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Everything posted by Asger

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. From what you're describing, you seem to have a hard time controlling how your feelings affect you - losing temper with your trainers to the point that they have to send you to the bag, escalating sparring, sobbing. No shame in crying, but if it's a continuous thing that you cannot control your temper when sparring, this may have been a very stark lesson on exactly that, and it's a fucking important one. If your trainers, who make a living training and sparring you, can't trust that they can do their jobs without you getting angry at them for your own incompetence and taking it out on them, I can see why they would act as he did. This doesn't mean that I condone it, but I think you might want to consider if this is the case and how to proceed from there. But if your other trainer has mentioned his anger, maybe he's just a small man who enjoys beating others. Maybe it's a bit of both things. Only you can really be the judge of this.
  5. I thought it would be obvious that the odyssean foot was an analysis of the sociological aversion to female fighting and not an expression of my personal beliefs, especially considering my stated affinity for chon and the purity of the force collision of muay thai, which I thought I had clearly described. English is not my native language, so I apologize if I did not make this adequality explicit, but I figured that we were operating under a principle of charity in this discussion. I don't contend nor disagree with your contempt for the sexism of thai muay thai - I'm trying to analyze it. Not only did you mistakenly ascribe me a position I was merely describing as a sociological phenomenon, you went out of your way to discredit my theory on the basis of an ad hominem of pure speculation. I understand that you get sentimental about your wife, but your reply is fucking ridiculous.
  6. You obviously know much more about both Sylvie, the legends and the climate of the muay of Thailand, so I will not contest any of this. I sincerely hope you are right and that the legacy will survive in whatever form.
  7. Very beautiful. I definitely agree. However this is not female fighting saving the art, but a female historian and journalist that also fights. The fighting of Sylvie did not reinvigorate the legends and the art, hers and yours colossal work on documentation did. This is an important distinction.
  8. Very interesting observations. I can't help but think that the fighting of muay thai is not historically contingent however; what I've been trying to get at with these thoughts is the display of the eternal becoming that is theatralized and performed in muay thai, which can't be reduced to a patriarchal-historical phenomenon. I see plenty of the feminine in muay thai; the ''eternal mother of genesis'' in the relentlessness of the muay khao for example, but I don't see female fighting as having any relevance pedestalized role in the future of muay thai. To the contrary, I suspect the domain of fighting will always see male fighting as the apex of the art. Both because more is at stake in the violence of the male physicality, and because of the odyssean ''foot halfway out the door'' of motherhood that is always latent to female fighters.
  9. Thank you for the recommendations, those will be my priority when I finish Deleuze! I agree about the femeu, it is at least as much an establishing of a positive, an assertion of power and display of self affirmation. There's both the dynamic part: They aren't deer escaping wolves, they're the lion playing with its prey. But there's also the performative part: When Karuhat fights, he radiates; you aren't watching two fighters, you're watching Karuhat fight against this or that fighter. He's always the protagonist of the fight through his sheer presence. I don't know what to make of that philosophically yet, but I can't help but feel that is what happens. Very fascinating thoughts on the technos and magic of the femeu, I will definitely have to consider that. Maybe there's a correlation between the evaluative/interpretative character of the will to power, technos and the question of the clearing of enframing, which is not directly a negating phenomenon, but which does compromise the aesthetic and magic of the fighter dominated by the femeu. This may be far fetched, I'll have to think some more about it. Interesting points about Achilles and his other attributes than sheer force of fighting (Probably his rhetorics, music and charm are derivative of the same thing that makes him the greatest fighter.) There is also the question of his immanence against the transcendence of Odysseus. The man purely conditioned by his immanence is absolute against the man of many turns, who can go in any way, who always has his foot halfway out the door. Of course one the same beauty and strength is never channeled in the case of Odysseus, because the stakes are never as high as they are with Achilles. The totality of his being is determined at every moment, he is always active becoming (You write beautifully ''He was something like a direct radiation of Being''); Odysseus however responds to the world, he survives, he begs. He lives in the end, but at the cost of becoming the first man of negation, ressentiment and reaction. The self-affirmation of Achilles is what is at stake constantly, be it on the battlefield or in the tent of Agamemnon; he is uncompromising in his dominion. What it always at stake with Odysseus is his survival (his bare life, as Agamben would put it.) Albeit understandable, this compromises the aesthetics of human life which according to Nietzsche is the only justification for life and existence as such. There is no doubt in my mind that Dieselnoi is the reincarnation of Achilles, then. I'm sorry I cannot engage on the topic of female muay thai with you; I don't know enough about it to have any qualified opinion or thoughts on it.
