Sean Brierley – one of life’s most outrageously gifted and talented individuals -brought to my attention a recent article he penned for The London Paper (Fri 10th Oct) :
“Joggers. Don’t you just hate them? A great huffing, puffing, panting, stomping blight upon what pretty landscape London has. Who do these people think they are, roaring across parks and paths, expecting the pedestrian species to part for them like the Red Sea?
The aspect of the jogger which niggles me the most as I’m trying to get about is the arrogance that they seem to think their speed affords them. It’s the same attitude adopted by people stuffed behind the wheel of a hulking people-carrier, who show little regard for other road users: “I will do as I please, because in a collision you will come off worse”.
Wherever I am at a weekend, whether the space be green or urban, I can’t walk five yards without feeling the sudden pelt and wheeze of what sounds like Beethoven the dog behind me. And joggers seem to love to flock to the most densely-populated areas. With vast vistas of space open to them, they’ll still want to brush past you and groan down your neck like Barry White.
Why? Maybe it’s attributable to the sense of condescending self-worth that most other fitness fanatics rise above; the “Make way for me, mere mortal, jogger coming through!” syndrome.” (Read on: The London columnist: The sweaty joggers are a menace)
The article immediately stuck me as having great similarity to the ideas presented by one of the foremost intellectual figures of the present age: the great French postmodern theorist Jean Baudrillard (1929–2007). To wit:
“…You stop a horse that is bolting. You do not stop a jogger who is jogging. Foaming at the mouth, his mind riveted on the inner count down to the moment when he will acheive a higher plane of consciousness, he is not to be stopped. If you stopped him to ask the time, he would bite your head off. He doesn’t have a bit between his teeth, though he may perhaps be carrying dumb-bells or even weights in his belt (where are the days when girls used to wear bracelets on their ankles?). What the third-century Stylite sought in self-privation and proud stillness, he is seeking through the muscular exhaustion of his body. He is the brother in mortification of those who conscientiously exhaust themselves in the body-building studios on complicated machines with chrome pulleys and on terrifying medical contraptions. There is a direct line that runs from the medieval instruments of torture, via the industrial movements of production-line work, to the techniques of schooling the body by using mechanical apparatuses. Like dieting, body-building, and so many other things, jogging is a new form of voluntary servitude (it is also a new form of adultery).
Decidedly, joggers are the true Latter Day Saints and the protagonists of an easy-does-it Apocalypse. Nothing evokes the end of the world morethan a man running straight ahead on a beach, swathed in the sounds of his walkman, cocooned in the solitary sacrifice of his energy, indifferent even to catastrophes since he expects destruction to come only as the fruit of hisown efforts, from exhausting the energy of a body that has in his own eyes become useless. Primitives, when in despair, would commit suicide by swimming out to sea until they could swim no longer. The jogger commits suicide by running up and down the beach. His eyes are wild, saliva drips from his mouth. Do not stop him. He will either hit you or simply carry on dancing around in front of you like a man possessed.” Read on: (Extracts from On America).
On a related note: The Six Degrees of Separation is a popular idea concerning the mutual social connections between humans and other humans… but what would such a number be which concerned itself with the degrees of separation of ideas and thoughts between people? Hence the title of the entry.