26 June 2009

Day 35

Lac d'Orient, originally uploaded by Ryan Runs Europe.

34 Kilometers.
I had a solid eight hours of sleep, and set out from Troyes in the late morning. Ingrid, my host in Marigny had put me in touch with her sister France who lives in MontiƩramay, so I changed my route slightly to make that one of my two stops between Troyes and Chaumont. France was working until around 5, so at her recommendation I ran first to the nearby Lac d'Orient to swim around during the day. I walked to the edge of Troyes before spending most of the run on a dirt path along the edge of a canal. It was less than 30 Kilometers to the beach, and for some reason when I set out I thought that that meant a short day.
I got to the beach, and rocked my backpack tan in public for the first time. Basically, I look like I am wearing a brown tank top at all times. The white short tan is worse though. I splashed around in the water for a while, cooling off and letting my tired legs float around in the cool water. Afterwards, I sat around on the grass for a while waiting until it was time to start heading towards MontiƩramay. I looked to my right and was pretty surprised to see a woman not wearing a shirt. Then I remembered, "oh, I'm on a beach...in France...crazy."
Around 4, I made the short walk towards France's house. When I arrived, I had to double check the number I had written down with what was in front of me. France and her family live in amazing old abbey house that they restored themselves. The kind of place I take a picture of when I run by, thinking "man, it would be sweet to live there."
Well, I did stay there, and France gave me a tour of the house and the surrounding town. She is an architectural engineer, so the tour was pretty awesome. It was pretty interesting speaking with her about architecture through the barrier of language, because we were both keen on drawing things. How do you say "flying buttress" in French?...I don't know, but here is a drawing of one!
After dinner, we spent a long time talking about various things, and eventually got onto the topic of machine learning (because of a project that I made during school this year). In our debate, I suggested that in some hypothetical future world, machines could be capable of creating art and having true personalities...and France was on the side of this being impossible. I don't think there really is a right answer to such a theoretical debate at the moment, but the end of our conversation really stuck with me. It will seem random and out of place, but I don't want to forget it, so I'm writing it here. A short, translated transcript follows:
France: "Think of the world's great artists...the works which they create could never be done by a machine. They are too original, and manifested through ingenuity and an entirely unique human soul."
Me: "OK, agreed, but let's create an imaginary scenario where I have created such an amazing work of art."
France: "Scenario established."
Me: "Now, let's imagine that I didn't create that work of art, but that instead, I wrote a computer program, and a machine generated it."
France: "OK, but then the machine didn't actually create the art, you did."
Me: "Well, now imagine that instead of writing the entire program, I only wrote one word...and you wrote one word...and millions of people and things throughout the world each wrote something. Then who made the art?"
France: [that French shrug expression]
We agreed to disagree.
For me though, the conversation really shed some light on this trip. I like to think that I am such a machine, merely a database of everything that I have seen and experienced in the world. Even the flutter of a "papillon" could influence who I am and who I become. For me, this trip is about finding as many people and things to write a little something into my database, in the hopes that one day the world that I have lived in will inspire me to create works which can, in turn, write a word or two upon the people who have experienced them. So far, I've read a lot of good words on this trip.


  1. amazing man ... carry on and take care !

  2. That is a great question. I honestly think that the millions of people would be considered the artists. Without the complete program the machine wouldn't have generated it.

  3. Really enjoying your blog with a mix of envy and best wishes for completion. The distances you are covering are very impressive. Good luck mate.

  4. I agree with you Ryan, it's not only possible, but inevitable. I'm surprised we never had the singularity convo during a run in the past two years. If you ever decide to come back and visit your old team, I'd love to talk to about this stuff.

  5. Great post.

    Your story would be entirely fascinating if it consisted solely of daily updates recorded by some lower brute racing across Europe, but the architectural, cultural, engineering and philisophical interludes of an intelligent, curious and free spirit really lift everything skyward.

    Thanks for adding a bit of wonder to my day.

  6. Now you wouldn't believe me if I told you, but I could run like the wind blows. From that day on, if I was ever going somewhere, I was running! (Forrest Gump)

  7. How's your french coming along? Mais oui, c'est possible. I guess by the time you finish the tour, you'll be bilingual or trilingual etc. You'll be richer than when you left.

  8. So you did wrote good words! And you'll write more good words i think...
    Did you ever considered to become a writer? You do write well!

    Have lots of fun on your trip further in Europe!!

  9. How is your shin? Is it still being tapped up? Does it hurt still? Do you get to ice it? I love you Son!!

  10. Yes you are a good writer.Enjoy europe!

  11. Forgot to tell you Michael Jackson died!!!

  12. How fabulous. I love hearing about the conversations you have. It is truly amazing how people with such different cultural backgrounds can find interesting, common things to discuss (especially at such lengths). Looking forward to hearing about more. -Jessie

    PS-Farrah Fawcett died too :(

  13. Ryan, I found your blog on the blogs of note page. (congratulations on that, and well deserved) This is strange because I just caught the end of the film Forrest Gump, ya know the part where he just started running, and I thought, I wonder if anybody would being doing that and writing a blog about it. I was thinking of doing it, but thank goodness I found you instead! Fantastic what you are doing and I will support you in blog land all the way! Good luck!

  14. I was looking at that photo and wondering what in the world you did to get that odd tan...and then I read on. Thanks for explaining that one. Ha!

    And...interesting discussion about art and machines. You're fascinating.

  15. If we get to vote...I vote for you eating more pastries! I think you need to carbs to feed more of these philosophical discussions you have with kind, generous strangers and to feed that skinny runners bod.

  16. Credo!!!
    xD In english: Oh, mine...

    Well... Man, what a color!!! xD You really needed a litle of sun.

    Well... I have a question for you: How many days do you pretend stay in Europe? I haven't see all of the post's so, I don't know of really what you want with htis "run"... Can you say me?

    Obs.: Sory my english, one more time...


  17. Ryan, Glad you had a good day and hope many more like this day through your run. Take care and we miss you.
    Love, Phula and family

  18. nice tan! is Dan Whitt going to join you for part of your journey??

  19. Love how you write! Love this journey that you are on. Keep doing big things!

  20. PS found you on blogs of note, and am going to start following this gem of a blog from now on. You seem to be an amazing spirit...and I have only read the most recent post.

  21. Ryan

    I've been reading your blog from the start, but this was one of my favorite posts. I love that despite the language barriers you seem to have consistently enriching and enlightening conversations with the people you meet. Your trip sounds amazing and I hope your luck continues.

    -Kate Abrams