2018 april 29
After 20 years, A Copywright Contact Brings Out a Surprise.
I can, I should call myself a writer, because I published 4 books in Taiwan.
After that, I lived between Cambodia, Holland, and Taiwan.
How are my books treated in the Chinese language society?
After the books were published, I vaguely remember there were different reviews, cited in an academic discussion about travelling literature in Taiwan.
Recently, through internet, I find some discussion about my books. I am still grateful and flattered that readers could see things in a new way through my books, through my words.
Some months ago, a Taiwanese publishing company contacted me. They want to get my permission in order to use about 250 words from one of my books for an examination book.
The target audience of this examination book is the group of 15-17 year old students who want to pass the Chinese exam, get a high score, and enter the good school their parents wish.
If you know the education in Taiwan, Japan, China.. the eastern part of Asia, you will be amazed how much time the East-Asian students have to study, compared to the youth in other parts of the world! They don’t only have to go to school to study, after the school they still have to go to ‘tutor school’ to get extra result.
How do they use my 200 words in a question for the exam?
Of course, I was curious to see the format:
They put my text in the beginning, and ask “what does the author mean?”
The answer is multiple choice A:…, B:…, C:….., D:……”.
I was puzzled for quite some time.. I am not sure if I know the right answer.
I am the writer of the text, but the moment it becomes an exam text, I feel I am not confident to play the exam game system!
I am not a 17 y-o student any more, I am not the 30- year old writer any more, I am a 56 y-o woman now.
I have a lot of different challenges, in my daily life now.
To be an exam machine , to get a high score was the mission in my young age.
I think today I should not feel ashamed if I can’t do this Chinese exam and produce ‘the right answer’ .
Last week, they sent me the exam book and the answer booklet.
I was not eager to find the ‘correct’ answer of the question based on my text.
But I did chose a moment to open this package.
When Taiwanese students, nowadays, prepare for their university exam, they read this text, maybe they will be stunned by my way of thinking, writing, and try to find the original book to read. Or they may be annoyed by the dialectical way of writing. I expect that most likely these exam machines will quickly read my text, choose an answer, and move on to the next question.
Life is an open book.
A book is a book, it has its own life.
The fact that these exam teachers can still find my book….and make an exam question from my text shows that they are more than hard workers!
Please take this exam!
For the non-Chinese readers, I have translated the citation from my text and the exam to get an idea. (Please note that central concepts in this paragraph , like anguish, hungry ghost, ‘cause and result’ are written in a very Buddhist sense. )
Can you spot the right answer? I think I am not free to disclose it….
Below, it is my original Chinese text the exam book chose. And the A-B-C-D question. Ejoy your exam!
世間一場場因果相纏的戲碼，慾望相疊、情恨互鎖，結成一個個故事。是空非空？ 是香是臭？是珍饈是毒藥？都是一線之隔。在命運還能磨動時，又有誰願意被自己肚裡 的餓鬼先一嘴嚥光？ （徐世怡《流浪者的廚房》）
Traveling a lot, having holiday regularly, day by day, week after week. Is that an ultra-happy lifestyle? To be confronted every day with ‘all you can eat” haute cuisine banquet; would it make you satisfied?
No, that it not the same as a ‘anguish-free’ life you want to enjoy.
In my dictionary, the definition of “well-being” life starts from a warm stove. A practical kitchen offers the calm happiness to make my stomach relaxed and satisfied. The radiant stove is like a red heart, it heats up the lonely hungry soul.
It may sound weird: In Chinese society, people may start the greetings from “Have you eaten?” It is a normal form of politeness. For me, to ask people “How are you?” is too superficial. To start asking about food, is just like British people start conversation from weather! Deep in our heart, we all know, when we are still alive, we are the hungry ghosts, tangled by craving. In the end, everything is gone to empty dust. Nevertheless, we are still willing to live our vibrant story .
The human world is woven by the scenes of cause and result. Craving and despair are overlapping, hate and love locked to each other. Is that a fact, or is it an illusion? It is gourmet or poison? Your belongings, are they your capital or your debt? They are separated by thin lines, sometimes, it is difficult to judge. Are you willing to be swallowed by the hungry ghost inside your stomach all your life?
(A) 根據作者所說, 人生最理想的狀態, 便是吃飽喝足.
According to the author, the best human life is having sufficient food to eat and drink.
