Holey diver

Holy Diver
You've been down too long in the midnight sea
Oh what's becoming of me - DIO

Hill Taylor stunned the world by breaking the world-record in backstroke 50 m in a minor championship. His performance was also a baptism, in which the name dolphin-man was lent to him.

Dolphin-man is the fastest in the contest, and, with regards to the distance backstroke 50 m, even in the world. But he cannot win, and he knows that. It all depends on his maneuvre of preference, the dolphin-kick. The excellence by which he wields this powerful weapon is the key to his total domination. This move is not essentially illegitimate in backstroke, only so when it emerges in certain proportions. A swimmer must return to air after fifteen metres, lest he's to be disqualified.

Consequently, backstroke 50 m should be named "backstroke more than or equal to 35 to less than or equal to 50 m". Given this, one cannot practically be a record-holder in backstroke 50 m! If you on the one-hand swim using regular backstrokes (think paddle-wheels on steamboats), your opponents will leave you behind as fast as dolphins ward off a shark attack. On the other hand, if you, like the dolphin-man, multiplicate the efficient dolphin-kick, your result is not qualified. That he aggregates a legitimate gesture at least qualifies him as minor athlete.

Practically, no one can be said to hold the world-record in this aquatic event, since what's measured is fuzzy. A fuzziness whose depth dolphin-man delves into. Almost like what D&G hold as the ideal stance in minor science, it is both the "backstrokeness" and "50 metresness" of backstroke 50 m that dolphin-man examines in this race. Albeit in a bigger bathtub, and with an euresqueeeeka, dolphin-man's performance appears as an Archimedean event.

Reading the work of Peter Sloterdijk incites us to ask strange questions. For example, can man become an aquatic being again? Is it possible for a human being to dive into the water not to drown there but to take up with dolphins and mermaids? Are we able to switch elements like this? (...) Sloterdijk's focus on the elements air and water is meant to counteract the age-old philosophical tendency to prioritise earth and fire. (...) It is true, philosophy started with a notorious claim about water. Thales of Miletus (624-545 BC) argued that it was no less than the basic principle (arche) of everything, but subsequent philosophers have done everything to stash away Thales's proposition. How, after all, could one base the world on something fluid? So, philosophy forgot about its own beginnings and became a dry exercise. (...) Almost all anthropology is suffering from a mono-elementary bias. It interprets us as creatures who in the end can only exist in one element, that is to say, on the mainland, in the so-called real. - Rene ten Bos, Towards an amphibious antropology, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 2009, volume 27, pages 73-86.
The dolphin-man proves to be a fine specimen of the variety of conceptual athletes, by way of which the poet John Keats demonstrates the essence of poetry for his adept-lover Fanny Brawne in the movie Bright Star:
A poem needs understanding through the senses. The point of diving in a lake is not immediately to swim to the shore; it's to be in the lake, to luxuriate in the sensation of water. You do not work the lake out. It is an experience beyond thought. Poetry soothes and emboldens the soul to accept mystery.
Poetry (poeisis) is equivalent with pro-duction (Agamben), invention (Serres), and virtuosity (Virno). Poeisis just happens and is seldom an effect of a planned scheme; contrary to praxis, which contains in itself the goal, the implementation, and the expected outcome of an act. But doesn't dolphin-man, contrary to Keats' poet-swimmer, immediately swim to the other shore? Isn't dolphin-man rather an example of a teleological thinking devoid of all means and process? No. He demonstrates that speed is of the essence, not in order to win, but in order to be able to discern problems just before they gel. To gel is the same as being devoured by that great monstrosity that strives to capture all lines of flight: spectacle. Investigate into fuzziness instead! Dolphin-man will lead us past Leviathan.

During movement, the dolphin-man never leaves the water, which is treason against "the criterion of due humanness in sport".* It's mandatory that the body backstroke-swimmer breaks the surface at least once from underneath. In backstroke man must proof he's a mono-elemental entity by breathing once in a while. Dolphin-man doesn't. Beneath waves events are too furtive to be (made) spectacular.

