A Spot of Tennis [nov 2016]

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The depressing thing about tennis is that no matter how good I get, I’ll never be as good as a wall. – Mitch Hedberg

 

 

After two decades and change of having given up on practicing the sport, I finally gave tennis a new spin yesterday. Like almost everybody else, I gave up on the racket and feltball for the perfectly valid reason of being abysmal at it. Tennis, being online or on TV every given day, entices by being a highly attractive sport to watch with larger-than-everyday demigod athletes doing battle on the glorious, immaculate, UHD courts of the ATP pantheon.

 

You watch tennis and immediately become immersed, though only vicariously, in its aura of gobsmacking athletic excellence and precision ball movement. Those velvety felt spheres, those gleaming carbon instruments of top-spin destruction. Who wouldn’t want to have a go at this resplendent sport?

 

The come-down is then standing on an actual carpet hard-court, holding a racket and trying one’s very best to A) actually hit the ball instead of flail at empty air B) not hit it into the ground directly C) not kathwerk the felt fiend haplessly into the net D) not to torpedo said ball into yonder fields beginning a good dozen meters behind the service line E) not lobbing it across the net in the very high arc of an octogenarian tennis mummy.

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All of these four basic-seeming objectives are rather difficult to achieve and, numerically, already suggest that the average beginner will only be able to initiate the tender beginnings of a rally one times in five. And that even then it will be on the level of a soft, pathetic, milque-toast shot which looks as though one were playing tennis, ideologically speaking, under a communist regime where the main goal [as per the dictatorship of the proletariat] is to share the ball equably, rather than to gain any positional advantage within the on-going exchange. Let alone to grab as large a share as possible of the means of [point-]production for oneself.

So, yes, Tennis is a marvelously difficult sport.

 

However, I’ve been watching it so intensely for the last five or six years, forming multifarious opinions on the panoply of world-class players and their styles of play, reading sparkling pieces of prose by Wallace and that other English Gentleman [who ended up not writing a book on it, ah, yes, Dyer!], listening to my good friend’s foray into the sport that, at long last, exasperated me to the degree that I decided to buy a racket. At a discount. Which again, as should be obvious, is a long shot from actually making for a court with balls and game face. It took more than a year to magically arrive at that point.

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    From a personal perspective, Tennis is also always the sport that has been casting a long shadow over my own favorite among racket games: badminton. Though the former has garnered much more global acclaim, it is the latter which, to make the old metaphorical workhorse do an extra mile, is more democratic. The equipment costs less, the courts are more affordable and so is club membership. Nor does it frustrate one’s early efforts with a perversely high degree of difficulty. Within no time, rallies of a decent length  and with some appreciable degree of fun begin to occur. At the professional level, the sheer speed, athleticism and deceptiveness [trick shots!] of the world-class shuttler makes this sport, in my shambolic opinion, quite a bit more attractive than tennis. Except that the dearth of camera angles and absence of all-around spectacle diminish its attractiveness for the casual viewer, as well as the ardent fan [such as myself].

 

At any rate, the hitting session [if it can be called such], went reasonably well. Much fewer balls than expected opted for A, B, C or D, leading to mini rallies from the beginning. Rallies absent of pace, power or placement, I hasten to add. Still, contrary to my expectations, I did break a sweat. Not just from the bit of running that was done, but also from wielding around such a mighty racket. I must say, swinging a big old scythe of carbon&string hither and tither is a very pleasing sensation, even if the balls do not at all comply with one’s mental trajectory. Apart from the hitting, what seems the most difficult aspect to begin with is body placement. I found myself perpetually in the wrong spot: either the ball was almost smacking me in the noggin and I had to bring the racket up as a pure measure of self-defense. Or the low bounce on the carpet [there is always somebody else to blame, even a lowly carpet] left the ball with so little altitude and coming down so early for its disastrous second bounce, that often a time I found myself lounging sideways and/or forward to even just get the string-bed to connect with the felt; no matter what might happen thereafter.

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Fortunately, my good friend and otherwise badminton partner SPD had precious pieces of advice for me to try to eliminate the worst of my shortcomings so that our playing session wouldn’t be entirely reduced to ball retrieving.