(B) 作者認為,心靈和肚子裡無時不充滿餓鬼, 解決之道是從因果上下手.
According to the author, our soul and stomach are full of eternal hungry ghost all the time. The solution is to tackle the ‘cause-result’ relation.
(C) 天天旅行,並能天天吃得飽鼓鼓, 便可使徬徨心靈深處的熱源火心, 找到幸福.
By traveling every day, surrounded by nice delicious food, we can get the warm source for the lonely heart, and find the happiness for our life.
(D) 作者認為, 口腹感官的慾望流轉, 既是世間因果相纏的故事, 不如趁命運尚在磨動時, 讓自己腸胃舒展暢快.
According to the author, the turmoil of our eating desire creates the circle of ‘cause and result’ entanglement. Before our life reaches the end, we should make peace with our body and it’s need for sensation.
2017 december 29
THE ADVENTURE OF A WORK
This is the story of a small installation by Ygreck, inspired by a small exhibition of containers by her friend Marian van Tol in the Hengelo Library, in a layered glass showcase near the entrance of the restaurant, as in a jeweller’s store.
Ygreck transformed the 4 layers into a discourse about identity, hot topic in The Netherlands as well. Top layer: title as well as key to the layers below. Next: two magazines, one in Chinese and one in Dutch (2 containers of concepts) covered with a portrait of Ygreck (The “I” in Identity). Below, the inspiration of this work, by Marian van Tol: a set of paper drawers, like the library catalog, making concepts searchable, creating order and dimension. Finally, base layer, a drawer opened – showing a set of concepts, as rocks in nature. Rocks that we need to build on. Naturally, the story is readable from the bottom up as well.
The fact that the installation was placed in the library – as context – was, of course, no coincidence.
Shown in the context of a shop, for instance, each layer would immediately disconnect itself from the discourse and become an individual invitation to happiness under condition of appropriation – buying.
Yet, the context of the restaurant works, in fact, as a kind of cross over, between library and shop, introducing the fight between delicacies and, again, isolating the concepts.
As a result and if we wish, we get to see the installation longing for a context that permits, or forces, each concept, each word, into a sentence. In fact the installation invents, or conceptualises its ideal context that would be something like a museum.
Nowadays the museum is often considered to be a place that one has to escape.
This work reinvents the museum as a place for ‘reading’, for consideration of identity as a story instead of a base for war and greed.
2017 april 2
Event of Ygreck’s Exhibition:
Culturele Zondag Enschede, Zin en Zonden
Why I made this painting? In early 2000s, I had back pain, needed to visit fysio. I asked that fysio:” What is the most interesting thing of your job?” He said: “Sometimes people forget they have a body.” I feel that is a beautiful sentence.
During the exhibition time, one of the visitors had quite some very sharp observation of my paintings. After 5 mintues chat, I politely asked him: “ I guess your daily job has nothing to do with computer, but … have something to do with human contact?”
He said, “I am a postman. Sometimes inside the envelop is good news, money, after they open the door, open the envelop, their face turn to a big happy smile. Sometimes it is bad news from the court, it is another story! Everytime when I rang the doorbell, waited outside, it always has a story going to happen!”
Yes, his job gives him a chance to oberve the human visual change.
He is more than a postman. In fact, a painter should also be a messager, bring a message to the receiver, and spread the message toa wider market.
2016 september 25
Event of Ygreck’s Exhibition: 25 Sep 2016 Culturele Zondag Enschede, Uitfestival
2016 september 6
九月,荷蘭Hengelo 市立圖書館 “痛苦與競賽” ｡ 沒有畫展開幕儀式, 但特別的單簧管閉幕演出是卻讓人餘味無窮｡安德烈,我的鄰居好友, 著名國際單簧管好手, 東荷蘭愛樂樂團首席單簧管家｡ 三年前的眼疾奪走大半的視力, 他必須辭去古典樂團, 轉往即興現代風領域發展｡ 八年前的柏林馬拉松, 他跑三小時二十分｡還清楚地記得,五年前, 他完成三小時十二分的馬拉松佳績後, 我邀他與另個朋友週日早上一起長跑｡ 當時他调侃地說:”我老弟的成績是二小時五十八分, 他頂緊張沒多久我會超過他!”
