WAXNWINGS

Dear man, fly not toward the sun lest thy waxen wings should melt…

MoveMore

MoveMore is a new, more personal space which details the progress of an effort to develop the range of my physical movement abilities. It begins in January 2013, a time when I first experienced strong dissolution with my then movement dogma, bodybuilding. It was a practice to which I invested over eight years of learning, practice, and teaching.

MoveMore also sets forth a critique of how movement in modern cultures is categorised and labelled, and as a result controlled through a seemingly innocent process of socialisation (namely the formation of social norms and ‘acceptabilities’). Here we are perhaps dealing with an ‘ideology of movement’, no different to the function of ideology in our everyday micro and macro social processes, arrangements, and interactions.

This critique presents an effort to build a ‘Philosophy of Movement’, one in which the very movement complexity of our species (or ‘potential’ for movement complexity, if it is only (re-)realised) is taken as antecedent for the advanced brain development which has spearheaded our species’ evolution, and ultimately our move to the top of the food chain. With this alone in mind, the motivation for any effort to critique, theorise, and philosophise further is self-evident.

The philosophy seeks to outline movement complexity as a significant determiner of our species as human; a ‘humanism’ intrinsically linked to the flesh, bones and blood of the body, a corporeal entity within space and time, a meaningful in that it has a direct a/effect on both our individual and collective psychological experience, now as much as it did throughout the evolution of our species.

Movement is, however, something that modern cultures (particularly in advent of commodity culture) have restricted, coded, and commodified. Movement in modern cultures is something to be practised as routine, but as little as possible; it is a burden, not a mode of expression, and when it is used as a mode of expression then it can only be so when practised and performed through culturally accepted avenues, such as ‘dance’ or ‘performance’ arts.

Like alienated work, movement becomes something we do for 30 minutes in our lunch time, for an hour after work, on the weekends under the guise of ‘game’, something separate from our ‘real’ life. And perhaps most worryingly – with the affluence of ‘leisure time’ in modern societies – movement finds it’s biggest social justification under the trapping net of ‘health and fitness’, a dangerous ideology which plays directly into the hands of commodity consumerism and further disconnection with ones body. Under the ideology of health and fitness, the body is something that must be controlled, lest it become abhorable, something weak, sick, ugly. The body becomes an object.

As a result we are largely a sick species, disconnected from our bodies physically, mentally, and spiritually.

I owe all the inspiration and many of my words to Ido Portal whose movement philosophy has elevated ideas I formulated throughout writing my undergraduate thesis in 2010, as well as leading me to find new meaning in my personal relationship to movement.

You can find the MoveMore page here:

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https://movemoremove.wordpress.com/toward-a-critique-and-philosophy-of-movement/

 

 

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Inward

If  could turn you on, if I could drive you out of your wretched mind, If I could tell you I would let you know.

‘Sir. I’m afraid it is coming, whether we care to do anything or not.’

Fumbles fumbles. Paper fumbles.

‘Um.. sorry? What is coming? I think I may have missed something – I was away at.. err… a meeting. A very important meeting. The world is dying, you see. Much to do, much to do.’

‘That may be so, Sir…’

‘He’s not Sir, any more – she’s Madam. Or ‘M’am’. But please speak respectfully either way.’

‘Yes, well, that may be so Si… err.. Madam. But the wave is coming whether we care to do anything or not. If we do nothing, the only thing for sure is that there will be no more meetings at all.’

Lemon peels grow in her mouth. The taste is new and familiar.
‘No more meetings? Not even… the important ones?’

‘None, Sir. I mean M’am.’

‘That’s all right – you can call me Sir. I prefer Sir.’

‘None, Sir.’

‘He’s right, Ma’m. The wave is coming. Our estimations predict it is approximately one million miles high and moving at the speed of light. Give or take a few miles per hour.’

Lemon peels burnt to ashes – you can taste it too. After all, they are only human. Just like Us, They are only human.

‘This is preposterous. Why didn’t somebody say something sooner? And can’t we travel faster than light already? I’ve seen it, seen it with my own eyes!’

We’ve all seen it. What excuses are there?

‘It was a simulation, Sir. Not real. Well, that’s not accurate. Of course it’s real. But we pulled the funding. Because the wave is coming, you see. We need all the funding we can bleed.’

‘Ah, so you did know! And why wasn’t I told? I have a family to think of! And who was the prophet?’

‘We don’t use the word “prophet”, Sir. It’s not correct. We are a secular people.’

‘Hmm. Secular, eh? In that case  who was the madman?’

‘Laing, Sir. Mad as a burnt lemon peel. Or perhaps sane as a tree. No one really knows any more. But either way, we found this old telegram in the back pages:

Fumbles fumbles. Paper fumbles. Unfamiliar paper fumbles.

