbaink, (Oxford, 1982)

[5] For more on Classic Giggs, c.f. Crumb, H. Metamorphosis and Dissonance in Ovid, Virgil and Giggs (Continuum, 1998)


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