Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Durkheim revisited...

Durkheim’s notion of Organic Solidarity, the Zatopek Effect, and a novel method for Men coping with Hyperhidrosis.

The following is a quasi-pseudo-academic effort at conjoining three vague, misunderstood concepts with recent events surrounding the running of the 7th annual Arrowhead 135…Note: The author is delusional and ill-equipped for serious contemplation, but does NOT present a danger to himself or others unless forced to go without ingesting well-crafted ales for significant periods of time.

Part I: Emile Durkheim, the noted sociologist and consultant to the DBD, is a major proponent of structural functionalism in all forms of bike racing. He shuns runners (and especially triathletes), calling them dysfunctional “dandies” and the like. Thus, in his view, snow-bike racing, in its purest, most elemental form, is a holistic, decidedly organic phenomena whereby each participant is caught up into a vortex of forces, many of which are beyond his or her control. Think to what extent a gall bladder has control over a reckless larynx? In other words, Durkheim, after a few hearty stouts and a Cuban cigar, maintains that snow-biking at its essence is an occurrence attributed wholly to the event-at-large, rather than being limited to the specific actions of individuals. He holds that the individual is a kind of specific organ made up of differentiated cells within an interrelated, complex, and organic mother-board (i.e. brain, heart, lungs, think “vital” organs). Furthermore, Durkheim submits that in a long race of endurance, rather than speed, such as the Arrowhead, the racers are relegated to integral parts of a single functioning organism whose job is to finish the 135 miles in some semblance of the original "self." Or in other words, the goal is to get the most important part of the whole (the Vital Essence of the Organism or "the self") across the finish line. In a race exhibiting this degree of interdependence amongst the participants, its cohesion and integration comes from the homogeneity of individuals—people that feel connected through similar passions, educational and religious training (clarity through suffering), and affinity for beverages derived from fermented grains and self-sacrifice. The author agrees with Durkheim’s assessment, but only insomuch as to the part about the gall bladder feeling helpless in itz efforts to control a rogue larynx. In other words, being exterior to the individual person the overall “organism” can exercise coercive “peer-like” power over the various peoples composing the racers. Just as the epithelial cells compel the reluctant brain to ingest grain alcohols, the faster, more motivated, more fit riders exert their will over the less inclined riders. Durkheim called this tangled web, “anomie.”
Such is the events leading up to the first checkpoint of this year’s Arrowhead…Not unlike the comprehensive human body, when stressed beyond the normal parameters of homeostasis, the “Organism” may be compelled to sacrifice the less vital aspects of the body for the sake of glory, eventual accolades in the form of improved breeding opportunities, sponsorships, bragging rights, and expensive local brews, etc... Such is the reasoning behind the ebbs and flows of the “lively” peloton during the recent Arrowhead. The peloton is a perpetual filtering system designed to reward both mental and physical prowess, whilst casting off the weakened and diseased parts, think of it in the same way as one thinks about the liver after a long night of libations. The Organism “sheds” the less fit cells in a purely amoral, biologically indifferent, rational gesture. The author was one of these less fit cells, cast off (with others) as The Organism sped onward from the Gateway Store. Such is the way of things, nature’s plan…As the living, breathing organism left me to my inevitable fate I smiled as I knew that I was part of the plan…the overall scope of things. I was part of the elimination phase of the “Circle of life!” This thought buoyed me as I rode the remainder of the race alone with my thoughts. Content in my place within the scheme of things, my thoughts turned to the late great Emil Zatopek.

The Nihilists would have you believe that this is all nonsense, and that it matters not and yet you continue to read— such is the inherent tragedy of our brief interlude together here on terra-firma!

Part II: Emile Zatopek was famous for intense training day after day, all the while laughing and smiling, whilst his training partners quietly wept at the pace and intensity. Killing himself progressively a little bit more with each ever more intense training session was the hope of his competitors and partners alike. He did not believe in training slow. In fact, he is often credited with being among the first endurance athletes to train with very intense intervals day after day. This apparently helped to propel him to 18 world records and five Olympic medals. In the 1954 Helsinki Olympics he won the 5000- and 10,000-meter races breaking the Olympic records at both distances. Then he decided at the last minute to run the marathon, which he had never done before. He also won it, again breaking the Olympic record.

In 1950 he was training for the European Games when he became seriously sick shortly before the competition. He was hospitalized and spent several dayz flat-out in bed. Two days before the Games, which then were second only to the Olympics in status, he was released from the hospital. Against the advice of his doctors, he raced both the 10,000 and the 5,000 meters. Despite having not trained for several weeks he won both races, lapping the field in the 10,000 and winning by 23 seconds in the 5,000. In each race he ran the second-fastest time ever recorded for the distance. And this was four years before his career peak.

