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Above, ideologically problematic fantasy image put into a meme context to talk about fighting and value. The huge father-who-enjoys of psychoanalysis, here upon a heap of HIS violence, his pliant lady treasure practically a part of the amorphous death accumulation, his sword declaiming a verticality out of the mounting matter, the halo of death cult an atmosphere. The Barbarian, invoking qualities of virility that our current Age longs and lurks for, a harkening back to the thymos of primitive effectiveness in space, how the heart displays itself. 

And then "What Belts?" calling into question the trite trinkets of contemporary measures of what can only be called manliness, even when women pursue it. I can't help but think that in this image and word-set a vortex of ideas descend to a center that is in itself agonistic. Is THIS what men (and women) fight for? Is THIS really the ideal that hides behind so many layers of shimmering achievement? Is this the cage, the ring, the stage?

There is an interesting Thai word - and I am by no means even a student of the language - that comes to me: ittiphon. It is a kind of power ascribed to big nakleng (gangsters), though also to many other types, which essentially means "charm". Charm is no small thing in the ancient world. It was the nearly indescribable, indiscernible power to influence others. In Greek antiquity it is strongly associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and with magic itself. It operated from a distance, and had no explanation. It en-thralled. It spell struck. A great orator would be said to have the power of Influence, his words spellbinding. Anything that charms is not to be trusted because its mechanism is largely unknown and unseen. From what I have read Ittiphon is the magnetism of great men. In the case of nakleng Ittiphon also is accompanied by a second power, Ittiroot. This is the power of perceived magical invulnerability. Cannot be killed. Escapes attack. Lucky. Protected. These are the twin powers of the fighter, the double wings that give him (or her) flight. Even the most grounded, unspectacular fighter is moving to and through these two powers. Charm and invulnerability. However ideologically challenged the image is, this is what it portrays. What is victorious notably localized. It is here, on this heap, with this sword, in this person.

What is expansive is that this is a realm of death. Here the thinnest whispers of an idea spread out like a shadow very far from a candle. Faint. The battle field of the fighter is inevitably one of death. Not to-the-death per se. But the trading of strikes that ever work to the diminishment of the opponent. I once read that the ultimate tone of a Muay Thai attack is one that makes the opponent seem to collapse from his (her) own internal flaws. The theater of defeat is a kind of collapse or breakdown from within, and that the victor only serves as the means by which this is exposed. There is a kind of nemesis nature to this, in the old sense...divine justice. The crumbling of the opponent, rather than the outright aggression of the victor, makes this a kind of theater of Death and decay, out of which a mechanism, the victor, stands as a shining light of something alluring, the charm and power of the untouchable. These are repeated theatrical performances of localized divinity, the shine and glimmer of the thing that ascends through matter, is born of matter in conflict. How grace and violence are married through combat, invoking something else.

Ultimately, the question of masculinity itself arises, and its role in the cataclysm of this kind of arranged apparition. The question...the problem of masculinity though begins to unweave itself a bit when we recognize that masculinity does not inherently belong to men.

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