Weird Aside


[Aside] I was looking for background sources on the use of propaganda billboards within Asian factories, and my Google results offered vampires, porn and Nike.

And the link is … ?


I Meant To Say "Only Happier"

McDonald's should borrow the slogan from Premier Fitness to promote their new Go Active meals, the fast-food chain's new adult version of the Happy Meal. "Being yourself only happier," the campaign could crow to the obese masses.

To quote the press release, "Instead of Happy Meal standards like a burger and a toy, the new Go Active meal will include a salad, an exercise booklet and a pedometer meant to encourage walking."

Best of luck to Mickey D's. Decades of successful branding are going to prove extremely difficult to reverse. But might as well get on the fitness bandwagon.

Being Myself, Only Better

Well, my "research" is going to become a little more autoethnographic: I just signed up for a membership at Premier Fitness Clubs, which is just down the street from my place. Their (trademarked!) slogan is "Be yourself only better", which I think is pure tragicomedy. In fact, I think that the whole experience will provide a ton of tragicomic material for the reading pleasure of sportsBabelites.

fitter happier
more productive
not drinking too much
regular exercise at the gym (3 days a week)
getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries
at ease
eating well (no more microwave dinners and saturated fats)

. . .

fitter, healthier and more productive
a pig
in a cage
on antibiotics

– Radiohead, Fitter Happier

While I am extremely excited and exhilarated that my rudimentary framework for a tripolarization of the electric body closely parallels the categories of bodily annihilation proposed by a luminary like Jean Baudrillard, I'm not sure that either of us are getting the whole story. And based upon what I can surmise from his pseudonimage, I don't imagine M. Baudrillard (nor Thom Yorke for that matter) has spent much time in a fitness club/image factory such as Premier Fitness for quite some time. My goal is to step in and fill that void.

That said, there are many questions I need to answer for myself: Is this *really* research, or am I just rationalizing my attendance at the image factory? How often will I actually attend? Will frequent exercise in such a disciplined environment change my thought processes, perhaps imprisoning my creativity? Do I really just want to try and change my body so people will love me? Am I sick with fear and loathing that my mirror image less and less resembles the video image of the 99th percentile? Am I hysterical with aging?

Or is there a middle ground somewhere in between that isn't so reprehensible? Is it OK (Computer?) that our bodies desire some physical attention when more and more our minds are being outered into the vast networked global nervous system? Is PAIN a desirable or appropriate aesthetic response to our increasingly cyborgian identities? Can occasionally nihilist tendencies interface with a desire to live a long, healthy life?

Much food for thought (eating well) while I am on the hamster wheel. Wish me luck …

Excerpts from America: Bodily Annihilation

Anorexic culture: a culture of disgust, of expulsion, of anthropoemia, of rejection. Characteristic of a period of obesity, saturation, overabundance.

The anorexic prefigures this culture in rather a poetic fashion by trying to keep it at bay. He refuses lack. He says: I lack nothing, therefore I shall not eat. With the overweight person, it is the opposite: he refuses fullness, repletion. He says: I lack everything, so I will eat anything at all. The anorexic staves off lack by emptiness, the overweight person staves off fullness by excess. Both are homeopathic final solutions, solutions by extermination.

The jogger has yet another solution. In a sense, he spews himself out; he doesn't merely expend his energy in his running, he vomits it. He has to attain the ecstasy of fatigue, the 'high' of mechanical annihilation, just as the anorexic aims for the 'high' of organic annihilation, the ecstasy of the empty body and the obese individual seeks the high of dimensional annihilation: the ecstasy of the full body.

– Jean Baudrillard


War has often been used as a metaphor for sport and vice-versa. The comparisons are fair, given that the similarities between the two run deep: a competition between two parties, using strategy, arsenals of weapons, and featuring many small battles within the larger contest. Motivational speeches from brilliant tacticians are invoked to inspire the competitors to victory. Lombardi himself could be the Sun Tzu of our era.

You never win a game unless you beat the guy in front of you. The score on the board doesn't mean a thing. That's for the fans. You've got to win the war with the man in front of you. You've got to get your man.

– Vince Lombardi

In fact, the relationship between the two is even closer. For centuries, sport has been used by societies as a means of developing skills or bodies that would be useful in the warfare of the day — think javelin, lacrosse, fencing, kendo, and football, to name but a few.

If the future of warfare is in fact information-oriented (ie. Netwar) or asymmetric in orientation, is sport then obsolete as a model for developing combat-ready soldiers from the citizenry, perhaps to be replaced by computerized training of some sort? Perhaps so. At the very least, it appears that certain forms of modern sport have outlived their usefulness in this regard, and that symmetric forms of team sport may one day be as quaint to future generations as the notion of tug-of-war being an Olympic event seems to us today. Indeed, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), viewed by some as a postmodern form of sporting entertainment, may in fact be more true to the form we should come to expect from our sporting institutions in the future.

With its ambivalence towards the Truth of victory, its disregard for the boundaries of the playing space, its overt hyper-muscularization taunting modern doping policy, and its hyper-mammarization titillating participants and spectators alike, the WWE is true to its label of adding "entertainment" to the sport product. But it is the nature of its asymmetric competition that is of true interest: 2-on-1, 3-on-1, royal rumbles and allies rushing out of the dressing room give wrestling a cachet that modern sports cannot match — and perhaps offer North American society a more appropriate model for a future of asymmetric warfare.

Scrambled Aside


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