In Search of A/The Point of Life

Posts Tagged ‘renewal’

KAIDIE DIES: Variation 2.

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RUNNING = LIVING = RUNNING. BUT WHEN WE HIT THE WALL MID-JOURNEY, HOW CAN WE FIND THE STAMINA TO COMPLETE IT?

Broken. (Super-)Glued several times, but falling apart (looped, like a broken record, like living, like the cycles of life and death, like dying, like running, like running on quicksand, like running on slowsand, like not running, but running, still).

For me running is both exercise and a metaphor. Running day after day, piling up the races, bit by bit, I raise the bar, and by clearing each level I elevate myself. at least that’s why I put in effort day after day: to raise my own level. […] The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.[1]

We journey forwards to the finishing line in a running session (or at the completion of a race, which is the epitome of a running session, with set rules and a clear beginning and closure). In life, we journey towards the finishing line of death. In the process, like writer Haruki Murakami, we desire improvement and progress in any given run, as we do in life itself. Yet, any long-distance runner also understands the dictum that when we run, we are essentially running against ourselves (and not our fellow runners). As Bernd Heinrich states of his record-breaking championship in the 1981 ultra-marathon, he was running it ‘all by myself, against myself’; ‘I’d done the best that I knew how at the time. That’s what mattered to me.’ [2] Contrary to the short distance sprint, the emphasis of the long-distance run is its process. Given the strenuous nature of running, pain and exhaustion are the Achilles heels of any runner, capable of literally and metaphorically bringing us to our knees. Especially in the case of ultra-running (of distances above 42km), it is when our body and mind are pushed so far that we are reminded of our limitation, vulnerability, and indeed, mortality. For Murakami, ‘learning something essential in life requires physical pain’ in most cases.[3] Yet, while ‘the hurt part is an unavoidable reality’, what matters is how we respond to this pain.[4] Thus, ‘[p]ain is inevitable. Suffering is optional’.[5].In bringing us close to death, pain is that which reminds us that we are alive. We run after pain because it reminds us of our mortality. An undertaking such as endurance running fulfils this basic instinct of ours. Like the endurance hunt, the race becomes a metaphor for life and death, except that instead of competing against the nimble antelope, we are fighting against ourselves, outrunning our own limitations. No stranger to pain, Murakami states that it is ‘precisely because of the pain, precisely because we want to overcome that pain, that we can get the feeling, […]of really being alive – or at least a partial sense of it.’[6] Hence, that which is at stake as we journey in the process of a run or life itself is how we respond to the ups and downs that confront us along the way. In another words, how we negotiate, manage and navigate our runs, and, indeed, our lives —which is the question that we are addressing in our thesis of Trans-dimensional Running For Our Lives! A Rough Guide to a Critical Strategy for our Technologically-Layered Multiverse .

In fact, Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running can be read as a poetic discourse of the activity of running as a means to negotiate, manage and navigate his life and mortality itself.[7] Over a collection of essays, he discusses his peak as a runner (and writer), and contemplates about his own physical decline as a runner as he grows older.[8] In contrast to the image of a highly-successful novelist and athlete, the essays reveals Murakami as one ridden with anxieties and self-doubt about (his) existence. In tones not dissimilar to Antoine’s epiphanic laments in Jean-Paul Sartre’s existential textbook Nausea, Murakami ponders about whether he has overcome his ‘shortcomings’ as he ages (‘now here I am living in this unimaginable world’;[9] ‘wretched sort of feeling’;[10] ‘struck by how pitiful n pointless this little container called me is, what a lame, shabby being I am’;[11] ‘sad spreadsheet of my life that reveals how much my debts far outweigh my assets’[12]). In a particularly poignant (and humorous) passage, Murakami describes watching ‘young blonde girls’ swinging their ponytails ‘proudly’ as they run, and distils from it the metaphor of how ‘one generation takes over from the next’. He allows them to overtake him, for they have different sense of time, which is ‘the way it should be’.[13] For Murakami, ‘this is how the world is handed over in this world’. He continues to run his own run —and his own life—  and comes to terms with (his) mortality:

[…] I doubt I’ll ever be able to run the way I used to. I’m ready to accept that. […] And time does its job much more faithfully, much more accurately, than I ever do. Ever since time began (when was that, I wonder?), it’s been moving ever forward without a moment’s rest. And one of the privileges given to those who’ve avoided dying young is the blessed right to grow old. The honour of physical decline is waiting, and you have to get used to that reality.[14]



[1] Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Random House Inc., 2009). p. 10.

