He’s back in time, he’s been working out and he delivers perfect reasons to get drunk!
For the english speaking Spreeblick audience, I am passing the mic to my friend Charles for the second, even better time. He’s asking questions, so go ahead and answer him…
Lose this Skin
There“™s change, and then there“™s change. We are all mutants, and we“™re mutating more at every moment. A deeply unsettling process. What has happened to the self we knew a day ago, a decade ago? Have I lost something important? Would I know? One thing that is known: you can“™t step in the same river once. All is fire.
I think it was my last class that did it. Somewhere under the piles of journal articles, the MATLAB manuals, and the megabytes of hundred dimensional data was my gym membership card, defunct from neglect. I can almost remember when I first made the decision to skip a workout. The gym is always the first to go in schedule triage. Since then I“™d put on about ten pounds, and had to shelve some of my favorite, now embarrassingly tight t-shirts.
After some initial procrastination and the first few painful attempts, I was able to get back in the habit of regular exercise. As a wise man once said, the hardest step is the step outside. Once I was over the hump, I noticed that the coughing and wheezing that had ended my first few workouts had become a sort of dizzy euphoria. I“™m sure that there“™s a good medical explanation for this involving endorphins and oxygen depletion and such, but in my mind I equate it with making a transformation. Taking control of my own body and bending it to my will, if only to make it through half an hour of vision-collapsing cardio. For Nietzsche, it was mountain climbing:
Way to equality. — A few hours of mountain climbing turn a villain and a saint into two rather equal creatures. Exhaustion is the shortest way to equality and fraternity — and liberty is added eventually by sleep.
— Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals. (Sorry I don“™t have it in German!)
You can add hard drinking to that list, too. There are excellent medical explanations for the effects of three days of binge drinking, too, but I transformation sums it up pretty well for me. Even alchemy. Transmogrifying the body through chemicals, with the dedication, endurance, and self-destructiveness of a marathon runner. Again, euphoria can result, and (after some days of recovery) a certain pride in having pushed one“™s limits.
There are also opportunities for moments of clarity in these acts. Moments when one transcends the daily worries and distractions of existence, and can see life from a slight remove, as if out of time and space. Moments during which the banality of garbage schedules, credit card bills, and dirty laundry are far far away, and reality is in full view.
About three weeks ago I was on First Avenue in the Village. It was a little after two AM, bitter cold, and my state could kindly be described as „˜sotted“™. Frankly, I was too fucked up to walk straight. Standing around on the street was going to attract unwanted attention, and I was sure that trying to walk was going to attract it faster. I had hours to kill before the next train home, and I could neither move nor stop. Resigned to my dilemma, I decided that it was time to call in some favors and find a place to crash locally. I mustered the cogency for one desperate phone call, took out my cell phone, and promptly fumbled it to the ground, off the curb, and into the darkness under a parked car.
On my hands and knees, searching through the darkness with numb fingers. A moment of perfect clarity. The air is crisp. The night is quiet. The body is failing at simple tasks, and time is too plentiful.
There“™s change, and then there“™s change. There“™s „maybe I“™ll wear some green today,“ change, and there“™s „I“™m going to marry that girl,“ change. One happens all the time for us, every day. It“™s almost beneath our notice. The other is tectonic. It sometimes requires cool air and crisp silence. It sometimes requires something else, either more refined or more primitive. There are many ways… what are yours?
We are all living too fast; we are working too hard, we grind, grind at our treadmills all day and we grind too hard, we break down long before we should, this haste, this furious pace at which we are going, at business, at pleasure, at everything, is the great curse of Chicago life.
— Samuel Paynter Wilson, Chicago and its Cess-Pools of Infamy, c. 1910
I will curse you with a Great Curse,
may dregs of beer stain your beautiful lap,
may a drunk soil your festal robe with vomit
Link of the week: Telecom Communication Cripples