A series of childhood traumas led me to a sort of boycott of humanity’s structures, it’s tough, rigid nature. The pain, pressure and alienation was such that I had to flee, flee, flee as far as possible, and that was to leave humanity behind. But, don’t get me wrong, I am not against humanity—that would mean I had passionate involvement with it. I merely emancipated myself from humanity. You see, humanity had made one mistake with me. It put electro-shocks into my brain when I was seven years old. At first, I was totally blown away, humiliated by the series of abusive “treatments”. My brain actually hurt. Later, I realized that I had transformed this aggression into a rare strength. Other of my peers weren’t so lucky, succumbing to suicide faced with the mortal charge of the electricity. I got through it…
Before that, my very birth had taken place as American and British bombs rained down on the labor camp in Germany where my mother was in hopes of helping my father, a French resistant, who was in a nearby concentration camp. Ironically, it was these bombs with their blast overpressure, shock waves and blast wind that immediately set me on the path of breath and breathing. Why did I survive when the other children didn’t? The question has stayed with me ever since.
The bombs spoke to me. The breath I have is the blast wind of the bombs. The bombs whispered in my ear that it’s humans who destroy the earth, that destroy their own humanity. It was humans who dropped the bombs. Not Americans, not the British, not Germans, but all of humanity that put together bombs and send them everywhere around the planet.
The resulting respiratory seizures which constantly haunted my childhood ejected me from “the system” –a childhood of state-run boarding schools and psychiatric care. I never attended school. The accompanying pangs of abandonment and mistrust threw me into the arms of Nature. My solace was watching the butterflies, listening to the birds, wading in streams, kissing the earth, licking rocks. It saved me. Nature saved me. Everything that was not human saved me. I was afraid of humans.
I began jumping rope. It required subtlety and made me fly. The jump rope isn’t to build up one’s heart. It’s like the propeller of an airplane that helps one take flight. I jump ropes up and down stairs still today at nearly 76 years old.
Jumping rope is like a drug –to fly away, to escape, for deliverance. Rope is very interesting. You can hang yourself with it, or it can make you dance.
To deal with my constant respiratory seizures, I became an expert in…breathing --always gasping for air, finding subtle, personal ways to survive the lack of air.
So, later after factory work, then a stint as a military rescue frogman, performing in cabarets, having a successful pop single, prize-winning boxing, work as a magnetizer, and modeling. In 1984 at 40 years old, I managed to arrange a modeling gig as a jump in Greenland to test my claim of being the world’s best breather.
The profoundness of this death-defying experience I would describe as a resurrection, rather than a “christening”. I became the phoenix rising from my ashes. It epitomized a rebirth, leaving my old, rotten human ashes. The cold of the water at -2° C. burned my skin, it was my cremation. But I found the burning was actually the electric, anaerobic fluid energy I had been looking for. I left my ashes at the bottom of the sea with the polar bears and rose transformed. To get the right take, I had to jump three times that day—irresponsible on the part of the human organizers of the film shoot, but I managed. My expert breath forged during my youth fought the otherwise certain hypothermia, and won. Becoming the world record for thermal shock, this exploit is detailed in my book Combat Vital and in an award-winning adventure short film in the 1980s.
The meaning of this jump coalesced into emancipation. No violence, no aggressiveness, no bitterness towards humanity. I decided to leave disappointing, dysfunctional humanity --becoming Exo Human, but not inhuman. Self-destructive humanity is inhuman enough with itself. At first I felt sadness and disappointment at leaving humanity, but this emancipation led way to immense joy. My gigantic ego (king-size ego is my nickname) facilitated my metamorphosis.
Certain things I can tell you, certain things remain secret.
As a child, I needed a Pharaonic opening to release me from the crushing of my thoracic cage, so, wandering around Lyon alone in respiratory distress, I would end up thrashing on the floor in the coolness of cellars, or on the chill of rocks at the river’s edge, I gradually found relief by facing my adversary (death and damaged respiratory nerves) and subtly increasing my lung capacity. So, in a childlike way, I intuitively found a difference between Breath and respiration.
Breath can whisper in your ear, as it did in mine. It said, “creativity is the Breath of the divine”. Humans have respiration, but Breath is in the realm of Nature, like the blowing of the wind or storms, or animals’ panting and snorting. Human respiration is mechanical, robotic, --humanity tends towards automation.
A child of the lightning bolt, I constantly searched for an electric fluidity to relieve my lack of air and to “oil” the pathways of my broken nerves which had left my lungs heavy, unresponsive. The Breath I found is electric, I call it Electrifia Breath, it stimulates and electrifies and cleanses the body.
