In Search of A/The Point of Life

Posts Tagged ‘altered state of consciousness’

KAIDIE TRANS-MIGRATING? 6

Art time, life time, passing time. Teh-Ching Hsieh with Kaidie, 20 June 2012, Hayward Lecture Theatre, Nondon.

On 20 June 2012 Wednesday, Kaidie runs into one of her forerunners, the legendary Taiwanese-American performance artist Teh-Ching Hsieh at the Wide Open School, Hayward Gallery, Nondon. Hsieh’s seminal durational performances, in particular One Year Performance (Outdoor Piece, 1982-1982), has been guiding Kaidie in her running about, 30 years on (2009-2012), not to mention that, before that, before Kaidie was Kaidie, Hsieh’s quiet but powerful works have been inspiring her in her journeys. As Kaidie prepares to run further, for the last time, in the final 80 days of her life, to have met Hsieh, face to face, eye to eye (Hsieh, like Kaidie, is not big, built like an endurance runner), has served as an important breath of life. With that, she carries on with her journeys (Photograph of Kaidie with Hsieh taken by another ‘Kai’, called Kai Nien, [unrelated]).

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KAIDIE TRANS-MIGRATING? 4

Is this Kaidie midway in her trans-migration-trans-figuration-trans-formation-trans-configuration-transcendence-transiting-trans-running?

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KAIDIE TRANS-MIGRATING? 2

Has the dead risen to do a zombie walk, or rather, zombie run? And - god forbid - picked up steam/speed and is re-incarnating into a speedy runner caught midmotion here?

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KAIDIE DIES: Variation 6.

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KAIDIE DIES: Variation 3.

Photograph by Trespasser on his mobile phone as he ran into this death scene while on his morning run this morning. After he twat this picture, it went viral, because of the e-coli pandemic, because of the poisonous mung beans, because of the flimsy wire holding Kaidie's neck, because of suffocation, because of tension, because of coughing, because of hiccuppings and hiccdownings. Trespasser's site has since been closed. Nonetheless, the photograph still survives, stubborn as the bacteria, which thrives in warm feces (cold ones turn white and hard, like corpses, like carcasses, like that of Kaidie's).

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CRUSHING DEATHS, CRUSHING LIVES: We seek not immortality (as if one lifetime is not more than enough!!) or happy afterlives (we yield not to bullying and blackmails by institutions); we fear not death, but life itself, and how we are living/running it.

16 March 2011. Along Hyde Park, as we ran out of the Royal College of Art, Nondon.

As we run inter-dimensionally across Life 1.0 and Life 2.0, we run in the chaosmos of mortality and immortality. Traversing backwards and forwards between living-subject-to-death and never-dying, the inter-dimensional runner is able to get best of both worlds. In such a setup, life and death become a multidirectional circle. Living or running in such a circle, any existential angst can be extinguished: we live (each) life to the fullest and cease fearing death. Instead of mourning for the dead, we sing, as Zhuang Zi (Chuang-Tzu) did after the death of his wife. ‘If I were to follow after her bawling and sobbing, it would show that I don’t understand anything about fate.’[1] Zhuang Zi looked at his wife’s death as another stage of life, as a continuation from ‘the time before she was born’ (which itself was a stage after ‘the time before she had a body’, which was in turn after ‘the time before she had a spirit’.) For him, ‘just like the progression of the four seasons, spring, summer, fall, winter,’ death is merely ‘another change’. As Sinologist Norman Girardot explains, the initiatory symbolism of returning to the condition of either infancy or death echoes the cosmic return to the chaos condition.[2] In this mixed, third condition, infancy and death are ‘symbolically equivalent’. This is the Dao’s (Tao’s) creatio continua. When a man dies, ‘he goes to his rest, rises again to his zenith’. This ‘return to the beginning’ after our death is ‘the ultimate harmony’, and is the chaosmos of mortality and immortality that the inter-dimensional runner is able to enjoy.

Daoist (Taoist) expert Kristofer Schipper observes that these notions (life and death as circular, and death as transformation and renewal) are clearly embodied in Lao Zi  (Lao-Tzu) himself, as well as the mythological circumstances of his birth. Across literature such as the appropriately-named Book of Laozi’s Transformation and Book of Endless Mutations of Laochun (another name for Lao Zi) and so on, the Old Master says: ‘I transform my body, passing through death to live again… I die and am reborn, and each time, I have a [new] body.’[3] True to form, Lao Zi is said to have gone through nine transformations before he was born, and was hence born already an old man. Yet another example of these ‘continuous mutations, this joyful changing according to time’s cycle and the nature of things’,  is the story of how the ‘Old Child’ was an orphan free of baggage, knowing ‘neither parents nor children, neither lineage, nor country’, and ‘no tomb nor holy relics’.[4] In yet another version of the story of his birth, the ‘Old Lord’ was said to be ‘his own mother’. The theme of the juxtaposition of life and death is most poetically encapsulated in the version that says that Lao Zi’s mother died ‘[at] the sight of her offspring.’[5] In the ‘brief moment between birth and apotheosis’, it is said that the Mother ‘reveals to her child the secrets of the art of immortality, of that ‘Long Life’ which the Old Child has just experienced in his mother’s womb’. Where there was ‘neither birth nor death’, a complete cycle of the cosmos was accomplished.’ To the Daoist, death and life are but ‘2 phases of a cycle’, with an ‘alternation analogous to that of yin and yang’.[6] All the stories of Lao Zi’s birth point to the same thing: that the ‘organic round of life and death’ is but a ‘rite of passage’ that ‘constantly involves moments of growth and regression, security and danger.’[7]

Yet, even though death is not considered as an ‘ill’ in Daoism, but as ‘only one phase of the total process of human life in time’,[8] prominence is still placed on achieving a good quality of life before death. This is where the notion of yangsheng – the preservation of life and nourishment – returns. In fact, the emphasis is not only on a good journey before life, but a good long distance journey before death, with longevity and, as an extension of that, immortality as the aims of yangsheng. Indeed, Schipper goes so far as to say that it is legitimate to ‘link the classic works (the book of Zhuang Zi and the Dao De Jing [Tao Te Ching]) as do the Daoists themselves, to the search for immortality […].’[9] While there are mystical elements (as we have seen in the case of Lao Zi for instance, who was said to have lived for thousands of years), the Daoist concept of immortality is primarily focused on everyday reality, through real-life practices including medicinal science and physical exercise, as we have already established at the beginning of this Chapter. Hence, when we run inter-dimensionally, in the chaosmos of Lives, not only do we run to-and-fro the circle of life and death, we also ensure that, before dying, we run a good, long distance life.


[1] Zhuang Zi, ‘The Complete Works Of Chuang Tzu’, Terebess Asia Online (TAO), trans. by Burton Watson <http://www.terebess.hu/english/chuangtzu2.html> [accessed 13 January 2011].

[2] Girardot, N. J., Myth and Meaning in Early Daoism: The Theme of Chaos, Three Pines (Three Pines Press, 2009), p. 126.

[3] Schipper, Kristofer, The Taoist Body (University of California Press, 1994), p. 116.

[4] Schipper, p. 166.

[5] Schipper, p. 122.

[6] Schipper, p. 37.

[7] Girardot, p. 5.

[8] British biochemist and Sinologist Joseph Needham 1974, 77?84, quoted in Girardot, p. 5.

[9] Schipper, p. 15.

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REVERIES OF A SOLITARY RUNNER II: flights with Qu Yuan and his beautiful suicide lament (3BCE)

We seek not immortality - not even longevity (what for?), but a life lived to its fullest, every lifetime, each time we live it.

Qu Yuan’s description of his passage to death and beyond (3BCE) is simply one of the most beautiful passages we have ever encountered – the juxtapositions of internal turmoil with external journey, the spiritual and the tangible, the political and the personal, the metaphysical with the physical, the melancholic and the ecstatic, the extreme feeling of isolation and liberation, the unliving with being most alive – are so skillfully presented that the reader can not but feel happy (for the narrator) and heartbroken (for us, for there will be no more beautiful verses from him) at the same time. (Any experience that evokes 2 opposing emotions simultaneously – that the sublime embodies perfectly, with the interplay of the fearful and the awe-inspiring – is the most powerful experience for us). While we certainly cannot say that we fully agree with or understand it (with the multiple references to the religious/spiritual), Qu Yuan’s song hits us. According to Livia Kohn in her delightful The Taoist Experience: An Anthology, Later Printing (State University of New York Press, 1993), Qu Yuan’s The Far-Off Journey (Yuanyou) is ‘most classical of all ecstatic journeys in Chinese religion and literature’. In this song, the poet and official describes ‘a visionary journey that takes him from the sorrows bad afflictions of his unhappy life on earth through various physical practices and concentration efforts to the realm of the gods and immortals.’ Qu Yuan is of course renowned for eventually having thrown himself in sorrow into the Miluo River as a protest to the corruption of his government, the reason for many Chinese to mark the annual Dragon Boat Festival by throwing rice dumplings into the river from dragon boats in the futile wish that the fish would eat the dumplings instead of the tormented poet. Sensible 21st century beings that we are, we respect and enjoy the lovely story/legend/myth that makes Qu Yuan heroic and poetic, as much as we take it with a pinch of salt (as we wolf down the rice dumplings). At the same time, trans-dimensional runners that we are, we have 1 foot on the ground, and the other in cuckoo land, in blue skies; grounded and earth-bound as we are, we travel the world(s) (in spirit – whatever that might be? With more bags of salt? How heavy is that!?!) with the doomed anti-hero-fantasist-travellers, ala Don Quixote (Cervantes’ and Kathy Acker’s), Fitzcarraldo and Orlando. While Qu Yuan flies (and at some point of the song, GALLOP!!), we run, trans-dimensionally; while he seeks union / re-union with an ineffable force (the Tao), we dispel the notion of the existence of any convenient, centralised thing/being/institution; while he is disembodied, leaving his physical body behind, we run, embodied, burdened, with us, our physical, corporeal beings – which is the point, which is also the problem, the problem of our 1000-day troublesome endeavour, but the problem is very much the point. And, unlike Qu Yuan, we seek neither longevity nor immortality (as if one lifetime is not more than enough!?!). Yet, like Qu Yuan, and like Rousseau, we know, and we do, want to move on. Here, we reproduce Qu Yuan’s Far-off Journey (Yuanyou) from Kohn’s anthology (p. 251 – 257). Qu Yuan’s astral journey reminds us of that of the ancient Egyptian as we learnt at the British Museum at the wonderful Book of the Dead show, as well as the hauntingly beautiful paintings of Marc Chagall (so much so that we are compelled to pick up the brush and paint and canvas to paint [again]- although the production of paintings, of things, is is direct contradiction to our desire/purpose of wanting to not attach, to be free from burden, in our earthly travels and beyond…). The process of transcribing the translated text help us move closer to Qu Yuan’s mind, as he traverses the worlds, as every word comes off the page to the screen, from the poet to paper, from text in one language to another via the translator, from the translator to us, from us to you.

Saddened by the hardships of the common world,

How I wish to rise up and travel ways far-off!
My own strength is feeble; there is no support –
What could I stride on to float up and away?

Encountering nothing but foulness and defilement,
I am alone and miserable – who could I talk to?
At night I lie restless, never sleeping,
My soul roving about till the approach of dawn.

Thinking of the infinity of heaven and of earth,
I cry with the eternal toil of human life.
People of the past I cannot reach;
People of the future I will never know.

Pacing with restlessness, I yearn to get away,
Confused and close to madness, I long for the eternal.
My mind goes wild, strays off without control;
My heart melancholy, I am ever sadder.

