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  • Writer's pictureMatthias Mayer

0&1 logic (Open Mic speech at FRBodensee Pk Festival)

Updated: Aug 19, 2022

Note: For all those who were at the FRB Festival (and also all those who weren't) and asked for the text. Here is my Open Mic contribution in written form and in English. By the way: the FRB Festival was the first real Parkour Festival and it was amazing.

Open Mic. Great danger. Very great danger. The danger of being unfunny. Or to put it another way: the danger of boring others. I'm exposing myself to that danger now, because quite unlike you, I'm just having a thrill at worst. And a thrill is better than boredom. Why is that? What is actually the difference? I would say quite simply: with a thrill at least something happens, with boredom nothing happens. You're just there. It's as if "just being there", existing, is nothing in itself. It's more like an alleged thing, a myth, nothing that's really relevant. Existence is more like a lame frame that needs to be filled with exciting delicacies! The plate on which you eat and which you have to annoyingly wash afterwards so that you can eat on it again. For us, existence is on a similar level of lameness as bureaucracy or brushing our teeth. These are actually appropriate examples, because bureaucracy and brushing one's teeth are both things that one does only to maintain this existence, in order to be able to fill it with some exciting thing, a something. So let's keep in mind: our relationship to existing is like our relationship to nothingness. And „nothing“ tends to be a negative word. When here someone is asked what he did yesterday and has to answer: "Nothing.", there is an oppressive aftertaste of guilt. As if one had missed out on experiencing something, some thing. But there is another way. "Just do nothing." is a phrase you hear again and again. Because that's what most people who have a normal job long for... so no one here. There's an interesting reversal going on here. So quite the opposite of most here in the audience, the something is not defined by activity, action, but activity seems to be the annoying nothing, while the "doing nothing" is the something that is supposed to brighten up the annoying everyday, bureaucratic existence. So people have different definitions of what they perceive as something, and what they perceive as nothing. And accordingly, their lives look completely different. While some see the something in very object-like things and strive for material goods, e.g. a Ferrari, a nice house etc., others chase after experiences, activities, adventures. This looks a little less object-like, a little less materialistic. But one can also see actions as limited objects: a certain combination of sequences of actions in space and time with a definite beginning and a definite end - like an object. This object stands in empty space, in nothingness, so to speak. And the action hunter chases after these isolated space-time packages like a Scrooge McDuck chases after money bags. Activity as a consumer good, so to speak. In such circles of the hyperactive, the rather old-fashioned term "Yolo" and the somewhat more modern "Fomo" are also known. Two terms that are closely linked and actually only express the fear of nothing. Yolo refers to cramming as many somethings as possible into one's few years. While Fomo describes the fear of missing out on something which is more of a something than the something you currently have. So for example: I should have had vanilla ice cream instead of chocolate... A rather harmless example. However. Everyone functions according to the binary something and nothing, the 0&1 logic. And everyone has different strategies for dealing with it. While the people on the fast lane, the daredevils, so to speak, try to concentrate all somethings at one point in order to experience the most somethingy somethingness - and often kick the bucket in the process - the rational person, or the realist, as he would probably call himself, pays attention to a balanced distribution of somethings, based on his statistical information. He tries to cover his life with a homogeneous though slightly transparent layer of somethingness. So one focuses on concentration, the other on constancy. And then there is the optimiser. He wants both. A high-performance hunter and collector. Using statistics, apps and online ratings, he tries to calculate the optimal combinations of somethings in order to keep the distances from one something to the next as short as possible. The aim is to fight through the grey mass of nothingness as quickly as possible in order to finally reach the next something-clearing. The life of the optimiser is stress. A board game that is so maxed out that any unexpected disturbance or delay leads to the collapse of the entire master plan. Like Deutsche Bahn, so to speak. But it also works with less performance. Those of you who might remember the German parkour boy band Move 2 Grove know that a nothing can easily be transformed into a something. You just have to smoke it out... like an evil spirit. But there's a catch here too: the problem is that it slowly and imperceptibly comes to a role reversal. The smoking out (sports cigarettes) becomes more and more the actual something, while the original something, the so-called actions, only degenerate into a kind of currency to earn the smoking out. Thus spontaneous action becomes compulsive activity, aptly summarised under the M2G motto "samabealnima" (which is an acronym meaning „doing things is better than not doing them.“) Every addict feels this. But then, besides the daredevil, the realist, the optimiser and the addict, there is another interesting group: nuns and monks. They have the biggest balls of all, in my opinion. For different reasons. They drop out of all stereotypical something-nothing definitions and seek their peace neither in physical objects (things) nor space-time objects (actions). Existence alone must become the only something for them. The thought of having to find the filling of one's existence, or the fulfilment of one's existence, behind four monastery walls should make everyone here shudder with yolo-fomo. In my eyes, these people are the most serious senders. Maybe I'm romanticising a bit here. Maybe they just sit in their closet and recite rosaries. Like some spiritual assembly line workers who hope to be able to afford a house in heaven one day and then finally have to do nothing. This world as nothing and the hereafter as something. So you see: the something/nothing problem does not stop at anyone. Yes, you can even see it in parkour. Don't worry, we're nearing the end, but I still have to squeeze in a Parkour metaphor, otherwise this text wouldn't be mine. The fear of nothingness is particularly evident in, let's call it modern freerunning, where spots are so plastered with tricks, that one has to speak of ground sealing. First, a distinction is made between movements that are something - tricks that have names, and movements that are nothing, and then there are two options: either you brutally cut out the nothing and hang one something seamlessly on the next, or if you don't have the puff for this high-performance performance, you add a bit of filler material in the form of loveless coffee grinders and didirolls. A bad weld. It feels as if the radio has no reception for a moment and the music is interrupted by an annoying hissing noise until the signal comes back. Nothing against the didiroll itself, by the way. It has just been instrumentalised by 0&1 logic. Today's norm freerunning tastes a bit like ketchup with extra salt, sugar, Maggi and nothing else. Any bad to mediocre art critic would recognise: the composition doesn't breathe! But, if you ask me, there is a glimmer of hope. There is a clearing in this forest of zeros and ones. To illustrate it with a Pk metaphor: With Renat Ardilanov - who was not known by many even in his time, because he didn't have that many somethings in his movement repertoire, e.g. he could hardly do a cork - the movements between the tricks have the same value as the tricks themselves. You can't really distinguish between trick and no-trick here. Divine Flow. It's obvious: in music you would never think of considering the short pause between the notes of a song as no part of the song. It applies to everything that we perceive as beautiful and perfect: it does not consist of zeros and ones, but only of a one. The internal distinction between 0 and 1 creates artificial objects that are - as objects are - limited, and thus inevitably separated from each other by empty space. This subtle 0&1 mentality that colours our entire perception has a name: Materialism - a philosophical stance that assumes that the essence of reality is of the nature of an object! An object whose beginning is called Big Bang and whose end is already dead certain. Before and after it comes nothing, no thing. Ladies and gentlemen, I did not want to bore you. I just wanted to tell you that every amoment of Parkour brilliance disproves the 0&1 logic and proves that the beginning of the end of all that begins and ends has already been initiated. Hallelujah.

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