Sunday, April 18, 2010

Taipei here and now

TOday I went on a bike ride in the rain through the back alleys of taipei, but it was sunday so there were many many pedestrains and poeple window shopping, the national sport of the buergoisie taiwan.... i was in a lane in a neighborhood near my apartment, and since today was my first free day in a long time on account of me being sick and desirious of a day of a rest , i decided to stop by a local temple that caught my eye as i was pedaling. i went in and asked the burgher if i can take a look, and he was all smiles that i could speak chinese and insisted on aiding me in using the divination sticks to read my fortune, a rather complex process involving dropping two small peices of wood that look like the curved half a shoe horn, dropping the shoe horns on the ground. First I say my last name, address, and ask a question, and depending on which way the shoe horns are facing when they are dropped, it is a yes/no. If it is yes one proceeds by drawing a long stick with a number inscribed on that refers to the numbered proverb poem of wisdom derived from the Yi Jing, the ancient book of changes. after helping me through this multilayered process, and finding the proverb of my destiny, we discovered that he is illeterate, and couldnt read me my fortune. then another really old woman, about half my height, and half my amount of teeth, proceeded to discourse on my fortune, and she asked me what My question was ("Is my paht of life right or wrong"), and when I told her that, she said the mystic poem reads not too hesitate when mulling over something in my heart, but go straight for it, and dont start many things at once. She continued to lecture me on the proper path of my lfie, and correctly guessed I was a Chinese student and English teacher, and then decided to exhort me on the proper way of going down those paths. She even inquired what my salary was, but at this time she had lost all consideration of my Chinese bieng only half-fluent, and proceeded to speak to me in the thick drawl of Taiwanese Chinese charactestic of an "ama", or grandma..........I then found my opening to conclude the sermon, and proceeded on pedaling down my path in life....

Monday, January 11, 2010

Back In Taipei

Dear friends and family, I am back in Taipei after an exhausting nineteen hour lugage-less flight from DC to LA to Taipei. Its cold and rainy here, and I am staying in my freinds apartment who is in the phillipines. I finally got over the jet lag. I think I went a whole week without proper sleep! I have been looking for a job, had a few interviews and offers, and am substitute teaching at a school for a friend this week. Im also back at Tai Chi class, which keeps getting more dificult and my teacher keeps getting more strict. And if only I could understnad him, what with him being 94 years old and with a thick Beijing accent. This morning I got up early and went to the mountains, where I found a big rock in front of a boulder and sat down to meditate. It was wonderful to be sourrounded by the rush of the water, the sound of the wind in the dense foliage, and the birds and creatures arising to meet another day. And it even stopped raining for a bit during my meditation! Im excited to be here practicing Chinese and connecting with Taiwanese and ex-pat friends alike, though I miss you all dearly. I still havent moved into my new apartment - I'm waiting for my freind to go back to Italy before I can move into his apartment. Though I am enjoying the boundless kindness and thoughtfulness of my freind Patrick who left me the keys to his apartment and motorbike while he is in the Phillipines. It was wonderful seeing everyone in the US and to everyone I didnt get a chance to see, I'm sorry and I still hold you dear in my heart. Below is a link to my flickr website with photos I took while I was in America this fall. Love David

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Psychedelic Space



In a spiral galaxy
beats a rhythmic skin
a heavy thud
akin to the creation and dissolution
of consciousness. 
A big bang,
a weaving of mystery and soul-fire.
The stars drip juice,
a desert, a sphinx, a moments echo
eternity. 
A mountain as high as Kailash
in Tibet, Nepal, India
China, Japan, further east.
A ship sails in rough seas
the captain mans the wheel
violent storm-hewn waves
rush the deck.
A seed is planted, grows, dies
a fruit is born, a race rules
countless dynasties edge
their legacies into histories.
A honeycomb contains a bee
whose buzzing, constant buzzing
alarms Dickenson of deaths trance.
A mother holds her child,
who nestles the milky juice
of throbbing life
which follows her child
into the icy grave. 
the earth melts,
its potential vacuumed
into black holes. 

A small pocket of the universe contains small carbon based life forms


Things
pass by, drive away, turn on, shut off, open up, ressurect, readjust, sink, rise, manifest, vanish, reappear, live, breath, dream, die, reincarnate,
                                                                                    FOREVER (is just a word).

I have no more change in my pocket,
My credit runs out,
The machine TURNS off.

When I was small, after visitng the art museum, my grandmother would take me to McDonalds.  I was forbidden to go to Wendy’s, because Wendy’s controlled woman’s bodies.