跑步痛苦尊榮是這次畫展的視覺出發點, 他看到自己喪失大半視力後, 現在身處的肉身苦戰｡ 輕輕憂愁的單簧管應可以從荷蘭直傳到台灣, 你聽到他的低沉轉音後尊榮了嗎? 沒有經過痛苦磨出的歡喜戰鬥, 是有點無聊做假, 當生命無處可退, 這時聖戰號角也為你響起, 你聽到了嗎?
聽到很多不同的回響, 最讓我哭笑不得的是, 一位荷蘭朋友稍了電子郵件給我: ” …我們很喜歡你這次畫展, 畫風淋漓盡致, 配合你精心挑選的詩句 , 吸引力更強 ｡”
精確地說, 我不高興的程度是大於哭笑不得的心情｡ 這麼一字一淚寫下的字句, 我的字句,竟被他當成是去外面找來別人寫的字片! 如果照這邏輯,這些字是找來配畫,那麼這些掛在牆上的畫, 也可以說成: ”畫作色彩精彩,讓這個全荷蘭票選最佳圖書館的牆壁不會這麼無聊空洞!”
到底這些文字是怎麼生出來的? 用畫筆說故事時, 我常覺得,有想”寫”下那些感覺的衝動｡這種畫面帶出文字的互動 ｡ 幾年前,剛好次恰恰相反:1996年我開始寫,在台灣也集結出了書｡那時,面對電腦螢幕磨字時常覺得, 花這麼多時間描繪故事背景光線的溫度感覺….真累人,很想”畫”下那些感覺｡ 這次畫展的作品, 到底是畫面先, 或是文字先? 一點也不重要,反正它們是手牽手一起產生的｡最重要的是,畫與文字都我是我的作品, 它們是我的控訴,我對自己的心理治療｡ 反過來,它們對我產生的啟發, 讓我有更多理由看清台灣血液給我的是什麼成分, 也讓我與自己的過去可以坦白歡喜相看｡
My exhibition ‘Pain and the games’ had no opening ceremony;
Instead it had a very special closing performance by André Kerver, an internationally famous clarinet player, soloist with the East Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra. He also ran the Berlin Marathon in 3:20. Three years ago he was joking that his brother, whose marathon PR was 2:58, began to worry.
But not long after that, he suddenly lost most of his eyesight, and now he is fighting with his body to regain his music as an improvisational artist. His music, inspired by h my paintings and is own history was a painful honor: his melancholic clarinet music should be able to pass from the Netherlands to Taiwan.
Can you hear how it feels to be forced with your back against the wall, to fight against emptiness? Can you hear the holy war horn ?
I wasn’t sure, in September after my exposition whether to cry or to laugh after a visitor’s friendly comment on the expressive power of the paintings and the good combination with ‘well chosen’ poetry.
To be honest, I was closer to anger and crying: these are my words, my sentences, but were read as if written by somebody else. In fact these words were painted by me as a part of my creation of the paintings. These words arose from the painting work, out of the movement of the brush.
It felt as if someone would comment on this Hengelo library (recently chosen as the best library in the Netherlands), that the colors of the paintings did wonders for its boring walls…
Some years ago, in 1996, I was devoted to writing books in Taiwan, in front of my computer screen, I felt like loosing time describing images and light that should be painted. The question whether words or image come first is irrelevant; they go hand in hand, they are my accusation coming forth from my personal introspection into the meaning of my Taiwanese blood. Through working on these words and the paintings I discover my inspiration of life and the ability to gaze at my past.
2016 august 20
A very friendly review in our Dutch newspaper. However, it is also a very shocking experience to feel how the world of runners differs from the rest of the world: Under my painting “Mad, on my four legs” the paper writes: “The nerve-racking seconds before the starting shot”… Anybody with any knowledge of running will see immediately that this moment can never be just before the starting shot… very interesting.