Breath is a deep concept which gets philosophical. Some say, “Respiration makes me live,” but I say, “I live, therefore I die.” Because with rigid respiration—linked to hypnotizing life routines, built of the mass of traumatic structures of which humanity is comprised, where we repeat patterns of our ancestors to a “t”--, there’s an image of life surrounded by a void. Since humans fear the void, they tend to cut their respiration leading to apnea and suffocation. The Breath I found goes beyond this fear and this void and can even help us get beyond “forgotten” traumatic psychological baggage. Like a spaceship flying effortlessly through the sidereal void, it streamlines and energizes. Its inspiration is from death, exhalation and connected “existence”, rather than a limited vision of isolated “life”. Similarly, while yoga is done to relax, the Breathing I have found is very precise, subtle, and different: it is more ‘yogi’ than ‘yoga’. It can connect us with our deepest selves and with the entire universe. It’s a radioscopy that can reveal to us who we are by giving us a tour of our very own Terra Incognita within.
It is this Breath which keeps me calm, concentrated and balanced when I perform, still at nearly 76, jumping rope, or with chains or doing headstands high up on Parisian overpasses and bridges at times 60 meters above the Seine or expressways. It’s an energizing Breath of connectedness which surpasses fear by exhaling any danger, and is based on electricity rather than oxygen.
I share this Breath with others during sessions, meetings and conferences which I give mainly in Paris, but elsewhere in France, and can do anywhere, really, for any age, any population. The weekly sessions are held under the banners of intelligence, generosity, open-mindedness, and benevolence. They are not “classes”. I am not a “teacher”, but an experienced stage director or orchestra director whose background has proven what this Breath can achieve and who facilitates its discovery by the “actors” and “actresses” / “musicians” attending. This Breath is part and parcel of a poetic world, an imaginocracy, and propels the participants, as if it were a motor, towards an enhanced, lucid existence. The electric nature of this Breath converges a lightness to the activities, as opposed to the heavy, oxygenated and often obsessive respiration of athletes who usually build up an excess of muscle and can damage the heart.
With Electrifia Breath, we need no heart. In sessions we learn to replace overstressed hearts with an infinite supply of stellar ones.
Throwing aside a typically human, erroneous modesty regarding ego, I openly declare my enormous ego rather than hiding it. For it is my ego which led me to the discoveries I have made.
By word-of-mouth, or mouth-to-mouth. Whatever they like. They may even pick up the waves I send out in the atmosphere. It could be a specific moment in their lives. They never come out of simple curiosity. The world of this Breath is too intense for that. I’m easily found on social media or through my website horshumain.org.
In the sessions, we work together (I’m not a teacher, nor master, nor guru) through play, to re-find our true youth. We sing, we laugh, sometimes we cry. Through Breathing, we can unleash blocked trauma or trapped taboos and attach them to a balloon to float away. Because these issues can actually impinge on our Breathing without us even realizing it. This deliverance can lighten those ‘holics’ (workaholics, alcoholics, shopaholics etc.) who turn to excess to try to erase the pains of trauma. Stronger than theater or music, whose effects diminish once the play is over, or the guitar put away, with this Breathing, participants take their Breath with them everywhere—a veritable lucidity drug full of power, lyricism and sublimation. The training we do is the void, it’s to learn to sublimate the void.
It’s a bit like the Cheyenne, with whom I had the privilege of staying for several months as my great grandmother was Cheyenne, who shoot an arrow and then leave. It’s the art of diversion. Playing with expectations. You expect me here, but I’m behind you, there, like a ghost. The sensitivity and agility brought by the Electrifia Breath allow one to pass through fear, to detect danger.
If it were a martial art, it would be called the “Art of Lucidity”. But, it doesn’t have the “martial” side of such arts which are full of rules and codes. One name for this Breath is “Gladiator Breathing”. Gladiators differ from those practicing martial arts. The gladiator defended one thing: his existence. His philosophy is to defend his life from someone else, so he was tuned to observation of his adversary in order to overcome him. The gladiators were slaves who were freed if they won. In this way, the Gladiator Breathing allows us to distance, or actually free, ourselves from the perpetual problems of humanity.
The antennas I do function in several ways.
