I am like a prisoner in bonds, I have ten thousand anxieties but no one to confide them to. They can make me work, or they can cut my hair; They can eat
I am like a prisoner in bonds, I have ten thousand anxieties but no one to confide them to. They can make me work, or they can cut my hair; They can eat my flesh, and they can drink my blood. Knowing this is death, I would suffer anything willingly, To make me his wife is worse than killing me. Alas, how a pretty face has made me suffer, How I resent it that I am weak and soft like water.
Han poet and composer Wen-chi (Wenji) was captured by nomads and taken beyond the Great Wall and into the frontier. During her captivity, she became the wife of the Zuoxianwang (Leftside Virtuous King), producing two sons. After twelve years of captivity, she was rescued by the heroic Cao Cao, Chancellor of Han and hero of Three Kingdoms, who ransomed her in the name of her father, who had already died before her capture. When she returned to her homeland, she left her children behind in the frontier and wrote of her captivity. This Beauty and the Barbarian genre--pitting wilting feminine delicacy and culture against beyond-the-Wall barbarity, her natural maternal attachments against her yearning to return to her refined and artistic roots--inspired other poets as well as painters to embellish her story in their own accounts.
It is not every day that 395 rupees will buy you a miracle--a miracle in the form of an invitation, an invitation to value the earth, women, children, and other marginalized "outcastes" not as its, as objects put there for your convenience and consumption, but as precious beings having their own natures and needs, and wills.
Allow me, first, to tell you of a similar invitation.
One evening many years ago I knocked on a door and waited. I had come to pick up my date, on a first date -- a young woman I had met at the beach.
The door handle turned, the door opened, and there stood five kids, aged five to ten. Appraising me with wonder-filled eyes, they invited me in and asked me to have a seat while Claudia, their nanny, prepared herself.
Meanwhile, the kids began preparing me: the girls curling my hair and painting my nails, the boys handing me and inviting me to inspect various seashells, bits of driftwood, and gull feathers from their afternoon at the beach. They asked me to play piano. They showed off their Irish dance moves, and by the time my date had finished preening, I had fallen in love with the kids.
Devoid of a viable mother and father, these children were, I realized, inviting me to somehow fill that vacuum, to be for them both papa and mama -- a summons to which I soon surrendered.
This relationship demanded that I submit to initiation into layers of secret languages, to the superfluid, poetic rhythms of childhood speech, wonder-filled tongues that cause you to perceive everything, especially the Small Things, as nearer and dearer, that transform women, children, nature, and the earth into beings conversant with the most tender impulses of the heart.
It involved learning, in addition, a code language made by inserting the sound "ibe," rhymes with "vibe," after the first letter of every word.
Child to Me: Dibo wibe ribeally wibant tibo ibeat iben tibhis ribestaurant? Do we really want to eat in this restaurant?
Hostess to Me: Is that Arabic?
Child to Hostess: Nibo. No
And as if this were not enough, the English-speaking world, from Los Angeles to Bombay, was being drowned in the sociolect of Moon Unit Zappa's English-warping hit, "Valley Girls."
These became the languages of Small Things. Of cut fingers and flea bites, of sunburnt noses, of first loves and first-loves lost, of cold hands or cold feet, of all manner of childhood confusions, complaints, and confessions -- of guilt or love or sadness or wonder. Of anger, mirth, compassion, and of care.
This was the secret world we breathed and lived in. This was not the world we hid from. The world we sought to avoid at all costs. The world we undermined. The world of the woman-, child-, and nature-brutalizing Big Kahunas who drew up the Big Laws and Built the Big Categories, who Bulldozed the Sacred Chumash Indian village to erect million-dollar Condos at our Sacred Surfing Spot, who sent kids off to fight pointless wars.
As we grew into our heartfelt, secret world of communion with one another, far across the seas French feminists were fascinated with mother-child relationships, with the babbling stage and the infant's feeling of union with the maternal (Ammu's) form, with mother-child talk as a counter-language that challenged and transcended the Brutalizing Big Kahunas' Language of the Law of the Father and all the Grand and Cruel Narratives it spawns.
The world the brood and I and all their large tribe of friends inhabited was linguistically fashioned and shared , luminous, fun, friendly, and fart-filled -- a kissy cosmos none of us ever wanted to leave.
But alas, kids grow up.
By the time I arrived at the bottom of the second page of the 395-rupee miracle, I realized that I was being extended, and was submitting to, another invitation -- an invitation from not only the dear author, but from the dear friend who had lent me her own sacred, closely guarded, margin-annotated, holy, holy, holy but tattered copy -- an invitation into the hush-hush childhood tongue of Ammu, Rahel, and Estha -- a idiom that held Small Things holy and resisted the brutal laws and categories of institutions and Grand Narratives blind as bats -- laws that brutalize women, children, individuals, and the earth.
I have read that Arundhati Roy is often asked why she has not penned a second novel. And I feel that it is because this work is not just an aesthetic object. This novel is a moral force that has inspired millions. It is a call to action. A call to dismantle the unjust categories institutionalized by the Big Kahunas sucking on their cigars in the corporate board rooms and war rooms and temples and legislatures. A call to realize how cruelly the Grand Narratives of caste and Maoism dispense with mere individuals.
