Rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Getting Off the Treadmill
The Boston Marathon GSX Treadmill (Gym Source)
What is the point of exercising if you’re only going to
shrivel up and die? A well-toned body is nice, but it’s prone to atrophy. When
a cast is removed from a broken leg, the sight of the diminished muscle is
unnerving. Injuries or not, at a certain point you’re facing a losing battle.
In order to maintain strength, you have to exercise, but the very exercising
itself takes it’s toll, due to the decline of the lungs and heart. It’s a
Sisyphean struggle. The Second Law of Thermodynamics underscores the entropy
that’s a natural condition of all matter. Heat flows from warm to cold, but the
reverse isn’t true. Contrary to what experts tell you exercise has relatively
little to do with future health or how long one lives. Some people die faster
than others. No pain no gain goes the popular saying, but the gains are not
about the future. While the effect of exercise on longevity is
purely hypothetical (with some people facing death by aerobics on the
treadmill), it’s true reward comes in the here and now. Exercising is all about the
present. It increases a sense of awareness and mastery and like Zen aids its
practitioners in being more mindful and present. Exercising helps you to live
in the moment. Mark Greif, an editor of N+1
wrote a controversial essay entitled “Against Exercise” (N+1, Issue 1, Summer 2004). If Susan Sontag’s legendary Against Interpretation made
an argument for leaving art alone, Greif extended the sentiment to the body
commenting that exercise is “a set of forms of bodily self-regulation that drag the last vestiges of biological life into the light as a social
attraction.” The problem with Greif’s point is that he fails to make the mind/body connection. Exercise may start from the physical, but it’s value lies in
its metaphysical component—which ultimately makes it a form of prayer.
Francis Levy's debut novel, Erotomania: A Romance, was released in August 2008 by Two Dollar Radio.
His short stories, criticism, humor, and poetry have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The East Hampton Star, The Quarterly, Penthouse, Architectural Digest, TV Guide, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, and other publications. One of his Voice humor pieces was anthologized in The Big Book of New American Humor (HarperCollins). He is presently the Co-Director of The Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination (philoctetes.org), where he supervises roundtable discussions on topics as varied as “The Psychology of the Modern Nation State” and “Modern Traffic Theory, Behavior, and Imagination”.