I think it's pretty clear to all of us that our perception of reality is organized at least to some extent by the language we have inherited. This language structures and organizes the way we encounter the world. One thing that I appreciate about philosophy--which Deleuze defined as "the creation of concepts"--is that it takes as its task the critical reorganization of our habits of perceiving. When done well, this reorganization is in the service of better habits of living.
By this definition a guy like Einstein would be a natural philosopher. By rigorously describing the concept of relativity and introducing it into language, he opened up new orders of perception. We were able to understand the universe in a totally different way. This reorganization of our understanding of the universe literally gave us a new universe--new possibilities for technology, new avenues of control, new paths of exploration. It's important to remember, though, that in order for Einstein to make his discoveries, a number of material conditions had to be in place: namely an experimental apparatus delicate enough to find the limits of the Newtonian world view.
Another example would be W.E.B. Dubois. His concept of the double-vision of racial consciousness also opened up new avenues of racial criticism. It described in language that was available to academics and other fairly powerful folks the perspective of living in a racial minority. Dubois was also perfectly positioned in culture to make this point. He had a mainstream education and knew how to express himself in the language of the dominant culture. But he also had access to the world of black experience, and he worked from within the dominant philosophical position to open angles onto this other universe, just as Einstein also couched his explanation of relativity by reference to foundational Newtonian physics.
These two examples show us that the relevant question with respect to the relationship between human consciousness and the shape of the universe is not the Cartesian question of whether our mind truly grasps reality. Or whether the subjective self or the objective world is more Real with a capital R. The more important questions are the smaller ones. How do our current habits of consciousness shape and delimit our perception? What sort of experiences make it possible to reorganize those habits? And how can we develop and maintain the habit of critically reacting to the blindnesses and gaps that are a necessary feature of intelligent categorization of the world in which we live?
The word "philosophy" describes the general habit of reconstructing the categories and ways of thinking that structure our interactions with the world. To take up the task of philosophy explicitly is to work consciously on behalf of keeping this critical habit alive, both in ourselves and in our culture.
The last 9 months I've learned a lot about how to run high mileage--its benefits and its drawbacks. You could describe the last three years of my training life as one of trying to figure out how to run 100 plus miles per week.
It seems easy, right--you just go out the door and average 14 miles a day.
But the problem of course is that training only works if you are well-trained enough to absorb it. Although I've been running on and off for 20 (gulp!) years, these last 3 years were really my first attempt to push the envelope of the volume of miles that I've run. Even in college, I would never run much more than 65 miles per week for an extended period.
So, over the last three years, more often than not, I've run too much too quickly, and in the wrong ways. This is the primary reason that it took me so long to improve on my first real marathon attempt. I would have moments where the miles would really work well for me, and I would do things in training that I never could ha…
Runners are more than familiar with pain. It's our bread and butter. We love to hurt. We believe in endurance, in suffering, in brutal and soul-withering work.
But ours is not a violent sport.
See, there's a difference between pain and violence. Violence violates. You see it so clearly in what happened today. The morning showed pain as triumph and pain as failure. The suffering carved out on the face of Dulce Felix (what a sweet name) as her legs no longer worked, as her glory faded into defeat, as the marathon gods smote her for believing too much, for wanting too much, was noble suffering. The suffering of loss, but sensible loss, human loss. This sort of loss was not a violation because all it risked was victory -- such a small thing in the grand scheme. Sweet happiness led the race, and then faded. Such is life. It requires endurance.
With Jeptoo we saw strength overcoming pain. We saw her, after 24 miles of hard running, run harder. We saw the glory of a healthy body at t…
Andy Anderson surprised the small world of speed mountaineering by setting two classic FKT marks in a period of two weeks, first on Long's Peak, then on the Grand Teton--just days after Kilian Jornet had taken almost 8 minutes off the mark. Make sure you read his account of his Long's Peak run. This interview focuses on his background as a runner and climber and his Grand Teton ascent.
Special thanks to Christian Beckwith of www.outerlocal.com and Meghan Hicks of www.irunfar.com for contributing questions to this interview. A huge thanks to Andy. Enjoy!
* * * LLD: What's your background with speed mountaineering/climbing/scrambling and trail running, the two disciplines required for a Grand Teton FKT? AA: I started running in middle school and loved running and racing cross country in middle school, high school, and college. I was a terrible runner on the track. In reality I don't have that much speed, as Jeff, who out-kicked me in pretty much every race we ever ran, …