Speaking of which. Given amateur level there is the curious matter of the court eventually becoming ever more perilous because dotted by balls all over the place. And players running out of balls to serve and play with. So that one finds oneself, at the latest after every third rally, scurrying around the rectangle, either neutralizing danger spots by expediting balls to the back of the court or pocketing them for up-coming serves [into the net]. At any rate, I do wish to pursue my new found racket misadventures for the foreseeable future. I cannot think of a better age than 38 to finally kick off one’s glorious tennis career. Especially after being gifted D. Wallace’s String Theory….

 

 

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Room temperature circumbendibus [Chron. of D/I, sep2016]

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come back believer in shade believer in silence and elegance believer in ferns believer in patience believer in the rain – w. s. merwin

Last week a message reached me on my phone. Many messages reached me but this one was very different. The message had travelled from another brain to its fingers, which had touched the screen to form it into a string of symbols and spaces, thence it took to the air, antennas and satellites got involved, I assume, it bounced into  the lower bounds of outer space… when it breached the ionosphere, did it seem like it might yet reach me? Couldn‘t it be that a spectral copy of this message fled out into deep space where one day someone on a remote planet on a far day will receive it in wonder and incomprehension?

It turned back or it was turned back by an object travelling at 28 kilometers per second. Imagine that for a few seconds and already you‘re in a far-away city. Further antennas? Today‘s word of the day truly applies: circumbendibus: a roundabout way; circumlocution.

It eventually alighted in my dumbphone where it caused vibrations. Vibes these days are no longer good vibrations nor emitted by people at parties, they are in pants‘ pockets, a manifestation of the will to communicate. I read that my mother has been taken to the hospital sick. She‘s at the advanced age where such a message sounds, at the very least doleful if not outright foreboding. Shucks, the day hath come and I‘m not prepared at all: emotionally, administratively, financially! …quoth me. So the bad feelings blend with a creeping panic and I can hear Lenin in a breaking voice: what is to be done?

The details are not so relevant, what matters is that it ended up being nothing serious. Unpen the first fumbling lines of the eulogy why don‘t you. She ended up in the ER but as a precautionary measure not because of any hideous, irreversible trauma. Pheeeeeeew, with a stress on that eeeeee part.

When I finally got to the hospital I only just asked for Mabona: 12, 64. They probably do not but I‘m under the impression that my parents always wind up in that particular room. I‘ll have to start keeping a record, I mean, something more reliable than my gut-memory.

However, when I opened the door, instead, it was my father [not a paragon of brimming health himself] seated by the window, studying his aged hands. Or perhaps the sky for unidentifiable objects, I don‘t remember with any precision. We make these things up as we go along, backwards in memory I mean, don‘t we? Be that as it was. He turned around at me in surprise, mirroring mine. He had had a medical emergency too? Why was he not down in Nephrology? Hooked up to the impressive artificial liver? The explanation of course was simple: they couldn‘t leave the rusty dialysis patient home alone. Thus they had simply appointed him a room, something that can only be considered simple within the formidable parameters of swiss health care.

My mum was downstairs, in the ER. Some of the earlier alarm trickled back. Why was she still down there? A suspected infection. My anglophone-media-trained reading mind immediately jumped to the scenario of midnight bacteria, a blissful exception hereabouts. Still, I couldn‘t just go inside. I was given a fullbody antiviral gown, green rubber gloves a gauze face mask. And attired like-so, with moving images of Outbreak and Contagion racing through my head, I went to say Hello to the Mums.

The gauze muffled my voice and the rubber muted the touch of our hands. All distances in our universe tend towards the infinite.

Surely there must be words for that sense of outlandishness that overcame me at that moment there, right next to & sealed off from my sick mother, but I‘m afraid they won‘t come to me.