At a soccer game, I dislocated my shoulder and my mom put it back in place on the sidelines.

I got drunk once.

The super bowl,
Terminator 2.

LOVE shines from her eyes where her smile used to be.

Before I was born, where did I live?
Zen claps wake up the emaciated AIDS patient.

How many eternities find their way into the dropping ball which signals millennium to the masses?

Mr. T:  “No More Jibber Jabber”

No more credit, no more pocket.
The more turns the turns off.
Mo machine credit off. Machine.
                                   
                                                                        FOREVER is just a word
                                                                        that means forever. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ode to Walt Whitman

Ode to Walt Whitman

Rough, worn, pithy, hearty, 
earthy
dance of life
hand in hand
glide into the invisible
behind the eyes
kaleidoscopes
of one central self
teaching learning
anew anew
ever refreshed
the corpse the grass
the leaves
the kosmos
oh Walt
oh thee
container of all selves
the soul of eternity
stepper over of infinities
untier of illusions
into juicy truths
and poignant agonies.
Great journeyer
weilding a staff
wrought with the bark
of all people, all things
of all moments
Can I ever thank thee
for teaching, revealing
my own self
and leading me on
searching anon.
I know deepest within
me and all else,

"I stop somewhere waiting for you"

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A note of day, of birds, of speech

Here I stand, rather sit
sprawled out 'pon this here bench
mind rocked forth gaily
by chattering freinds and birds
I wait a while, as teh blue nestles
the clouds wanting, lacking naught
a leaf curled, fallen to the ground
my attention lost, though here found
a new amusement, a flies buzzing
a moths happy fluttering
coarse, white, momentary wings
to and fro civilians rushing
an instants peace away from the bustle. 

Signs

A building sign that reads: 
"come into me"
There I find a hall
with interminable passageways.
Into each I pass.
Till alighting an entrance
I find something new.
Its reborn into gates
of aged hierarchies
of a grand and noble creed
riding times labrynthine steed
alighting heavens multiple vaults
until a light out of ether borne
trails a thousand fallen galaxies.
Other signs beckon, beckon
into their ceaseless folds
of loathsome wonders
crustacian signs,
koan signs
fingers, moons, ears
 death taut
one sign never forget will I 
thats the sign of wonder
the sign that radiates from the mothers bosom
to the deep set eyes 
of her babe. 

Love poem on the Bus

Must keep it tight and play the game
listening and laughing while love withers and dies
my pain is satisfying, it encourages
she continue to grow
while I deeper and deeper go
deeper and deeper into this forest
trying to find my way back home
home cant be found,
just these stars in the sky. 
Our souls are stars
in vast spaces of being.
I had a girl,
I loved her indefinitely.

watching zeppelin wail

Watching zeppelin wail
and jive and freak to
percussive and distorted
heavy twisted metal blues
fucking excellent
hair argyle raw blues sentiment
rolled up in a dollar bill

And tossed to the
hard living wind
new is pure
1, 2, 3, 4
crash bang
adrenaline and excitement
flailing your body into
annhilation
the fairy tail recluse quips
blue eyed golden haired
Led Zeppelin
Jimmy page
is sitting down
to tell it like it is
in middle metal earth.
Hes inventing new worlds
from the same ol soul

Pumped full of apacolyptic martyrdom
and emotional octane. 

Mystic Hindu Dance


 

1

A thousand arms,

manifest heads.

Colors Holi

River Ganges

Brahma Sadhu

unkempt dreadlocks

ashes strewn on

naked naga bones

drawn to energies

of destruction.

shiva kali

destroyer myths

demon mystic

nataraja

creation dance

kundalini

wrapped around

shivas trident

found in graveyards

drinking the blood

of skull chalices

harnessing deaths

innate powers

destroyed egos

crushing personalities

annihilating identatities

rebirths

into

transcendent realities.

 

Om Namah Shivaya!

Vibrates Krishna's flute

bellows Shiva's drum

world shattering

vibration of creation

upholding manifestation

belying destruction

Om Shiva Om Om!

Blows the Eternal Conch.

Om Hari Krishna Om!

Sounds the mystic mantra.

Om Rama Shiva Om!

Heralding liberation.

Baba Nam Kevalam!

Supreme awakening.

