Walking. Beneath the Plimsoll line of conscious control.

4:26 a.m.

Dark Sky app: 48º F. Feels like 42º F, with wind gusts up to 27 mph. Cloud cover 95%. Light rain forecast in one hour… and, then, 100% cloud cover.

I slide on hoodie, with down jacket on top. Tuk over the ears. And out the door.

I ease into the front seat. Lower back, to hamstring, to thigh to left knee, sizzles. With both hands on the steering wheel, I close eyes, clench teeth, inhale, and wait for lightning to pass. I shift in seat, right, then left, then up straight, trying to locate the pain-free zone. Can’t shake it. I fire up the ignition, and drive.

With a sliver of time, a narrow window for light, I need to hustle. I slide out of the front seat, gingerly place right foot, and then left foot on the ground. I stand for a moment and wait for pain to subside. A few deep breaths, and sizzle settles to simmer, and its go-time.

390 consecutive days, like in a row. My morning walk at Cove Island Park. Backpack. Camera. And I’m off.

I walk. [Read more…]

Body

When bodies are discussed, especially in popular culture, it has often meant a very circumscribed set of themes, largely to do with what the body looks like or how to maintain it at a pinnacle of health. The body as a set of surfaces, of more or less pleasing aspect. The perfect, unattainable body, so smooth and gleaming it is practically alien. What to feed it, how to groom it, the multiple dismaying ways in which it might fail to fit in or measure up. But the element of the body that interested me was the experience of living inside it, inhabiting a vehicle that was so cataclysmically vulnerable, so unreliably subject to pleasure and pain, hatred and desire…

I wanted to formalise my understanding of the body, and I was fascinated too by the idea that it might have its own language, distant from speech but just as eloquent and meaningful, composed of symptoms and sensations rather than words… Over the next two years, I drew every bone, muscle and organ in the body, memorising their functions and their names, right down to the tiny bones of the hand: lunate and pisiform, named for their resemblance to moons and peas. On sheets of butcher’s paper, I mapped the metabolic transformations that went on inside the miniature factory of each cell. At the beginning I had only the crudest notion of how the body worked, but I struggled gamely on, fascinated and a little appalled by how much of my life happened beneath the Plimsoll line of conscious control. Gradually it all came into focus. The body was a device for processing the external world; a conversion machine, hoarding, transforming, discarding, stripping for parts.

Olivia Laing, Everybody: A Book About Freedom (W. W. Norton & Company, May 4, 2021)

 

Lightly Child, Lightly

The Mekas image had a caption, drawn from 2007’s To New York with Love. YOU LOOK AT THE SUN. THEN YOU RETURN HOME AND YOU CAN’T WORK, YOU’RE IMPREGNATE WITH ALL THAT LIGHT. We’re so often told that art can’t really change anything. But I think it can. It shapes our ethical landscapes; it opens us to the interior lives of others. It is a training ground for possibility. It makes plain inequalities, and it offers other ways of living. Don’t you want it, to be impregnate with all that light? And what will happen if you are?

Olivia LaingFunny Weather: Art in an Emergency ( W. W. Norton & Company; May 12, 2020)


Notes:

  • Image Source
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Running. With Pus.

Location: South Beach.
Temperature: 74° F. Humidity: 70%. Wind: 5-12 mph and gusting.
Run Plan: 11 miles.
Time: 6:45 am.

This is Dad and Daughter’s second run in preparation for her 1/2 marathon in two weeks. Run 1 here: Running. 10, on Good Friday.

Mile 1.0: The shoe-to-sock-to-skin chafing is working up a blister, not on one foot, but on the ball of each foot. With each step, the fluid-filled bubbles form from the friction, the high humidity, the sweaty feet, the damp sweat socks. The result? A stinging bite with each footfall. So early in the run, a (very) bad sign. Wore the wrong shoes, and paying a hefty price. Mind rolls forward, I’m in the bathroom post-run, in awe at how anxious I am to prick the juicy, squishy bubble, when I know I will be suffering with each step for days.  Awed again at the creation of this pus, it’s as clear as the run-off from a mountain stream in Spring. Miracle really, my mind and its workings, and this pus, this beautiful liquid created from something so raw and painful, and the healing process begins.

Mile 2.0: Feral cats meander on the boardwalk.  Lady with wild hair (and wild eyes) feeds them Li’l Nibbles Dry Cat Food from a Ziploc plastic bag, scooping a handful, and letting the nibbles slide out of her hand like sand from an hourglass. Cats watch from a distance, hungry but wary. She organizes the nibbles in the shape of a half moon, and walks to the next drop zone, eyes stare blankly ahead. [Read more…]

Everyone knows this. Everyone knows what it looks like.

Everyone knows this. Everyone knows what it looks like. I can’t count how many pieces I’ve read about how alienated we’ve become, tethered to our devices, leery of real contact; how we are heading for a crisis of intimacy, as our ability to socialise withers and atrophies. But this is like looking through the wrong end of a telescope. We haven’t just become alienated because we’ve subcontracted so many elements of our social and emotional lives to machines. It’s no doubt a self-perpetuating cycle, but part of the impetus for inventing as well as buying these things is that contact is difficult, frightening, sometimes intolerably dangerous Your favourite part of having a smartphone is never having to call anyone again, the source of the gadget’s pernicious appeal is not that it will absolve its owner of the need for people but that it will provide connection to them –connection, furthermore, of a risk-free kind, in which the communicator need never be rejected, misunderstood or overwhelmed, asked to supply more attention, closeness or time than they are willing to offer up.

~ Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone


Photo: Luca Pietrobono with smartphone

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