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It is different now, the person I love is not next to me but in the city next. Our cities cannot even scratch each other‘s backs. No big deal it should be, the distance, the very, very temporary separary*; just a once a week exception occasioned by her site of studies. Sit and study, Art herstory. Yet with a tad of bad… conscience and a bit of bathos, I feel the emptiness at my flank. It‘s not an emptiness, there is regular room-temperature air. That standard air however should be displaced by the warm, lovely body of my beloved. Maybe that‘s why it feels a little colder instead, the ambient air.
I want to reach out and touch her, simple, to converse with her in our alphabet of caresses. Or lean over to plant a kiss, be a plant watered by kisses. Kiss or be kissed. The elementary gestures of love that have come to be our everyday nutrients.
Funny thing it is: here I am, an alleged adult and after a single day of distance from my significant other, beLoved 1, I can already fell pangs. Thirst for her, Nomhle, who makes me whole. It is crazy, nutso, madness, water deprivation this sense of incompletion, the thirst&hunger pang of absence, the miss of kiss that overwhelms me in the space, the awayness of 24 hours only!
I mustn‘t be ridiculous, I mustn‘t belittle my sensations either. I can miss but I shouldn‘t dismiss. I must acknowledge both either and or. Must be patient like the fern at room temperature. Such is one of the states of being in love, of this folly of having found a better half and not having her around.

[Listening to Studio Ghibli Piano is not making matters iota one easier.]

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Isola Farniente & back again [Chronicles of Dis/Infection, jul2017]

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.

– sam keen

I like the word ‘indolence’. It makes my laziness seem classy.

– bernard williams

 

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As much as I’d like to call my partner in amore my designated “native companion” [the one with all the emic inside knowledge one consults when one doesn’t wish to end up in the multi-cultural stewing pot], the most i can honestly call her is the assignated “linguistic companion”, the one that helps me not to make a total fudge of everyday communicative tasks, such as ordering a simple tramezzino. The destinations? Isola Elba and Firenze.

 

The first was an asymmetrical compromise between her stated wish of frying times on an Italian spiaggia and my half-hearted wish to either check out Ferrante’s stomping grounds [which, if you’ve so much as read the first 100 pages of the tetralogy is an urge that rises from the very pits of your literary guts] or pass a sweltering week in SPQR [one has to admit that a sojourn in the Godmother of cities in the middle of july is a very hard proposition to defend if one isn’t a southern sudanese type, or the like]. Despite my metropolitan leanings, I was enticed by the possibility of an island. The second destination, Firenze, was as consensual as coitus. The Moms had been harping since the birth of our brood of siblings about the many unrivalled, supernal beauties of the city of flowers [and super narrow streets and, not least, Medici].

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So then chronologically.

 

Just an hour out of Lucerne we came across a strange irony, though i’m not even quite sure which word to properly apply: instead of entering the newly constructed 700 gazillion Francs supertunnel [longest of the world, national pride showpiece], we gently curved up and over its opening and onto the old [now ancient] tracks up into the Alps, namely Goeschenen, thence Airolo. After having been treated all year long to a media and advertising extravaganza about this Helvetic construction masterpiece, which it took over two decades to….bore! [and who advertises a public transport tunnel anyway?!], instead of bloody using it, we just left it by the railside as the grey-red Trenitalia climbed its usual serpentine tracks into the mountains.

 

The ChangeOver in Milano Centrale adequately echoed the latest issue of “The Spiegel”: Ferien der Angst [Vacation of Fear]. To be honest, yours truly generally comes down on the anxious side, however, I haven’t quite fell off the neurotic cliff with this whole the Summer of Terrorism thing. However, Nomhle was fairly hopping on a hot wire when we arrived in Milano, darting her azzuro-marroni irises left and right in search of every- and anybody w a beard and/or a suspiciously unattended suitcase. So we decided to dash over to the connecting platform, the trouble being that M. C is a full-stop station [or whatever] and that TrenItalia does this thing where they don’t announce a train’s platform until, like, 5 minutes before its departure. So as to better get in the country’s spirit of mad last-minute dashes, one may assume. Anyway, we sidled through the station crab-like.

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In Monza, as we cruised through slowly, nearly flaunting a vacational lassitude, in this city of Senna’s departure stood a naked concrete high-riser, unfinished and emboldened by scaffolding, defying the need to accommodate human shapes.

 

Already by the time we got to Piombino, on the Italian West Coast, the weather was agreeably sweltering. The local train was not a beauty but not nearly as beat-up as I had imagined it. The seats being some hard blue material, hard on the eyes, that is intended to minimize all the fun in vandalism by way of an anti-spectacular canvas.