First of all, in French, headstands are known as ‘candles’ (la bougie). Candles are often lit for the dead—I put out candle flames with my nun-chaku. I use the term ‘antennas’ instead…since, for me, they function on a vibratory level as transmitters and receivers. Having spent the past 35 years going barefoot summer and winter, my feet are sensitive to energy vibrations and capture fluid electrical energy into the body. Similar to Benjamin Franklin catching electricity with a kite and a key, I connect with ambient fluid electricity (through wind, humidity etc.) Electrifying energy is the continuity of existence, rather than life. Wearing shoes cuts off this flow of energy which functions as well in an urban setting as in the countryside. Concrete and metal are still elements. We see them as products, but they come from the earth. So, the antenna represents a connection and openness to the universe, both physically, on a vibratory level, and symbolically.
Aside from that, of course, the antenna, which I often perform atop a glass, or on top of a bridge or railing, represents concentration and balanced calm achieved through the Electrifia Breath.
Very little. And especially not meat. We don’t need to eat cadavers. Animals function on electricity, for example when a horse whinnies, when it grazes, it creates electricity. Humans need to eat their neighbor.
Breath is simplicity itself. You can sleep where you like, on the ground, you need very few things…
I have never fought pollution—fighting something links you to it. If you create passion with, or against, pollution, it will grow. All humanity pollutes. Every being pollutes. To be or not to be of Shakespeare helps us cross through pollution, those relying on electrical energy remain lighter, more weightless and fluid than those relying on muscle-building oxygenation. So, I go around, go through, transcend above pollution, but I’m not AGAINST pollution. Pollution grows day by day, but most humans are not adapted to it and will fall ill. Already respiratory problems are rampant. As Exo Human I say, ‘Hello, pollution,’ and pollution replies, ’So, you hate me?’ and I reply, ‘No! You’re part of humanity, so I have compassion for you, but I’d like to pass through you, may I?’ and pollution replies, ‘Go ahead, sweetie.’ So pollution, and death, for that matter, are my lovers. The best way to get around pollution is to cultivate joy. Sadness and boredom pollute. So, I jump rope or jump with my chains which creates electricity and I pass through pollution and death.
If we look closely, science actually creates pollution. It creates new needs.
Everything pollutes. Even I, as Exo Human practicing Electrifia Breath, use a car, have a cell phone. The only difference might be the respect I have for everything around me. Even a cell phone can be perceived as sacred, yet we can let go of it, we’re not a slave to it. Humans pollute, period. It’s different if there are three humans on Earth or billions. Moving on from colonialism or imperialism, humans are now heading towards waste wars…where can we put our waste? --Especially the billions of tons coming from nuclear. All humanity should stop and practice Electrifia Breath, slow down its delirious pace!
Good question. Because it contains electricity. Humans enclosed electricity within it. Humans make prisoners of everything. They cage everyone—even Prometheus. Prometheus was content to give fire to humanity, then humanity made canons and weapons. And we cage the fire of electricity. I can take energy from these sources. Electricity is intelligence. Humans have understood that, but they enclose it, they make robots. Am I against transhumanism? No. It’s just everyone will pay their check in the end.
I’m neither pessimistic nor optimistic, just lucid. The scale of humanity’s current pace is aggressive, killing divine plants we don’t even know about. Humanity is destroying things it doesn’t even know exist. Humanity is destroying the unknown.
No, just making a point that through the ages humanity has conditioned humans to accept the weight of the finality of death, and this tarnishes what becomes ‘not death’, or ‘life’. Humanity has condemned itself to death. ‘Existence’, however, passes through. I focus on existence. Life is a closed-loop conception while EXistence conceives of EXit, there’s an opening.
How many times as a convulsing child, did I brush close to death? I suffered greatly and had a realization to just get rid of death! Push it out of my existence. This strength, subtle and clear, that I created, I tested in my jumps into the waters of Greenland… and in the vertiginous heights of my urban positioning at nearly 76…
The Electrifia Breath fortifies and prepares in subtle ways, it helps feel experience rather than intellectualize it. And, by the way, anyone who would like a duel to jump rope up the steps of Montmartre may contact me.
Its strength comes from doing away with the heart. I flushed mine down the toilet. I have spades, clubs and diamonds, but no heart. My joker is the stellar hearts which I graft into my body. It’s physiological and psychological gymnastics. If one of my fictional hearts is tired, I take it out, kiss it and ask it to leave. It says, ‘I have no more energy to give, but I’ll bring you another heart.’ And so on.
Imagination contains a form of mysticism. It’s a high level of creativity. It’s part dream and part what you bring into it, but there’s always still a part of reality there. What fascinates me is manifesting the imaginary on this planet—but not through objects. Imagination can create cracks in ruinous humanity through which we can create deliverance, an escape to re-find joy.
Give me chaos and I’ll turn it into raw power through Electrifia Breath.
© Le Hors Humain.
Interview and translation by R. Buechel.