*This concept will need more unfolding than the initial one, carried out here. "The criterion of due humanness in sport" is a concept that relies on the hypothesis that sport, in order to be sport, must include Latourian-flavoured "trials of humanness". The human factor must be guaranteed and legitimized in sports. When someone runs fast in track and field contests, wind speed must be accounted for in order for the results to be reliable. Testing for doping is legio in contemporary sports. That illegal substances mustn't be found in the athletic body is another example of the criterion of due humanness in sport.

On the one hand, sport is a perfect inversion of the laboratory in which humanness must be quashed, and in which substances are everything. On the other hand, sport is only partly a perfect inversion of the laboratory (at least in Latour's ideal-type of the same): whereas objective measure is celebrated in both laboratories and sports, the former purify nonhumanity from humanness, while the latter purify humanity from nonhumanness.


"The ABC, or the D to the E of [whatever]"

The letters ABC mark that a chunk of pedagogy is coming your way - a brief canonization.

Arthuro Brizio Carter, the scorned referee of the World Cup in 1998, learned the consequences of taking things too literally. Prior to the cup the referees were asked by FIFA to take off their silk gloves in certain aspects. The frequency of tackles against players' backs had risen, transgressions, that often were followed by severe injuries.

Carter, who also refereed in the preceeding world cup which was held in the U.S., like no referee before him, blew his whistle, and flashed both yellow and red cards to the degree, just like he was ordered to, that he never got summoned to the next WC.

ABC might seem like a good, reasonable, and legitimate way to proceed, but the risk of stasis and rigid structures always lurk by. The fluid open-ended spirit of soccer was captured in '98. This strategy of learning or in-forming relates to what Badiou labels the didactical model, and, Deleuze & Guattari, the sedentary state-model of arborescence.

Why don't we start from the letters that follow for once?

Proposition for a new idiom:

Just as when you want to communicate a royal, major, state-scientific, non-ambiguous, and solid truth regarding whatever, with the phrase

this is the ABC of [whatever]


this is the D to the E of [whatever]

whenever you want to demonstrate the plasticity, dynamic properties, changeability, virtuality, in short, the minor and revolutionary conditions of the given whatever.

Deleuze and Difference are proper names not be worn out...


The rules of the game: Science and Sport

Yesterday, an open seminar about publishing strategies, and differences between "the two cultures" (natural and human science) was held in Malmö University. Janken Myrdal, a professor in agricultural history, gave the keynote speech, which was followed by a discussion between invited guests and the auditorium. The panel consisted of heads of universities, deans from cross-disciplinary faculties and bibliometricians.

Myrdal argued, that, due to the prevailing system of research funding based on citation index and the like, it is demanded that natural and human sciences should endeavour for increased confluence, regarding methodology and terminology. As a historian, his main focus was to safeguard the particular publishing style of social science, with long books, and rich personally flavoured use of language. This kind of title does not bibliometrically render the same impact as a peer reviewed article in a renowned journal, which is the most prominent way to publish in contemporary academia.The debate was rich, inspiring, and of the kind, that one expects to meet in university.

Janken Myrdal - Spelets regler from Malmö University on Vimeo.

I spoke with Myrdal in the break, and asked him about his frequent use of sport metaphors. ("Natural scientists are doped, they publish too much"; "Basing research-fundings on citation index is like applying the rules of soccer in handball: the handballer cum social scientist wouldn't stand a chance due to her repeated hand-fouls."; "Science, like sport, is a way of demonstrating muscle-capacity in an international context"; "The B-team (of academia) writes the textbooks, while the stars write peer review articles"). He replied that although he wasn't interested in sports per se, he was fascinated of how overt the core rationale of sports is, ie the agenda of elimination, exclusion, and ranking.

Evidently, sport, as a metaphorical resource, has a beckoning naturalness to both clergy and laity. The use of sport in social science and philosophy as a verifying material in demonstrations is of particular interest to me.