 

A nice guy in his 50s helped us find the correct jetty for the traghetti [ferry]. His Italian was quite followable, even for a beginner and he sprinkled it liberally with “cazzo”, again, it seemed, to make sure we understood where we’d arrived. He even informed us about the wind conditions on the island and what they meant to beaches and the seaside. Then, in a mood of camaraderie, I pulled out the EU card and the man was off and racing, his Italian soaring to C2 altitudes, laced with working-class venom. It was both incomprehensible and beautiful.

 

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The ferry was straight out of “A supposedly Fun Thing…”, with a sleek 1980/90s modernist look [edgy, sharp angled], slanted backwards like a blade to cut apart air and water, in white, yellow and blue. For a little while I wondered why it was so phenomenally huge but once it docked into port it spewed forth a vile stream of cars and campers. Many of them hailing from our motherland. Many others of Oranje provenience [a people constantly in search of locales where sandwiches are not the exclusive staple food]. It jetted across the Isthmus in a sprinterly 30 minutes, making the Mediterranean seem like another concrete road. This was a remote yelp from what I had imagined the crossing to be [influenced by a trip to Robben Island]: wave- and wind-tossed on a small barge, with the stomach’s contents remaining put being somewhat iffy.

The only thing that threatened one’s gastrointestinal buonessere [well-being] on the behemothal barge were the numberless TV screens, which presented an undifferentiated medley of extremely old-school food- and beverage advertisements. One of them, I shit you not beloved reader, was a Coca Cola advertisement from the 1940s [at the latest] presented with not even a smidgen of irony in sight. The hand holding aloft the Coke bottle had probably only just returned from duty on the Western Front; the missing rest of the body having been taken out by an on-target Kraut grenade.

 

Then Isola Elba, Portoferraio. Another horrid belch of cars, immediately infiltrating the pot-holed arteries of the isle. The island is small but not nearly as tiny as we’d miscalculated [e.g. we’d be able to cycle across it in a good day]. The cabdriver took us across the many arid, brush-choked ridges and ravines to the southern coast of Elba [Marina di Campo]. Our holiday house was a nice white country thing for 4 parties, maybe 500 meters land inwards from the beach. That first day we went down into village along the dried out river-bed, crossing a tiny bridge while trying not to get struck by passing cars and motorcycles, to rent two high-end mountainbikes at low-end prices. The handle-bars were wide like bullhorns, lending a very enjoyable sense of ultra-control; plus the gear-stuff was, surprisingly, at XT level.

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    The next day we took on the intermediate challenge of pedalling up the winding road to the next “mountain” village, where awaited: absolutely nothing. A calm little Inn where a bumbling teen served up a lovely Spritz. We tried to reach the next spiaggia by bike trail with the intention of staying isoaltitudinous for a while. There was an abandoned soccer pitch on the outcrop of a ridge overlooking the Mediterranean from on high, the field only dust with remainders of brown lawn sticking out, goals in shambles, suggesting that the last match had been played many decades ago. And that the village’s soccer youth is not particularly high up on Isola Elba’s budgetary list.

 

    Eventually we ran into an interesting figure: an elderly man only in black shorts and black sandals, made exclusively from sinew and roast-brown skin. He’d become a bit lost much as we had and heavily advised against continuing down the steep trail we were engaged on. So we backtracked along with him. The guy had tracked up with nothing, no backpack, no shirt, no handy, no wallet, nothing to drink. His key statement “La mia moglie si in cazera da mati quando ritornero” [My wife’ll be mad when I come back home]. He’d been on his way for over two hours but he wanted to make San Pierro di Campo before returning. As soon as the terrain became intermediately steep, to my astonishment, he fell into a long-loped run which just about matched our measly pace on the mountainbikes [we were a bit spent, in our defense]. Our ways split and he jogged out of sight. We made down the hillside only for a short while before dismounting our rides, Umde unhappily behind me. The trail had shrivelled to a tiny bushpath bordered on either side by all the world’s thorny vegetation. She made mention of snakes. The sand and the dust deposited on the rocks made it seem like one was constantly one false step away from braining the back of one’s skull. Eventually and still in good time, we made it to the Spiaggia, where sun-blessed happiness patiently had awaited us. The ride home offered a spectacular view from a steep-plunging cliffside road onto the dazzling blue-diamond sparkle of the Mediterranean. The road back was downhill free flight.