[2] Bernd Heinrich, Why We Run: A Natural History, Reprint (Harper Perennial, 2002). p. 266.

[3] Murakami, p. 140.

[4] Murakami, p. vii.

[5] Murakami, p. vii.

[6] Murakami, p. 171.

[7] Thirty-three —which he notes was the age that Jesus Christ died and Scott Fitzgerald began to decline— was the age that Murakami picked up running (as well as his ‘belated, but real starting point as a novelist’). Murakami, p. 47.

[8] Murakami, p. 11.

[9] Murakami, p. 18.

[10] Murakami, p. 152.

[11] Murakami, p. 152.

[12] Murakami, p. 152.

[13] Murakami, p. 94.

[14] Murakami, p. 121.


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IN ONE OF HER PREVIOUS LIVES, KAIDIE WAS DESYPHUS, SWIMMING ROUND AND ROUND THE CIRCLE LINE IN SINGAPORE. The Bras Basah Station permanent public art work post #1.

* Read about Bras Basah Station on Wikipedia.

* Read about the Circle Line on the Land Transport Authority site.

* Read about the Circle Line on Wikipedia.

* More information and images of the Circle Line  here and there.

* Read about award-winning station designed by critically-acclaimed WOHA.

* Look up images of Bras Basah Station on Flickr.

** LAST 2 DAYS OF THIS MONTH TO VOTE! Currently a top film in the War of Films contest: CLAUDIA TOMAZ’S film about KAIDIE AND HER MEANING OF LIFE 3.0. VOTE NOW!** Vote by clicking on + sign at the top of video player. ** Don’t forget to vote for Episode 2, Run Kaidie Run, too!**

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DAY 54: RE-STARTING NONDON, AGAIN. A TASTE OF NONDON TAP WATER INSTANTLY TRANSPORTS ME BACK TO THIS REALITY.

gum_butts

Shall we sit on this, or chew it?

A taste of Nondon tap water, and being just an other anonymous ‘other’ in a large city of others, tells me that I am back in this reality, in Nondon.

Happy to be away and enjoying an other city when I am away, happy to be home when I am home.

Usual for new or ‘new’ beginnings, I had a haircut. I had promised to not cut my hair for the duration of my life. So I have, and haven’t – alright I have HALF-KEPT my promise. Or half-broken it (Is a glass half empty of half full? Is a mixed-raced kid a ‘half’ or a ‘double’ in Japan??) I tried. I combed my fringe to the left, right, back, front, jedw**d style, amy whinehows style, and zz top style, covering my eyes, my brains, my nostrils. It just doesn’t quite ‘work’. After my easy bus dropped me at Faker Street, near the famous Museum of Fakes where Kaidie will one day be (if she cannot get a stool next to Jeremy’s auto-icon), I went straight to the local butcher, borrowed his (are there any women butcher in Nondon?) large knife, put my head on the chopping board, and chopped off the front bit. Then, I packed the hair that dropped to the floor and fed them to the pigeons in Frafalgar Square. Though already obese due to nonstop feeding by ‘kind’ Nondon tourists, they gobbled up my hair; I can see some of which sticking out between their teeth. Alas, my short absence from Nondon has made me forget that it is illegal to feed these winged rats. The cops tried to handcuffed me but fortunately the Save The Pigeons people saved me. They believed that I was a pigeon with my new haircut.

PS 1:

A quick update – and this goes to show clearly that I DO KEEP MY PROMISES. I had promised to run 155.0km to as a gesture to compensate the 1550km  Nondon-Zurich-Nondon flight on 19 January. Since then, I had acted according to Rainold and his several terrific advice, by wearing comfortable cloths, and tried my best to feel positive emotions. I also gave myself no pressure, only pleasure. With the positive emotions and pleasures, I have covered more than 120km so far. I am currently trying to tabulate my results and will update you soon. So, I will say what I have said before, but I will say it again – WATCH THIS SPACE!

