Intermissions to flighted now

When I first started playing frisbee in the early 2000’s, I had no idea about it, in some respects I’ve still no idea.  I recall not being that enthusiastic but it was something my friends were playing, so I would go along to Clissold park in north London and play in the summer and really (and actually quite quickly) became smitten.

But its not the kind of ‘smite’ that’s obvious, its like a subtle prompting by the gesturing finger of the sky and the wind and the air, to let go of something in their directions, to let go towards the simplest of flights and aim at its connection with your fellow players.

Winters are like the time when the desert of the city is doubled, when the tumult of London’s hard edge skies make frisbee impractical for outdoor and those brief intercessions of a different kind of time, a different sense of time (along this route) are more receded.

The kind of ‘time’ I am referring to, is similar in mind to meditation, has a kin feeling with it, and yet is socially prefigured as a collectivity (although playing can often be in pairs and larger group games can have different forms, numbers of discs).  In its meditative aspects, it is something which involves the rhythmic and fluid becomings of the body, catching, moving and releasing become facets of the act which are at once both immanent (some retrievals require immediate action/lack of thought, to facilitate the edge of our envelope of possibility at that point) and also revealed as spaces to be seen and understood as ever-deepening worlds of the formations of an ‘action’ (the precise, singular compositions, timings and flows of a throw are thoughtless places of balances, nuance and environmental interaction).  These dynamics can take the experience of playing (when things are going well) and imbue it as a deep cultivation of something different.  Many games might involve sudden reading, pursuing, catching and throwing, but frisbee lends itself to a specific kind of smoothness in relation to air and sustaining lightness of flight which is a touch of the uncommon, this in turn leads the body in its transitive launching and its preparation for releasing the disc, as a doorway element of the disc’s flight itself.

At the point of releasing the disc, there is the hidden world of the ongoing connection to the flight as of holding one’s final release position.  In this way, the body is composed during the flight as a kind of ongoing connection, a continued facet of becoming with the flight of the disc, itself a composition of the relational and relative energetic worlds of air, temperature, motion and current (with the torsions, spins and trajectories of the disc).

These elements of realisation in play have very definite precursors among human traditions and the activity and actions of playing here can take on the aspect of a martial arts line of flight.  If not in the specific abstractions and formulations of systemic motions in practise, then in the motional, trans-liminal components of a fluency whose engagements are simultaneous between the body and the elements (bodies) of the earth and the sky and their very now-ness (how the wind blows, how the feet are positioned, balance in motion, how the body responds with the moment and the dynamics of release) and finding in that now-ness, deeper and different forms of connectedness.


Its also that there have now been a number of years in which I have been thinking about frisbee and those mysterious, silent, still aspects of it (when it is flight).  And when posing this thought to myself recently, I was struck in fact by a specific resemblance within the martial arts to kyudo, the Japanese martial art of archery.  I learned about kyudo and other martial arts as a transfixed and hypnotised child, in love with the suddenly revealed possibilities of the body.  In this regard, I came to understand kyudo as one of the Japanese martial arts most interposed with a concept of zen and its cultivations within practise.  Those elements most attuned in this way, to my feeling of frisbee as action that can lead to a forgetting of itself, with a counter-part motion for those playing it.   Bodily analogues within frisbee’s flighted world to Kyudo’s emphasis on becoming the target in the stillness of the moment and finding the optimal moment and stillness of the body for the release, a moment termed as finding oneself simultaneously.


What is also fascinating to me about this activity is its sense of time, or perhaps better put, the very untime of there being just a few seconds of movement then a void, watchful, affective sense of the disc in its flight, (variably) smooth arcing moments of distension, the quality and that which is imbued in its flight, before the question of its being received.

The reception that can take the form of the exceptional, in among the reading of the flight, bending, launching to reach and interact with it, intercept it.  At which point a kind of circuit is connected with a recognisable other, and of the return, when the relationship to the body of release becomes a matter fundamentally outside ourselves with which we connect in the same manner of form as that which is understood relative to our own actions and body, but which retains also this unknown tonal, frequential worlds of the other.

When there is a catch at the other point of the space, then the question of connection is there, how are we connected in this moment? Across a momentary travelling bridge of space, the space of air flows, itself a populated zone of activity and intercession and medium and the unknown.

There can be too, a cumulative effect across a rally or series of throws and catches, exchanges which are continuous and allow something like a plateau to be built, from which comes the consistent effect of the intensifying continuum of the flighted and during which the form, feeling and variety of the throws and catches define the qualitative sense of difference in possibility, something which can take us far out through the doorways of encountered and summonable possibility.

There is a slightly unfortunate cultural milieu for the popularising of the activity, broadly US west coast in its idiom or likewise dominated by the team sport of Ultimate (a bit like neball but with an endzone).  However, even with these things in mind, it is possible to see extractions of skill and possibility that can be transposed to other, more singular circumstances and approaches.

It is important to say also that there is no imparting of prescription or necessity in this writing about this activity, playing this game is about fun and that in itself is the threshold, that other possibilities might exist seems like the rest of life, among questions of exploration.

In terms of experiences that can be thought of as ‘out there’ one particular instance springs to mind.  When 7 or 8 years ago, playing frisbee on a searingly hot, beautiful Saturday with a friend.  A kind of glimmering, light-saturated, trippy and hypnotic day with sun ablaze, and as the channel of focus during play intensified, the wider, blazing  greens of the Park became seethingly replete with presence and intensity, bathed through a heat haze.  At a certain point, a backhand throw curved outward and back in a tight arc towards my friend, I watched it sail quickly to the shoulder height edge of my friend’s range.  I watched as he reached out to his left to make the catch, the disc in that moment skipping back out off his open palm continuing its flight.  At that precise moment, I also fancied I ‘saw’ the shape of a dog made of electricity arriving exactly as my friend missed the catch, the dog ‘caught’ the frisbee instead in that moment, even while I watched it sail on.  It occured to me at that point that in energetic terms, it could be thought that in the wideness of space and spaces, no energetic opportunities are missed.

Incursive aspects of the interplane.  Flighting aspects to the outerplane.

*                               *                              *