Tidal wave one million miles high moving at speed of light. Impossible to go above or beneath, to run away, to get round to left or right. The Government fires the land with massive flame throwers, earth to desert, to absorb the water. Fire against Water.
Don’t Panic.

‘The man’s a genius! How many flame throwers do we have? Massive ones?’

‘Millions, sir. But it’s not enough. At best estimates, we need at least a thousand for every mile of height. Due to the speed of the wave, we’re overwhelmed. We would need billions…’

‘There is… one option, Ma’m.’

Tessellated marble at gate of Sixth Heaven may be mistaken for water.

‘Speak or be spoken away.’

‘Inside, Sir. We could hide… inside. Inside our selves.’

‘Hmm. Self, eh? The long forgotten? What, are you a magician now?’

‘Every man, woman, and child for their Self, M’am.’

‘Children too, you say?’

‘Well, if I read Lain’s telegrams correctly, they’re probably further ahead than we are.’
Fumbles fumbles. Paper fumbles.
‘Yes, Ma’m. Further ahead. They are still becoming mad a we speak. Love will do that to a child, you know.’

‘You speak with the self assured nature of a man become sane. Self. Inside. Is it so simple? I fear we may no longer be welcome there. Without rope nor net… what will happen?’

‘The world as we know it will be gone, Sir. But we will live on. Beyond life and Death.  We will no loner have need for fear.
We will Be.

There is nothing to be afraid of. Nothing.’

The ultimate  reassurance.
And the ultimate terror.

Steel-Sparkled Hands

It’s an original replica, which meet that you can shoot up to 50 rounds and we can guarantee you it won’t jam once. But it’s not an original, so nothing carries guarantees. I hear some like to call them faithful replica’s, but I prefer not to. I have found that it’s not always best to leave things to faith.

I make them with my cousin in the hills of Cebu province. There are other workshops here as well but we all keep relatively private businesses, and added to that faces are often covered to help against inhaling the steel filings and cleaning chemicals – it’s a safety precaution which means I would have difficulty recognising them without the tied shirts. Sometimes we pass each other on the pass through the rice fields and I have a habit of offering our spare tools for sale; this, however, is more to maintain good relations with a neighbour rather than a business interest. Tools are not our business.

To find us you can follow the northern pass through the paddies which roll toward Halba village like the crooked spine of a skinny carabao. You will see a few shacks to the left and right of the stony path which winds around the open fields, some of them inhabited by pigs too skinny to sell for pork belly and chickens whose feet will be cooked with garlic, bay leaves, vinegar, soy sauce and reduced until they are sticky and delicious. When the path begins to thin toward the forest, look to your left – the grassy slope leads down to an opening where there is a large corrugated shack and the smell of old steel mixed with new oil.

workshop2

We make perhaps fifty guns per year, but it can depend heavily upon the social climate – usually we sell a let when an election is coming up and, on our part, we are very happy. Regardless, it’s a craft which takes precision, care, and, ultimately, time. We know workshops of two or three people who have been know to produce as much as one hundred and fifty to two hundred pieces per year. They sell at understandably lower prices – their products are inferior and often dangerous. Do not expect the gleam of a newly manufactured replica where every curve, rivet, hole and screw speaks the care of men who look for art in their work.

We can sell the pieces anywhere from $80, depending on the model, and I’m thankful that my cousin and I have a skilled trade with which we can support our families. We know men who sell mangoes in the street while their wives keep one of the small shanty shops with sweets for two peso’s a piece, home-made coconut ice-cream, loose sachets of toothpaste and other small snacks. Those who can afford to, stock Coca-Cola, Fanta, and Sprite, whilst their children collect their bottles from those who have plenty enough to discard them. By day, some men climb palms new coconut and cut them open with old bolo’s to sell for their sweet milk and flesh. By night, they await people stumbling home drunk on Tanduay and Red Horse and call ‘balut!’ from under street lamps where the mosquito’s are at there most fierce.

Their children will be lucky to go to school. If they get sick they will wait hours to see a doctor whose only free medication will be electrolytes to help ease the dehydration. Many of them prefer to take the child to the priest who will bath them with holy water. In such cases only a small ‘donation’ is requested.

Some cannot even afford God’s Grace and Mercy.

If you do not find my cousins or I in the workshop, we are out collecting scrap metal for upcoming orders. It feels strange to say ‘scrap’ because it sounds as if we collect parts from any old jeepney or motorcab – that’s certainly not the case. It’s not just any metal that is both strong enough to meet the standards of our original replica’s and malleable enough for us to work with our hands. Machinery is not an option – the running and maintenance costs are too high to be profitable – and though our tools are simple, they are effective. They ask us only to provide the best canvas. So recognising the correct metal and parts is in itself a skill, as is being sure not to take from another workshop’s scrap grounds. We are not here to cause trouble and we would not want to find ourselves on the wrong side of our own hand-crafted triggers.

