Mieux Sauter

This morning I was (as usual) casting about for excuses to avoid running, and the best I could come up with was a generally unsettled feeling in my stomach, and of course my general disinclination to run.

At about two-thirds of my mile, though, my legs were feeling limber and I wasn’t entirely winded, so I shook loose and took two or three actual running steps*, the kind I see other people doing and have not yet myself been able to accomplish. Not, that is, till this morning! Now, that used up so much energy and oxygen that I couldn’t keep up my usual pace thereafter, much less the springy running pace I had just attained — but a few real running steps is more than I had been able to reach up to now. And taking even just a few running steps improved my overall time to 10:24, a nice step forward.

Still plenty of work to do on my breathing/oxygenation — I’m the world’s gasping-est runner — but I do see progress, and that’s enough for me to continue running despite my deep visceral repulsion from this exercise.

* By ‘running’ here I mean that sort of step wherein your thigh rises above my typical jogging-y angle (just a little different from a walking step, only taken a bit faster).

No ‘Re-’ Title

The weather this morning was more chilly than Sunday; I rolled my ankle slightly at the elbow of James Street, and my breathing was laboured, my legs felt heavy. I felt more like breaking stride at some point than I have in weeks. Thus I expected that my time today would turn sharply to the worse. As it turned out, my time was 10:36, so only a few seconds longer than last go.


I set a brisk pace this morning, and that was okay for almost a half mile, but my calves began to resist as I turned off the Iffley Road, so I dialled my pace down for the rest of the mile. Overall, it was a good morning, and my time was 10:30 (my timer will say 10:33, but I was having a hard time finding and hitting the Stop button). (Parenthetically, isn’t it odd that the very, very short interval that it takes you to find and hit the Stop button feels twice or three times as along as it actually takes?

Ok, make it 10:31.

Back At It

This morning’s run went fine. My breathing was rough, but I was pushing my pace, so I have to expect to get winded. The run took 10:33, which gets me back squarely at the sort of pace I ran when I was going all out and taking two or three breaks, so that’s definitely progress.

Endorsement, No Declared Interest

Adele E. Goldberg’s Explain Me This provides further evidence that scholars in biblical interpretation, especially but not exclusively those who pay attention to hermeneutics, should keep at least one toe in the waters of linguistics and semantics. Her index includes only passing reference to names that a few biblicists would recognise as pertinent to their work (Austin, Wittgenstein, Halliday, et al.), so most of my colleagues would have no immediate reason to acquaint themselves with her work — but practically every page touches on aspects of the actual work that biblical specialists conduct.

My strongest recommendation (no specific interest, though the Amazon link would give me a kickback).

Grief, Behaviour, Criticism

In the aftermath of the cataclysmic massacre in Christchurch, several reports have called attention to groups of people performing a haka to express sorrow, solidarity, frustration, and various other powerful affects. This raises a variety of noteworthy topics for reflection (cultural appropriation and exoticising/affect tourism, for starters), but this morning I’m moved to raise the question of the ways a haka appears in British (and American?) journalism to the ways other expressions of ritualised affect might be reported. A procession and requiem Mass, for instance, is a marginal phenomenon in neoliberal, post-Christendom England — not unheard of, not exotic, but nonetheless something most of the audience would perceive to be done by a them rather than an us. What other social constructions of ritualised affect (public wailing) might appear in such contexts, and how are these reported and received? What sorts of derision, appreciation, curiosity, dismissal emerge from which social constituencies?


It was the breathing this morning — ragged and desperate — partly (I expect) because it’s colder this morning, and partly because I set a more demanding pace for myself. This reminded me how little I like running. Still, it had a positive result, as I pushed my mile (without break) time back down to 10:39. I don’t think I’ve combined a full-mile run with that good a time, and I don’t care to look back at previous times to check. However you slice it, it’s a favourable sign about increasing fitness, and as much as I dislike running, being more fit balances that out.

First Day of Vac

I think I ought to be able to publish my annotations to other people’s works as [non-]independent works. I imagine the posthumous publication of The Collected Post-It Notes of A. K. M. Adam, in thirteen volumes.

On a more serious note, it’s only 14:30 on the first day of the Easter vac, and I’ve already done more academic thinking than in the whole term up to now. I so crave this liberty, this range of possibility; and it’s so exciting to resuscitate my capacity to do it.

Truth, Falsity, and Making Oneself Understood

In Rowan Williams’s The Edge of Words, he cites George Steiner to the effect that modern accounts of truth provide little insight into falsity (p 45). I’m open guard when I see scholars expressing themselves about language and truth and falsity for a variety of reasons (very greatly as I respect Williams, and much as I acknowledge Steiner to be respected by people wiser than I). Perhaps the most important such reason involves my scepticism that we can know enough about ‘truth’ to credential us to deploy it as an analytic implement, but that goes hand-in-hand with scepticism that ‘falsehood’ itself illuminates much about the workings of language.

But here’s another basis for doubting the usefulness of this line of reasoning: the vast preponderance of the ways we use language don’t engage the binary of ‘truth or falsity’ in any but the most angential ways, and studying the was that language typically works in the overwhelming majority of uses based on the ways it works in certain unusual puzzling cases gets the cart so far ahead of the horse that they’re barely connected. Moreover, and especially, foregrounding forced binaries such as ‘truth vs falsity’ distracts us from giving an account of the ways people use language to get on among one another, wherein ontological problems simply don’t (in the idiom) signify.

Against the Wind

Most aspects of this morning’s run were agreeable enough — no part of my body felt achy or unresponsive, my breathing was OK — but it’s very windy this morning, and at times the head wind practically stopped me in my tracks. I kept my stride for the whole run, though, which makes six in a row, and the time was 11:04 (could well have been under eleven minutes on a calm day).

It looks as though I havenb’t updated for several runs, though I thought I had. Just for the record, I ran about an 11:10 on Sunday, and we had a spell of bad weather for the previous three running days. On the whole, the strictly-winter days have been better for running than the transition-to-spring rainy, chilly mornings we’ve been having.


I missed several days’ running due to weather, health, and general wear and tear on my well-being. This was Eighth Week, and a variety of academic debts came due at the same time that I had particular errands and teaching obligations.

But most of those have passed, and this morning arrived grey and rainy, and a morning run had to happen. I made the whole mile run again without breaking stride — that’s five in a row — though my relative inaction (only, what? three runs in the last month or so) showed in my short stride and slow pace. No desperate physiological or pulmonary problems, though, so my 11:17 was predictable and not an especially bad sign. Anyone who’s been reading here will know that improvement should come moderately soon once my timetable settles in. Moreover…

(Had been left unfinished last week.)