Bluegrass Train

Music transports you to other realms.  Take me on the bluegrass train, to the blue side of the mountain, through the hollows of old Appalachia, “where the sun don’t ever shine”.  Drinking whisky in a lonesome hollow’s honkey tonk joint, moonshine on the front porch of the cabin watching the sun go down a hazy summers day . The plucking of the banjo is the bluegrass waving in the “Kentucky hills of tennesee”, the “cows lolling in the land”.  This is is roots music, that “high lonesome sound”, the crisp mountain air blowing “in the pines” of the smokey blue mountains.  The struggles of cyclical and vulnerable life over in the rolllocking foothills and down into the valley and up the mountain heights, passions are felt deep in the hollows of your soul, that hidden part where losses dwell, hope hides and music turns to myth.  Organic tones, the wholesome sounds of a hollowed out chesnut oak,  the mashing of the grains in the barn, the itenerant preachers pleas, the dirt kicked up by heels in folktaled hills.  Hills with forests that envelop you in “shady groves” and “dark hollows”, that storied bluegrass train passes through all these with its whistle sounding the plucked, picked, and downhome harmonies from Appallachia. 

an appeal

Do we really need such hatred,
antagonism?
Must we waste our time blaming,
not searching for solution?
What ever happened to healing?
Figuring out a way not to fight?
I know the hurt bleeds.
A dose of hope, optimism, 
to treat our vulnerabilities?
A way to channel
tremendous instinct pain and energy 
into creativity
avoid the blame
and take it into 
mine own hands?
mine own hands!
full of lust, greed
hope within the seed
to find an essence
a balm
of tranquil humanity
harmony and unity
forever handshakes
no more treaties
just affection
not affectation
but attention 
and realization
more networked trasactions
in helping 
and reduced harming.

A many faced self portrait

A Many faced self portrait.

Like the multi-faced incarnations of Vishnu, the multitudes contained  in Whitman, or the many minstrels of Bob Dylan each reflecting one  sympathetic self, I too contain multitudes.  Within me is a stream that flows in many directions, an aggregate of cultures, a kaleidoscope of personalities.  These juxtapositions coexist sometimes in harmony and at other times in tension, but they  all flow from the same stream, from past experiences to present impressions into future possibilities.  The first and most salient is the inheritor of my parents generations values and worldviews which came to a focus in the 1960’s.  This forms a backbone of sort, because these values produced a liberal, free-thinking, and inquisitive mind which allow a peaceful interaction with all of the other cultures balled up within me.  The 1960’s is also manifested through the countercultural, carpediem, ecumenical tendencies of the aquarias age.  Then there is the jew, the brains of the operation. Some part of me is a frail, sickly and transcendent scholar poring over talmuld folios shrouded by infinite stacks of commentaries and obscuria, all the bookish knowledge and wisdom through the ages.  On the flipside of  and informed by the jewish scholarly face, is the bespectacled cardigan wearing literary, artsy-fartsy intellectual.  This academic self is endlessly dissecting the visionary mythology of blake and comparing 18th century romantacism to the philosophical alchemy of the Ancient Chinese Taoists.  Here is the sinophile face – throwing the I-Ching oracles and fumbling over the klutzxy jewish scholar whilst striking a Tai Chi pose or mocking the tones of mandarin.  Accompanied by Da-We the Taoist, is Devendra the hindu yogi perched on a mountain top retreat twisting and struggling into the lotus pose but again hindered by the inner jewish klutz.  Treking behind the yogi on top of the mountain is the quasi outdoorsman pseudo working man cowboy plucking bluegrassy tunes and self-consciously crooning woody Guthrie.  Contradicting him is the self-absorbed adolescent skater boy imbibing the teen angst of punk rock and posing the cool of hip hope street culture.  All of these faces are contained and contradicted within my quintessential American and multicultural gloobalized identity.  This is to say nothing of the unconscious impulses and patterns which would require all of Freuds writings and millions of dollars worth of psychoanalyse to decode.  

Roots Poem

Roots is love
roots Is pure
roots is from
the seed of
the earth, it’s
all and all
for one, for
the people
to smile 
feel so nice
when we hug
listen to
each other and
everyone else
when we see
inside our
selves and
our being
we see one
thing only
one thing
beautiful
when were
here to now
here to four
and three and
one here for
ever more
feel
the ever-joyous
tune
dance with its
intrinsic harmony
and feel for
ever mine and yours.

Philosophical Dialogue between Mssr. Daniel Greenwald and myself.

"such as it was, such as it is, such as it will be" Sirens of Titan, p230

These words of Winston Niles Rumfoord reflect a recurring theme of
Kurt Vonnegut's Sirens of Titan and Slaughterhouse V:  becuase
something was ordered to happen, it happened and it is remembered, it
"shall always be here".  Vonnegut's characters take the view that
because an event is a singular, unique point of space time,and thus
the event is like a statue or picture in reality that always occurs.

