Archive for the ‘Skiing’ Category

New Kastle FX 84 Skis   Leave a comment

I’m gonna buy these sexy skis next weekend. Woo hoo!

FX 84.

Have you done any touring with them already? Please let me know how they ride!

Posted January 30, 2011 by R.H.H. Nisbet in Skiing

Feel the turn   Leave a comment

Trained it home from Verbier last night, after testing gorgeous Kastle skis. I want a new pair of planks, so I spent my test day being really attentive to:

how my turns initiated

how the skis carved

my body position, with respect to the fall line.

I love Lito Tejada-Flores Breakthrough on Skis, for understanding this kinesthetic process of writing on the slopes “All my skiers’s senses seem concentrated along the edge of my ski, and I love nothing better than to leave my signature… in a series of perfectly carves arcs”.

But for my journey to and from the pistes, I decided to read John Hartley Williams and Matthew Sweeney’s book, Writing Poetry and to follow some of their exercises in my notebook. As the train pulled out of Le Chable and headed down the valley, I was still dressed in my ski kit and my muscle memory was full up with ski sensations of anticipating, preturns, weight shifting and crossovers. I opened chapter 7 of Writing Poetry, titled “Visualizing“, and started to read Charles Simic’s poem “My Shoes”…

As I read, I could feel this amazing compression as I got to a line end. Things were happening to carve sense at each turn:

Shoes, secret face of my inner life:

Shoes, the container for feet – metaphorically signed as a secret face where experiences are pressed down and hidden away. A memories container surreally located at the other end of the body to the head.

Juxtapositions making unexpected sense built up anticipation in me, and at that colon on the first line I swung my eyes down and across the page wanting to know where  these shoes were going to take me…

Two gaping toothless mouths,

the image laughed at me like a Kermit the Fog joke; like beloved grandparents with unpronounceable stories; it made me think of Heidegger’s critique of Van Gogh’s painting of peasant shoes (The Origin of the Work of Art), and Morton’s critique of Heiegger’s critique (Ecology without Nature)… at which point the image had done more than enough to turn my head uphill into thoughts of similes and semantics, and my eyes swung downwards rushing into…

Two partly decomposed animals skins

Smelling of mice-nests.

This linked turn made for a volta. The shoes shape-shifted. Yet, were still faithful to the material origins of their original form, like powder snow transforming into névé.

But how?

This interrogation sent my body off into the second stanza:

My brother and sister who died at birth

Continuing their existence in you,

The shoes and the authorial feet they hold suddenly became a grotesque inheritance: two coffins, the size of babies. I turned in horror:

Guiding my life

to be embraced by hope: the stanza’s line by line additions of opposing emotion sublimated into:

Towards their incomprehensible innocence.

At the full stop, my eyes gripped the page, slid over the stanza break into the concrete-as-religion (?) of the next stanza – I navigated the stanza in tightly linked turns, and ricochetted off the final question-mark:

What use are books to me

When in you it is possible to read

The Gospel of my life on earth

And still beyond, of things to come?

We read the future from the past inscribed within the objects that surround and constitute us. Something totemic started to happen to my reading experience here: a substantive-spiritual piling up of immanent- transcendental- immanent- transcendental (maybe? The relation between these terms is my bug bear at the moment).

A questioning spills into the fifth stanza. In my mind’s eye I saw a film of a thin man in a jumper with holes in the elbows and too-short sleeves shuffling around his unlit living room to place his shoes on the mantle, as I read:

I want to proclaim the religion

I have devised for your perfect humility

And the strange church I am building

With you as the alter.

There is something lonely and scruffy about such a “strange church”. It calls to mind I friend of mine (I think he is in his late seventies) who was walking around with a piece of white artist’s sketch paper in his pocket last week. The date of a man’s death was written on it (17th of January, 2011) and the man’s name. It was written in blue biro. A scribble was below it. I wrote my email address down below all this information. I didn’t mention the marks above. Previously, we’d talked about how my friend felt simultaneously pinioned and betrayed by language when trying to accept death. He hates the management speak of “Je vais gerer ma mort” (I’m going to manage my death)…

In Simic’s poem I lost my grip at the full stop at the end of stanza four, and skidded into the next stanza out of control. Here, the words Simic landed me with were more helpful than the rave about Derrida’s deconstruction that I offered up to my friend a few weeks ago:

Acetic and maternal, you endure:

Sacrifice, sacrifice is what accompanies this being. (I translate for myself).

Kin to oxen, to saints, to condemned men,

This line feels like some graph plot, where enthalpy/entropy shifts cause an entity to change state, shifting from one form to another depending on the environmental conditions.

With your mute patience, forming

The only true likeness of myself.

Who follows us in our own shape shifting? Our most beloved, at the heart of our greatest loneliness and our most profound joy.(My head suddenly announces).

What an après-ski ride!

For the moment I’m bundling all this thought into William Ruekert’s comment “A poem is stored energy, a formal turbulence, a living thing, a swirl in the flow.” (“Literature and Ecology” , 108). To be unpacked.

Offski   Leave a comment

Back Wednesday.

Photo by Hannah Burrows-Smith (Ski Touring in the St Bernard’s Hospice area, 2009)

Posted January 24, 2011 by R.H.H. Nisbet in Skiing