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    In the course of the week we tried a number of beaches, none of them farther than we could reach with a decent bike-ride and without a sun-stroke. The one called Fonza intrigued mostly by its approach. You left the village by the hindside [at the far end of the massive, central beach where people seemed to top out on sunshine like human dollops of spam], crossed a little bridge and rode towards the camping grounds. This would maybe be a good place to digress into the vastly amusing paradoxes of camping but let’sn’t. The campers were parked in a low pine copse, well-girdled in by a tall fence wrapped in a green windscreen, a bit like turning a chunk of nature into a compartmentalized [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] pseudo-living room. With a fir-needle carpet, mind you. We parked our bikes thereabouts, anxious of theft, which many folks had already waggled their indexes at us about.

 

And up the hill it went, oh-so-very-steeply, on a wide dust road, the dustiest yet, across the adjoining ridges past the showboaty gates of Don C. K. [letters hugely welded into the estate’s frontgate], then down down down to Fonza beach. Where middle-aged women welcomed us with killer-dagger-stares. As well as Australian teens. Our brine dabblings were always very brief affairs between Nomhle seeing it in functional terms of not going up in flames and myself being of extremely limited swimmerly competence. When I caught my first inadvertent gulp of seawater, I instantly, viscerally understood the term “brine” and all its salty associations.

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    Seccheto was probably the best. We did a fair share of swimming and diving. Lots of reading on ascetic rock too. And I got to observe a mildly complex beach tableau: a young woman arguing with a rod-fishing guy who I assumed to be the father of the boys snorkeling around; though it was actually about him fishing with hooks while the kids were out there in harm’s way. Except that these french kids were, as far as beach-life goes, also armed to the gills: they had harpoons! And had been diving around for a speerable catch for who-knows-how-long. Meanwhile a skateboardy guy in coral-reef-sneakers had been observing the kids irritatedly and I imagined that he was just about to read them the riot act. Instead he put on a lifesuit, lowered himself into the waters and put on a more desperately incompetent show of non-swimmanship than I could ever hope to perform. Meanwhile a chubby pre-teen Italian girl was pacing the large rocks to an unknown end, mayhap in search of nettable animal life in the little tidepools. Eventually one of the frog-eater kids harpooned a much-too-small red fish, proudly capering across the rockscape with it hanging limply from the tricorn. I could fairly see the irritation fuming off of the local beach goers at this grave breach of pescatory etiquette.

 

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Italian crabs adhere to certain minimal aesthetic conventions.

In the stones’ crevices, it turned out, there were indeed sidling crabs. The curly haired french kid, buoyed by the catch, went on to snorkel for what seemed like ever. It was a lovely day on the rocks. Then that view again!

 

One day was for Portoferraio with the idea of giving culture its due. After all it is, unfairly, known as Napoleon’s Island. The thing is….

 

 

 

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Commuting, aka the eternal drag [Chronicles of Dis/Infection, Mar2016]

 

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For many people, commuting is the worst part of the day, and policies that can make commuting shorter and more convenient would be a straightforward way to reduce minor but widespread suffering. –  Nassim Nicholas Taleb OR Daniel Kahneman [according to brainy quote, hilarious]

There is a good chance, too good a chance, you woke up at an unchristian, unmuslim, unbuddhist, non-atheist hour today, cursing the up-coming commute and, perhaps, if you‘re less fortunate, your entire day of work. The forbidding distance you still have to climb until Friday late afternoon to then dive off the cliff of the workweek into the weekend, a drink in each hand. Say a Shenzen-Mule* and a GILF**-on-the-Beach.
I suppose I‘m exaggerating but the daily commute is an exaggeration too.

biketowork1Whether you wear a fitbit monitoring your sleep-cycle or not, getting up with the crows and hens is an abomination! Every fiber of your body screams at you to stay under covers, to enjoy the warmth and soft comfort for another hour or two. But some mis-programmed long-term reward program in your brain, without even really being activated, hauls you off the mattress. Its arguments are un-argumentable-with: getting fired, not finding another job, possibly never achieving anything in life [a project, coincidentally, in which i am at quite an advanced standing].