 Taking other cues from Buddhists, Kant and Einstein, it can be
further stated that time is a relative phenomenon, which when
experienced by our limited mental faculties is linear (like the earth
is flat  to the eye). When one is a Tramafoldorian (omniscient Alien
race) or an Awakened Buddha or a Quantum physicist  one sees time and
space for what they are, a point in an infinity, and since there are
no boundries, no beginning no end,  everything that happens/happened
always exists and will exist.  This theme is also present in Borges'
obsession with Pascal's "Infinite circle".

Our life is not purposeless nor meaningless, its just there is no
purpose outside of its own existence, outside of our very own selves.
Thus the meaning is within ourselves:  discover the meaning, discover
the infinite.   We are part of an infinite circle.  This very moment
and our selves is the production of everything else and we are all
existing in one Giant harmonious infinite circle which only seems
inharmonious to our own mental cognition, a cognition necessarily
limited by our dependence on instinct and reason.

 We existed, do exist, and shall exist because we were, we are, and we will be.

We are part and parcel of one infinite, constant, and mysterious event
that we are only partially aware of.  Our eyes can only see in front
of us, but a great deal, the rest of existence-known and unknown, is
left out.

Each instant is forever.
Nothing is lost,
everything is found.

Search far enough within
and you will find infinitude.
Search far enough without
and you will find

the same goddamn thing.

"Such as it was
such as it is,
such as it will be".


Greetings from college park on a Saturday afternoon.

I have some thoughts I wanted to share regarding your previous email.

A.  Way to express yourself.

B. It seems obvious to me to say that right now is because of everything before it.  Its articulating circularity.  Right?  Maybe I just happen to be an omniscient alien from planet Gnardon, but it just seems like..no shit right now is occurring because moments occurred before this one and the one before and so on backwards and forwards 'til the cows come home. Or left home.  This leads me to C.

G. In what capacity does the infinite tie into meaningful existence?  What I mean is that..howcome..as soon as the infinite is recognized..and its recognized internally..does life have meaning?  Surely a sick person who realizes that he or she is a part of the infinite circle will not be comforted by this realization.  On the contrary.  That realization for a sick person could actually cause bitterness because he or she will not be there to experience it for as long as others.

N.  I think that there is a disconnect between "cosmic consciousness" or "awakened dharma" and the generally obvious realization that experience, time, now, then, here, there is an infinite and immaculate happening.  The knowledge, or the intuition that would lead one to understand the nature of space-time, or time, or space, or experience, or existence, makes one wise.  Or wiser than a pawn.  Or wiser than someone who isn't paying attention.  However, the peace of mind that an "awakened dharma" or however you want to call it, comes from a deeper intra-personal understanding.  Like a realization of oneself as opposed to a realization of everything outside of oneself.  

A.  It's the relationship between understanding the infinite and in turn, intrinsically, simultaneously finding purpose or meaning because of that...thats what I want to talk about.

R.  If I have not been making the most sense here, or have come off as presumptuous or arrogant in anyway, that wasn't my intention.  I was just trying to stimulate dialogue between two vessels that deserve each others attention once a week.  Additionally, I'm not trying to argue.  I am trying to dialogue. Enlighten me, Spock.  And I shall beam you up.

Hey man.  First of all I am honored that you took the time to read my
writing, digest it and give it a well thought out reply.  Thank you.
Second.  I took a bit of poetic liscense in it and I’m aware that the
logic behind it might not all fit together, I kind of sent it out on
an impulse on top of that.
Third.  Mostly these are just descriptions of experiences had outside
of my logical mind that different writiers, philosophers, and
scientists attempt to communicate.  My understanding and enthusiasm
for “infinite circles” comes from intuitional experiences during
meditation.  Thus in the words of the Chinese, its like a finger
pointing to the moon, no experience except for a symbol can be derived
from the finger, you must turn your attention to the moon.

But ill try to answer your questions and comments, and clarify my own
ideas to the best of my ability.

“In what capacity does the infinite tie into meaningful existence?
What I mean is that..howcome..as soon as the infinite is
recognized..and its recognized internally..does life have meaning?
Surely a sick person who realizes that he or she is a part of the
infinite circle will not be comforted by this realization.  On the
contrary.  That realization for a sick person could actually cause
bitterness because he or she will not be there to experience it for as
long as others.”