  10. This is incredibly interesting! I haven't paid much attention to magic ever, but it lends itself incredibly well as a description of what we're trying to get at, that je ne sais quoi of the greats. I fell over this performance which to me expresses this masterly display and expression of self that almost surpasses the human: The beauty of her body, her eye contact, the voice, the lyrics and images, the moves, the sovereignty - it all comes together to just fucking blow you away. What is expressed and created here is made of the same stuff as that which is expressed and created in the Yodkhunphon - Namtaotong fight (my all time favourite - that fifth round elbow!) The modalities are very different, but the magic is the same, the ecstasy, the force and self-affirmation and exteriority. You can't not be seduced and taken, you can't help but affirm that power which overpowers you and still raises you. It is really an aura of magic. I'm interested in your point about Odysseus, because I love the essay of yours that treats the immanence/transcendence dichotomy of Achilleus and Odysseus, and I'd think that Achilleus would be the hero that functions as the paradigm for the active forces that we are investigating, whereas Odysseus seems to me the reactionary of the two. What do you think? PS: It is very much an honor to have helped you, considering you are my absolute authority on all things philosophical, poetic and artistic concerning muay thai. Your articles, photographs, texts and videos have been a massive factor in the development, aesthetic and philosophy of my muay. So thank you very much.
  11. You misunderstand me. Reducing the beauty of muay femeu to slave morality is in no way what I am arguing, which should be clear from my previous ode to muay femeu above. I am speculating on the origins of the cultural glorification of muay femeu over muay khao, and am trying to localize that in the negating nihilism of buddhism and the taboo of the uninhibited (or even un-controlled) force of the muay khao. But yes, I am definitely free-wheeling at this point.
  12. I mean there's no doubt that Samart was fucking destroyed and in my mind no doubt about the superiority of Dieselnois self-assertion in the plurality of its meanings. And yes, you see the exact same thing in the Chamuakpet - Sangtiennoi fight (A former thai fighter of Sangtiennoi happens to be the Kru that introduced me to muay thai, actually). If you will allow me this almost autistic focus on the Deleuzean-Nietzschean framework to explore the movements of muay thai, maybe one could argue (which Nietzsche certainly did) that the buddhist Thai culture is essentially nihilistic and thus reactive, negating and thus slave moralistic. I have also learned from you and Sylvie that there are strong animistic and polytheistic forces at play in thai culture, that might signify the (now taboo) self-affirmative master morality which still seethes under the established buddhist framework and which is let out and appreciated in muay thai, but which must always be sublimated the femeu as strong representative of buddhist values. In this manner Samart remains the posterboy of the civilized slave morality of thai buddhism and Dieselnoi is the publically frowned upon - but undeniable - manifestation of the self-affirming dionysian force and becoming. Yes man, and the muay femeu/muay khao gender dichotomy is very obvious in this way, but under the surface I believe there is a reversal of this. The anonymous feminine, the raw, pure, sexual, natural dionysian force (the dionysian is illustrated as the great mother, the matriarchal in The Birth of Tragedy) against the ''cultural'', the identity and individualized, the named, male of the femeu, the civilized caesura in the fabric of nature. In this layer of the dichotomy, which now reveals itself to be a dipolarity, the roles are changed and the muay khao is the feminine and muay femeu becomes the masculine. Put somewhat poetically; the muay femeu is the volcano, but the muay khao is the sea. And so the feminine and the masculine energies or forces intersect and cross and divert in the specific muay of the fighters in a zone of indistinction. Maybe that is also why the muay khao are shunned; what we at first glance consider masculine in the muay khao fighter might actually be the feminine. Yes man! Thank you! Exactly what I was trying to get at. It is a dignified accept of the superiority of the opposing affirmative force without compromising the original self-affirmation that made one enter the ring at all. Deleuze would probably say of the losing fighter in the fifth round that he isn't giving up (which the not-knowing would see), but instead joyously affirms the difference of the forces. Maybe, haha.
  13. And also, what does this ideological and politicized hierarchy represent? Why does it resonate with us so profoundly? Because muay khao and muay femeu speak not only of thai culture, but something universally human. Which two forces are these paradigmatic fighters allegories of? Some part of me can't help but think that there's deep gender connotations to the dynamic; the ecstasies of the primordial masculine and feminine, their zones of indistinction and overlapping, the life of them. The arena of forces within a closed unity, the collision of becoming and becoming of collision. And is this ascension of the victorious not always a disappointment and an aporia in some way? In muay thai we don't care for the comeback, because comebacks imply a kind of personalized attachment (a sentimentality) to the identities of the fighters, rather than an appreciation of their clash. Rather a dignified accept of the dominion than a desperate attempt to shortcircuit the fabric of being. The comeback is essentially an act of ressentiment and thus reactive I think.
