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Everything posted by Asger

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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...''
  9. 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.
  10. 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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