Then suddenly my spirit, off, never to come back.
My body, like a withered tree, left behind alone.

I look within, try to get back my grip,
To find the place where life’s energy arises:
All vastly empty and tranquil, there is serenity.
Quietly in non-action, spontaneous truth is found.

I hear how Master Redpine cleansed the world’s defilements
And wish to follow the model he has left.

Honoring the blessed virtue of the perfected,
I admire all who in the past have become immortal.
Taking off in a transformation, they were never seen,
While still their name and nature continue on and on.

Oh, how Fu Yue went to live among the stars!
How Han Zhong Succeeded to realize the One!
Oh, for the body to slowly fade off in the distance –
To leave the human crowd behind, to vanish so completely!

Oh, to follow the flow of energy, rising ever upward –
Swift as the spirit, wondrous as a ghost!
To see thaw rolled get hazy, look back from far-off –
All dazzling essence, flashing back and forth!

Oh, to go away from all the dust to greater purity –
Never to turn back to old home!
To escape all the afflictions and never fear again –
None in the world knows how this truly is!

And here I am, afraid of the passing of the seasons,
With every rising of the sun on its westward move.
A subtle frost descends, sinking ever downward,
I fear my fragrant freshness will fade all too soon.

Oh, to leave it all for free and easy journey
Through years eternal that will never end!
Here, who would enjoy with me my remaining fragrance,
Walk, through the country air and share my depth with me?

Gaoyang, my hero, is removed ever farther,
Where will this life, so lonely, lead me to?

Then again, as spring and autumn hurry,
How can I always stay in my old home?
The Yellow Emperor cannot become my model,
But I can follow Jumping Wang to please myself.

So I eat the six energies and drink the nightly dew,
Rinse my mouth with yang itself and swallow morning light.
Guarding the purity of the spirit light within,
I absorb essence and energy, drive out all that’s coarse.

Wandering in the wake of the gentle wind,
I reach the Southern Nest without a single stop.
I meet with Master Wang and pause to speak to him,
Inquire about the harmony and virtue of the One.

‘The Tao can only be received,’ he says,
‘It never can be given.
‘So small that has no within,
‘So big it has no bounds.

‘No twists at all inside your soul,
‘And it will come spontaneously.
‘Focus on energy and open up to spirit –
‘Let them grow in you at the midnight hour.

‘Wait for the Tao in emptiness,
‘Clear even of non-action.
‘All living species rise from this,
‘It is the Gate of Virtue.’

Thinking of my dear old friends in my imagination.
I heave a heavy sigh and brush the tears away.
Slowly again I float, rising ever farther:
Suppressing now my will, keeping myself controlled.

I point to the God of Fire and gallop straight to him,
Wishing to journey to the world’s southern end.
I gaze on wilderness beyond all known directions,
Float on and on over watery expanse.

The Blessed Melter of the South stops me on the way,
So I go back by phoenix and visit the River Consorts.
They play the ‘Pool of Heaven’ and sing me ‘To the Clouds’;
Both ladies then perform the Nine Songs of Shao.

Asking the Xiang goddesses to play their zithers for me,
I bid the Sea God dance with the River God.
They pull up water monsters ti step forward with them,
Their bodies coiling and writhing in ever swaying motion!

Gracefully the Lady Rainbow circles all around them;
The Phoenixes soar up, stay hovering above –
The music swells ever higher, into infinity.

At this point I leave to wander yet again;
With my entourage, I gallop far away.

At the world’s far end at the Gate of Coldness,
I race the rushing wind to Clarity Springs.
I follow Zhuanxu of the North over piled-up ice,
Turn from my path to pass through Mystery Darkness.

Striding on cosmic mainstays, I look back behind me,
Summon Qian Lei the Creator to appear,
To go in front of me on the level way.

Thus I tour all four outlands,
Traverse all the six regions,
Up to the crakes of Heaven,
Down to the Great Abyss.

Below just lofty openess, there is no more earth;
Above just empty vastness, there is no more heaven.

I look but my vision blurs, nothing to be seen;
I listen but my ears are numb, nothing to be heard.

Going beyond non-action, I reach the Clarity,
Become a neighbour of the Great Beginning.

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REVERIES OF A SOLITARY RUNNER I: Following the footsteps of Rousseau and his final work, Reveries of a Solitary Walker (1776-1778)

One of the images we collected in our solitary runs - a picture of peace and a fecal-matter-smeared wall and the defecator in Nondon.

The philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote Reveries of the Solitary Walker (Les reveries du promeneur solitaire) between 1776-1778. When he died in 2 July 1778 at the age of 66, the work remained incomplete. The autobiographical series of essays is structured as 10 walks that Rousseau undertook in Paris alone. The work was written just after Rousseau ’emerged from the darkest passages of his life’ (says Peter France in the introduction to this 2004 Penguin edition, which we read at the Waterstones at Gower Street in Nondon one difficult midmorning), after many years of exile. During these final 2 years of his life, Rousseau felt misunderstood and unhappy. Rather than a work that is about walking, or has walking as a subject matter, Rousseau uses the act of walking as a medium, as a form, to express his final thoughts, before his death. Although Rousseau was not a runner, we identify with his sentiments as a solitary wanderer, and especially so in these unshiny days of ours. Bitter but at peace with himself (or rather resigned to his fate, whatever ‘fate’ might mean), Rousseau’s contemplations remind us of those of the other hermit-philosopher-poets, EM Cioran and Fernando Pessoa. We are also reminded of Viktor Sjostrom’s character in Ingmar Bergamn’s powerful Wild Strawberries (1957), who is also a bitter man looking back at his past, laden with regrets. While there is a salvaging epiphany at the end of the film/road-movie of sorts (and much quiet humour – Bergman or Scandinavian style, if we could say so? – throughout the film – some of which Woody Allen later played up), it is a nicely dark and murky. This is one of our favourite works of art of all times that continues to haunt us all these years and lifetimes, to our death(s). As Rousseau expresses in Emile (published 1762): ‘Every attachment is a sign of insufficiency […] A truly happy being is a solitary being.’ As we draft ours, Rousseau’s pre-death message in the Reveries of a Solitary Walker enables us to feel a certain delirium – as much as despair and desperation:

WALK 1

Everything is finished for me on earth. People can no longer do good or evil to me here. I have nothing more to hope for or to fear in this world; and here I am, tranquil at the bottom of the abyss, a poor unfortunate mortal, but unperturbed, like God Himself.

A recent event as sad as it was unexpected has finally extinguished this feeble ray of hope and shown me that my earthly destiny is irrevocably fixed for all time. Since then, I have resigned myself utterly and recovered my peace of mind.

…realizing eventually that all my efforts were in vain and my self-torment of no avail, I took the only course left to me, that of submitting to my fate and ceasing to fight against the inevitable. This resignation has made up for all my trials by the peace of mind it brings me, a peace of mind incompatible with the unceasing exertions of a struggle as painful as it was unavailing.

Even physical suffering would take my mind off my misfortunes rather than adding to them. Perhaps the cries of pain would save me the groans of unhappiness, and the laceration of my body would prevent that of my heart.

Actual misfortunes have little effect on me; it is easy for me to accept those which I suffer in reality, but not those which I fear. My fevered imagination builds them up, works on them, magnifies them, and inspects them from every angle. They are far more of a torment to me imminent than present; the threat is far more worse than the blow. As soon as they happen, they lose all the terrors lent to them by imagination and appear in their true size. I find them far less formidable than I had feared, and even in the midst of my suffering I feel a sort of relief. In this state, freed from all further fear and from the anxieties of hope, I shall learn from mere habit to accept ever more easily a situation which can grow no worse; and as my awareness of it is dulled by time they can find no further way of reviving it. So much good my persecutors have done me by recklessly pouring out all the shafts of their hatred. They have deprived themselves of any power over me and henceforward I can laugh at them.

Everything external is henceforth foreign to me. I no longer have any neighbours, fellow-men, or brothers in this world. I live here as in some strange planet on to which I have fallen from the one I knew. All around me I can recognize nothing but objects which afflict and wound my heart, and I cannot look at anything that is close to me or round about me without discovering some subject for indignant scorn or painful emotion. Let me therefore detach my mind from these afflicting sights; they would only cause me pain, and to no end. Alone for the rest of my life, since it is only in myself that I find consolation, hope and peace of mind, my only remaining duty is towards myself and this is all I desire.

WALK 2

These hours of solitude and meditation are the only ones in the day during which I am fully myself and for myself, without diversion, without obstacle, and during which I can truly claim to be what nature willed.

Today there is more recollection than creation in the products of my imagination, a tepid languor saps all my faculties, the vital spirit is gradually dying down within me, my soul no longer flies up without effort from its decaying prison of flesh, and were it not for the hope of a state to which I aspire because I feel that it is mine by right, I should now live only in the past. Thus if I am to contemplate myself before my decline, I must go back several years to the time when, losing all hope for this life and finding no food left on earth for my soul, I gradually learnt to feed it on its own substance and seek all its nourishment within myself.

The country was still green and pleasant, but it was deserted and many of the leaves had fallen; everything gave an impression of solitude and impending winter. This picture evoked mixed feelings of gentle sadness which were too closely akin to my age and my experience for me not to make the comparison. I saw myself at the close of an innocent and unhappy life, with a soul still full of intense feelings and a mind still adorned with a few flowers, even if they were already blighted by sadness and withered by care. Alone and neglected, I could feel the approach of the first frosts and my failing imagination no longer filled my solitude with beings formed after the desires of my heart. Sighing I said to myself: What have I done in this world? I was created to live, and I am dying without having lived.

Let men and fate do their worst, we must learn to suffer in silence, everything will find its proper place in the end and sooner or later my turn will come.

WALK 3

Secluded meditation, the study of nature, and contemplation of the universe force a solitary person to search with tender concern for the purpose in everything he sees and the cause of everything he feels.

When death is already at the door, is it worth learning how we should have lived?

The sad truth that time and reason have revealed to me in making me aware of my misfortune, has convinced me that there is no remedy and that resignation is my only course. Thus all the experience of my old age is of no use to me in my present state, nor will it help me in the future.

Since the days of my youth I had fixed on the age of forty as the end of my efforts to succeed, the final term of my various ambitions. I had the firm intention, when I reached this age, of making no further effort to climb out of whatever situation I was in and of spending the rest of my life living from day to day with no thought for the future. When the time came I carried out my plan without difficulty, and although my fortune at the time seemed to be on the point of changing permanently for the better, it was not only without regret but with real pleasure that I gave up these prospects. In shaking off all these lures and vain hopes, I abandoned myself entirely to the nonchalant tranquillity which has always been my dominant taste and most lasting inclination. I quitted the world and its vanities, I gave up all finery–no more sword, no more watch, no more white stockings, gilt trimmings and powder, but a simple wig and a good solid coat of broadcloth–and what is more than all the rest, I uprooted from my heart the greed and covetousness which gave value to all I was leaving behind. I gave up the position I was then occupying, a position for which I was quite unsuited, and set myself to copying music at so much a page, an occupation for which I had always had a distinct liking.

All the sharpest torments lose their sting if one can confidently expect a glorious recompense, and the certainty of this recompense was the principal fruit of my earlier meditations.