  14. Fantastic thoughts Kevin, thank you! I am in no way up to par in either knowledge of golden age muay nor thai culture as you, and so I will try to respond somewhat nondirectly to some of your points through this deleuze-nietzschean framework. I am still reading and so don't claim to master this work at all yet. I have thought a lot about the active/reactive dichotomy and its relation to the muay khao/muay femeu dichotomy these past few days, however. One of the main premises I believe is that one can't draw a parallel between muay khao/active and muay femeu/reactive. Since the dionysian ontology of becoming operates with a multitude of forces, we have a world of constant confrontation. Deleuze defines force as that which can (La force est ce qui peut) and thus has an element of potentiality to it (I must investigate the ontology of Agamben with regards to this at some point). All force that interacts is in a relation of attempted dominating/dominated. The internal element of force is the will to power, which is what allows the determination of the clash, the confrontation; ''Thus it is always through the will to power that one force prevails over others and dominates or commands them.'' The becoming of the muay of the golden age is always both a clash of forces (chon) and an evaluation/interpretation (victory or dominance of the participating forces) of this clash. The last point I want to establish before going further stems from these two quotes: ‘’It is clear that there is affirmation in every action and negation in every reaction. But, on the other hand, action and reaction are more like means, means or instruments of the will to power which affirms and denies, just as reactive forces are instruments of nihilism.’’ These thoughts establishes the modalities of force as subordinated to becoming itself; ‘’Affirmation and negation extend beyond action and reaction because they are the immediate qualities of becoming itself. Affirmation is not action but the power of becoming active, becoming active personified. Negation is not simple reaction but a becoming reactive.’’ With this established, I believe we have somewhat of a framework to consider what is the ontology of the (dominating, victorious) muay femeu fighter. At first glance they appear as the angels of reaction, the negators of the bull of the muay khao and the establishing of order, civility and as you write, intelligence. They are the human answer to the violence of nature, the sheriffs of muay thai. But I’m not sure that is what is at the core of the victorious muay femeu. I believe the muay femeu to be just as much affirmation and becoming, just as much force and will, as the muay khao, albeit in another aesthetic and narrative. The muay khao challenges the muay femeu (‘’agresses’’ a relation of force) who in turns engages (affirms his own becoming in the face of an aggression seeking to dominate this) towards the clash. Although chronologically secondary in the chain of events preceding the clash, the muay femeu is not reduced to reactive becoming, since a clash of forces necessarily presupposes an answer to an aggression within the ontology of force-pluralism that Deleuze operates with. What is important in this view is not the chronology of the events, but the modality or quality of the force-expression (active or reactive). I believe this reciprocal affirmation of the fighting parts is what plays out aesthetically and narratively throughout the entirety of the fight. And so the muay femeu, albeit playing out the part of the accepting the challenge (which manifests in the aesthetics of the technical, controlling and elegant torero), is not in a state of becoming reactive but always in a state of becoming active. Maybe what makes the femeu so esteemed in Thailand is that he not only dominates and affirms his own force through the mastery of his muay, but even affirms and dominates the force of the opponent through the manipulation, control and nullification of the attempted domination. In this manner he would be the conductor of the clash of forces, immanent within this very clash. He does not overwhelm his opponent, he absorbs him - and so increases the quantity of forces in his becoming for him to affirm. One must imagine the muay femeu happy. His work is not the negating of the opponent, but the affirmation of his own becoming in the face of an attempted domination of his own. Where the affirmation of Dieselnoi is a tsunami of becoming, the affirmation of the femeu is laughter. The muay femeu not only fights to express the superiority of his becoming, he turns the domination of violence into music, and so dances and laughs.