PS 2:

THANKS SO MUCH RAINOLD! I will have to come back to you to ask you how I could ‘be myself’ and ‘be a unique individual’, as I have been born with nothing. How could I be, then? I am rather puzzled and need some more advice on this, if you will!

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KAIDIE WOULD LIKE TO ABANDON NONDON FOR WINTERTHUR (FOR GOOD). OR, WE (WHOEVER WE ARE) SHOULD/COULD WRITE KAIDIE OFF (ALREADY).

garmin

Kaidie no longer travels alone, but has a new travel companion, called 'Mini', who has an untrustworthy and unstable personality, or is simply temperamental, but is essentially a nice guy (I guess. We will find out. Watch this space).

To make the effort to leave; to make the effort to go; to be transposed and disoriented; to have one’s routines upset (only to desperately attempt to construct new ones, but haha, the timeframe is too short to allow one to do that); to take temporary breaks from my (step)mother tongue; to feign ignorance since I do not understand, which is, no doubt, my own fault but ignorance is blissful yes the cliche is true, so perhaps I deliberately do not want to understand; to have to start somewhere and hence say ‘greuzi’ to the immigration officer; to hear variations of the german language, including subjective, rusty ones; to not mind embarrassing oneself in order to show that one attempts, that one is making an effort; to doze on/off and drool while semi-asleep/awake in the constant rhythm of the near-empty cheap bus on its way to the cheap airport but to feel extraordinarily happy, happy not of dreams of arriving at a destination (no, no one looks forward to arriving at that tragic, cheap airport – and when there, cancel and zone off by replaying in ones head the 2nd movement of Gould’s rendition of the Emperor’s Concerto again, and again, and again, until the gates are open for boarding), but happy at the act of travel itself, the same happiness when in the middle of a run that is neither fast nor slow neither breathless nor breathful, and to feel happy knowing that one is happy; to have a new travel companion of a digital navigator; to undergo the tedium of travelling with a travel companion; to undergo the tedium of travelling with a travel companion with conflicting interests; to run an imaginary race with the digital navigator and to win it, because I arrived in Winterthur and am acclimatising to it but poor ‘Mini’ (which is the name we have given the navigator, – do not inquire why ) is still looking for his bearings and attempting to locate the Winterthur satellites; to have conflicting plans with this new travel companion, because he prefers / needs outdoors while his user detests cold; to forge temporary bonds with fellow trippers; to eat not knowing if it’s breakfast/dinner, or if one is even hungry in the first place; to go across time zones, climates, cultural barriers, stereotypes; to be shocked; to be gratified (temporarily); to feel repulsion that one is reminded of one’s otherness, even though one has long moved on from the tedious identity/sexual/gender/cultural/racial/power politics, but if the other has not, should one grin and bear it or ignore it or re-question one’s identity from scratch, but why should I, since I have long addressed their problems but they have not theirs! so it is not my problem if they (still) see me in a certain way; to be excited by difference; to be excited by exotica; to be judged exotic (again); to be judged different (again); to be judged exotic and different and to be angry about it and wonder why one should feel anger; stop looking at me, stop looking at me thinking you know what I am; go ahead and look I have long worked through this; to be anonymous; to stand out; to not stand out; to stand out for the wrong/right reasons; to compare; to not compare; to not have preconceptions, to start afresh, to screw up, to have false starts, to try again; because otherwise why come/leave/go?

So I do love travelling. Travelling as a noun/end, as well as a process/methodology/tactic.

Look at the images taken of my studio in Winterthur. For the past 4 weeks I was reading and writing at my desk for 15 hours a day in Nondon (sleeping 6, and then using 3 for exercise, showering, eating, defecating). I could kill Kaidie from Nondon and start afresh here. I could live here and read and write for 15 hours a day.