First we have to define meaningful existence.  What is “meaning”.
Generally its thought of as the reason for something, the evidence.
Why something is the way it is, or the cause for some effect.  And
where is the reason why, the cause of some effect? Cause is an
experienced phenomenon that precedes or produces the effect.  And this
phenomenon is found through the senses, it can be proved and verified
empirically as an isolated phenomenan, a fact, if it is to be
considered a “true” meaning.  Thus it is data.  So the data lays in
experience.  This verification of meaning through causality is also
known as logic. Now the question “what is the meaning of the universe,
or our existence?”.  Well our existence is the result of everything
else’s existence ala Darwin/evolutionary theory.  We are looking for a
meaning of existence, something that produced  and preceeded all
existence. So then you are asking to verify the cause of existence, so
this thing necessarily does not exist in the same sphere as our sense
experience, but created the experience.  But since this lies before
experience, it cannot be verified with logic because logic deals with
empirical experience, but this must preceed empirical experience since
this phenomenon created it.  So logic, or reason cannot be used to
describe or experience it since it’s the world that preceeds the world
of our senses, or underlies it.”.  To discover the world that proceeds
sense experience, you must use another way of verification, you can
not use your senses.  This is where intuition comes to play.  Now we
must define intuition.

Intuition is finding out not through cause and effect, but knowing or
learning something outside of the rational mind, through a different
capacity of mind.  For example making a decision that you are
convinced is right but not knowing why, not having any logicalanswer
to support your intuitiojn.  It is based on feeling.  You feel it is
right.  Meditation, Yoga and Tai Chi are intuitional because you don’t
learn them through reason or accumulation of facts, IE how to meditate
and what happens when you do, but through meditating, through feeling
it with your whole body/self and opening/relaxing body self into the
flow.  Same with drumming, dancing, basically learning anything.
Except in meditation the goal is to experience your self outside of
your personality, identity, history, or “I” feeling. When you relax
yourself or open yourself up enough you realize that there are no
barriers between you and the moment, you and everything else.  And you
actually feel that is all one, everything is complete, whole, and
because of the absence of temporality in this mindstate, infinite.
And this realization only comes about through the sssrrender of the
subject/object mimnd, the sense of self.  So if so much exists outside
of your sense of self, what is the worry about death?  Your ego may
not allow this realization, but at least it is chastened a bit and you
have another perspective to arm yourself with, so to speak.
You learn that you really are everything else and everything else is
one.  You can learn it based on the mountains of evidence/data we have
that points to that fact, but this would not change your attitude or
offer any comforted to the sick person.  Or as you said, it would
offer very cold comfort.  Or you can meditate and open your self,
become more intuitional, relax yourself into the flow of your
“gestalt” and see that your sick body/mind is just a very shallow part
of yourself, but your real self is a oneness that pervades the whole
universe, and may even be deeper than that.  And this is what happens
when you cultivate your intuition, you have a “peak experience” where
you step outside of your limited “I” and become one with everything,
or the “gestalt”.  Intuition is awareness of the objective flow of the
“IT”, a merging of our subject with the object of our body’s
intelligence, and the worlds intelligence.  Reason is an argument.
The sick person will be comforted and ultimately rejuvenated (his/her
perspective will shift drastically) by the awarness of the deeper
self, not the argument that such a self exists.



“ I think that there is a disconnect between "cosmic consciousness" or
"awakened dharma" and the generally obvious realization that
experience, time, now, then, here, there is an infinite and immaculate
happening.  The knowledge, or the intuition that would lead one to
understand the nature of space-time, or time, or space, or experience,
or existence, makes one wise.  Or wiser than a pawn.  Or wiser than
someone who isn't paying attention.  However, the peace of mind that
an "awakened dharma" or however you want to call it, comes from a
deeper intra-personal understanding.  Like a realization of oneself as
opposed to a realization of everything outside of oneself.  “

Well the intellectual understanding of the nature of experience and
the intuitional understanding are very similar when described but
wholly different when experienced.  Again one is a fact, or a
collection of data.  The other is an intuitional experience.  One is
saying that yeah, it makes sense, the other is seeing the world from
the perspective of no boundries. One is knowledge, the other is
Wisdom.  There is a saying that knowledge gains and wisdom loses.
With knowledge you gain a fact, the fact that the universe is not
linear as we are wont to see the universe.   With wisdom you re-orient
yourself, you empty out all your facts, history, self-consciousness,
your complexes, so you can see the world clearer - from the
intuitional perspective of “don’t think, feel” as Bruce Lee says.  Of
course this is extremely difficult to maintain 24/7 and sometimes the
thinking impulse is necessary, but you can make the intuitional
impulse stronger and stronger, so you go more and more with the flow
of things, operating out of a different sphere.  And this is the
practice of meditation.  It is an exercise to make your mind more
intuitional, to become more subtle, and queit so the flow is clearer
and the chatter is softer.  There are anthropological and
philosophical reasons why this intuitional wisdom is associated with
religion, and terms such as “cosmic consciousness” and “awakened
dharma”, but the crux of the matter is that it is a wholly
psychological shifting of perspective.  Thus when the Buddha was
asked, “what are you, a god, demon, angel?” he replied, “I am awake.”