2016 July 6
人的一生有多少個人四年? 世界級體育好手摩拳擦掌, 不能太早, 不能太晚, 體能的巔峰就是要設定在取得進級的二O一六年初夏, 與八月的巴西里約熱內盧ₒ 大家撕殺競逐的目標是, 超越人類肉體, 技巧與意志力的最終極限ₒ
東荷蘭亨厄洛市的圖書館曾在二O一一年, 打敗個全荷蘭各大城圖書館, 票選為軟硬體最優秀的圖書館ₒ 配合奧林匹克熱戰, 八月五日至二十五日期間, 亨厄洛市圖書館特地邀請駐荷台灣畫家徐世怡, 展出一檔震撼所有運動迷深處的 ”痛苦與遊戲” 重量級系列ₒ
徐世怡, 出生台灣花蓮, 目前住於荷蘭恩斯赫德市(Enschede) ₒ 七場西歐馬拉松比賽: 巴黎文森, 法蘭克福, 漢堡, 鹿特丹…讓她以獨特四十二公里路跑體驗各大城市風土故事ₒ 台大土木研究所碩士畢業後, 轉往比利時魯汶大學取得建築碩士, 回台後曾出版四本以城市觀察, 克羅埃西難民營, 衣索比亞NGO工作經驗的文學作品ₒ
去年二O一五年十月阿姆斯特丹馬拉松運動展覽會場, 超過四萬名, 來自世界一百零五個國家路跑運動迷, 目賭到徐世怡 “撞牆的尊容” 畫作 ₒ 雖然有人故意輕描淡寫地說自己不懂繪畫, 對徐世怡而言, 看到運動迷面對她畫作的驚訝眼光, 下巴下墜, 她並不太意外 ₒ出乎她意料之外的是與, 阿姆斯特丹馬拉松主要贊助單位塔塔TATA集團總裁Natarajan Chandra的見面交談ₒ 塔塔TATA集團也是紐約馬拉松主要贊助單位 ₒ 他在層層保全戒護下進入有點擁擠的畫展, 拿出手機拍下徐世怡的背景簡介離去ₒ 二十分鐘後, 徐世怡畫品簽名海報的送到他手上, Chandra打開的話題從徐世怡最驕傲的柬埔寨吳哥窟文學歷史作品開始ₒ 事後她上網看Chandra 先生的背景, 才發現這位影響全球鋼鐵市場的印度總裁本身也是馬拉松跑者ₒ 他就像所有的路跑迷一樣, 知道徐世怡色塊下說的是什麼用生死都不能換的大感情ₒ
在徐世怡的這次展的畫品, 運動員飽受苦難ₒ 低頭跪地, 喘噓激戰, 初看或許要以為他們是戰火下的受難者ₒ 但他們享受折磨的決心這麼厚硬, 肉身又如此精準完美, 讓人也難以分辨他們是容耀的苦主, 還是外太空降世的超級第一名ₒ
”痛苦與遊戲” , 是個在八月在荷蘭發生的畫展ₒ 徐世怡, 是個在台灣接受教育長大工作, 旅居外地的典型勤奮 “台式華人” ₒ 藝術有國界嗎? 運動有國界嗎? 這畫展會讓你的二O一六年巴西里約熱內盧奧林匹克感動痛得更深, 懂得遊戲輸贏的細緻風景ₒ
For athletes, the count down to Rio has started:
to peaking, not too soon, not too late.
This is the time of Olympus,
the hunt for the limits of human capacities.
The Hengelo Library presents5-25 August a special exhibition”Pain and the Games’ paintings and poetry, For everyone who loves sports
Taiwan-born painter Ygreck Shyu has run 7 marathons among which Paris-Vincennes, Frankfurt ,Hamburg, Rotterdam … and of course in Enschede, where she lived and worked for over 10 years now
In her paintings athletes suffer , they triumph, they kowtow, … their suffering is delicate, luxurious. At first glance they may look like war victims, but in fact they enjoy pain, proud after crossing their limits, in the pack of glory victims.
Last year, in October, 40,000 participants from all over the world visited her exhibition at the Amsterdam marathon. Even runners who considered themselves “culture blind” met these paintings and texts with glittering eyes and falling jaws , as expected. Runners understand runners. And, if by chance a runner is also a painter, running becomes more than a hobby.
For Ygreck, organizing the exhibition and including activities with it, is an honorable challenge. This library was elected in 2011 as best library in the Netherlands. In this modern building, the library is not a dusty room, no storehouse of bindings; in Hengelo, the library is able to offer excitement and fun into the lives of citizens.
2016 june 12
*What: the Opening of the exhibition..”Pure Tradition. Contemporary Chinese art from Dalian大連”.
* On the 31 May 2016, I met with Mr. Wei Wang, and his group of artists who are exhibiting in the Enschede National Museum (NL) at the moment. Mr Wang is head of the Museum for Art – project in Dalian and Dalian and Enschede are sister-towns. The exhibition to me is an interesting product of the politics that result out of cultural and of course economic relations.