WALK 5

Everything is in constant flux on this earth. Nothing keeps the same unchanging shape, and our affections, being attached to things outside us, necessarily change and pass away as they do. Always out ahead of us or lagging behind, they recall a past which is gone or anticipate a future which may never come into being; there is nothing solid there for the heart to attach itself to. Thus our earthly joys are almost without exception the creatures of a moment; I doubt whether any of us knows the meaning of lasting happiness. Even in our keenest pleasures there is scarcely a single moment of which the heart could truthfully say: ‘Would that this moment could last for ever!’ And how can we give the name of happiness to a fleeting state which leaves our hearts still empty and anxious, either regretting something that is past or desiring something that is yet to come? But if there is a state where the soul can find a resting-place secure enough to establish itself and concentrate its entire being there, with no need to remember the past or reach into the future, where time is nothing to it, where the present runs on indefinitely but this duration goes unnoticed, with no sign of the passing of time, and no other feeling of deprivation or enjoyment, pleasure or pain, desire or fear than the simple feeling of existence, a feeling that fills our soul entirely, as long as this state lasts, we can call ourselves happy, not with a poor, incomplete and relative happiness such as we find in the pleasures of life, but with a sufficient, complete and perfect happiness which leaves no emptiness to be filled in the soul….What is the source of our happiness in such a state? Nothing external to us, nothing apart from ourselves and our own existence; as long as this state lasts we are self-sufficient like God. The feeling of existence unmixed with any other emotion is in itself a precious feeling of peace and contentment which would be enough to make this mode of being loved and cherished by anyone who could guard against all the earthly and sensual influences that are constantly distracting us from it in this life and troubling the joy it could give us. But most men being continually stirred by passion know little of this condition, and having only enjoyed it fleetingly and incompletely they retain no more than a dim and confused notion of it and are unaware of its true charm. Nor would it be desirable in our present state of affairs that the avid desire for these sweet ecstasies should give people a distaste for the active life which their constantly recurring needs impose upon them. But an unfortunate man who has been excluded from human society, and can do nothing more in this world to serve or benefit himself or others, may be allowed to seek in this state a compensation for human joys, a compensation which neither fortune nor mankind can take away from him.

WALK 6

I have never been truly suited for civil society, where everything is annoyance, obligation, and duty, … my naturally independent temperament always made me incapable of the subjection necessary to anyone who wants to live among men.

There are types of adversity which elevate and strengthen the soul, but there are others which depress and crush it; such is the one of which I am a victim. If there had been the slightest leaven of evil in my soul, this adversity would have fermented it to excess and driven me into a frenzy, but it only succeeded in reducing me to inactivity. Unable to do good to myself or anyone else, I abstain from acting; and this state, which is only blameless because I cannot avoid it, makes me find a sort of satisfaction in abandoning myself completely and without reproach to my natural inclination. No doubt I go too far, since I avoid opportunities for action even when I think nothing but good can come from them. But knowing that I am not allowed to see things as they are, I refrain from judging by the appearances my enemies give to things, and however alluring the motives for action may seem, it is enough that they have been left within my grasp for me to be sure they are deceptive.

I have never believed that man’s freedom consists in doing what he wants, but rather in never doing what he does not want to do, and this is the freedom I have always sought after and often achieved, the freedom by virtue of which I have most scandalized my contemporaries.

WALK 7

Seeking refuge in mother nature, I sought in her arms to escape the attacks of her children. I have become solitary, or, as they say, unsociable and misanthropic, because to me the most desolate solitude seems preferable to the society of wicked men which is nourished only in betrayals and hatred.

WALK 8

In all the ills that befall us, we are more concerned by the intention than the result. A tile that falls off a roof may injure us more seriously, but it will not wound us so deeply as a stone thrown deliberately by a malevolent hand. The blow may miss, but the intention always strikes home.

Since by the light of reason I could see nothing but absurdities in the explanations I tried to give for everything that happened to me, I realized that, as all its causes and operations were unknown and incomprehensible to me, I should ignore them completely, that I should regard all the details of my fate as the workings of mere necessity, in which I should not seek to find any intention, purpose, or moral cause, that I must submit to it without argument or resistance since these were useless, that since all that was left to me on earth was to regard myself as a purely passive being, I should not waste the strength I needed to endure my fate in trying to fight against it. This was what I told myself. My reason and my heart assented, yet I could feel that my heart was not entirely satisfied. Whence came this dissatisfaction? I searched and found the answer: it came from my self-love, which, having waxed indignant against mankind, still rebelled against reason.

WALK 9

Happiness is a lasting state which does not seem to be made for man in this world. Everything here on earth is in a continual flux which allows nothing to assume any constant form. All things change round about us, we ourselves change, and no one can be sure of loving tomorrow what he loves today. All our plans of happiness in this life are therefore empty dreams. Let us make the most of peace of mind when it comes to us, taking care to do nothing to drive it away, but not making plans to hold it fast, since such plans are sheer folly. I have seen few if any happy people, but I have seen many who were contented, and of all the sights that have come my way this is the one that has left me most contented myself.

…if my pleasures are brief and few in number, it is also true that when they come they give me an intenser enjoyment than if I were more used to them. I ruminate on them so to speak, turning them over frequently in my memory, and few as they are, if they were pure and unmixed, they would perhaps make me happier than in my days of prosperity. In extreme poverty a little is enough to make one rich; a beggar is gladder to find one gold coin than a rich man to find a purse full of money. People would laugh if they could see how my soul is affected by the slightest pleasures…

It is only when I am alone that I am my own master, at all other times I am the plaything of all who surround me.


WE ARE STILL RAISING MONEY FOR OUR RUN FOR SHELTER AT THE 2011 NONDON MARATHON  NEXT SUNDAY- PLEASE HELP! ANY AMOUNT IS APPRECIATED!

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Mathematically-speaking, we SHOULD take 4 hours to run 42.1km. Non-mathematically-speaking, we may take 40 hours.

Reproduced from SAFRA Bay run 2009 results

How long will we take to complete 42.2km at the Nondon Marathon on 17 April 2011? We will finish, by hook or by crook or by crawling. But the million-pound (or £1500) question is, in what time? To be sure, every run is different, and every race – a particular competitive run session with a specific start and finish across a set route; a heightened run session – comes with its own sets of quirks. The variables are infinite (climate, route, scenery, traffic, fellow runners, clothes we wear, if the race is well-sign-posted, audience/spectator-support, number of yummmmmyyyyy jelly-babies [and Snicker bars] we manage to pop into our mouth en route at feeding stations, et al), but we can begin by examining our running and race history: (Go ahead and mock, spit, laugh at us, but you would have realised by now that we are painfully slow coaches, such slow runners we are that we are probably better off walking, but at least we have lasting power for the endurance race of our lifetimes…)

1) 2010 March: 10km race by the Friends of Medicin Sans Frontieres Nondon:  This was an easy race of 10km which we completed in 52 minutes, which works out to be a speed of 11.54km per hour (or 7.17 miles per hour), or a pace of  5 minutes 12seconds for every 1km (0.822 minutes per mile)  It began as a crisp early Spring morning but turned 8 degree celsius, so we were dressed in short-sleeved and long tights, although we were carrying the burden of stomach cramps (!!! TMI !!!). In this race, we raised money for the Medecins Sans Frontieres. We had been kidnapped before the run, was released on time by The Good Pirate.

2) 2010 September: 42.2km: Farnham Pilgrims’ Marathon, Surrey. This was our first ever full marathon, which we ‘accomplished’ (sic) in a disgraceful 5 hours 29 minutes! We have plenty of excuses, however: 1) it was off-road in a hilly terrain  – we stopped to WALK at a steep hill climb at a point (it was said that most runners had to add 30 minutes to any of their times for this race) 2) We had spent the entire summer running all over Nondon, in a bid to train for our first ever marathon. However, in the final 2 months, we were brought down by injury (tendonitis and shin splint), which came with us to Farnham. Yet we do not fret, and were delighted to have completed the race. All in all, it was a most wonderful experience, against the gorgeous and meaningful mise-en-scene that the pilgrims had once walked, the fellow runners a tremendous joy to be with, and beautifully organised. We also raised a weeeee bit of money for the Farnham hospices.

3) In a previous life: 2009 August, Singapore, 21km (13.1 miles) SAFRA Bay Run Half-Marathon: This was our first ever race since casually picking up running in January 2009 in a previous life, at the same time of still being chlorine addicts.  We took 2 hours 21 minutes – which is the amount of time taken by the world’s elite runners to complete FULL marathons!! However, we were not displeased, with the high humidity, and at 30 degree-celsius of the (paradisal) tropics. We are proud however of the fact that in our final 4km sprint, we managed to bypass 655 men and women (and yes, allowed 20 to bypass us). Running alongside more than 20,000 people of all size, shape, age and colour was also tremendously enjoyable. By default, happiness and pleasure are inevitably short-lived- but our entire 2 hours 21 minutes was a skyrocketing morphine-high. It was an extraordinary trip.

So. How on (google)earth would we fare on 17 April 2011?

1) For the first / last 450 days of our lives, we have been working hard at our running. Outside of a race, our comfortable pace is approximately 10kmh – 10.5kmh. At this pace, there is neither exertion nor discomfort. (Under artificial conditions, inside the gym, our average is around 10.5kmh – 12kmh, though this figure we should ignore, since it is climate-controlled, and we are running on machines that move nowhere, hence using different muscles of our body. The psychology of such locomotion differs from that outdoors as well)

2) Since February, we have been training longer distances (20km and above), but our fourth toe on our right feet has been harvesting a blister (!!! TMI !!!) This has never happened previously so we are slightly worried, wondering if we should go ahead and buy a new pair of shoes of a slightly larger size. Yet, already armed with three pairs of trainers, we do not want to buy another pair right now. Then there is also a new bone-like thing sticking out of our left feet recently, that prevents us from wearing any shoe without feeling pain. (!!! TMI !!!) Again this is new, and did not happen in our Summer training.

3) The past year of running means that our technique would have improved, but at the same time, we are aging as we speak.  We are juvenile at 430-days-old, but because we have only 1000 days in our lifespan, we are nearly middle-aged. While we come with the charms and beauties of a mature wine and even more mature blue cheese (as well as iron-will power, truckloads of stubbornness, and plenty of drive), we might not win a spring chicken in a photo-finish. We will come back to this issue of running and mortality in a separate post.

4) As anybody knows, there’s such a silly law called the law of diminishing returns. Whichever sillier eejit came up with it, we have no idea, but when it comes to a slowburning, longhaul endeavour as a long-distance run, no one is sparred from this law. We can get increasingly worn out and deriving less and less satisfaction from the run over hours and distances. And from experience, we know that we are excellent practitioners of the law. This can translate what should take 4 hours into to a pathetic epic 5 hours (first 10km takes 1 hour, because we are warming up and do not want to over-exert; for the next 10 km we dip a little, as we are still conserving our energy at 1 hour 10 minutes; then the 30th km takes 1 hour 20 minutes, and for the final 12km, we have the sudden epiphany that we have to get our arses moving, and hasten a little but alas it is too late as our glycogen-levels would have deteriorated so we complete it in 1 hour 30 minutes).

So there we have it. On 17 February Sunday, we may take anything from 4 hours, or, 40 hours.

But let us think of positive thoughts. Next year, in our final year of existence, we would like to sign up for the midnight sun run in Norway. How beautiful and hyperreal an experience it would be. And, with all that sunlight one cannot possibly sleep anyways, so why not go for a run. For a few hours, the duration of a sleep. We currently devote about 8 hours of exercise each week (at least an hour a day); training for a marathon means a minimum of 10 hours or exercise each week. We must not neglect our run in other dimensions, so this running about in Life 1.0 may be taking up just too much time. We decide that the half is the best distance for us, also since we can sustain happiness for a maximum of 2 hours at any one go. Anything beyond that, at 4-5 hours for instance, the law of diminishing return sets in and the dreaded dip, the hitting-of-wall happens. 10km races are too fast/short. Hence, we intend to take part in the 2012 Bath Half Marathon. With a companion.

