Sunday, January 24, 2010

David Blaine

I watched this TeD video where the magician David Blaine explains how he broke the Guiness record of apnea by staying a little more than 17 minutes under water.

To me, this guy is more than a magician, and more than an athlete, he's a pure artist. His determination to push the human body beyond its clinical limits is of course very spectacular and impressive, but it also says something about what it means to live. How much can one deprave the body from resources (food, oxygen) and still survive? There is also a sense of askesis very similar to what one can find in several religious traditions (fast, meditation, etc.)...

However, what struck me particularly was the fact that after a failed attempt he finally broke the record (live on TV) when he was convinced that he had no chance to succeed since his heartbeat was unusually high during the immersion. I think there might be some universal truth in this: great things are often achieved just at the moment when a long chain of intense efforts oriented to a precise goal ultimately gives way to the disappearance of all hope.