To heed that call means to really care and hold dear the marginalized: womanhood, childhood, and planet-hood.
Roy's invitation still stands.
Women, children, outcastes and the earth are still being brutalized. Pulverized.
There is no need for a second novel.
We need, as my dear friend who gifted me with her book has, only accept the invitation offered by the first. ...more
Alfonso is a story of a spiritual struggle within a Spanish immigrant’s soul. As an outsider, Alfonso labors to fit in and embrace his new life in a nAlfonso is a story of a spiritual struggle within a Spanish immigrant’s soul. As an outsider, Alfonso labors to fit in and embrace his new life in a new world – Australia – only to find himself succumbing to dark undertows of insult, isolation, and estrangement. Though he strives to cope with these dangerous forces, the only language he knows with which to confront them is a pictorial one, the duende-infused images of his boyhood Galician village: shadowy forests of dark pines, village girls with eyes the colour of chestnuts, mysterious croakings of black frogs, poisonous kisses of witches, crows whose mere presence spells certain death . . . Though Alfonso’s newfound mastery of English lends him an instrument of accommodation and a facile veneer of acceptability, the deep grammar of his imaginal tongue threatens to undermine all the new values to which he aspires, pulling him into a psychic vortex beyond his conscious control. ...more
The sacred mountain of the Kogi rises from sea level to almost 20,000 ft. Thus, it contains all ecological zones on earth, from rainforest to tundra.The sacred mountain of the Kogi rises from sea level to almost 20,000 ft. Thus, it contains all ecological zones on earth, from rainforest to tundra. Acutely sensitive to their environment, the Kogi use this mountain as an instrument/organism to monitor the health of the world. The mountain, and thus the world are sick: overheating and drying up.
Traditional Kogi religion is closely related to Kogi ideas about the structure and functioning of the Universe, and Kogi cosmology is ... a model forTraditional Kogi religion is closely related to Kogi ideas about the structure and functioning of the Universe, and Kogi cosmology is ... a model for survival in that it moulds individual behaviour into a plan of actions or avoidances that are oriented toward the maintenance of a viable equilibrium between Man’s demands and Nature’s resources. In this manner the individual and society at large must both carry the burden of great responsibilities which, in the Kogi view, extend not only to their society but to the whole of mankind.
The message and moral authority of the Kogi deserve 5 stars, whatever the book's literary merits....more
I give you Lovelock's unflinching and horrifying assessment of the climate crisis, and his closing image in his final chapter of his last book--his fiI give you Lovelock's unflinching and horrifying assessment of the climate crisis, and his closing image in his final chapter of his last book--his final warning that the planet we dwell upon will heat up far faster than most have imagined--with only a few inhabitable oases left to offer any form of refuge to what few survivors will remain:
"Sometime later in this century the survivors may reach a small harbor and dismount from their camels. Moored there they may see a small wooden ship scratching its side as it moves with the ocean's gentle swell against the rough harbor wall. A steady, cooler breeze promises a fair start for the next hazardous part of the journey northwards. The captain says nothing as the survivors board the vessel, but he knows that the near-unbearable rigor of the desert has selected them, the strong in mind and body, whose fitness pays the price of the voyage."
One of the more memorable fashion shoots in recent years was a spread that juxtaposed haute couture models with their Eastern intentionally skinny cou
One of the more memorable fashion shoots in recent years was a spread that juxtaposed haute couture models with their Eastern intentionally skinny counterparts: Indian sadhus. That was back when sadhus appeared in Vogue. These days, with the Western craze for hatha yoga, sadhus appear to be merely in vogue.
MOMA's stunning collection of yogis lacks the tantra-yantra-mantra mystical-technique allure of Ajit Mukerjee's publications of yoga and tantra art, while offering a history of yoga portraiture that lends an aura of unintentional meaning to the term yoga "pose."
Indeed, the most fascinating subjects are those of sadhus captured in photographic poses, who appear every bit to be true poseurs, as attached to their ash-covered bodies, myriad piercings, and matted dreadlocks as any dedicated trustafarian applying her pre-concert makeup.
Nevertheless, the images carry one away to worlds one never could have imagined. This fact makes them well worth the price of admission. ...more
This is a book about two machines: (a) the mind and (b) the image industry, which advertisers pay to supply our minds with images.
The theme of this bThis is a book about two machines: (a) the mind and (b) the image industry, which advertisers pay to supply our minds with images.
The theme of this book is the caliber of mental resolve needed to see beyond the seductions of those two machines.
There are many other books on this subject, written mostly by bovinely placid but sagacious looking fellows with beards and strange names who live in caves or other odd places and who, dressed in silken robes, give discourses on flowers. Usually their prose is pallid.
Depending on your mind, this could be the one book in that genre that is a page turner.
Another way of putting that is this: one who reads this book and does not think it is a page turner is either very stupid or very wise.