  15. Agreed! I always pictured Dieselnoi as the archangel of Dionysus; this massive embodiment of pure, raw, ecstatic force of overwhelming (becoming!) that upon his inability to express the fabric of his being ceases to want to exist. No one rivals the active force of Dieselnoi; he is just undeniable in a way that has epistemological implications, as the dionysian does in The Birth of Tragedy. His body is the articulation of that truth that is active force and of which science and consciousness knows nothing: ''What happens is that science follows the path of consciousness, relying entirely on other reactice forces; the organism is always seen from its petty side, from the side of its reactions... The real problem is the discovery of active forces without which the reactions themselves would not be forces.'' This discovery (discovery is always epistemological) is possible within a dionysian framework, and the body of the fighting Dieselnoi would be the domain of that undertaking: ''The body's active forces make it a self and define the self as superior and astonishing.'' Dieselnoi is the agent of the kind of nature that Nietzsche conceives as dionysian in BoT, this active force. Dieselnoi in the ecstasy of his fighting lets us see the truth of the active force; this bodily self is expression of pure force that is just irrefutable and which is all Dionysus. I always thought a lot about something Sylvie has told of Dieselnoi, which is that he despised weakness of his opponents in the clinch, as if that weakness was something despicable in itself. To me this is also a declaration of his dionysian nature. The ''beast mode muay'' would welcome this as a break, a breather, a hole in the armor and thus an end to the burden of the fight and the reciprocal negation. But Dieselnoi hates this end to the chon, he hates the result; he wants the fight in its non-finality, in its becoming - the potentiality of the fight, the never ending waves of affirming life and active force. That is truly dionysian to me.
  16. These reflections and the concept of Chon are at the core of what I love about muay thai. I believe it links to some of the ontology of Nietzsche that Deleuze lays out in Nietzsche and Philosophy. It is what separates the buddhist-traditional muay thai and the vulgar western beastmode muay thai, I believe. The beastmode fighter commits himself to a burden that is negation of both men within violence, and the winner only stands out as the ''least losing'' of the two. It is a scene of pure survival that reduces men to dying animals. What is at the core of this is negation, which is the opposite of affirmation. The nak muay of tradition could be said to embody the tragic of Deleuze; ''a logic of multiple affirmation and therefore a logic of pure affirmation and a corresponding ethic of joy. The tragic is not founded on a relation of life and the negative but on the essential relation of joy and multiplicity, of the positivity and multiplicity, of affirmation and multiplicity... Tragic - frank, dynamic, gaiety.'' What is at stakes in muay thai is the competing of two positives for the truth of their self-affirmation, and the result is determined by the excessive, overwhelming, truer, more beautiful and stronger nature of the bigger positive of the two. This does not mean that the ''loser'' is negated at all, however, for even the act of commiting oneself to the chon is indestructibly self-affirmative; 'In its relation with the other the force which makes itself obeyed does not deny the other or that which it is not, it affirms its own difference and enjoys this deifference'. Here violence, the most extreme of human phenomenon, suspends itself as the negating totality of the beastmode arena, wherein humans can at most survive, and is forced into an ontology of medium for the showcase of self-affirmation in the fighter. This muay is not the destruction of man, it is never animalistic survival. It is a competition of dance, joy and song where the negating force of violence reveals it's true poverty in the face of the joy of man. That is why muay thai is the most beautiful art of all, because it expresses the unity of aesthetics and ethics that is at the core of mans ontology, and this unity reveals itself as beauty and joy.
  17. Very interesting. I'm very intrigued by thymos, and have studied the first third of Sloterdijks Rage and Time quite diligently. I am unfamiliar with Giambattista Vicos work, as I've only heard his name in passing, but it seems very interesting. What I'm trying to weave together, I suppose, is something of a thinking of masculinity-affirmative ethics of the self. Muay thai aesthetics and ethics seem to be the nexus that for me unites thinkers such as Butler, Homer, Agamben (specifically his thoughts about the self in Use of Bodies), Nietzsche and Sloterdijk in what I'm trying to get at. And you have very much been a catalyst for this thinking through all of your work, so I would like to express deep gratitude for that.
  18. Very interesting, thank you for your reply Kevin. This corresponds to what I was hoping to ''get from you.'' This is very interesting to me, since if we accept that thais have a much more prominent notion of the self as located within the torso, I believe it opens up some possible thoughts I was hoping to get at. One of these would seem to me to be the fact that this is tied much more to an affective than a discursive or cognitive notion of self, compared to the west. If the head and face parallel the abstract notions of identity and thoughts, then the torso would parallel the affective and emotional. In this sense the poorly articulated description of the human being from Plato (with exception of the stoics I suppose) until at least the 20th century and the rise of phenomenology would find a much more adequate articulation - in muay thai. This specifically refers to the buddhist conception of the ''passions'' or affects as intrinsically constitutive for the human being, and the way this is highlighted through the scoring of body strikes. I believe that the homeric warrior was quite much closer to the richer phenomenology of the nak muay compared to the later cartesian subject (which it seems to me we still very much are) of the west, and I do believe that this change in in-der-welt-sein is one of the most important ways in which muay thai has enriched my life. This only comes from the study of the thai aesthetic in muay thai and the attempt of integration into my own muay.