Mr Natarajan Chandrasekaran (“Chandra”), CEO of The Amsterdam Marthon’s main Sponsor TCS, and Ygreck, visiting my gallery at the expo. Mr. Chandra is a marathon runner himself.
“…Congratulation on the very successful presence of your very inspiring art exhibition at the TCS Amsterdam Marathon this year. We enjoyed it very much.
Chief Communications & Marketing Officer
Tata Consultancy Services Europe”
This was a unique presentation of a small art-gallery at the expo connected to the Amsterdam Marathon 2015. Over 40.000 international runners visited this expo, many of whom visited the art-expo. Is was very interesting to see how these runners did really understand what this art is about, could empathize withe these paintings and even identify with them, children not excepted. These paintings, many of which seem to touch on despair, frustration, defeat and injury as well as victory, touch the core of the experience of marathon running. It was clear that it takes the experience to understand, and this made the expo in this particular frame very different from an expo in a normal art-gallery or a museum.
Ygreck Shyu (徐世怡), painter, born in Taiwan, shows work from the project ‘A privilege to hit the Wall’ on the occasion of the Amsterdam Marathon 2015.
She did so in a pop-up gallery, inserted in the Expo that accompanies the Marathon, as Expo’s nowadays have become intrinsic to all main marathons.
They are markets: runners, coming in for registration, will find every necessary accessory a runner needs: the newest shoes, luminous shoe-laces, electronics and GPS-systems, runners’ fashion latest, etc. These markets however, do not only show the latest products, they also, maybe even especially, show the runners themselves.
Runners do not look merely at stuff, but first and foremost, at each other. They estimate each other’s BMI, and carelessly drop the number of marathons they have been running before, when chatting about water bottles and leggings. Here they are at home, maybe more than anywhere else. This is the place where this exposition will offer runners an intriguing mirror for all serious runners – and all marathon runners are serious.
Here, in this market, Ygreck showed and sold her work: images of runners – exhausted, defeated, winning; the hunters of our days, of our culture.
Ygreck, fascinated by muscle, meat, hormones, is researching the disappearing borders between an elitist leisure industry and universal instincts of hunting and flight, between virtual status and real life sugar deficits and dehydration.
Ygreck comments on her painting ‘A White Day’ .
It is part of the project ‘ A Privilege to hit the Wall’ (撞牆的尊榮)
April, 2015, A morning I will not forget. A city, full of energy. What kind of energy?… Dare to create new trend, Fun-loving, Share, Dare to show the Arrogance (in the Markthal), Rude, Competitive, Want to live, Want to win.
2015 January 10
My essay “The marching Song of Soul Calling: my Frankfurt Marathon” was published in the Taiwanese on-line magazine “Sports Note”
主唱者「與大 風一起對天空控訴」的硬嗓音色，聲聲打進我的腦殼…，我宛如看到…他對著我們、衝著天際在招魂。如果女兒選擇跳河終止生命；如果親人空難落海，屍首無從找…我們相信，招 魂的儀式可以引導魂魄回家，投胎轉世。
2014 September 8
My essay “原諒一個巴黎：我的巴黎文深馬拉松故事”(Forgive A Paris – on the Paris Vincennes Marathon) was published in the Taiwanese on-line magazine “Sports Note”
2014 August 23
My essay “一個都市間諜的漢堡馬拉松” (An Urban Spy – on the Marathon Hamburg) was published in the Taiwanese on-line magazine “Sports Note”
都 市存亡教戰手則其中一條就是：謹慎善用你的微笑。曾有個聰明的資深女演員這麼轉述導演要她入戲的要絕：「沒事別老掛著微笑 」。微笑不是壞事，微笑多了也不見得就會變傻，但你可以試看看，在大都市與陌生人四目相對，附加個微笑。如果地點與時段不對，再加上衣著失算，你頂有可能 被當成在街頭拉客的賣春女，或是賣大麻非法香煙的友善無賴。
2014, april 17
Innocent Dogs, Guilty Runner
What is the best friend of human beings? Food? Mirror? Dog?….., the cliché answer should be: ‘dog’. Dog is supposed to be loyal to her owner. Most of the time, it does not fail. It is nice to have a ‘friend’ who does not criticize you, just keeps a loyal interactive relationship with you. It is no wonder dogs are not only invited to live inside human society, even live inside people’s house.
