For many years I’ve been interested in the phenomenology of endurance sport. Or rather the phenomenology of the training required by endurance sport. How does this give order to life? What pleasures are derived from the training regime? What’s foreclosed by the strict management of self and how does this add to the appeal?
I thought back to these questions for the first time in a while when reading Sweat Equity, by Jason Kelly, an interesting discussion of well-being as an economic sector. This passage is on loc 404:
He was hooked. Du Bey signed up for several more local triathlons. Something inside him changed. “I’d been a working drone on Wall Street for seven years, solely focused on work,” he says. “I think a lot of people throw themselves into careers and get numb, a kind of lack of inspiration and passion for life. Triathlon helped me find that; I think maybe it really changed my life.”
It suddenly occurs to me that so many things which interest me ultimately relate to this: drug and alcohol addiction, lifestyle minimalism, hyperactive professional lifestyles, travelling without the punctuation of a return home. I’m interested in forms of social practice that individualise in new ways, something which one of my favourite novelists Ruth Ozeki captures beautifully here:
Under what conditions do the parameters of our world collapse? How, if at all, does this engender a reinflation? When do people seek this? How do they try and avoid it? What are the consequences of living life in this mode? The best way I’ve managed to describe this so far is in terms of the sociology of cognitive triage but this still isn’t quite right.