WE ARE STILL TRYING TO RAISE MONEY FOR OUR RUN FOR SHELTER FOR THE 2011 NONDON MARATHON! DO LEND US A HAND! OR TOE! OR DOLE! OR DOUGH!

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‘LIST OF THINGS THAT QUICKEN THE HEART’: Closing the year (2010) with an other Chris Marker quote (1983), this time after Sei Shonagon (1002)

(Over)stretching ourselves in preparation for more mindbodyblowing trans-dimensional running in 2011

(Over) stretching ourselves to get geared up for more mindbodyblowing trans-dimensional runs (2 layers of socks) in the new year 2011.

Chris Marker, San Soleil, 1983: ‘Shonagon had a passion for lists: the list of ‘elegant things,’ ‘distressing things,’ or even of ‘things not worth doing.’ One day she got the idea of drawing up a list of ‘things that quicken the heart.’ Not a bad criterion I realise when I’m filming …’

Sei Shonagon’s elegant and evocative list, The Pillow Book, 1002 (italics ours): ‘Sparrow feeding their young. To pass a place where babies are playing. To sleep in a room where some fine incense has been burnt. To notice that one’s elegant Chinese mirror has become a little cloudy. To see a gentleman stop his carriage before one’s gage and instruct his attendants to announce his arrival. To wash one’s hair, make one’s toilet, and put on scented robes; even if not a soul sees one, these preparations still produce an inner pleasure. It is not and one is expecting a visitor. Suddenly one is startled by the sound of rain-drops, which the wind blows against the shutters.’

Kaidie’s list, post Xmas, 2010, on the cusp (cusp – what a lovely word) of an other new year, 2011:
1.    The moment of realisation that our legs have been working in perfect synchronicity with our arms, mind, emotions, environment, weather, and that we had been un-self-conscious of this happening; that we have fully inhabited, embodied and embedded running.
2.    The moment of realisation that we have been living+working+playing in the city of Nondon, and that we had been un-self-conscious of it; that we have fully inhabited, embodied and embedded ourselves in this great city.
3.    When beginning to structure and write a new chapter (it soon gets extremely laboured and tedious, and is nothing but meticulous building, or precise shearing and stripping of, block by block, bit by bit).
4.    Experiencing the transition/cut between from the black-and-white opening sequence of Tarkovsky’s Mirror (of a man overcoming his stutter) and the first scene of the film proper a-washed in luscious green.
5.    Experiencing the transition/cut between the closing sequence of Marker’s Sans Soleil and the final credits (of 3 children on a road in Iceland); the moment when the woman moves in La Jetee (1962).
6.    Experiencing the first notes of Glenn Gould’s rendition of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, and, with the assistance of good earphones, the melancholic-ecstasy in Gould humming/singing.
7.    When water from the very hot shower first hits our skin after we emerge from the lukewarm swimming pool (afterwards, it is merely utilitarian).
8.    In the first 30 seconds of acquisition, licking the foamy head off a very hot cappuccino thickly dusted with cocoa (but as soon as the bubbles fizzle off, so too, does our interest).
9.    The moment of falling into a deranged, swirling, topsyturvy, eternal, divine love at first bite with toro sashimi shrewdly laced with fresh wasabi (how it stings!); ditto, at first sight and bite, with Sainsbury’s bakery’s 99p cheese twist (or that pecan and maple pastry thing 79p) (Our heart quicken, and misses a few beats. Gulp.)
10.    The sudden / brief moment of mutual recognition of something of a spark of sorts happening (before it/whateveritis falls into numbing patterns that we run away from, and move on, hollering, ‘Enough!’, because we do not have the stamina or interest to sustain such a spark; that a spark is such only because it is momentary; anything longer than momentary ceases to be such).

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WE TURN ONE ON 12.12.2010. WE HAVE 637 DAYS TO RUN TO LOOK FOR THE MEANING OF LIFE, before we die on the last day of the Nondon Olympics on 09.09.2012. That is the day we will cease our 1000-day quest.

** IF YOU WANNA GIVE US A BIRTHDAY GIFT, DO SO BY MAKING A DONATION FOR OUR RUN FOR SHELTER AT THE 2011 NONDON MARATHON!! THIS (AND ONLY THIS!) WILL SEAL OUR FRIENDSHIP FOR EVER AND EVER!!!!! ***

One year ago, on 12.12.2009, we were born. Today, on 12.12.2010, we turn one. Before we die on 09.09.2012, we have 637 days left to look for a/ the Meaning of Life 3.0. We are Sagittarius according to our star signs – if you buy into / believe that school of thought/belief. To mark this occasion, we ran through the shopping districts of Nondon to the constellation pattern last month. But where oh where, on, or out of, googleearth might a/the Meaning Of Life 3.0 be?

We pondered on the question today, as we have for the last  year of our lives. Needless to say we have arrived at no answer/solution/conclusion. Yet / hence, we are running as we have for the past year, and more so than ever before. It does not get easier, but we are keeping at it. We have also (more, or less) kept our hair uncut for the duration of the 1000 days, as a measurement of the passage of time, nodding to the 1-year performances of one of our favourite artists Tehching Hsieh.

To work on our grand(ious) question, and to mark this grand(ious) occasion of our birthday (DO WE HEAR YOU SAY THAT WE LOOK OLDER THAN OUR AGE?????), we decided to do 4 things:

1) To compile a list of things we have done in the past year. By no means exhaustive, this list proves that we have put in much effort (without much returns?), but, like any good road movie/quest, it is always the journey that matters. So we are getting there, or getting there there.

2) The second thing we did today was to listen to Sugarcubes’ Birthday.

3) The third thing we did today to mark our birthday was to visit our local cinema to watch Palme D’Or winner at the 2010 Cannes, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, by one of our favourite filmmakers, Apichatpong Weerasethakul.  Even for a hardcore believer/follower/user/advocate of the law of non-linearity like us, we found this work challenging – which is also one of the reasons why we adore Apichatpong (for, what fun is there is things were too easy and obvious??). When, in a previous life when we curated his magical Tropical Malady in the ‘South East Asian Programme’ at the Cinema South Festival near the Gaza Strip in Sderot, Israel, we had a clear epiphany that Apichatpong’s films are best enjoyed when one is in the hazy, stony, liminal state of being semi-asleep-and-semi-awakeness. That is what his work does too – pushing one to (one’s) no-man’s land, in the chaosmos of realities, being at once exposed and vulnerable, as well as most lucid and mindful, in the chaosmos of feeling ill, and feeling ill with happiness, cruelty and beauty, predator and prey, a cat and a fish (and an ecstatic encounter with a catfish). This is what Tarkovsky, Herzog, Chagall, Bach/Glenn Gould and Garin Nugroho do to us.  It’s appropriate to have this done to us, on our first year running within and across Lives 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0.

4) Before doing all of that, we begin our day with a(nother) run. WE ARE ABSOLUTELY LIVID THAT ONE SECTION OF THE REGENTS CANAL IS CLOSED OFF DUE TO SOME RENOVATION/DEMOLITION WORK OF SOME SORT OR ANOTHER. So, no more canal-Victoria Fark runs for the next few weeks (or – horrors – months?!?!). We are back to loops at the Regents Fark.

Life goes on, or rather lives go on. As usual, if you have any advice for our quest, please DO write in. Contact us – click on comment here, or write to us at <dislocation@3rdlifekaidie.com>, become our friends on the evil FB, tweet us. There is more than one way to grab us.

Thank you for running with us in the past year. Are we ready to continue with the best run of our lifetime(s), this life, every life?

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SICK ON/OF SUNDAY, MORNING (watch out the worlds behind you).

Mixed signals, outside Regents Fark.

6:30am, Sunday. Nondon’s revellers from the previous evening are still roaming the streets, in search of action. Some attempt to run along with me. Fortunately, I could outrun them.

Some Sundays are easier, others less so. 2 Sundays ago, I could only manage 2 laps, instead of the intended 5, and with much difficulty, after having overcome some physical and mental roadblocks. I felt ill, or imagined that I felt ill, since one can never be certain (Do I feel hot? Do I feel cold? Am I shivering? But I am sweating buckets. Do I feel hot and cold at the same time? Is that not self-regulating and, theoretically, nice? Is this not usual? What, then, is the issue? Am I running out of excuses?) People talk about ‘listening to one’s body’ – however mine does not speak the same language as my mind, and therein lies the problem of (not) understanding.

In our fantastic(al) pursuit for The Meaning Of Life across various spatio-temporal dimensions, we come up with many more maps that attempt to articulate, define and indeed find and create our position(s) in the (grand) scheme of things. Each one of the maps/charts/diagrammes/mandalas/images/representations/visualisations invariably attempts to be an improvement (of sorts) of the previous, but all try their best, as pictures, to be picture-perfect, with demarcations and borders clearly drawn (Is that not the whole point?). But these idealisations never ever work in practice (is any body surprised?). In real life/in Life 1.0, spillages/cross-fertilisations/mix-&-matches/picks-&-mixes happen in mega-orgies that beat all tomorrow’s parties, hands down.  Only mongrels/hybrids/chimeras/hyphenates exists, in a chaosmos that is calamitous as it is celebratory. There is no line, for instance, that separates happiness and sadness (or so-called ‘happiness’ and so-called ‘sadness’);  feelings of strength, calm and elation exists in the very same dimension with despair, desolation and gloom. Not even a thin line. Not even a thinly veiled attempt at that. Does that not complicate things a little? (Why then, have different words, if they are [supposed] to refer to the same thing?) What are we supposed to do when they come hand-in-hand?

At this point – which is as good as any other – one is reminded that Sunday mornings, and the notion of Sunday, is a recurrent theme in many a popular tune. Our favourite on a Sunday, that are (re-)played in our heads as we do our laps, whenever we allow non-silence to interrupt, are those by Velvet Underground (although, or becuase it has been said that Lou Reed wrote this for Nico, he sounds exactly like her) Sonic Youth and Billie Holiday (and some of their derivitives).

(Speaking of Lou Reed,  there is of course his Run Run Run which Kaidie can run to, in each of her 3 lives).

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AFTER HER RE-ENCOUNTER WITH GRAYSON PERRY/CLAIRE, SICK KAIDIE HAS A NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE.

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WHEN ONE IMAGINARY FIGURE (who is currently run down with gastric flu) RUNS INTO AN OTHER, WHAT SHOULD/COULD SHE SAY?

Left: 27 May 2010, Museum of Nondon. Right: 6 July 2010, BBC. Kaidie feels quite underdressed and under-made-up next to Claire, but takes comfort in the observation that we share the same hairstyle- in the front, at least (although her blunt fringe is more austere than Kaidie's DIY one).

In our epic quixotic quest for the Meaning Of Life 3.0, Kaidie encounters things/people  beautiful, brilliant, and downright bizzare (But of course – without all that drama, melodrama, hitting of supersensitivelysensational gspottingly-explosive landmines (ohhhh yesssssss), going on freefalls (ohhhh yesssssss) and hitting of no punchlines, how could we sustain this bloody story of our lives?!) Bizzare, even by Kaidie’s bizzare standards. Kaidie (Since this post name-drops to death, let’s go) (3rdlifekaidie) (kaidie3rdlife) (Kaidie Nondon) (Kaidie Absent) (Kai Syng Tan) first came face to face with Grayson Perry (Claire) at the opening party of the Museum of Nondon, Thursday 27 May 2010. As seen in these pictures taken by Guy Gormley (Louis Enchante), Kaidie was wearing one of Kaidie’s ‘ministerial dresses’ that has also met President Shimon Peres, President SR Nathan, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, and a few other Ministers and Ambassadors in the past couple of years in a previous life (Yes, it is time we get new costumes and not commit the faux pas of looking as if we are in the same spatio-temporal dimension with the same clothes across lives). Apart from Perry, Kaidie also ran into other larger-than-life figures such as the conservative Boris Johnson (the one nice thing about him is his huge mop of blonde hair), nasal-voiced Alfie (Michael Caine), Woman with Rather Large Hair (Babara Windsor) and Red Ken Livingston (ex-Nondon-mayor-but-to-be-Nondon-mayor again?).