My urge of understanding of dogs is not based on the adoration (or condemnation) of dogs, but is from the very need of keeping vigilance in order to avoid unpredictable hazard. Running in the streets, dogs are the living creatures I will be confronted with, sometimes. After making mistakes and conscious observation, I have tried to implant a concept in my brain in order to enhance my ‘street wise’ level: ALL the dogs are innocent; no matter what may happen, no matter it is a balanced dog or an aggressive dog, no matter it is a big size meaty dog or a tiny baby dog. They are born to use sharp teeth to eat, to bite, to play, to protect their territory by playing body language.
As a runner, the favorite type of dog that I would like to be confronted with is: when they see me, they just do not give me a second glance. They do not adore me, they neither look down on me, they simply do not care about my existence. I really love this kind of creature: follows his instinctive devotion, devotion to his exploration with his legs, physically. Simple-minded, tunnel vision, no shame to dig out the down-to-earth true happiness he appreciates. He minds his own business, I do my job, we do not need to play the fake power game in the street. He is a balanced dog, so he does not need to bite me; I (think I) am a mature human, so I leave my shelter to explore the surrounding. Two happy animals meet in the street at a safe distance, isn’t that a heaven-like picture?
Dogs do have the angel quality, but when some dogs see runners, the predator’s gene may be triggered. Legally, dogs can still keep their innocent label, no matter how they behave. The excuse is: they are born this way, ‘responsibility’ does not exist in their dictionary. If something happens, then who should be guilty? Dog’s owner or the runner?
* * *
Last summer was hot for quite some weeks. One day, I chose to train in a quiet road having about 800 meter length of shadow. From a distance, I could see an old lady walking slowly with her small dog. Wind breezing, she let the dog freely sniff without a leash. When the distance between me and the dog became shorter and shorter, the dog got more and more excited. Dogs are non-verbal, her excitement in a breezing hot summer shadow was also beyond what words could express….Imagine we let the musicians all drink two cups of coffee, then play Mozart music. How the melody jumps to the ceiling would be described as the cadence of that hyper happy dog.
Bright eyes shining, four little legs springing in the air, obviously the dog was convinced that I had initiated the love game and was running to play with her.
Breathlessly I said to the lady “alstublieft” (please). I meant to ask if she could recall her dog, it would stop the misunderstanding. To my surprise, this lady had no intention to stop her dog, but murmured: “Als je stil staat…” (If you stand still…)
At that day, the 6 times 800m interval was my interval training homework- every second counts, I was competing with myself. I did not want any set of 800m to be less(or more) than the other 800m. I wanted my body to learn the feeling of control, to feel my body just like a Swiss watch. It was really a very exciting training afternoon. When the lady replied to me with that sentence, I completely had not a second to think what it would mean. Running without obstacle was my only selfish thought. Words, logic, were too complicated for a sweaty machine to digest.
* * *
It took me some minutes to understand this thoughtful line: If I just calmly walked and did not run, her dog would not get excited, then I did not need to ask her to stop her dog. It implied, her dog’s nerve got aroused by a runner, it was normal. If this runner feels this normal dog’s reaction is problematic, in this lady’s thinking, this runner should solve this problem herself by standing quietly, NOT RUNNING.
Sometimes you can see small kids wanting to play with a dog, but when the dog chases after them, they get afraid and instinctively want to run away from the dog. The emotion of the kids goes from happy to fear, and an adult may try to teach the kids: “if you stand still, the dog would not chase after you. He just wants to play, he would not bite, stand still. It would be OK…”
I guess that lady’s sentence was based on this kind of experience and context. I did not feel her talking tone had any negative feeling towards me, it sounded more like a senior person who responses to a summon of help.
* * *
The scorching heat radiating from the drought landscape, the dense smell of the green shadow recalled a memory from the time I grew up. That was in Taiwan. Every summer afternoon, in the same kind of heat, that I (a teenager) wanted to go out to bike, or just go out of the house, my family (my neighbors, the schools, the village… the state) would tell me, “a good girl is not supposed to be outside. So many cars outside, so many bad people outside, why not stay home?”
If a girl fell from the bike, or got a bully from street boys, the parents could use this chance to teach the girl, “Look! outside is so dangerous, if you stay at home, you would not be so sad as now.”