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The present-day fact [the social-democratic reality?] of getting up early in the morning has never been particularly understandable to me. A recent study referenced in The Atlantic*** that a few odd-ball characters actually enjoy their worm-catcher‘s commute [notably only if it‘s not longer than 30min and if these people, morning-afficionados, also love their jobs; in which case liking the morning ride could be a collateral benefit {can we make this a thing? collateral benefit? that’d be so cool; I’d get mad props} a side-effect of loving your cushy existence], this study did not achieve much in the way of convincing me that commutes and human nature are not shittily compatible at best. Not to be all SPSS [a statistical programme, horrible] about this but I‘m fairly positive that upwards of 51% people I know f#cking dread the matinal bus or train or bicycle, even their own cars [which with a soft, warm interior are a painful reminder of bed?].

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So here‘s what is inexplicable: A) assuming that a low-ball number of four-out-of-five [sleep-berobbed] people on their way to work bloody despise the morning commute B)….and there is a common-sense mantra about doing 20% of the work in 80% of the time [again more than 51% of folks seem to believe in this; wink to statistic-pros reading this] C) ….and the French do 35h weeks without tumbling into poverty [question: is their average quality-of-life higher than that in the workaholic US?] D)….we live in ever more extensively individualized societies whose clarion-call appears to be to cater to these millions of individuals in every conceivable way…  E) …we also live in an information society which, given its stupendous computing capacities, has been able to coordinate activities ever more ingeniously…..

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WELL, given A to E, I frankly wonder: How in the fuck it could be that so many people still HAVE TO commute at such ungodly hours? Is this the inertia of human institutions? Is it perhaps one of the last outlets to show other people what [involuntary] hard-asses we are? Do we wish to „Call it a day“ as early in the afternoon as humanly possible?

I wish I got to decide which are the correct answers but I‘d even rather not even be able to ask these questions. Because at the next deeper level there is a more important follow-up question: why in a society so organizationally ingenious, so in doe-eyed love with individualization, the morning commute is still a living, breathing, 2 x 45min fuct-of-life?
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*…my twist on the Moscow Mule which seems to be a surprisingly elitist drink, according to google images
**Girld I’d Like to Flirt with
*** here’s the study about the happy commuters http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1369847814001107

 

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A Chiliad Ethnomethodologies [Chronicles of Dis/Infection, Mar2016]

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Younger anthropologists have the notion that anthropology is too diverse. The number of things done under the name of anthropology is just infinite; you can do anything and call it anthropology. – Clifford Geertz

The purpose of anthropology is to make the world safe for human differences. – Ruth Benedict

    There is a very precise designation in academia, refering to one of its humanist formations:  anthropology. At one time, like my father before me, I too was a member of the tribe of anthropologists/aliusphagi. I worshipped its high-priests, I observed its rituals and I was even quite conversant in its lingo. I was at the time very much a junior-member who still would‘ve had to accomplish numerous rituals of passage to rise to the highest ranks of the tribe. At some point, I decided to forsake the Anthropologists and instead rejoin my original tribe, the Helvetians, a hardy mountainfolk of cheese-consumers.

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    In the last decade however, time and again, great paroxysms of nostalgia have ceased hold of me and our magical locutions would come to mind, resound mystically in my head, as I considered the everyday quandaries of yet another tribe [teachers] I‘ve been in the progress of joining: alterity, agency, emic, ethnomethodology, liminality, kinship, Non-Places, Thick Description and many more.

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    Lost in the lambent air of a spring afternoon, for minutes at a time, I would chant in low voice the sonorous syllabic susurrus  „ethnomethodology“, flipping the sounds out of my mouth like mana from divinities, trying for old time‘s sake to recall its meaning and contexts. Say it a score times for better living plus a relaxed lingua, a chiliad for straight-up apotheosis.

    And, so as not to fall entirely from grace [there can always be a return to the homeland], I kept reading some of the holy scriptures: Interaction Ritual, The Protestant Ethic, Natural Symbols, The Structure of Scientific Revolution, The Interpretation of Cultures et al. I tried to salvage my soul but these exercises are never a success. My other obligations were running me away from the old gods; meaning hemorrhaged from the lacerations of a new existence that did not quite suite my psycholiterary gestalt. But then neither did the old ones. The true self is always deformed in the service of the collective. The semantics of self are made to bleed.
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Thus, as a bandaid and a panacea, I started scribbling, hoping to recapture the logos of anthropos and ego at my own leisure. It is difficult, I think, this matter of tribe affiliation; I‘ve seldom felt I really belonged. And if so, then only a posteriori. But shuttling between ethnic obligations, typing my own underbrush paths between various tribal settlements, I maybe eventually eked out a modus vivendi all of my own: the idiographer, documenting on interest and impulse the width of human idiosyncracies, in turn itself put down in unorthodox format.  

