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Showing posts from April, 2010

Random Thoughts Generator

A training partner of mine labels most of his running routes in his log "Random Thoughts Generator." It's true. This is one of the functions of running. I'm not sure if it's the increased bloodflow or perhaps decreased bloodflow, or just the fall of the body into simple rhythms that relaxes that mind and causes it to move.

I thought a million thoughts on my run today.

One thing that happens upon spending years reading philosophy is that thoughts become more and more like things. Maybe this happens to everyone. We develop and hoard certain thoughts, ideas, arguments, questions, perhaps like a child accumulates toys. We have a lot of them, but use a fairly small portion of them. And among the small portion that we use, a precious few become the kind of threadbare and worn objects through which we know ourselves. These one or two mental objects we carry around with us like a child carries his favorite stuffed animal, for no reason other than that they are comfortable…

Thinking and Running

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...because the artist is controlled in the process of his work by his grasp of the connection between what he has already done and what he is to do next, the idea that the artist does not think as intently and penetratingly as a scientific inquirer is absurd. A painter must consciously undergo the effect of his every brush stroke or he will not be aware of what he is doing and where his work is going. Moreover, he has to see each particular connection of doing and undergoing in relation to the whole that he desires to produce. To apprehend such relations is to think, and is one of the most exacting modes of thought. --John Dewey, Art as Experience

A philosopher-friend of mine who recently read my blog offered the following friendly criticism:

I know that you're trying to combat the gearheads and number junkies by your "just run" philosophy (like the apples and roots post) but it seems important to emphasize that thinking isn't bad. how else do you deal with problems? …

On Natural Conditions and Natural Inclinations

This is our true state; this is what makes us incapable of certain knowledge and absolute ignorance. We sail within a vast sphere, ever drifting in uncertainty, driven from end to end. When we think to attach ourselves to any point and fasten to it, it wavers and leaves us; and if we follow it, it eludes our grasp, slips past us, and vanishes forever. Nothing stays for us. This is our natural condition, and yet most contrary to our inclination; we burn with desire to find solid ground and an ultimate sure foundation whereon to build a tower reaching to the Infinite. But our whole groundwork cracks and the earth opens up to abysses.--Blaise Pascal, 1670

Pascal writes here of the way in which life is a movement. We runners know this, I suppose. The logic of long distance might be defined precisely as "drifting in uncertainty." Running requires maintaining contact with uncertainty. This is a more difficult task than often thought.

As Pascal succinctly puts it, our natural conditi…