In a similar manner, I’ve known of athletes in a variety of sports to develop a slight injury, a roaring hang-over, or become sick (or all three) days or weeks before a competition and yet have a personal-best performance. They were forced to rest. This physical anomaly has been coined the “Zatopek effect.” Sometimes the body must say “enough” in order to regain form….a forced rest can produce a fully rested competitor ready to perform at a peak level.

During the first annual running of the Tuscobia 150 miler last December, the author became incredibly sick, injured, and hung-over (and unloved) and thus was able to only train at a very limited volume leading up the Arrowhead 135. His much better than anticipated finish at this year’s Arrowhead can thus be partly attributed the “Zatopek effect” as well as his astute understanding of Durkheim’s work (supplemented with copious intake of Bell’s Hopslam Ale). But enough about this bit player, the real practitioner of Zatopek Dogma is the writer’s training partner and second place finisher at this year’s Arrowhead. He simply does not train slow and he does not rest (ever) and all the while, he maintains the most amicable of temperament. It is both maddening and delightful to behold. To be honest, before coming to understand Durkheim’s work, the essayist secretly held out hope that the youthful Zatopek-like zealotry would backfire on his training partner, that the full-throttled approach to training would bring about a cataclysmic bonk and that such an end would provide a lesson to the zealot, that the older, feeble one could lecture the stronger on the importance of rest and tempered training schedules. But alas some organs are “more equal” than others, some organs are destined for greatness while others are used for elimination purposes. Yet there is comfort in knowing one’s place in the universe.

The Nihilists would have you believe that this is all nonsense, and that it matters not for we are all doomed, and yet you continue to read, such is the paradox of our existence!
Part III: How the Man-diaper saved the life of a North Dakotan. Men drink and Men sweat. Excess moisture invites the cold and even more troubling, chapping in the nether region that houses the naughty, albeit hyper-sensitive bits. Whilst drinking is evolutionary perfection, sweating and chapping are flaws in the Darwinian system. Men of intellect attempt to rectify flaws in nature. There are basically two camps of intellectuals that attempt to counteract these flaws in nature; 1.) the unfeeling, robotic scientists that are committed to concerted protocols based on methodology; and 2) the North Dakotans that are motivated by the commercial production and application of the sugar beet. As alluded to above, Durkheim proposes that we are just differentiated cells interacting, and at varying degrees, dependent upon each other in order to achieve a holistic organic mission (i.e. at least one rider finishing the Arrowhead). He does not hold that this organism is in perfect harmony or that we are to be expected to sit back and take it all without a fight. Although the Nihilists would have you believe that it is our collective duty to contend with chapping in the nether region (even invite and celebrate chapping), Durkheim (and the author) believe ardently that it is our job as creative beings to attempt to alleviate chapping. Thus the innovative Man-diaper was designed to take on this fatal flaw in nature. Winter racing in Northern Minnesota is a challenge, especially in terms of regulating heat and cold and sweat. The eyes freeze, the toes freeze, whilst the crotch and back are hot and sweaty saunas. The man diaper rejects conventional “scientific” thinking that one should shroud himself in hi-tech breathable material. Instead the man-diaper accepts the flaw of nature, the brilliance of the sugar beet, and works with the sweat produced by the cyclist. As the racer races, the sweaty fluids (filled with electrolytes and other vital minerals) are captured/absorbed into the heavy cotton liner, gravity forces the performance-enhancing fluids downward into specially designed receptors at the base of the diaper, tucked comfortably (and out-of-sight) in the nether region. Once the receptors are filled to the brim, the competitor simply squeezes the fluids (as a manservant squeezes a bar rag) into his/her camelbak (or the like), supplementing and enhancing the hydration process. One can “cycle” through this process indefinitely.
When Durkheim was invited to witness the product-in-action, he wept tears of joy and then proclaimed, “My work has finally been applied to the betterment of mankind!” Such is the basis for a new kinder world…


  1. "His words ring with such infinite truth and he holds such a deep grasp of the human condition, I was brought to my knees, weeping...I used my man-diaper to collect the tears." From his work, THE GENIUS...
    S. Freud

  2. Imagine if Zatopek would have had the modern benefits of the Man-Diaper?!!!

  3. If Zatopek were alive today, he'd smack those dopers in the face with a dirty diaper.