Wai-Guo-Ren

Is there some point, one the flight, where you are in a foreign country and you become a foreigner.  Is it when you step on the plane and it is full of people from the country where you are headed, and you immediately become self-conscious that you look conspicuously different then the rest of the passengers, the rest of the citizens of the country that you are conspicusously not a citizen of?  A feeling of sonspiciousness that tralils you like your shadow for your entire sojourn in the opposite hemisphere of your homeland.  Is there a kind of benchmark when you can say you live here and aren’t just a visitor?   Ive heard from other foreigners who have lived in Taiwan for 20 even going on 30 years that there isn’t among the Han Chinese.  One is always a Wai-Guo-Ren, with all its perks and irritants.

 

The feeling that I am living in a foreign country is most conspicuous when I emerge from a friends house, a fellow foreign friends house, after spending the afternoon engaged in the discourse of Americans, and I step out onto the street and everyone is looking Chinese speaking Chinese, writing in Chinese, and everything smells Chinese (Incense and deep-fried soysauce).

 

I want to order noodles.  I see everyone eating noodles, so Ill just say noodles, in my tone-deaf mandarin, and point to the unassuming noodles-eating customer’s plate and say “same”, in my stuttering, half-sure, sputtering, bending, waving, sounds that are vaguely reminiscent of something like mandarin.  In the end the likewise bewildered waitress serves me dumplings.

 

In a taxi, around 230 AM, looking out the window, the dim streets appear to be any metropolis anywhere in the wee hours of the morning.  I put on my glasses, and half-lit advertisements become visible, displaying people with joyous smiles of clean teeth and matrimony bliss in a lush green meadow framed by the pictograph Chinese script, a weird mix of an ancient cultural lineage dating back to the times of oracles and hieroglyphs, and modern, subrurban wet dreams.

 

One day, in the evening, after work, I am walking home from work, walking down a lane and I look to my left as I’m passing along, and I see an open door into a parlor.  The parlor has no light except a TV, that’s perpendicular to the door and only the glow is visible to the passerby on the street.  Watching the TV in the dark is an elderly man.  He is standing, and round his waist, he is propelling a hula hopop.  There it is:  a man the age of my grandfather watching TV in the dark and hula hoping with the door to the street wide open, as if to say, look at me you filthy world, I am a vastly superior being, what with my age, and on tope of that I am hula hoping, not even noticing the vast amounts of energy being expended because I am immersed in Prime time television. 

Monday, October 6, 2008

Edgar Allen Poe

I am currently reading Penguin Classic Reader's edition of Edgar Allan Poe's "Tales and Poems". I have always disregarded Poe as too generic or cheaply horror to ever appreciate him. But lately I have been encountering a whole lot of mention of him as an chief influence of some of my favorite poets, including the French symbolists, so I have decided to re-evaluate him. After reading much of his poetry in the above-mentioned collection, I stand in awe of his musical perfection, his spellbinding and impressionistic imagination, and the depth of his insight into the deepest recesses of the human psyche. His images and subjects are so vivid and lucid and yet at the same time fantastical it reminds me of looking at a van-gogh painting. Here is a poem that I read in-depth, and also some of Poe's and my own notes on the poem.

Notes on Poes Al Aaraaf:

The origin of beauty, a fairy tale, heavily symbolic rendering of vibrant life of the myriad beings of the natural world, the lifeline and interrelationship of flowers, fairies, music, stars and cosmos in ringing images, extended metaphors and musical symbols.

"the verie essence and, as it were, springheade and origine of all musiche is the verie pleasaunte sounde which the trees of the forest do make when they grow" Poes Notes to l. 282

It is, perhaps, not generally known that the moon, in Egypt, has the effect of producing blindness to those who sleep with the face exposed to its rays, to which circumstance the passage evidently alludes.

There is cultivated in the king's garden at Paris, a species of serpentine aloes without prickles, whose large and beautiful flower exhales a strong odour of the vanilla, during the time of its expansion, which is very short — It does not blow till towards the month of July — you then perceive it gradually open its petals — expand them — fade and die. — St. Pierre.

