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Asger last won the day on December 7 2021

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Nak Muay

Nak Muay (2/14)

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  1. Agreed, and with this freedom of choice also an individualization and a deritualization and decommunization of muay thai. If the fighter is a cartesian island from whose mind the body obeys, there is no participation of the audience, no participation of the community of trainers, training partners and gym. It becomes pure efficiency and no soul.
  2. Friedrich Nietzsche, postcard to Franz Overbeck in Sils-Maria dated July 30, 1881. Thanks for the very kind words, and reading my thoughts closely. Oh man what a letter! Do you know any works on the relationship between the two? Or just any good introductions to Spinoza in general? I thought about going by Deleuze, would that be recommendable? Regarding your essay, I feel great affinity with your understanding of muay thai as language. When I was 8, I moved from Denmark to France and learned french in school. Now, I just picked up greek and latin at college this semester, and I was overjoyed reading your essay because it occurred to me that the process of learning muay thai a few years ago is actually very reminiscent of learning language now; I had preconceptions and goals going into both muay thai and especially greek now, and just after a few months (as with muay thai) the relationship to the techne has changed drastically. Both times it has been an evolution from a cartesian standing-outside with a very clear cut instrumental goal in mind (muay thai: learn to fight, greek: read the classics) to a spinozist being-inside that is more characterised by the joy of movement within and the joy of acquiring competence. That joy is the freedom of movement within the domain I think. Also ''The reason why they don't understand "relax" is that they are all Cartesians.'' is just a great fucking line lmao.
  3. Kevin, you master. This is an amazing essay. I need to study Spinoza at some point, so many thoughts and intuitions that occur in Nietzsche and afterwards already anticipated here. I love how your very practice of philosophy is spinozist; sometimes a poem, sometimes a few sentences on twitter, sometimes these great essays. Like you dance around between philosophy and muay thai and let your words flow from this ''mind-dancing.''
  4. Oh and this is just fucking awesome, such a strong thought that to me seems to present some of the strokes I really wanted to capture but did not manage to articulate this well.
  5. Thank you very much for your thorough and dedicated thoughts on this Kevin, it is honestly an honor to have you put so much work into your response. I have taken to heart many of your points, and while I still stand by my points through a charitable reading, some of the blindspots of the presentation have become clearer aswell as the work that I need to put into resolving some of those issues if I get to work further on this. Especially the points on the cultural and historical thai connotations, which you are obviously much more privy to than I, as well as the greek Apollo and Dionysus other than just as conceived by Nietzsche. It really has been great getting all your considerations, and I'm thrilled that you, despite the theoretical issues we discussed, think that this was something nice.
  6. I guess I may need to put some more thought into how I conceive of muay khao = female, because I'm having a hard time explaining it differently than I am, and it does not seem to be entirely convincing, haha. Yes, it is trying to set up a dichotomy for deconstruction, but it is also trying to conceive of dynamics of gender rather than cultural conceptions of gender. If the format of the presentation were different, I would have liked to establish the dichotomies of Ortner and Nietzsche first. I think that would have made for a more convincing case of muay khao being parallel to female, because it does seem to be more animalistic, and that would be considered closer to ''the female'' in the framework of Nietzsche and Ortner. Mainly it hinges on an understanding of gender as a continuum that constitutes it's pole through the immanent tension itself, rather than through substances at either end. I suppose that the way I see it outside of this attempt at establishing dichotomies for deconstruction is that muay khao and muay femeu both contend for the right to masculine identity, and both are at risk of being condemned as feminine; muay femeu for being too ornate and ''not having guts'', for not being aggressive and for not being strong enough; muay khao for looking like a dumb beast (many patriarchal societies consider and have considered women dumb, unfit for learning, see Aristotle), for not being able to play by the rules of man so to speak, for not being part of the order. I agree with you that the strongest reading of muay thai is through your span of man-animality, but I wanted to try my hand at doing something similar with gender, because it seems to me (and to you) that there are strong currents of gender identities and dynamics in muay thai. As I mention in the presentation, I don't subscribe to an entirely social constructivist concept of gender, and so it seems to me that muay thai has something to tell us about gender that is more than how it is conceived at x time in y place.
