‘Becksistentialism’: David Beckham inspires new school of thought

David Beckham visits Shijia Hutong Primary School on March 20, 2013 in Beijing, China.  Credit: Getty
David Beckham visits Shijia Hutong Primary School on March 20, 2013 in Beijing, China. Credit: Getty

Sport has never known a global icon like David Beckham, a perfect marriage of clean-cut glamor and a stellar record on the soccer field.

But as “Goldenballs” made his final move to Paris last year, aged 37, a French philosophy professor wondered if the city of Sartre, Camus and Proust would raise feelings of mortality in the superstar. The result was “Becksistentialism” – a diary of Beckham’s “internal monologue as he collides with the Parisian intellectual tradition,” featuring encounters with classic philosophers and Eric Cantona.

The online series became a hit and ahead of delivering a lecture on it, author Dr. Andy Martin of Cambridge University told us more.

Metro: What makes Beckham a good subject? Is he is a blank canvas?

Martin: That’s right to an extent but he’s also good because he acts philosophically without being articulate. There are messages in his tattoos and haircuts. He’s also a bit irresistible as a subject because he is seen as not thinking, which is probably a mistake, and I rectify that.

Is the Parisian philosophy scene a descent into hell or an awakening for him?

He’s in a transitional state at the end of his footballing career and his quest is now to define himself as an individual. He’s in the twilight, and while Alex Ferguson wants him to only be The Footballer, Beckham doesn’t want to be confined by such a simplistic definition – he has divergent, conflicted selves. One reason for his being a good ambassador is that he never says anything offensive, but I can do it on his behalf.

Which philosopher is he closest to?

It would have changed at different times, but Sartre’s ‘Hell is other people’ line summarizes his relationship with Ferguson.

What sort of reaction are you expecting when Beckham hears about this?

I think he has a good sense of humor and would take it well. People forget that philosophy is all about jokes. Also he would find it sympathetic and not satirical, trying to understand his mind and soul in the terms of French philosophy, which humanizes him more than the blonde bimbo he is portrayed as. I want to liberate him, and at the same time bring French philosophy down to Earth by embodying it and helping people understand it through him.

Who else needs this experience?

The first figure I thought of was Eric Cantona but also Andy Murray, because he is rather miserable and doesn’t express himself. He’s like listening to bagpipes.


Grimm choice: Tax fraud trial could dog NY…

Rep. Michael Grimm may be splitting his time between the campaign trail and a courtroom where he is due to face tax evasion charges.


Met Opera, unions extend talks for 72 hours,…

Met Opera agreed to extend negotiations with its labor unions for 72 hours, preventing a threatened lockout, the organization said late Thursday.


MAP: New York City street closures August 2…

Summer Streets, the NYC Triathlon, the Ecuadorian Parade and festivals will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend.


Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.


Interview: Brendan Gleeson on 'Calvary' and his very…

Brendan Gleeson discusses how "Calvary" began over drinks and how his priest character is the opposite of the officer he played in "The Guard."


Interview: Chris O'Dowd does funny and serious in…

Chris O'Dowd talks about "Calvary," an Irish comedy-drama about a priest (Brendan Gleeson) under fire.


'Alive Inside' and 'Code Black' are documentaries with…

Two new documentaries — "Alive Inside" and "Code Black" — portray different issues but suffer from the same problem.


Caught a Ghost catches a soul/rap vibe

Jesse Nolan says Caught a Ghost's sound aims for two things everybody likes: soul music and '90s rap.


Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline


Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…


Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.


Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.


What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.


Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.


Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.


Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…