bring it on

When I was running in the early 80s, a kind of cold focus would come over me. The centre of the thing was that you were on your own. Perhaps when you started out you didn’t feel particularly well; or–more often–your life was chaotic & unproductive; or–most often–you were angry with yourself & everyone else. But after a mile or two in the wind, with the first long lift out of the way & the back of your own reluctance broken, this moment of focus would occur. It was a little like tilting your head to one side & measuring everything; it was like collecting yourself before you make some major decision. It was taking aim. Once you had taken aim, you could spill yourself back down the hill, mile after mile, & the worse the weather was the better.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “bring it on

  1. benspencert

    It’s usually 45 minutes in for me… feels like I could go forever.

  2. mikefleetham

    Beautiful writing – thanks – easily a match to Shieling (Page 54 para. 2). Listening to Kid A behind this entry somehow draws out its essence? I run the South Downs in the 00s (the soft, wimpy Watership slopes), rut their dainty paths, and feel the run backwards. I start aimed; wanting to resolve some tension. But quickly the anger comes and with every muddied foot-strike it takes a firmer hold. The last hill home (rain/shine) brings the ‘cold focus’ – but only because a bionic Garmin clamped to my arm wrings out the last few seconds from me. Either way – anger to aim/aim to anger – it’s a transformation.

  3. uzwi

    Hi Mike, I guess that’s what it’s for, one way or the other. I envy you & Ben having some hills to run on–probably envy you even more for your fitness–45 minutes is beyond dreams of avarice for me at the moment. & what I can do is sometimes a struggle the only payback from which is to stop. But I’m on my way back.

  4. Great piece. Especially like ‘the back of your own reluctance broken’. Be nice if it were feasible to do a print collection one day: ‘Postcards from the Ambiente Hotel’. ‘The Ambiente Hotel’s Greatest Hits.’ Something like that, only better.

  5. I emailed Jonathan Carroll and a long, long time ago, asking if he was going to do something similar, re: blogs into books. Most blogs that get made into books would be better off staying as blogs, but Postcards from the Ambiente Hotel sounds like a wonderful idea – seconded. x

  6. uzwi

    Writing about running is always going to be weird for me now. It’s always going to be retrospective–jogging, literally, jogs my memory. Every time I shuffle round Barnes common I remember something else I didn’t write down in 1978 when I should have! Being put in touch with your memories this way is often quite painful, in that it reaffirms the loss. It reaffirms that what you underwent was a loss. I absolutely can’t retrieve those kicks, except in bijou. Somehow that doesn’t stop it being a rush, a real bittersweet joy.

  7. mikefleetham

    This and nearby posts (& their stimulating comment threads) light the discussion of ‘form’ vs. ‘content’: books about writing, blogs about blogs, books about blogs, blogs about books. Self- or cross-referencing media. I always baulk at films about films (oh look what tribulations beset the crew; what tantrums the lead throws). Should poems be about poetry; novels about writing novels; plays about plays?

    Fred: clicked through to your images. A rare, raw capturing of how I often see/feel ‘that out there’. A resonance. I looked for much longer than at other pics. Thanks.

  8. Hi, Mike. Thank you for the kind words, it means a lot. I’m quite entirely amateurish with photography – but the ardour is strong – and have only recently started taking pictures again, after a twelve year break. It’s an awful lot of fun at this stage. Are you online yourself? Cheers.

    There;s a tendency in lit crit to read all poems as fundamentally about poems/language – Harold Bloom does this a lot, especially with people like Wallace Stevens – which I wouldn’t say is *wrong*, as such… just that it doesn’t exhaust the work.

    Shakespeare refers to the stage all the time, of course, and maybe his example is salient – because it isn’t an inward gesture, he provides the stage as a metaphor for the world, which is quite entirely appropriate, and leads outwards…

    (Incidentally, that’s why I’m enjoying photography a lot right now. Unlike writing, it *always* points outwards.)

    FH.

  9. mikefleetham

    Thanks Fred. I guess ‘amateur’ can mean closer to real, genuine – vulnerable maybe. Professional is beholden to the cheque writer and features less of the image maker, more of the viewer?

    I consider myself amateur on blogs like this, drawn by the quality of the language but not really knowing how to talk about it or even qualified to do so.

    Sure – I’m online: professionally as ThinkingClassroom, subversively as Foible Carrion on WordPress.

  10. Hi Mike, nice websites. I partially agree re: amateurism/ professionalism, but I think some of the alienated coldness of the latter – getting things finished, bloodymindedness, not immediately identifying the self with the work – can be a very good thing in terms of beating preciousness and similar things. As for being an an amateur on blogs such as this – who would be professional here?

    The professionalisation-of-everything has got to be one of the most annoying things in the world right now. That, and people like me leading the discussion OT…