Tomorrow evening, Kaidie will be running into the Turner Prize winner Perry again, in the BBC studios, in a TV programme. While Kaidie had been on TV programmes in some of her previous lives, Kaidie is quite terribly excited as this is her first as an audience member in this life in Nondon (BBC reminds us to ‘make a major contribution to the show. You may see yourself on screen and it’ll be your applause or laughter that you’ll hear’. But being quiet, well-mannered and modest people in Life 1.0, BBC may be disappointed to know that we will not be creating any ruckus, except maybe to throw some chocolate muffins at Ben Fogel when he speaks, but eat them when it is Perry’s turn to speak). When we first met Perry / Claire, we said: ‘We quite liked your maps at the Marvellous Magnificent Maps exhibition at the British Library!’, to which Perry managed a noncomittal ‘Thank you’.

If we were given the opportunity this evening, what should we say to Perry?  What should we say to Claire? What should we say to Claire-Perry? Do write in and let us know! (And watch this space for our post-show report!)

(It is official, however, that we are currently struck with gastric flu, according to our local GP, which explains the dizziness during our worst-ever run last Sunday and this morning’s nausea even when only wimpishly pulling down 0.0010 minimilligrammes of weights at the wimpish gym. We just hope that we will not sneeze/puke/projectile-puke/burp/speak in tongues at our companion/Perry/Claire/Fogel, or, worse, do all at the same time [given the multitasker that we are], or fall asleep mid-show at 19:30hrs, which we have in the past 3 days, and still wake up 8/9/12 hours later and looking and feeling like a bloated pumpkinbumpkin that has been run over by a few cars at Regents Fark. ‘It will pass’, says the young female doctor, cheerfully. Yeah right, thankyousomuch – but what should I, the one who emobodies all the uncouthly syndromes – do at the mean time while ‘it’ ‘passes’? ‘Cut down on high-impact sports’, she advises. Indeed, because we swiftly get all topsyturvy. ‘What about swimming? That is a gentle sport’.  ‘So long as you don’t do lots of front crawl laps.’ But that’s what we do. ‘Oh, just sit back and vegetate then’. She did not say the latter but that was the decree I got. Not having green fingers, vegetating is not a forte of mine…What can we do with all that unspent restless energy??? [The little that is left, that is])

Nice Ken says: "I really liked Singapore! I was there for the London Olympics bid". But Kaidie forgets to tell him that Kaidie will die on the last day of the Nondon Olympics 09.09.2012. We ask Boris for a new bike so that we can rest our tired toes and knobbly knees. Failing to get any sympathy (look, he is not even smiling in the picture!!), we ask the Woman With The Big Hair standing next to Alfie. Failing that, we ask the Pearly Kings and Queens standing in front of Thomson & Craighead's London Wall. Failing that, we ask Ken: 'You'd better run for the next one! We're not getting good help here. '

As of 6 July Tuesday 09:20hrs: here are the comments I have received so far. Write in  (here, or on Facebook, or Twitter) if you have any more! I am writing them down on a piece of paper and will aim to raise them if the situation allows. Thank you!


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AS I TURN 6-MONTHS OLD, I REALISE THAT I QUITE ENJOY MY LIFE/LIVES NOW, HERE.

Unbeknownst to me at that time, my visit to Enjoy Cafe is to turn out to be profoundly life-changing. As I turn 6-months old on 12 June 2010, I wash down a dozen of the Aphrodisiac Sausages with Dettol. I am hit – not suddenly, but gradually, nicely, warmly, largo – with a realisation that I quite enjoy my life and lives now, here, in Nondon, in my Life 3.0. I think, and I know, that I enjoy where/when I am, difficult/diverting/frustrating/frivolous as it is. Society celebrates youth, in all its actual and mythological glory/beauty/recklessness/kawaii-ness/innocence (or so-called). I enjoyed being young when I was, but I also enjoy having travelled the journey (detours included) to get here, of being what(ever it is that) I am now, quite tremendously, in all its imperfections/wisdom (or lack thereof)/scars/histories/wear&tear/warts&all. And I enjoy knowing that I am enjoying it.

In all my lives, in Nondon and elsewheres, people have often judged me to be younger than I am. But never once had/have I a desire to deny/lie (although some times I evade, because I some times like to see where it leads me when I am perceived to be more naive than I am, which is not to say that I am with out mature folly). The look of shock (or disgust) by the asker invariably provides me with a (perverse) pleasure. (Allow me to share a couple of incidents with you, my Dear Readers. Incident #1: Last week at Cally Pool: Girl asks me when I step into pool, ‘How old are you?’ Me: ‘Make a guess?’ She: ’19’. I tell her. She looks offended. Keen to restore peace, I ask her: ‘How old are you?’ ’11’, she replies. She is quite a bit taller than me. She looks me up and down. Then, both unclear of how to carry on with the conversation, we swim off in separate directions, in shock. Incident #2: At my local Tesco’s, when asked for my ID, I tell cashier my age. She stares at me, and gets her Supervisor. The women begin staring at me. ‘Perhaps it is what I’m wearing?’, I offer. ‘No, it’s your skin’, supervisor says. ‘Well luckily you are not looking close enough’. So she comes close, barely inches away from me, eyes wide open, examining me. Keen to get my bottle, I endure this unexpected scrutiny for several seconds. ‘What do you eat to look like this?’, she asks, as the cashier beeps my bottle and Tesco’s-branded cheap and nasty cakes. ‘Tesco’s cheap and nasty cakes,’ I reply. Incident #3: He, 18, guessed that I was 22. I said, ‘We could have met when I first came to Nondon, but we might not have recognised each other as you must have been in a pram (and dozy from all that milky binge-drinking).’ I think this is a hilarious image, but he clearly did not.)*

Mind you, I am by no means old, old, but having lived 6 out of my prescribed 32.8-months allowance declares that I am no spring chicken, but a mature summer barbecued pork, sweating in lard. Dripped from the previous years’ roasts.

This image has as its source several text-tree diagrammes generated by Dr. Jamie O'Brien from a programme he designed.