Clytia — The Chrysanthemum Peruvianum, or, to employ a better-known term — the turnsol which turns continually towards the sun, covers itself, like Peru, the country from which it comes, with dewy clouds which cool and refresh its flowers during the most violent heat of the day. — B. de. St. Pierre.

This flower is much noticed by Lewehoeck and Tournefort. The bee, feeding upon its blossom, becomes intoxicated.



"With Arabians there is a medium between heaven and hell where men suffer no punishment, but do not attain that tranquil and even happiness which they suppose to be characteristic of heavenly enjoyment" Note to l. 331

"The passoinate excitement of love and bouyancy of spirit attendant upon intoxication are its les holy pleasures, the price of which, to those souls who make the choice of "Al Aaraaf" as their residence after life is final death and annhilation:
Beyond that death no immortality-
But sleep that pondereth and is not 'to be"
And there- oh! may my weary spirit dwell-
Apart from heaven's eternity - and yet how far from
hell!
-Poem reflects attitude as in "sonnet to science' that science has made the fantastic realm of the faries and ideal forms inaccessible.

-for Poe, Poetry is the "rythymical creation of beauty" and truth, by whcih he meant moralizing, factual science, logic, -"the satisfaction of the intellect" -Readers Companion to World Literature, Poe article, p. 418

Al Aaraaf is a star that appeared "brilliantly surpassing Jupiter", then diasappeared just as soon. Poe envisions this as the locale for the arab concept of Al Aaraaf- afterlife between heaven and hell, a place of hedonistic earthly pleasures folowed by the terminal dissolution of the soul; Here lives a godess, fairy, angel, who kneels among a multitude of mythical and wonderful flowers, summons the angels to the earth to help humans, but two angels decide to stay in Al Aaraaf, Ianthe and Angelo (Michaelangelo) neglecting thier duty to God to indulge in their intoxicating passion.

FULL TEXT OF POEM: http://www.eapoe.org/works/POEMS/aaraafc.htm

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Back in Taipei

Ive been back in Taipei for a few weeks now. Sorry everyone I didnt get to see this summer, I spent a lot of time traveling the northeast and up to Canada visiting Family that I didnt have as much free time to visit all of my companions as I would have liked. But dont worry you are all still near and dear to my heart, and I will be back in the States next September to get my Masters in Teaching. Now Im back in Taipei, which is a really wonderful place. I have been riding my bike extensively, and also seeing a lot of independent films at a film festival at the Taipei Film House "Spot". Furthermore, I have started a new part time teaching job, which is very interesting for me because it is a much more regimented, outlined cirriculum where each classes teaching plan is already set. Although it is kind of boring its giving me a better understanding of how the structure of a class is constituted. I am way more adjusted to handling a classroom and thus more able to concentrate my teaching and less on behavoir and discipline. I find that in my second year I build better rapport and command the students attention easier through my adjustment to the role as an authority to the students, a position whcih i am wholly unaccostumed too.
Yesterday I saw the french 1976 film "I love you nor do I", set in the US Southwest about a gay garbage dtruck driver who falls in love with a boyish femme. It was heavily symbolic and imagistic, as well as being absurdly funny at times. It was definitely a hipster flick, they all dressed like 1950's greasers and there was even a roller derby scene.
On Monday, Sept. 22nd I am starting my Chinese classes at a big private university. I will attend classes Monday thru Friday 10-12, then go to one of my two part time teaching jobs. I am looking foward to formally learning Chinese, and thus be able to communicate with the outside world and not mosey about a bumbling fool.
Ive also been attending Yoga and Chi Kung classes at the buddhist tea house, which is really stimulating. All of the other participants are open minded, mellowed out expats, and we all really have a nice time exploring and discovering together.

Reading: Jorge Luis Borges - Labyrinths, Thomas Merton - Seven Storey Mountain, Poems of Billy Collins, PR Sarkar - Discourses on Tantra