Based on this logic, I have learned to do a spontaneous self-censoring job: “if I keep quiet, if I am good, trouble will not come to me, and I am going to be fine for the rest of my life.”
I can’t say that ideology is completely foolish, it grew at that time in that land, it has its cultural political context.
* * *
“In order to be human, we need to leave comfort zone.” It is a motto, most of the runners will know what that means, in terms of heart beat zone, aerobic and anaerobic zones. Pushing the ‘threshold’ boundary smartly with mathematical help, then we can be comfortable in a zone that, before, we felt uncomfortable with.
On a philosophical level, we also have a ‘comfort zone’ in our thinking style. This is a package of ideology that we use to explain things and to behave ourselves. The ideology can be injected from our social surrounding and implanted in the history. And the tricky part is, we would also spontaneously develop a coherent thinking package to dictate ourselves. As such, we would not feel we were ‘forced’ to be a good person. In a rather natural way, we just think it is we who ‘choose’ to be a good person and to behave good.
* * *
It took me, a pumping runner, some slow minutes to absorb the sentence ”If you stand still… ” to my sweaty brain and grasp what was the message she wanted to tell me, concerning the matter of her excited dog.
It took me another long time to ask myself why I felt so ‘familiar’ with the ideology behind this sentence “if you stand still…”
* * *
In my high school curriculum (between 16 till 18 years old), each week we hady
to spend 2 hours to study Confucius literature, including: Lunyu (Analect of Confucius), Mengzi. The name of this subject was: “Chinese basic cultural material”. Comparing with the other subjects (mathematics 4 hours, Chinese language literature 4 hours, English 4 hours), Confucianism had its importance. Sitting in the classroom listening to the teachers preaching, reciting those Confucian sentences in order to get high score in the endless exams, I never had any thought that I was being disarmed for real life.
Sit still, study, pass exams, get a stable job, be a good citizen. Stand still, follow what your leaders say. This was what I was taught to behave, this was what I did, this was what I was familiar with…
In order to be human, a person has to leave his comfort thinking, to challenge himself, and challenge his society. In order to be human, I need to go out of my door, to run.
Running, for me, is an excuse to hang around in the outdoor environment. In some way, running is a revenge for me. A revenge through which I accuse the history that fooled me so long.
Running, for me, is a guilty pleasure. Why guilty? Because I am doing a thing that was supposed to be not appropriate for me. Why pleasure? Because I can own my body.
A dog, specially, an innocent dog, would never understand the essence of guilt and the revenge feeling.
2014, january, 2
A Zen story and my running
Once, a young Zen-student asked his big master “Big master, tell me what is the Dao of life? What is the meaning of life? please tell me, tell me.”
The master shows a very gentle smile to this pink-faced energetic young student. And said: “Look! do you see the mountain there?”
The student put his head up, made his neck long.
“Yes Master, I see the mountain is there”
“Yes. That is. First you see mountain is mountain. Water is water. OK, now go to the kitchen, clean the floor, feed the chicken, and prepare for dinner”.
During three years, this student grew up to be a rebellious young person, he challenged the authorities, and got injury all over his body because of sport. He was also interested in geography,science, and art. He was almost interested in everything, he wanted to learn everything and anything.
One day, this student caught a chance to talk to the master again: “Big master, you have not yet told me what is the meaning of life?”The old master pointed to the mountain and asked him:“Can you tell me what do you see now?”
“People can say it is a mountain, but for me, this is a combination of clay and gigantic stones. According to last years report, this area is polluted by the chemical factory, so in fact, this mountain is a source of toxics…..”
The young fellow could not stop to sell his knowledge. The master had to interrupt him and asked: “Do you think mountain is still mountain as you thought three years ago?”
The young fellow replied assertively:” No, absolutely not, mountain is more than a mountain, in fact, mountain can’t be only a mountain.”
“OK, now it is the time for you to clean you reading desk.”
Another three years passed by and the big master approached the young fellow asking him, “ Do you still search the answer of what is the meaning of life? What is the meaning of Dao?”
The young fellow showed a slight smile; “ I am still searching the answer, now I see the mountain is mountain, and water is water.”
In my journey of running, the beginning impulses were:
I want to run, I need to run, I love to run.
Let me out of the door,
running is my human right,
I want my human right NOW.
In that period, I see the mountain is mountain, running is running.