More than ever before, I now enjoy many things physically, intellectually and psychologically. My Life 3.0 reality is an augmented one, but with neither sillycone nor sentimentalism. The best part is that I enjoy knowing how much I am able to enjoy what I am enjoying.  (A sign of smugness perhaps, or an other indication of a profound delusion. Not unike Quixote’s). And this is not a tautological statement (even though we enjoy tautologies and tautologies enjoy us). Though I have always been an introspective person, this seems an other stage of self-awareness and confidence that would have escaped me at an other age. More than ever before, I now know what I want, when I want it, and how to dispense/use/it, at the dosage that works – what specific phrase of a piece of music I wish to listen to, at what volume, for how many number of loops; what particular type of cheese I wish to savour at a particular moment, to be followed by what particular dessert at what dosage; what particular scene of a film I wish to replay in my head, to evoke or force about a particular emotion (and it is invariably a Herzog or Marker or Tarkovsky scene), at what point to wean myself off an obsession, to say ‘Enough!’ and move on; to know the exact demands of a task/race at hand, and pace myself, so that I do not burn out too quickly, so that I stay focused and clear, but allow myself refuelling and treats when the energy levels dip, and then go for a final push, a sprint, a dash, a be-all-end-all exertion, et al. I also enjoy not knowing, and enjoy knowing that I do not know, and enjoy that anticipation, anxiety, excitement, the waiting (Have you read Barthes’ elegant chapter ‘Waiting’, in A Lover’s Discourse?), the feeling silly, and curiosity. I enjoy doing what I am doing. I enjoy what I am being. I enjoy waking up every morning, excited about confronting my challenges. I enjoy a good challenge, as I always have had all my lives, as they give me a good kick, because I enjoy kicking back, hard. I enjoy wanting something and working hard for it. I enjoy achieving. I enjoy leaving. I enjoy arriving. Most of all I enjoy the process of getting there, even if the arrival is anticlimactic. In fact the arrival will invariably be. I enjoy putting in effort. I would have enjoyed not having to put in any effort, of course, but by now I know how I work, how I have to work, so I do, and I enjoy doing that. I enjoy going to bed at night, having fought the demons, windmills, and myselves and looking forward to the next set of challenges the next day. And the next. I enjoy raising the bar (including raising the Snicker bars into my mouth). I enjoy communicating with my friends in Life 2.0. I enjoy knowing you. I enjoy not knowing you. I enjoy that we may never, and/or may never desire to/need to, meet in Life 1.0. I enjoy that we might have met in Life 1.0, but do not out ourselves, because doing so would spoil everything, your idea of Kaidie, and hers, of you. I enjoy that we meet in Life 2.0. I enjoy that we meet at all. I enjoy that we meet, and share, and run together. I enjoy not knowing the fate/s of Kaidie (except that she must expire 09.09.2012). I enjoy that you play a part in Kaidie’s being. I enjoy being invited to unexpected diversions, as invented by my friends, including you, my Dear Readers, my Collaborators, my Co-creators. I enjoy being Kaidie. I enjoy that Kaidie  and Life 3.0 are public properties, and open source systems, and our collective and  subjective imagination. I enjoy trying and testing new things. I enjoy going where I hadn’t/ wouldn’t have. I enjoy running with you. I enjoy having virtual running companions on my 1000-day journey. I enjoy exploring new territories and unknown terrain. I enjoy not knowing. I enjoy being surprised. I enjoy that things are not written. I enjoy that Kaidie can be over written by you. I enjoy that Kaidie can be written off by you, and me, or in spite of me. I enjoy that Kaidie’s story in Life 3.0 cannot be facilitated with out your Web 2.0 assistance and good-old-fashioned imagination. I enjoy that Kaidie is not precious, that she will cease to exist, that she is me, but can be any one, any body, real or imagined, that she is fictive, but that she is me as well, that I am her, that you can be her too. I enjoy the smell of my cocoa-butter moisturiser because it smells like superrich vanilla icecream and I want to eat it but I don’t. I enjoy lying on the grass with B, G, S when the sun is shining. I enjoy walking home from Great Marlborough Street with C, and sighting a deflated football on the street and attempting to kick it, only to laugh at it, as if to mock it, but affectionately and not maliciously. I enjoy walking home with J & A from Smithfields when it is more than 20 degrees. I enjoy walking home with B from St Johns Street. I enjoy tension. I enjoy prolonging tension. I enjoy saying hello to the Hispanic cleaners. I enjoyed walking with B again, looking for food, starving, then stuffing my face with a sandwich that had hummous,  and something else, and asking B if there is anything on my face, but  unfortunately left with no more time to talk more. I enjoy taking time. I enjoy the luxury of time. I enjoy having a short attention span. I enjoy having the physical and mental stamina to endure long journeys/races/lives. I enjoy the sting of wasabi. I enjoy walking at 18 degrees. I enjoy running at 8-12 degrees. I enjoy running in the gym at 16 degrees, because that is the lowest you can go, but the air is still stale and stuffy. I enjoy my shower at 40 degrees. I enjoy swimming in chlorine at 25 degrees. I enjoy my foamy coffee piping hot. I enjoy walking along Commercial Road with G. I enjoyed walking with S along the canal late at night, when I slipped, because I was not wearing my glasses, and where I would not have walked alone at that hour, but together it was lovely, based on a decade of friendship. I enjoyed wandering around Moscow with I as it snowed  and we got lost in the circle line. I enjoyed exploring Perth with J, 2 foreigners and strangers looking for a place to go, with out a map, enjoying being lost, together. I enjoyed walking in Suomenlinna with P in a Summer midnight, when it was still bright, albeit chilly. I enjoyed being submerged in the outdoor onsen, in the mountains, when it was cold and raining, holding an umbrella, pitch black, seeing no thing, but comforted by my friends’ laughter, friends who had brought me here because I was flying off the next day. I enjoyed walking with F in Spore in my previous life, and Paris in my current, even though we have both moved on. I enjoy all my long distance flights. I enjoy not sleeping on my long distance flights. I enjoy flying across timezones, political excuses and economic selfishness.  I enjoyed my 7-hour bus ride with A, with out sleep, and the subsequent croissants for breakfast, during which exactly two thousand bits of pastry were busily flaking onto the dirty trashy subway station ground, so instead of eating all 2 croissants A had only 1.2, or thereabouts, I gathered. I enjoy running, flying, swimming and living alone. I still enjoy swimming because the chlorine endorphins kick in surely and quickly. I enjoyed running in Tokyo, Fukuoka, Beppu, Oxford, Spore and Winterthur. I enjoy getting jealous of Kaidie when B tells me that he might prefer to go out with the Life 2.0, virtual Kaidie than the Life 1.0 me. I enjoy the airconditioning in the British Library and Wellcome Institute. I enjoy sweating when working out. I enjoy being underestimated. I enjoy proving myself. I enjoy proving myself wrong. I enjoy learning. I enjoy perfect pitch and hearing. I enjoy being a little short-sighted, so I see things in a slight blur when too far away. I enjoy fuzzy logic. I enjoy ambiguity. I enjoy dry humour. I enjoyed  playing the piano for 11 years. I enjoy imagining an other life as a concert pianist. I enjoy walking in Regents Fark with A, not knowing where we were going, if any where, but even if no where, that was fine, as it was, as it is. I enjoyed the warmth of my filmmaker-activist friends in Sderot who were passionate about peace. I enjoyed their sincerity and kindness after I endured endless searches  in order to get onto el al opening my bags emptying my hand luggage removing my battery from my laptop showing them my files body searched many times  passports flipped endless questions asked. I enjoy imagining Y running in Hyde Park, although not with me. I enjoy the smell of fresh bread. I enjoy eating at least 1 banana daily. I enjoy salmon and brie. I enjoy champagne with pancakes. I enjoy olives and corn and niceness. I enjoy the smell of B’s hair. I enjoy smells. I enjoy smelling. I enjoy the smell of my coconut shampoo. I enjoyed last Thursday aplenty. I enjoyed Tuesday very much too. I enjoy enjoying the moments of enjoyment when they happen. I enjoy not trying to repeat such moments because of my insatiability. I enjoy training myself to not be nostalgic. I enjoy training myself not to be attached. I enjoy separating mind from matter. I enjoyed saying hello to the many little people at the museum, because they remind me of R, E, K, B, K, S, even though I have not met S and she, and K, and E would not recognise/remember me, that I have to start afresh with them when I next meet them, and I do not know when I will next meet them. I enjoy holding a baby or a toddler. I enjoy not being labelled as selfish for my choices, because I think the choice of reproduction is as selfish. I enjoy i-chatting with R, who knows all its functions by the age of 6. I enjoy silence when I am working. I enjoy working in silence, because I have memorised and mis-memorised how Gould does it and it swims in my head, never mind if it is a distortion of distortions of Beethoven and Bach. I enjoy the ability to be silent when with an other, because it says that we do not need to rubbish talk, even though I enjoy talking rubbish to amuse you, and me, but I enjoy being silent when we are together, because it is in silence that we are in an other space and time that we enclose for us, as and when I desire an enclosure/definition. I enjoy sleeping. I enjoy sleeping for 12 hours for a recharge. I enjoyed watching G’s eyeballs widen because I say rubbish. I always enjoy walking along Farrington Road because it is wide and gently sloped and when I walk there I am in a good mood or walking there puts me in a good mood. I enjoy walking at 6.5kmh when it is sunny. I enjoy wanting. I enjoy running the next morning. I enjoy being cooked for. I enjoy sitting at the back of a motorised bike. I think I will enjoy skydiving, bungee jumping, and deepsea diving. And freefalling. I enjoy doing things with no strings attached. I enjoy sleeping at 2200 and walking up at 0500.  I enjoy running at 0700. I enjoy a disciplined life. I enjoy letting go. I enjoy being focused. I enjoy being distracted. I enjoy having a sense of control. I enjoy having my routines interrupted. I enjoy drawing lists of things to do. I enjoy drawing lists to  remind me to look at my other lists. I enjoy being disrupted. I enjoy pushing myself physically and mentally as a dare to myself. I enjoy surprises. I enjoy being surprised. I enjoy smiling to fellow runners now, when I shied away from it before, but now I do it some times because it is nice when you do laps and encounter the same characters repeatedly, so you smile, and move on. I enjoy smiling and waving back when I run along Euston Road and school girls from the bus smile and wave at me this morning. I enjoyed the 7-second run the man wearing ‘Save The Children’ bright blue t-shirt did with me as I run past Kings Cross yesterday morning. I enjoy running because it calms me down and rids my anxieties, but when A asks, why are you anxious in the first place, I can not answer. I enjoy hearing my heavy breathing as I run, because it reminds me that I am breathing. I enjoy sweating as I run. I enjoy looking forward to food, drinks and not running, when I am running. I enjoy swinging my arms and propelling myself forward as I run. I enjoy running with the minimal things, without water, without ID, with no money, no baggage, no burden, just run. I enjoy running in a city, in any city, because I am no longer seen as an other,  no longer small and exotic,  but having some temporary ownership of the place I am running, and personalising the space I inhabit, and I gaze the city in a different manner, and I am gazed upon in a different manner, I am even taken to be a local and am asked for directions. I enjoy doing a little bouncy gait this morning, with out pain, with out aches, with some speed. I enjoy watching the blister grow on my toe. I enjoy the texture of chaffed skin from rubbing my arm against my running shirt. I enjoy my running clothes scratching my back, creating marks on my back that do not leave, where as I would have been disturbed by any mark or blemish or spot before, but now I accept some, because it comes with this activity. I enjoy taking time to warm up. I enjoy taking time to stretch. I enjoy fartleks when I feel stronger. I enjoy pounding on the treadmill when I am fully focused, because I have to be careful not to drift, because when I did I fell off. I enjoy hitting 14kmh on the treadmill. I enjoy counting when on the treadmill.  I enjoy not counting because I count everything in my life. I enjoy taking calculated risks. I enjoy slow, long-drawn runs when I work at distances. I enjoy running alone in real life. I enjoy testing my limits. I enjoy knowing my limits. I enjoy pushing my limits. I enjoy working with my limits and limitations. I enjoy the prospect of a big bowl of boiled cauliflower/parsnips/broccoli/cougettes after my run. I enjoy that my cheap pink nail polish comes off nearly as soon as I put them on. I always enjoy my 2nd round in the Fark because that is when I am no longer anxious, but simply running, when my head is full of thoughts, and at the same time not thinking of any thing in particular, when my body is most relaxed, and when my GPS will register my faster times, not because I am racing, but because it feels good, and I know now how to make myself feel good by calling upon my running endorphins. I enjoyed a very nice run on Wednesday morning, after a nice Tuesday where no thing and every thing and some thing else happened,  when I moved on the next morning, still tired and still light, but running, unthinkingly, and registered my most enjoyable and fastest 2nd round ever in a non-race condition, 10.2kmh, as opposed to my usual 9.4kmh, not terribly much better in real terms, but mentally, in unreal terms, trust me, it felt good, very good, feeling completely free from any pain, any bother, just relaxed, just 1 foot after the other, not minding the branches poking me, not minding other runners zapping past me, but bouncing on/off my shoes, not as if my shoes are super bouncy,  for, mind you, it was my old Brooks, 1 out of my 3 pairs of running shoes, but this with the sole /soul soon coming off, but still I felt a bounce, a new gait that I never had before Wednesday, and best of all, I was able to control that and bring it on when I felt ready, and I knew that I felt ready, so I ran,  almost bouncing sideways, arms swaying me forward, not minding how funny or ugly or clumsy I  must have appeared, but enjoying the lightness of being, momentarily, in perfect control, and complete-total-freaking-fully let go at the same time. I enjoy discipline. I enjoy being a disciplinarian. I enjoy the dictum of no pain no gain. I enjoy Nondon and cannot imagine doing this, whatever it is that I am doing, any where else. I enjoy long distance calls on Skype. I enjoy running across different dimensions. I enjoy being confused about which dimension I am in, and applying different sets of values, sometimes inappropriately. I enjoy forgetting if I should have been more assertive, or am not humble/polite/modest enough, or am too much of a go-getter. I enjoy forgetting if I am not serious enough, if I am too austere, or if I am too childish. I enjoy having a large repertoire of values to pick and mix, and learning new things in each new dimension that I travel to. I enjoy my life and lives now and do not stop me from enjoying myself. I enjoy this intensity, this being filled, this being fulfilled, being empty, a half full/half empty question, being anxious, being lucid, being heightened, having no excessive things in my life, being frivolous and enjoying silly indulgences. I enjoy being reconciled. I also enjoy not being reconciled, being confused, being consistently inconsistent, being torn between violent opposing thoughts, still struggling with the theory vs. practice problem, being exhausted and wrecked by Kaidie, being Kaidie, not being Kaidie, being besides myself, being shipwrecked, being afloat, not moving my arms or legs until the next swimmer comes along and hits me off the lane, tumbling, falling down, stepping on horse poo, huffing and puffing and neighing as I run, running out of breath, holding my breath underwater, being at one and at the same time many, having many conflicting values, and having many contradictory views, having absolutely no values. I will enjoy my Summer. I enjoy staying focused. I will enjoy the next 26.8 months of my life.

* 13 July 2010: After this post was published, I read of a nice story that captures perfectly the essence of the word serendipity– of a couple who lived in seperate continents, but who were photographed 30 years earlier, in the same picture, but one of them in a pram, in the background, and a complete stranger, of course. They met 15 years ago, and only made the discovery 8 years ago just before their wedding. This sounds like a classic Kaidie scenario (of some hits and plenty of misses that we have with one another, as we traverse across lifetimes) albeit one that has a happy ending (in so far as a unification is read as a positive thing, and if endings are desirable).

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THE INVISIBLE (LAYERS OF THE) CITY: KAIDIE’S ROUGH GUIDE TO THE EXOTIC FAR EAST #3.

Erratum: ‘I was confident that I could …’ on the left hand corner here at the bottom should read ‘I was confident that I could outrun this person/any one, not because I run fast (Dear Readers, we have been there before, several times), but because I knew that if I kept going, stubbornly, silli-ly, I would, eventually. So I did.’ This sentence should alternatively say, ‘I was confident that I would not run ahead of my bloody sentences and would finish them the next time before I publish anything’. There you/I go.

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KAIDIE’S SLIGHT DETOUR/DIVERSION/REALITY CHECK: ON HERZOG’S ENIGMA OF KASPER HAUSER (Catch on BBC iplayer now!)

Werner Herzog at the San Francisco International Film Festival, 1999. Frame grab from final chapter of Chlorine Addiction by Kai Syng Tan (2000)

If it wasn’t for this (this tedious 1000-day hell of an ‘epic’ endeavour, of Kaidie’s quixotic running across dimensions in search of the so-called ‘Meaning of Life 3.0’), we could possibly have conducted our research on Werner Herzog, as we had contemplated at some moments of our previous lives. How nice now, in this life, to revisit his The Enigma of Kasper Hauser (1974).