  7. Kevin I think we are saying the same thing - my point was that if you were to rationalize gender metaphysically, you would have to put muay femeu and muay khao on those poles, and what goes to show through muay thai and the Butler/Heidegger reading is that it is impossible to make that dichotomy as some kind of gendersubstance. What I'm attempting is a critique of patriarchal gender dichotomies through it's own reasoning.
  8. Thank you very much for your kind words, it honestly means a lot coming from you. I am definitely grafting across cultures; I tried to group muay khao with the feminine/dionysian/nature through a few points: 1) The connection between cultured and apollonian is obvious; also the connection between the apollonian and muay femeu. This lends credence to the jump from apollonian = muay femeu = culture towards male through Sherry Ortner. If we allow these ''equals'', then the feminine = dionysian = nature, which does not seem far fetched to me (as stated through the quotes from BoT in the presentation, more could be provided), needs to account for the inclusion of muay khao. Honestly, looking back at the presentation now, I probably didn't provide enough argument for this, so let me argue here: 2) The fundamental aesthetics, ethos and narrative of muay is the apollonian aspect of muay thai and what makes muay thai muay thai and not mma without grappling; it is at the core of muay thai. But so is the raw violence - muay thai is not just ceremonial movements, it must be efficient and applicable. The violence that is inherent to muay thai is its dionysian aspect. In the fight, these two opposing but complementary drives are at stake, and obviously it is a dipolarity more than a dichotomy, but on one end is the muay femeu, incarnating the apollonian, and on the other, muay khao, incarnating the dionysian. 3) I was actually trying to formulate your point about Dieselnoi laughing at Samart; any display of masculinity is always also a stylizing of femininity (as they are so conceived culturally and historically!), which is why Dieselnoi can laugh at Samart for hitting like a girl. But imagine if Dieselnoi had lost to Samart, if he had been humiliated in the way muay femeu humiliates muay khao as a dumb beast with no grace nor brains, would he also have added to insult that Samart hits like a girl? I don't think so, because that would have been even more humiliated. 4) My point was that the stylizing of masculinity, which exists on a continuum of the dichotomies, is always also a stylizing of the feminine, and the muay thai fight is where two styles of masculinity can compete; is the better man the civilised man or the beastman? So muay thai is fundamentally a ritualized fight between the man of man and the animality of man, and this dichotomy (as shown by Sherry Ortner) has historically been genderized. I hope this sheds some light on why I place muay khao where I do.
  9. Hello everyone, finally got the video, hope you enjoy and looking forward to hear what you think!
  10. Hello everyone, on wednesday I will be giving a talk at the danish art and sports festival Go Extreme https://www.kunsthalaarhus.dk/en/Exhibitions/Go-Extreme where Kevin has kindly agreed to lend me pictures for the powerpoint presentation. The format is very interesting, I think: I will be providing the theory, and two danish muay thai fighters Frederik Fenger and Mikkel Haahr will be displaying the points physically throughout the presentation, concluding with a fight. The argument will be as follows: The classic golden age muay thai dichotomy of muay femeu and muay khao is well established within these circles: the muay femeu is the matador, the muay khao the toro. The muay khao fights with heart, brute force, intensity, relentlessness, violence and strength; the muay femeu fighter is elegant, intelligent, evasive, transcendent, unphased and manipulative. I will argue that the dichotomy of the dionysian and the apollonian as conceived in the work Birth of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Birth_of_Tragedy is applicable and reflects the same dynamics, ideas and intuitions as our muay thai distinction. Following this, I will use Sherry Ortners classic Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture? http://radicalanthropologygroup.org/sites/default/files/pdf/class_text_049.pdf to further the dichotomy, concluding that these dichotomies as historically created reflect the same relation and opposition: male/muay femeu/apollonian/culture vs. female/muay khao/dionysian/nature. With this concessed, we run into an interesting paradox of masculinity: if hypermasculinity is conceived as the capacity for and willingness to use violence, masculinity cannot also be metaphysically defined as an identity that is