  19. Im certain that's the point I was referring to. Thank you for clearing that up for me Sylvie! I was hoping to draw some parallels between the homeric thymos & self and this idea, but it seems that would be inaccurate. I guess there's something to be said for your linguistic points about the heart as locus of emotions that is comparable to the homeric self though. I'll have to think about that.
  20. Hello everyone, I believe I read somewhere in the vast archives of Kevin and Sylvie that the thai notion of self is primarily situated in the torso. Does anyone have any idea where I might read further about this, provided that is true? Thank you very much in advance. ''We cannot know his legendary head, with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso...''
  21. Thank you so much Kevin. The praise of my writing is such a massive compliment coming from you, and the encouragement is much cherished as well. I am on an amazing journey, hard as it may be. Kero Tide thank you so much. That is incredibly touching to hear. Having given it some more thought today, it was almost as if this strength, energy or power I was demanding of myself to channel did not need demanding to manifest; it was something in me that I have discovered I can access - circumventing my ego. In so far as the ego functions as a way of asserting control, and which I have relied on for so long, you cannot imagine the joy of experiencing this force within me that did not need forcing, but seemed to be an expression of the very stuff I am made of. Like pulling off a mask that expresses what I value the most to discover the same face underneath. What an amazing sport, art, ethic - life - muay thai is.
  22. Thank you so much for this essay. It seems to culminate in an almost fateful way with an event that took place in my life yesterday. I have been doing mental training for the past 5 years, following an experience in my life which required that I undertook that journey. This weekend I was at my wits end, feeling like I kept running into the same wall, not seeing any way out, not seeing any progress and no path towards progress either. Feeling very down, I went to training yesterday. I was dehydrated and hadn’t eaten properly, and the gym was steaming hot, so I decided on just coasting through this one training. Warm up went alright, got to pads where I was working with a young fighter who’s incredibly gifted, but due to age and size difference, wasn’t getting me too hard. First round goes okay, I’m still not feeling great, but I got through relying on routine. I figure the day will be alright at this point. And then I’m called over to do a round with my kru. My kru is an old thai gentleman who grew up fighting at Sangtiennoi Sor Rungroj (as far as I can gather from the other fighters). He’s quite reserved and distant, in his late 40’s, and he’s an incredible teacher. He moves so beautifully. He can be a mean son of a bitch though, and he was in a monday mood yesterday. He was very hard on me, not so much focusing on technique as burning me out; of course, not just in a physical way, but rather in a mental way - the physical exertion just acting as a medium, an instrument to unravel and reveal. This wasn’t just pad work, this was feeling for my heart. So, I gave all I had, physically trying to manifest what I believe I am made of, not backing off and channeling aggression and heart even in the face of such superiority - technical, experiential and physical. When the clock finally gave me pause, I fell to my knees to try and breathe, grateful I’d gotten through it as well as I had, feeling proud, thanking him. I was getting ready to return to my initial young pad holder, when my kru ordered me towards one of the gyms best fighters. This guy is a great pad holder and he is intense as fuck. He’s an incredibly sweet and nice guy, but he’s almost dionysian in his energy when he walks into that gym. To the point where you can barely get through to him while the training lasts. He could tell how battered I was, but quickly made it clear in a nice way that I was not to quit under any circumstance. Not just quit as in leaving the pads, which I wouldn’t do, but quit with the heart while remaining on the pads. Having tapped into the will, which you wrote about, in the previous round, I figured I would try that again, and sure enough I got through it. He embraced me and told me I’d done a great job, which felt amazing coming from him. I was almost puking at this point, so I just got through the rest of the training as best as I could. Only today did it dawn on me that will hadn’t gotten me through that second round wasn’t the will power that got me through the first round, and which has also gotten me through this first year of training. Something else appeared in me – or through me – that I havn’t experienced before. Something like tapping ‘’into forces and streams that lie outside of that frame’’ of the ego, the persona, the I. Make no mistake, I in no way dare to compare myself to Sylvie or the monumental path that she is treading, but I do believe I caught a glimpse of what you are trying to communicate in the essay - only having understood it, connected to it - through reading these words. In some way this new unknown that I will now need to familiarize myself with (in so far as that is even possible?) has carried over to my mental training, seeming to sort of unknit some of these knots that have bound me for a long time. Today has felt different. I have felt different. This event is something that has been underway for a long time – this shore hopefully – and I thank you deeply for writing the essay to give me the words to see myself in, words that show me that I am not alone, words to hope through. Thank you so much to both of you for all that you do. Best, Asger
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