The classic Herzogian leitmotifs are there: beasts (fainting chicken, kneeling camel), outcasts/freaks (myth of tiny king with tiny kingdom, each king tinier than before; Kasper Hauser himself); freak shows (including the film we are watching); dreamscapes (ditto, and Kasper’s flickering Super-8 Sahara dreams);  hero/anti-hero (Kasper/Bruno S.); character/actor, acting/not acting (Kasper/Bruno S.); ‘realism’ vs self-mythologisation (including Herzog’s own); the clash of cultures/civilisations (Kasper scrutinised again and again as an Other; “Mother, I have been so cut off from the world”, says Kasper, holding her baby); an assault on ourselves (the Other or the ‘idiot-savant’/savage being more enlightened and more civilised than us); power play and cruelty (boys at chicken and Kasper); moments of tenderness (Kasper playing with black crow, recalling the iconic image of Klaus Kinski playing with monkey in the final scene of Fitzcarraldo); man vs nature (“Let the apples sleep, they are tired.”); man and art (“The music feels strong in my heart. All of a sudden I feel old. Why can’t I play the piano like I breathe?”); godlessness and the absence of redemption (the subtitle, Every Man for Himself, and God Against All of Them, says it all.)

Controversial and problematic as his work and methodologies were/are, Herzog always haunts and provokes, in a manner that is austere, Brechtian and  unsentimental as it is acutely Romantic.

In a previous life, I saw the filmmaker speak at the San Francisco International Film Festival. (I had rushed back to the cinema from my tour around San Francisco of Hitchcock’s film locations of Vertigo – the very same tour that Chris Marker took, I am told, to film the passage that pays homage to Vertigo/Madaleine’s ghost, in his Sans Soleil). As usual, Herzog spoke contemplatively, measuredly, in flawless English with his unmistakably charming accent (but he offered an obligatory ‘apology’ for his ‘bad English’ at the beginning of his speech), punctuated with calculated pauses (Is that Herzog narrating the final dream sequence in Kasper?)

Herzog reminds us of many things, and reminds Kaidie the need to keep running and not lose her vision, flickering and faint as they may be at times. (She is short-sighted after all. Time to clean her mouldy glasses.)

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IN THE METAVERSE, NO ICARUS WILL CRASH. Even if/when I crash, I will be reborn and life goes on. And on. Infinitely. Ad nauseum.

A generation cushioned from the cold by central heating, from the heat by airconditioning, carted in aseptic transports from one identical house or hotel to the another, should feel the need for journeys of mind and body, for pep pills or tranquillisers, or for the cathartic journeys of sex, music and dance. We spend far too much time in shuttered rooms.

–  Bruce Chatwin, Anatomy of Restlessness: Selected Writings 1969 – 1989 [1]


Travelling is the act of getting from one place to another[2]. There has been a long history of human movement. Motivations vary – people travel out of pleasure, or reasons political , economical and poetic, or out of necessity, for short or long term, due to push or pull factors, and in various modes of transportation as technologies improve and ambitions engorge. Think climate changes, agricultural practices, trade, migration, famines. Think nomads, gypsies, sailors, stateless people and their diasporas. Think political conquests, search for new, virgin territories, untapped resources, ‘discoveries’ of ‘new’ continents like your Americas and Temasek-s[3]. Think of the revolutionary heroes, as writer, romantic and compulsive traveller Chatwin urges, who are ‘not worth a thing until he has been on a good walk. Che Guevara spoke of the “nomadic phase” of the Cuban Revolution. Look what the Long March did for Mao TseTung, or Exodus for Moses.’[4] Think escape and the search for Paradise, by Thelma, Louise, and Gauguin, and the middle-aged European/Australian woman in Bali with the Kuta cowboys, and the modestly-sized Oriental man with the towering platinum-blonde escort. Think religious pilgrimages, rites of passage and existential quests for the meaning of life. Think Romantic, heroic and punishing quests by madmen Fitzcarraldo/Klaus Kinski in the Amazon, and the solo walks from Kiev to Madrid by Werner Herzog himself, as if the very act of a strenuous trek exorcises their demons. Think trade shows, World Expos, and the travelling circus in town. Think Grand Tours to see the world for those with the leisure time (for it did take a bit longer than it would today) and spending power. For those with even more spending power, think travels to outer space, as the guy appropriately named Laliberte did in 2009 – something technologically impossible only years ago, but haunted those rich in imagination for centuries, like George Melies and Arthur C. Clark. Think poetic search for inspirations and new ways of seeing, by Barthes in Japan, and Basho the poet who cured himself of his loneliness by islandhopping in Japan. As Chatwin observes,

travel does not merely broaden the mind. It makes the mind, The raw materials of Proust’s imagination were two walks round the town of Illiers where he spent his family holidays. These walks later became Méséglise and Guermantes Ways in À la Recherche du Temps Perdu. [5]

Chatwin notes also that ‘(m)an walked and swam long before he rode or flew. Our human possibilities are best fulfilled on land or sea. Poor Icarus crashed.’[6]. Think Maldives, Goa, Ibiza. Entire cities and towns perform. Today, globalisation and 1-pence early-bird gimmicks from budget airlines gives everyone the opportunity to fly, making travelling a part of contemporary life. We become tourists, take breaks, have getaways, go for vacations, perform public sex on the beach with strangers [7] in the city constructed for public show-and-tell. Think casino-city Macau, Documenta in Kassel once every 5 years, Olympics in London in 2012. Then, there are also those who travel simply because the act of travelling is pleasurable in itself, like ‘the indefatigable Arab wanderer who strolled from Tangier to China and back for the sake of it’ [8].

Some American brain specialists took encephalograh reading of travellers. They found that changes of scenery and awareness of the passage of seasons trough the year stimulated the rhythms of the brain, contributing to a sense of wellbeing and an active purpose in life. Monotonous surroundings and tedious regular activities wove patterns which produce fatigue, nervous disorders, apathy, self-disgust and violent reactions.

– Chatwin[9]



[1] Bruce Chatwin, Anatomy of Restlessness: Uncollected Writings, New edition (Picador, 1997). (pp 100-106)

[2] ‘Travel – Definition of travel noun’, in  (Cambridge Dictionary Online: Free English Dictionary and Thesaurus, 2009) [accessed 30 December 2009].

[3] Temasek was the ancient name of Singapore before its ‘founding’ by the British.

[4] Chatwin.

[5] Chatwin.

[6] Chatwin.

[7] John Bingham and Laura Clout, ‘British couple arrested in Dubai over ‘sex on the beach’’, Telegraph.co.uk, 9 July 2008 [accessed 31 December 2009].

[8] Chatwin.

[9] Chatwin.

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DOUBLETHINK: CONTRADICTORY IN TERMS

1984_doublethink

One of Kaidie’s guidebooks in Life 3.0 is George Orwell’s 1984, for several reasons. Like Life 3.0, the city of London is the novel’s mise-en-scene. In Orwell’s universe, reality is seen through an inverted lens, where the Ministry of Defence fights permanent wars, and the Ministry of Love (I love this- ‘miniluv’) operates through the mechanism of fear. That deep parallels can be drawn with our reality today can not be emphasised enough. And, like the notion of doublethink, Life 3.0 embodies contradictions without contradiction, with no apology. Like Smith, Kaidie is an experiment; while Smith’s choices may seem limited compared to Kaidie’s in Life 3.0, like Kaidie, Smith  contrives to seek spaces within which he could exist/live/be. Orwell’s depiction of Smith’s process of torture through to reeducation and final love of Big Brother, is so slowburning that the  final inevitable explosion – or, more accurately, implosion –  resembles fingernails scratching a chalkboard, largo, breaking in the process and the small sharp bits scratching and incising the pink raw skin where the nail once was itself, a procedure so calculated and clinical as to be chilling, heartbreaking, repulsive and devastating as it is sublimely beautiful,  a la Pasolini’s 120 Days of Sodom, Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange or a Gould’s rendition of the slow movement of the Emperor concerto. Yet another reason why 1984 resonates with Kaidie is of course, how it has been said that the circumstances of one of her previous lives was ‘Orwellian’.

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ON TRIAL: PARTICIPANT 12(F) WITH ELECTRODES, SNAKES, 1k TONE, KY JELLY, 2 X (PLACEBO) PILLS.

Kadie undertook her first experiment as a lab rat last week. Now, Kadie is no longer Kaidie, but 12(F).

It would have been impossible to not be affected in any degree, with 4 hours of pills, existential ennui, electric shocks of varying degrees on the left hand, liberal applications of a nice lubrication, and staring at stills of snakes alternating with frames of blacks and crimson, oscillating between silence, very loud dead tones and its feedback, just like a copycat Paul Sharits or Peter Kubelka flicker film (I implore you my Dear Readers to kindly hook up your laptop to speakers, turn volume to the max, and WATCH FULLSCREEN, or, better still, projected large in a darkened space. Yes, we do know that a Web 2.0 representation does no justice whatsoever to these mindblowing films, but since the alternative is not watching them at all, sometimes a poor simulation is a lesser evil).

Hello World. My name is not Kaidie. My name is 12F. Like Smith in the final act after his elaborate reeducation process, my transformation is complete. I feel real, for once. I smile incessantly now. Life is no longer dark and hypocritical , and I am living a lie no more. I am converted. Everything is all right. The struggle was finished. 2 gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of my nose. I feel jolly wonderful. I have a perpetual smile on my face and black bars across my eyes (and so does the researcher, who must have undergone the experiment himself as well). The experiment succeeded.

I will now see Nondon with a new set of eyes. A few shades darker, if at all, if I could peek through that black bar.

Psycho_Test

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AN EXPERIMENT-WITHIN-AN-EXPERIMENT-WITHIN-AN-EXPERIMENT: TEST RAT / GUINEA PIG / FAT CAT / BROWN COW

Values in life

Values in Life

* WHAT: I am opening myself to science – I am willing to be a test rat for new medicines and any other related experiments in the field/name of science.

* HOW: Scans, psychology tests, new medicines, etc. As I have no thing to lose, and, for all we know, Kaidie might even find the, The, THE Meaning Of Life 3.0! In which case, Kaidie’s endeavour (and this travel blog) can be shut down way before 09.09.2012 as planned!! Hence I am up for any thing. Try me.

* WHY:

1. As an experiment myself, I am keen to undertake other people’s experiments as well. And if we wish to be grand about this (for Kaidie’s coming into being is as grand as it is pathetic), life – yes yours too, darling – is an experiment. I like experimenting with being an experiment-within-experiment-within-an-experiment (just as I enjoy trips-within-a-trip-within-a-trip).

2. Having already been a cockroach, hamster, a sponge, a human being and a cheap Swiss chocolate bar in my short life, it would be meaningful now to be a guinea pig, fat cat or brown cow.

3. Perhaps, if I am lucky, I may undergo yet other transformations with some of these tests! Is a pseudo-Orlan Feminist deformity sexy?  Or a quasi-Stelarc cyborgian appendage oh-so-macho? Naah, neither, no thanks. That is not quite the territory that Kaidie the Turdlifer likes to tread. Instead, she much prefers to become a brilliant Wim Delvoye product – a lovely warm piece of turd at the end of an elaborate scheme.

4. Being a make-believe being that straddles between the real and the imaginary, I would be keen to see how yet other artificial means can push my mind and body. So ‘high risk’ tests are welcome!