Kaidie was conceived in an other residency, in Summer 2006 in my previous life, in the beautiful, beautiful fortress island of Suomenlinna at Helsinki. I did not plan it, but being away allowed me to create the Kaidie that I am living now, 3 years later. My current residency has also afforded me the critical distance to slaughter Kaidie.

Also, Swiss tap water tastes awfully delicious. Not Nondon tap water, no.

VS

Top, middle, ground (plus kitchen and dining). I love the middle bit.

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DAY 19: KAIDIE HAS SHAPESHIFTED TO A 157m SPONGE SO AS TO BETTER SOAK UP THE FESTIVE ATMOSPHERE.

How are you enjoying the festivities, my Dear Readers?

This morning I took a hard look at myself at the mirror. I quite like my current formation as a hamster – I quite enjoyed being a cockroach as well, both of which are fabulous for going undercover, but I am also exhausted of only being vertically-challenged all the time. (For instance, what in gods’ names gives short men the right to chat up short women as if they are godsends, as if I should be ever so grateful for meeting someone of a physical formation [sic] that I could crush with the tip of my little toe?! Kaidie is a 3rdlifer, for chrissake, and is adamantly against smalltownprovincial incest, inbreeding and any sort of breeding. Have you forgotten that Kaidie is  a perfectly globalised cosmopolitan of metropolitan Nondon? Get out of my way shorties, let Kaidie mingle with all the other species, formations, forms, lifeforms and non-life forms out there.)

So, what should I become next? I pondered for a while… When in Rome, surely I should do as the Romans do. When in Nondon, surely I should do as Nondeners do. What better way to soak up the atmosphere than to be a sponge! But what size should I go for? A 1.57m kitchen sponge does not quite make a strong enough visual presence as a 157m one. So voila, I’ve made the transition. In order not to confuse you, my Dear Reader, for my continually refreshing renewals, renovations and reinventions, I created a diagramme for your kind reference. (My hamster formation is a few pixels, right at the left side of the diagramme, actually, can you spot it? ) As you can see, I have coloured myself in my favourite pink to try to add some neon glamour to the festive occasion. In addition, in order not to commit the frequent superhero fashion faux pas, I have dyed my square pants the same #ff02d8 shade as the rest of my body. Don’t you think this is a most fabulous getup for me to visit Frafalgar Square, the Nondon-I and the New Year’s Day Parade! How do you like it?

* PS THANK YOU my Facebook friends Breda and Vassili for your kind advice! *

* If YOU have any suggestions as to what (and when) I could become next, do SHOUT!*

small_sponge

Kaidie finally meeting her match in Nondon.

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MUMMY DIES DURING CHILDBIRTH

My birth day is also a death day. During the almighty push that is my coming-into-being from her tummy, mummy reaches her own limits and gives up, gives in, expires, kicks the bucket. At least it is a snappy death. Such is life.

At her funeral, a bomb explodes. According to the twitter feed by the met, it is a suspected terrorist attack in Nondon. All my family members are wiped out in a single splash of fireworks. They are shredded into pieces, so many that I cannot pick up.

Anxious Nondeners gathering at Frafalgar Sqaure after the incident, awaiting updates.

Anxious Nondeners gathering at Frafalgar Square after the incident, awaiting updates.

So I am alone, here, in Life 3.0, an orphan, blank slate, tabula rasa, ground zero, with no memory, no baggage, no heritage, no history, no obligations, no expectations to fulfill, no roots, no customs, nothing to declare, an open book, no thing.

The clear, singular task and purpose that I am born is to look for the Meaning of Life 3.0. So we know our starting point, and the destination, but the in-between, the getting-there, is the point of this. The question is how we get there, and I need your help with that.

I say goodbye to mummy, daddy and my siblings, and embark on my trip. I move on.

NIETZSCHE SAID THAT ‘THOSE WHO HAS A WHY TO LIVE CAN BEAR WITH ALMOST ANY HOW’ – KAIDIE DOESN’T QUITE AGREE, AS THE ‘HOW’, THE JOURNEY/TRIP IS THE POINT, BUT WHAT DO YOU THINK? WRITE IN NOW!

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