Massumi talks of subjectivity with examples from soccer; Serres talks of relations, objects and subjects with an example from rugby; Elias & Dunning construct figurational sociology from an analysis of tension-equilibrium in association football; Pierre Levy explores communality and informatics applying the metaphor of soccer, and so on. Not to mention all agile conceptual personae in contin(g)ental philosophy (Nietzsche, Deleuze, Badiou, Bergson, etc).

Perhaps, the distinction between Apodeixis (a mathematical, or at least rigorous, demonstration) and Epideixis (demonstration by a flourish of words) is apt to apply here. Athletes are often stripped of their subjective dimension in contests, and thereby resemble the mute, reliable objects of nature, which are discovered/produced in laboratories. Sport, therefore, could be regarded as a pseudo-laboratory for social science.

Social science's long tradition of feeling lesser than its natural sibling emanates in part from its inability to establish demonstrations as rigorous as in the laboratory (Apodeixis). Epideixis, the flourish of words -- so dear, as a demonstrational utensil, to sophists -- is partly shunned by social science, since it emphasises the ephemerality of subjectivity and humanity. The human, all too human, dimensions of society (tautology, or? Ask Latour) are what create problems with validity in social science and the humanities.

Sport stands forth as an answer to the alleged softness of chattering human statements, since demonstrations most often are mute, but still figurationally and socially relevant. The objective performance by athletes bridges the gap between humanitas (man as a cultural and societal creature) and homininae (man as biological species).

Social science finds its apodeixis in the world of sports. Now there is line of thought I would like to develop!


Boulder rush IV: "A loose boulder"

Contact and contiguity are themselves an active and continuous line of escape. [...] On the one hand, there is a rapid and joyous sliding movement or deterritorialization that makes everything adjacent even at the moment when the dreamer seems to have fallen into an abyss ("The paths there were very winding, ingeniously made and unpractical, but he glided along one of them as if on a rushing stream with unshaken poise and balance"). On the other hand, there are these pathways, these equally rapid segments that bring about deadly reterritorializations of the dreamer [...]. Undoubtedly, this [...] sheds some light in that deadly reterritorialization of K in a hard segment, "a loose boulder".

Deleuze & Guattari, Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature, p. 61.

Bo(u)lder rush III: My, oh My, You need a boulder to cry on!

Nej där fanns ingen lilla My-
det blåste med ett gräsligt gny
det tjöt och drog ur alla vrår
och viftade i mymlans hår
och runt omkring dem, vart man såg,
hemskt stora bummelstenar låg.
De klättrade och kröp bland dem
och Mumintrollet ville hem.
Ack Mymla, sa han, aldrig mer
min mammas hus jag återser!
Fort ut i solskenet igen!
Vad tror du att det hände sen?

In The Book of Moomin, Mymble and little My, the two first desperately try to find the third. Just before My decides that she now might be found, the anguished Moomin and Mymble stumbles through a cave populated by humongous boulders. The wind howls hideously (det blåste med ett gräsligt gny), like it often does in passages and upon thresholds (when doors are opened), and the two are anxious to get out as fast as possible. The briefness of the visit to the realm of becoming is justified by the claim that "No, little My was not to be found there" (Nej där fanns ingen lilla My). She there, she there...

Could one not be found(ed) -- exist -- in becoming? A little forced lost in translation -- anti-etymology, ie philosophical lifestyle athleticism (such as surfing) -- might come in handy here.

Boulder comes from the Scandinavian word Buller (Bummel in the verse above) which means noise. Noise, in turn, is a central sense of the word parasite, which acts as exciter and catalyst in relations. Noise is the transductive area, which becomings inhabit - where the wild things are.
Let the shuttle weave back to Swedish, and we'll find that the word for noise is (o)väsen, which also mean entity! One could be found(ed) in becoming! QED! Yes we can!


Being is becoming. Be(com)ing. Essences, substances, definitions are but snapshots and freeze-frames of constant flux. Whatever is of the essence is off the essence, or, rather, the essence of being is becoming. To exist is etymologically derived from standing or coming forth, to get out of a standing position, or of a place.

Running on boulders is awesome! Becoming rulz! Deterritory FTW!!!!