5. By offering myself to Science, I would be able to save other animals from being subjected to cruel scientific experiments for our selfish benefit. Save the cuddly rats! Save the cute panda bears! Save the whales! Save the tickworms! Save the cockroaches!

6. My kind contribution to man kind (sic) (if mankind deserves to receive contributions [sic]) and its quest for longevity /immortality (if these are perceived as positive goals?).

7. That said, what if this were a drug invented by pharmaceutical companies to convince us to feel inadequate and buy our way to make up for our inferiority complex? I would not be proud either if I play a part in contributing to the process to create drugs that prolong life unnecessarily (what is ‘necessary’ is precisely the interesting point of contention). While Kaidie will make a conscious effort to read the small print before she agrees to take the tests, Life 3.0 is full of such dilemma which may or may not be reconciled. We will keep an eye on this and report as we go along.

8. Kaidie expects to be financially compensated for her efforts – especially so if you are some fat cat pharmaceutical company (don’t you expect Kaidie to ‘volunteer’ her life / lives. In Life 3.0, as it is in Second Life and First Life, money plays an important role.

9. Why? Well, why the hell not?
DO YOU KNOW OF ANY MEANINGFUL EXPERIMENTS THAT KAIDIE COULD UNDERTAKE?

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I WILL RUN 155.0KM, AS A PATHETIC GESTURE FOR MY NONDON-ZURICH-NONDON FLIGHT. (Better a pathetic gesture, than nothing at all.) (No, NOTHING is better than nothing at all.) (Either way, it’s a lose-lose situation.)

As you, my Very Dear Readers (yes, you are now not only my ‘dear readers’ or ‘Dear Readers’, but ‘Very Dear Readers’ – what have you done to earn that, I wonder? Maybe you could next be My Very Dear Reader?) know, I am travelling to Zurich soon.

The question is, how should I get there? Like the Romantic and heroic Richard Long, and one of my favouritest, favouritest filmmakers Werner Herzog, I would have loved to get there by foot. Nonetheless, simple calculation reveals that that will take quite a while – all the snow in the Alps would have melted (not that it isn’t already speedily doing that much thanks to the combined efforts of you and I, no doubt! Well done us.). I do think that the legendary Heidi should moved on with ‘the times’ – but a Coppertoned bikini-clad one would be a bit of a stretch wouldn’t it.

So I am flying. No, not with my plastic stapled wings, but metallic ones, economy. (That said, ‘economy’, in this case, sounds like a euphemism..)

I am one who believes in earning my pleasure. In spite of my superpower (of having superpowers) in Life 3.0, I do not abuse it. (I am one of those 21st century existentially-troubled heroes burdened with super/posthuman gifts – the difference being that they exist on TV and they often screw up. I do not.) A life too easy simply does not attract me. I am a sucker for challenges, and I like it that I have to fight for things I want; if they are easy, I would probably not find them desirable.

Hence I wish to undertake a gesture to pay back for my contribution (along with you) in turning the Alps tropical and  slowly suiciding our race (no, it is not mercy killing, but rather like a carbon monoxidal poisoning, so slow as to be even graceful, haha.). Of course, this gesture/token is necessarily pathetic; no thing can, in the remotest way, by all stretches of imagination, match up.  Non-delusional as one is, one nonetheless tasks oneself with a small deed.

The total distance for my return trip (Nondon – Zurich – Nondon) is 1550km. I would have liked to task myself with running the same distance in a given period of time. However, it does not seem realistic. As I imagine that I will be flying frequently within my life time, including long haul, I need to find a do-able enough formulation of a task that I can undertake each time. See, even in the hyperrealistic Life 3.0, there is some sense of realism.

Zurich

Let us calculate the amount of distance I run in a week. I recorded the week of 21 December 2009 as such:

•    21 December  / DAY 10: 15km (0- 2 degrees Celsius) Regents Fark.
•    DAY 11: 20km (2 degrees)
•    DAY 12: 11.5km: gym: (5km treadmill, 5km cycle, 0.5km only on the tedious ski machine, 1km on rower; then leg extension, chest press, shoulder press (yuks), pulldown, weights, 20 situps. The gym equipment, by the way, is branded ‘TECHNOGYM’. High tech!)
•    DAY 13: Same as DAY 12, but 4km of which were of a 2.5 gradient.
•    DAY 14: 15km run (3 degrees), with a sprain for the first 4km, Regents Fark.
•    DAY 15: 13 km: (9 degrees) with a sprain for the first 6km
•    DAY 16: 15 km (7 degrees) pain free (due to the installation of my Mind over Matter M&M plugin)

TOTAL FOR THE WEEK: 101km.

This looks pretty nice- but this was an exceptionally good week. With the patchy weather now, I am not certain if I can afford many outdoor runs. Indoors, I can hardly run now. Not being a hamster anymore running on the treadmill bloody bores me to tears. I used to be able to do a 5km sprint; lately, I cannot even bear 1km, and even then, I do it in much anger (To help curb the dread and claustrophobia, my Winter indoor/gym routine consists of 5 minutes on each machine and 4 sets of 5 on the boring, boring weights. Enough to work up some sweat, but not enough to create endorphins and any degree of satisfaction- hence more anger). I have found out that there will be a pool near where I will live in Winterthur; I can typically swim 1-1.5km each time.

(Last weekend, however, I finally managed to break my dreadful spell by running at Regents Fark. Previously, icy road conditions, as well as having been an enormous sponge for the Winter break, have prevented me from doing this. What a lovely feeling it is, to be re-connected with nature and one’s body. At an incredibly warm and sunny 7 degree Celsius, I needed only 1 T-shirt. I started, and stayed, very slow, but I was happy. To sweat, to be out of breath, outdoors, running on, not tired, not speeding, simply moving on. I felt a calm I haven’t been able to in a while.)

Coming back to the question of how I could compensate for my carbon footprints, I worked out that a  gesture (realistic enough, though still requiring enough effort) would be as such:

For my 1550km flight, I will run/swim/walk/work out 155.0KM, in the space of 1 month (late January – late February).

So I moved 1 decimal point. Go on, mock me, but  I could have moved 2, or 3.  Or 4.

So how does this sound? What do you think, my Very Dear Reader? Unless you have any other suggestions? Better be good!

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4 LAPS AROUND REGENTS FARK: MIND OVER MATTER (IF IT MATTERS AT ALL)

Feeling particularly energetic on the first day of my life, I run 4 laps around Regents Fark. Including the distance to and from my starting point, I run a total of approximately 24km today. This is good for today, and although it is a long way towards even attempting to pay back for the damage I have done and will do, as well as to pay back for my stubborn continual existence in spite of  all this, it is a start, and a continual effort. As we know well, much of what Confucius says is rather dodgy, but the one thing he says about any change starting from oneself makes some sense.

I began running in the final year of my previous life. Prior to that I had been swimming 1.5km daily. I took part in my first half marathon and came in at 2 hours and a bit. As my wish to run my 1st marathon could not be fulfilled in my previous life, I will have to do it this life, by Summer 2010. If it takes me 5 hours, so be it. 8 hours, 10 hours, until the volunteers have all packed up to leave, until the cleaners have cleaned up the last crushed paper cup and runner’s poo on the streets the next morning, that is fine. I will run / walk / crawl / jump / fly / swim. Physical pain I can battle – the only thing I have to fight now is boredom. Being so young, my attention span is awfully short. I struggle to stay focused in any single activity for a stretch of several minutes, much less several hours (or years, or lifetimes). I think of 5 other things as I do one thing; linear events exhaust and bore me, as I already imagine travelling to 6 other places in 7 other directions. (That was how I got tired of my previous life, as it was going on for a while). (How I look forward to Life 3.0, then, since I am not bound by the trivial constraints of time and space! I will be able to do what I want, when I want, however I want it! More on this later…) Monotony is a weakness, though endurance is my strength. (Afterall, I have managed to endure myself all those years and life cycles). The only things that keep me going when running or swimming long distances is my imagination and willpower. Hopefully, by Summer, I will be older (more than 6 months old) and will have cultivated enough patience to not feel bored too quickly.

DO YOU KNOW OF ANY UPCOMING RACES? DO LET KAIDIE KNOW! WHAT DO YOU THINK OF WHEN YOU ARE RUNNING?

Running today at Regents Fark, 2 runners smile at me – huge smiles. I get suspicious and wonder if it is my unbecoming running gait that so amuses them – afterall I am a newborn and my movement remains awkward – but one of the cops carrying a large toy gun at Binfield House and another passerby both shout hello. On my way home, another says ‘Go! Go! Go!’ and sticks out his hand to make me slap it as I passed by. Although I have run in several cities in my previous life, this friendliness is rather refreshing (a couple of the few fellow runners I encountered in Tokyo, Fukuoka and Beppu in Papan did nod at me; people in Spore primarily stare disapprovingly at my folly of running under the hot sun as they sit fat in their air-conditioned cars in their air-conditioned carnation; in Oxford in Yengland some dogs looked like they were smiling, or perhaps those were their default teeth-&-tongue-revealing faces which do not necessarily translate as the human equivalent of smiling?).

WHY ON EARTH ARE OTHER RUNNERS AND PEOPLE AND ANIMALS SMILING AT KAIDIE? DO YOU THINK KAIDIE SHOULD SMILE BACK ? WHAT KIND OF SMILE SHOULD SHE ATTEMPT? SHOULD KAIDIE INITIATE SMILES? HOW MANY TIMES IN, SAY, A 10km RUN SHOULD KAIDIE ATTEMPT TO SMILE? LIKE AN AVERAGE OF 1 SMILE PER 100m? PER 1000m? WHAT ABOUT WHEN SHE IS RUNNING ON THE TREADMILL IN THE GYM?

Camus concludes that Sisyphus must be happy  – good for him, and him, but let me tell you, my dear reader, that the 1st 3km of any long run is always the most dreaded. As I run I protest/resist/fight/struggle and say, NO, I do not want to do this, this bloody hurts / this is no fun / I’d rather spend £4.50 to swim at the Union pool / I’d rather spend 45p to pay another version of myself doing this / I’d rather sit on my buttocks and do nothing and get furious for sitting on my buttocks and for doing nothing and sitting on my buttocks and for doing nothing but getting angry while sitting on my buttocks / I’d rather get greasy and let the calories choke my bloodstream and expire before the 1000-day duration / I rather slurp my own poo (with syrup) several litres over until I am flooded and I drown in, than to put one feet in front of the other, why do I have to do this of all people of this and other worlds / realities, why do I have to do this now of all my lifetimes. I have about 34,000 excuses that I come up with, looped, each and every time. Then after 3 km, I give up protesting as it gets boringly predictable as a broken record or a dislocated kaidie for that matter. Can’t go on, must go on, since there is no other options. So I go on. In the numbing repetitive motion, something else happens physically/psychologically. I begin to enjoy the groove and rhythm (never mind my beastly gait). I am there, much aware of my surroundings, and at the same time I am travelling elsewhere, as lucid as I am slightly intoxicated, somewhere that no one else is, where no one can touch me, where I am very much alone, feeling strong/alert/erect as much as I am unclenched/dreamy/soft where I am not fighting anymore, and am calm, at peace. So I push on. And on. My mind thinks of no thing, and it is aware that it is thinking of no thing. I remember getting there sometimes with my 1.5km swims in my previous life. It’s rather nice – and what’s nicer is the knowledge that it’s all MINE! Kaidie as a 3rd Lifer is a fabulous person and all that but she is also selfish when it comes to pleasure. Sorry!

Today is particularly interesting. At the 24th km, I not only feel calm, but happy. It is nice to feel happy. Then, I feel a large pair of plastic wings stapled onto my shoulders.

Original composition by PHILIP TAN

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