Filipino gunsmiths work in an illegal makeshift gun factory on the outskirts of Danao in central Philippines July 8, 2012. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

Most people in the village know our business; they do not approve of our work, but they understand. They tell us only to think of our souls – they remind us that the blessed lives we have run faster than any bullet compared with the eternity of Hell. This is something I know, and even though I no longer feel holy enough to visit the Church, I ask the Almighty and his Son to take pity on my cousin and I, to forgive us for the evil that our actions help happen. I can only hope my prayers are heard amongst the millions of others in this troubled country.

If you see a Police Offcial, Military Personnel, or Politician in the village, now you know why they are here. There is an upcoming election and so soon the workshop will be very busy; many people will have troubles to be resolved. Again I will return home at hours when the moon shines like a silver bullet stuck in black metal and the Grace of Heaven falls upon us through starlit skies. Finding myself into the single room of our small house, I meet my wife with an oily cologne and hold my children with steel-sparkled hands as they sleep.

The next morning, more men in button-shirts wet with sweat on the chest, back and armpits will arrive, and the villagers who know our business will point with their lips toward the northern pass through the rice fields, the ones which roll like the spine of an old, skinny carabao toward Halba village. The building will be alive with the whirring of silver hands on diamond-tip drills, the soft scrape of skilled filing, and the smell of old steel and new oil. My cousin and I will be working.

The Self Seers.

I was never very good at being human.

In all honesty, it wasn’t something I enjoyed. I’m inclined to say I’m far happier now; ‘far happier’. But that wouldn’t be the correct choice of words. No, not correct at all. It would assume that ‘happiness’ is some attainable state – something to be strived for. But if there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s that such radical conclusions are a very human neurosis. Particularly human indeed. I would go as far to portend that it will only lead to complete damnation of the species. But I doubt anyone would listen to me anyway. And there’s no reason why they should – I’m not even considered human any more.

It took a long while to ponder over but finally I had it removed. The lot. The whole shebang. There’s not once ounce of it left and I can only say ‘good riddance to bad rubbish!’. I often prefer to speak in cliché because it’s a universal language and nobody will complain, unless you trying to be a writer or a poet.

That’s that taken care of.

So now I am a man without desire. And if I could call myself happy, I would, but I’m afraid that would undo the entire philosophy. And of course by philosophy I mean procedure. Because it is a process, you see, an organised process, and therefore I’m quite sure that ‘procedure’ is the right word. To indulge further I would say it’s not so different to being under the scalpel. No, not at all. And time is a natural anaesthesia. Time works wonders. I trust you can understand that, at least.

Now I am a man without desire by which, of course, I refer to the neurosis of emotional need. Yes, I was never very good at negotiating that maze which changes at every turn, shrinks and swells and opens into an endless void from which one falls without net nor rope, plummets into black only to be swallowed again, snared and wrenched and torn and spat out like rotten fish. I never considered that part of the human condition as enjoyment. The frugal reward could never satiate a stomach burnt by the acid brought about by its own hunger. And hunger for what? For the hope of happiness? Tell me – how many unhappy people do you think there are in the world? And how many people are truly happy? And do you think the weight of those who consider themselves truly happy is not worth the riddance of the world’s unhappiness? Would you not take bread from those who have plenty to give adequacy to the masses? Let them eat cake! The words fall on deaf ears. You can understand this, too.

‘Remove it!’ I said. And so, they did. And now here I am. A man devoid of happiness and freed of unhappiness. A man without want nor need nor yearning for anything more than the simple fulfilment of my physiological demands.

‘Happiness’. A truly selfish neurosis – a truly human neurosis.

I was never very very good at being human. And I have yes to meet a single soul who is.

The Self Seers (Death and Man) - Egon Schiele

Egon Schiele, ‘The Self Seers (Death and Man)’, 1911.

Korea now.

I packed the room and cleaned the floors,
Plastic bags left brimming and bulging
With cast out papers and pens and
Old clothes that shan’t be worn again.

I sold the rest for what I could,
What little crowns were fetched
I paid into a bank account I refused to close.

Because I might come back. I might come back…

There’s no nostalgia there, just lights
from the castle which Jaggar invested,
The Zizkov tower erecting from behind
my old bedroom window where so many times
I stood erect with as much in my left hand – the urban naturist.

So now I’m packed
And unpacked again.

I got on a plane
And got off again.

A little further from home
A little more unknown.

A little more time to tap at keys aimlessly
As a kimchi plate awaits me
In the school cafeteria.

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So I moved to South Korea to be an English teacher and now I have more time to write. Or I plan to write more… or… I will… either or.