After a certain time, I started to establish some interesting subjects around running: racing tactic, eating for special body needs, running technique, critical ideas about the gender issue in a running group. I did not only want to put my one foot in front of the other, I also wanted to compete and to win over myself. You may say, it is another stage: “mountain is not mountain.”
This series of painting “A privilege to hit the wall” was born after a natural result: after 5 marathons in 5 years and numerous “social” regional races in Twente and Germany, some part of my body simply needed a break .
Originally the title of this series of paintings was “ what do I suffer for? What do I stand for?” During the recuperating period, I knew that the suffering caused by running, or by sport in general, is in fact a luxury.
The luxury of being healthy, but also the luxury of being socially enabled. To finish a marathon is also a statement to say what kind of people I am, what kind of pain I associate with. In some way, you may say once you define this kind of “social package”, you find your identity.
Before, people found their identity from their family, from their neighborhood. Now, in the global society, where people flow to the city, it is more and more difficult to find an identity, to know who you are: your identity changes all the time. You don’t work in a job for 20 years anymore, today you have a project, tomorrow you don’t have a project. Maybe you get rich, or suddenly you have to live on social security. People get more and more uncertainty, anxiety.
So the sport does not only give a good body, it also has the function to give mental health, it is not only to break limits, it is also to get proof of who you are; that is what daily life does not give anymore. Every day is the same boring, the same uncertainty.
If you see humans in the paintings, you feel they suffer in a very delicate, a luxurious way; superficially they may look like war victims, but in fact – you can not say they enjoy suffering, but you can say the pain is a little bit fake – although the pain level will be high. But if we ask what they suffer for, we may find out that in a way it is rather empty. For war victims, or for farmers, they suffer because they want to earn their daily bread. Somebody takes their property, their house, and they feel pain. We call that ‘the real suffering’ – that is the basic line: suffering.
But here, the runner suffers, you can say they ask for it, they are proud about it. In the paintings, the subjects may look like war victims, but in fact they are aware they are proudly in the pack of glory victims.
Glory from action, addicted to glory. If the glory is productive to the runner and the society, maybe there is nothing wrong with being a full-time hero.
The heaviest fighting is not only with your opponent, the tough struggle is not in the moment that you have to reject a cookie. Every superstar knows that to win, you should live in NOW.
2013, may, 6
Gravity : friend or enemy of a runner?
Nobody can release you from the power of gravity.
You don’t need to try to be a friend or enemy of gravity,
You even don’t need to have the intention to “live with it”.
It is like air, you don’t need to remind yourself you have to breath.
But you can learn be conscious about your posture, to have the ribcage open bigger,
Shoulders down, so you can take more oxygen and breath in a natural rhythm.
You can use gravity , you can forget about its existence,
But you would not deny it does have influence.
If you want to be a winner, a long time winner, not a gambler winner,
you know to put your energy and resources in a way to go with the gravity.
There may exist a fate which influences your winning and defeat;
does that mean your fate and genetic type is already decided, you can’t “turn the table”?
I do not know how much can we “go together or fight with the fate”,
but I do know you can enrich the right environment to let the “wanted fate” exist in your daily life
2013, march, 1;
What does “hit the wall” mean in running?
In endurance sports such as running, hitting the wall describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy. To make matters worse for the marathon runner, the brain’s production of dopamine (the neurotransmitter responsible for generating feelings of excitement, reward, motivation, and pleasure) begins to drop even as serotonin levels are rising, which can be the cause of mental voices saying “I can’t do it”. Unless glycogen stores are replenished during exercise, stores in such an individual will be depleted after less 24 km of running. (Wikipedia)
In a simple language, the feeling of “hit the wall” is: after long long hours of sport, the sugar level in your body is dropping, you feel tired, no energy, empty, can’t think, run slower and slower…
2013, january, 23
A White Day
2013, january, 1
The origin of this project on Running
In June 2004 – Crete Greece, from the bus window I saw a female elite athlete doing a road running (maybe preparing for the Olympic).
The elite female figure was like a summer afternoon thunder, straightly hitting into the memory part of my brain, pull out my childhood dream.
Painting, thought, running, racing, injury, research for physio information….are the consequence of this enlightenment moment.
At the opening of the exhibition 2000, in Galerie de Keizerskroon, Amsterdam,
2000, july, 22
Exposition of Watercolours and Pastels by
BROUWERSGRACHT 118, AMSTERDAM.