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    There we have it: a word for a process for a life. Is that what I truly want, what anybody hopes for? Another designation, one more magic word, a new-fangled affiliation, however fancy, to stuff onself into? Do we have to set out into the depths of the human jungle to found our own tribes?
    

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Plected pulsing palms [Chronicles of Dis/Infection, Mar2016]

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The first wealth is health. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses.  – Hippocrates

 

At the clinic we spent two days entwined: her, operated upon, me, healthy and compassionate. The innards, a complication that needed fixing and got one, by hands of 71 summers, mind you.
    The space was strange, unsettling: the soft-sounded lobby was populated by occasional patients and visitors, all, it seemed, septo- or octogenarians. Once I suddenly heard strings hammered on softly and, turning around, I did see an in-the-flesh piano player. Who looked back at me morosely, surrounded as we were, by so many moribund folk. Even all of the doctors and surgeons were old; an odd thing that, statistically, I thought, having been to more other hospitals than I wish I would‘ve been by now.

    The love of my life was in and out of fugue states. Sometimes I confused a wide-eyed, focused stare with wakefulness and tried to address her but the words slid right off her high wall of medication. However when she was up, we speculated on whether she‘d been overmedicated, we speculated on the exact nature of the post-surgical sutures/scars, we had conversations that doddered on dadaism, medically induced.

Still, in the clutch of our plected hands, love pulsed and throbbed.

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    Polite, mildly pretty nurses showed up at high frequency [a private clinic, remember], to check the convalescentee‘s progression: pulse, general state of well-being, blood-pressure, intake of painkillers, meals, etcetera. All the metabolic ins and outs that make a patient‘s glorious days at a hospital.

    You come in knowing it is a place of life&death and but then it‘s just more like a hotel, a hotel for elderly people. A hotel where people by some outlandish agreement all walk around attached to IVs. And the staff in the lobby is absolute hotel-ish and you wonder what-on-earth they will do if, as must be the case eventually, a medical emergency happens right there in the foyer. Then again, in the wilderness of our age, terrorrism has already made one or two hotels more hospital-like, strewn with horrifically injured people and corpses.

    diamond_PNG6676The room itself was dark but elegantly pannelled. Wifi gratis. Each patient has a big screen TV. Each has a safe for the valuables because this is a place where robbery would indeed pay off: the helpless patients, the old-fashioned preference for cash, elderly ladies‘ bijoux. In fact, the clinic‘s sigil is a diamond, the connection of which to health is impossible for me to reconstruct [e.g. In particular, diamond has the highest hardness and thermal conductivity of any bulk material. Those properties determine the major industrial application of diamond in cutting and polishing tools and the scientific applications in diamond knives and diamond anvil cells. ]

    And then, as if to contradict my coagulating cliches, a freshly-baked mother strolled into the lobby, pushing her freshly-excreted baby along in a wooden crib with a mosquito-net-type of tent to protect it from the new world. She walked around the lobby with the little human being as if to spray vitality all over the lounge‘s ailing atmosphere.
    Back in the room you can do no wrong. You can press the staff-button a million times an hour without getting nurses in a sour mood. In fact the staff is supremely solicitous. You get a bill for the coffee, which is weird considering how much the stay there costs to begin with [you‘d think a coffee, two coffees, ten are diddly-squat in that grand total]. But I needed succor to stay fresh & caring, to provide TLC.

wheelchair-hiOur hands lay curled on the linen, the pulse on our palms touching. We went to the toilet together, to be safe, to guard against fainting. I pushed her around the corridors and the lobby on a wheelchair and we would stay „outside“ [it was still inside the building] until another spell overcame her: sickness, nausea, vertigo, fatigue. The four horsemen of the post-surgical götterdämmerung. 

