Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Ancient Art of Par-King.

(Procrastination hit this morning, and I was inspired to write this for my batty writers' group after some discussion about the terrors of parking.)

The Ancient Art of Par-King.

The origins of this art-form are lost in the sands of time. Earliest recordings are found in Asian poetry scrolls dating to 1000BCE, where Par-King appears to have been practised by court poets near lakeside views. It is said that some poets entered a prolonged trance state while Par-King that could last for weeks.

As with many adoptions from the East, the artform appeared in the Mediterranean during the early Roman period. The Romans, however, turned it into a competitive sport, with competition amongst chariot drivers for Par-King spaces in the centre of Rome rivalling that of the Gladatorial contests in the Arena. Par-King differed from the Gladitorial contests in one key aspect; it actively involved spectators, who paid for the privalege of riding with the chariot drivers while they Par'K'd and who could become as aggressive and combatitive in defending a Par-King place as the drivers themselves.

The practice of Par-King ebbed and flowed during the Dark and Middle Ages, with many regional variations evolving. (The Venetians, for example, used boats.) Popularity again soared from the eighteenth century onwards, when large proportions of the populace across Europe moved to the rapidly growing cities. The competitive version of Par-King has always been more widely practised in metropolitan areas, whereas rural areas - particularly isolated rural areas - maintained the original, meditative art-form. (Except on market days, when a friendly, informal version of the sport was played, usually with much good-natured humor.)

In the modern era, high-stakes Par-King contests are conducted every day across much of Europe, North America, and in major cities in Asia. Participation in the sport of Par-King is higher than in any other sport, involving some 70% of the population on a daily basis. Competition has grown so fierce in some places that the competitors spend vast sums on large vehicles to terrorise competitors in smaller ones, and injuries, while still relatively rare given the vast number of players, do occur. Elitism has also entered the sport, with some competitors paying large daily sums to compete on less-crowded Par-King fields.

Sadly, it is only in the backwaters of modern life - rural communities, and some small towns - that Par-King is still practised in its original art form, as a joyful, meditative practice. While some urban youth do practice a version of Par-King - in pairs, in dimly lit areas at night - adherents of the old ways consider the limitation to pairs in the night-time to be a corruption of The True Practice of Par-King, which, they say, should be able to be undertaken by any devotee, at any time.

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