opposed to (animalistic) violence. From this standpoint, I will be arguing with Judith Butler that a metaphysical conception of masculinity as a moral or identity of masculinity is untenable, and that through the Heideggerian reading of the greek truth-concept aletheia https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/heidegger/#ReaRelBeiTim, masculinity is an event of dominance, which does not have an intrinsic and transcendent identity or moral at its core, but is created as art from and in the body of the fighter. The reason muay thai is so interesting as a paradigm for the thinking of gender is that it reveals that masculinity, however, is not something radically constructivist or relativistic, seeing that the fight constitutively has a winner and a loser as its ontological foundation. This implies that masculinity is something that shows itself - or lets the truth of masculinity happen - through the art of muay thai. I will try to get it filmed and transcribed so that all of you who cannot attend will get to see it anyways, but I can't promise anything as of yet. Either way I'd love to hear what you guys think about the reasoning and elaborate in case any of you have any questions. Best, Asger
  11. I would never disagree with the statement that fighting can be healing and empowering, I believe it can be just as much antidote to as it can be amplifier of depressive tendencies. Your point about it being a double-edged sword seems to capture it all. Life is a fight, fighters are the artists of life par excellence, and so it follows that they will experience happiness in its fullest aspect just as much as they are at risk of depression. I do however believe that the hunt, although undoubtedly dangerous, is fundamentally different than fighting - most importantly the pack aspect, the asymmetry of hunter-prey (whereas fighting is hunter-hunter), the lack of crowd (I suppose you could argue that the crowd waits for food at home, but they are not immediate witnesses to either success or failure as in fighting) and the difference in preparation (the grueling grind of the fighter vs. the non-training of the hunter) towards the event. I'm sure we've always fought, but I blieve it was likely more a matter of manifestation of power (dominance) than application of killing efficiency, as you would see in a fight betweens animals over mating rights for example. I'm very convinced that the life of fighters is very different than the evolutionary ontology of human beings in a hunter-gather context.
  12. I'm not very knowledgeable on the physiological side of things, but it seems to me that fighting as a way of life implicates physiological phenomenons with obvious correlations to depression; blows to the head, the extreme fluctuations of the sympathic nervous system, the reciprocity of potential overtraining and malnutrition, the inflammatory injuries etc. What I'm more certain about are the phenomenological aspects of fighting, that as a way of life lends itself to obvious intersections with depressive tendencies - the constant awareness of the upcoming fight, which may cost you your identity, worst case your very life, the constant confrontation with your weaknesses through sparring with better or bigger fighters, the highs of the victory and the lows of the loss, the sacrifice of social life and family time, the relentless grind and repetition in training. As a fighter all aspects of your life converges towards one identity, that of the fighter, and it is an identity that is always to-be-determined in the ring. You can never rest, you are never good enough, you are always fucking fighting. The restlessness of the fighter, the eternal fight within, the making of yourself and your life a fight - that not only means that you either win or lose, it means that you are a winner or a loser, that your life is a victory or it is a loss. And when you lose, which the fighter may do both in sparring, during roadwork or in the ring, how could that look like anything but depression? The human being is not only physiologically not built for fighting (it is built for hunting and warring), but phenomenologically I cannot see how life as a fighter can be anything but temporary, the building of a memory and identity that is the most beautiful but ultimately fleeting, and which leaves a human being broken and in need of healing after the fact.
  13. I cannot wait to follow this essay Kevin. I am preparing for a talk I'm giving at a danish festival in the fall on muay thai and masculinity, and will be drawing extensively on Nietzschean dionysus/apollo-muay khao/muay femeu dichotomy, and animality is most definitely the nucleus of the spectrum. Very, very excited for this. Thank you.
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