InfuuszakjesEventually I returned home, one night before her and found myself falling asleep in bed alone. What a strange, amputated feeling that was. In the middle of the night a full bladder woke me and as I shifted out of bed I realized that I hadn‘t a clue where I was. And it didn‘t matter either. Later, as I slunk back into dreamterritory, I vaguely realized what I was missing. The zero-point of my coordinate system, the nucleus of my signifying system: sweet Nomhle 😉

 

 

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Siphic’s Bi-Spartanism [chronicles of Dis/Infection, mar2016]

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Space and light and order. Those are the things that men need just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep. – Le Corbusier

 

My brother‘s crib is interesting, to say the very least, in a way. According to genetics a giga-significant share of our DNA is identical and, more anecdoto-empirically, according to our significant others we are alike in many a habitual pattern, in lilt of speech, as concerns phenotypical landmarks, and so forth. Siblings know the litany. And with equal habitude [don‘t look this word up, it‘s straight out of my mental rectum] we deny to be aware of such similarities, making a flaming point of our very different approaches to paper [i.e. folding it nicely, scribbling on it hideously] ….or, as is the case w/ our sister, using it as a pragmatic tool to convey knowledge of social surplus value. She‘s the one of us three who seems to be of some use to society, as far as anyone can tell 😉

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Anyway, my brother and I probably do share certain… convergences… but nothing could be more divergent than our attention to our immediate, everyday habitat. When my sister & her husband left for the dreamy territories of the US of A, Sipho got to take over/invade/set up camp in that place; however, Ray‘s friendly employer had organized for all of their worldly belongings&droppings they cared for to be containerized to the other end of the planet. Thus the place was left in a rather emptyish, echoing state, which is great for toddlers to play soccer but not excessively habitable for your median adult. Not that any of us is median.

The budget at my disposal would‘ve sent me scrambling to Conforama, possibly Ikea a few times. Or better still: we‘d have moved in all of Tiziana‘s nice furniture. My brother‘s a different beast however.
He was off to VonMoos et al, purchasing planks of wood, screws, lengths of metal, bits of round timber and other vital ingredients of movables, the names of which are like that of alien fauna. In the course of his Origami art-work he has accumulated a vast arsenal of tools [saws, screwdrivers, workbench, drilling machines, lathes???, a.s.f] with which to re-configure said assorted pieces of wood&metal. There have been very pleasing results in dark wood and brass or copper [don‘t exactly know]: a shoe rack, wall-mounted shelves, a petite but massive coffee table, etc.

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Maybe the naive marvel to me is on the level of aesthetics/creativity: two genetically identical specimens of fauna walk into a do-it-yourself-store, T sees random pieces of timber, screws, hammers, etc. S sees unassembled tables and shelves and everyday appartmental objects.
The other thing that always strikes me [not just at Sipho‘s, to be fake-honest] is the dearth of objects in his living room: how can one possibly keep the living room so uncluttered? Is there not always an army of objects ready to invade the family room? To enlargen the vast empire of material matter? Books, dishes, magazines, tools, pieces of clothing, pens, shoes, what-have-you.

In my brother‘s lounge with its rarefied items, I get the distinct feeling that every one of them signifies; especially the artwork itself. And that, as if in consideration/contemplation of a work in the whitey cube, 1’d be amiss not to consider what the signification might be: can an existential lesson be extracted from a  piece of tchotchke?

This is a slobbishly post-modern over-interpretation of a great room and I could simply ask my brother why he places this or that object on the se fecit shelf but that‘s not how I care to consider it, doesn‘t strike me as productive. Rather, banal queries trickle to mind: If pieces of material are reduced, can they start signalling for themselves with some indepenence? What messages do we wish to convey to ourselves and others by the objects here present? Would our living room be an abject mess in the absence of Nomhle?

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And then so right next to it is the over-cluttered atelier, bursting with colors, paper and matter of inconceivable variety. Criss-crossing from the sitting room into the workspace you can fairly feel the osmotic gradient you are pushing up against, the pressure the latter exercises towards the former, the enormous difference of entropy. In which case my brother, I now recognize, is an industrious, life-size version of Maxwell‘s Demon. He might not wreck the rules of thermodynamics but he certainly confounds the laws of spartanism.

 

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