UN says eat less meat to curb global warming

People should have one meat-free day a week if they want to make a personal and effective sacrifice that would help tackle climate change, the world's leading authority on global warming has told The Observer
Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which last year earned a joint share of the Nobel Peace Prize, said that people should then go on to reduce their meat consumption even further.
His comments are the most controversial advice yet provided by the panel on how individuals can help tackle global warning.
Pachauri, who was re-elected the panel's chairman for a second six-year term last week, said diet change was important because of the huge greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental problems - including habitat destruction - associated with rearing cattle and other animals. It was relatively easy to change eating habits compared to changing means of transport, he said.
The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation has estimated that meat production accounts for nearly a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. These are generated during the production of animal feeds, for example, while ruminants, particularly cows, emit methane, which is 23 times more effective as a global warming agent than carbon dioxide. The agency has also warned that meat consumption is set to double by the middle of the century.
'In terms of immediacy of action and the feasibility of bringing about reductions in a short period of time, it clearly is the most attractive opportunity,' said Pachauri. 'Give up meat for one day [a week] initially, and decrease it from there,' said the Indian economist, who is a vegetarian.
However, he also stressed other changes in lifestyle would help to combat climate change. 'That's what I want to emphasise: we really have to bring about reductions in every sector of the economy.'
Pachauri can expect some vociferous responses from the food industry to his advice, though last night he was given unexpected support by Masterchef presenter and restaurateur John Torode, who is about to publish a new book, John Torode's Beef. 'I have a little bit and enjoy it,' said Torode. 'Too much for any person becomes gluttony. But there's a bigger issue here: where [the meat] comes from. If we all bought British and stopped buying imported food we'd save a huge amount of carbon emissions.'
Tomorrow, Pachauri will speak at an event hosted by animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming, which has calculated that if the average UK household halved meat consumption that would cut emissions more than if car use was cut in half.
The group has called for governments to lead campaigns to reduce meat consumption by 60 per cent by 2020. Campaigners have also pointed out the health benefits of eating less meat. The average person in the UK eats 50g of protein from meat a day, equivalent to a chicken breast and a lamb chop - a relatively low level for rich nations but 25-50 per cent more than World Heath Organisation guidelines.
Professor Robert Watson, the chief scientific adviser for the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, who will also speak at tomorrow's event in London, said government could help educate people about the benefits of eating less meat, but it should not 'regulate'. 'Eating less meat would help, there's no question about that, but there are other things,' Watson said.
However, Chris Lamb, head of marketing for pig industry group BPEX, said the meat industry had been unfairly targeted and was working hard to find out which activities had the biggest environmental impact and reduce those. Some ideas were contradictory, he said - for example, one solution to emissions from livestock was to keep them indoors, but this would damage animal welfare. 'Climate change is a very young science and our view is there are a lot of simplistic solutions being proposed,' he said.
Last year a major report into the environmental impact of meat eating by the Food Climate Research Network at Surrey University claimed livestock generated 8 per cent of UK emissions - but eating some meat was good for the planet because some habitats benefited from grazing. It also said vegetarian diets that included lots of milk, butter and cheese would probably not noticeably reduce emissions because dairy cows are a major source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas released through flatulence.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/sep/07/food.foodanddrink?gusrc=rss&feed=uknews

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Back in the good ol' US of A

Hey I've been back for a few weeks ago and things are good and kickin for me in the teeming nation of nations.  Its been marvelous connecting with friends and family, and I've also been able to take advantage of the plentiful musical oppurtinities, of both playing music with the good ol' boys and attending a kick ass folk festival called "floydfest" in VA.  I  was able to go to a wonderful art park with my grandmother in Philadelphia, hang out with my cousin David who is a rare books dealer and snagged lots of poetry from him, and see Les Miserables at America's oldest theater, the Wall Street Theater.  Next week my Brother Josh and I are headed to New England for Brooklyn, Saranac New York for another folk festival, then to Montreal for a few days, and finally Cape Cod with my family and family from Boston.  I have been busy as a bee trying to see and do as much as I can, as well as get some R and R for Summer break.  

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

end of the school year travel






I finished the spring semester last week at my English school, and I had a week between when I went back to America for the summer and the end of the semester. So I decided to take this oppurtinity to explore a little more of the island, and Yutsen signed on with me as my local guide, translator, and loving companion. We set off from Taipei on Tuesday to Puli in the high central mountains, then down to the south-west industrial coastal city Kaohsuing.





Puli and Sun Moon Lake

Puli is a small city located in the heart of Taiwan’s central mountain region. The main tourist attraction of Puli is a large brewery of traditional Chinese liquor, which was closed when we tried to go soon after our arrival Tuesday afternoon. So we passed the evening getting to know the small city which offered a host of vegetarian restaraunts because of its close proximity to several Buddhist temples in the area. Puli is also a 30 minute drive from Sun Moon Lake, a top tourist destination in Tiawan. It is a government protected alpine lake surrounded by a beautiful mountain range. Traditionally Sun Moon lake was inhabited by a small tribe of the aboriginal peoples of Taiwan. Their tale is typical of indigenous people: when Han Chinese arrived the natives were decimated by disease and exploitation. Yutsen related that there is an important myth concerning their inhabitation of the Sun Moon Lake area. A group of hunters from a village in the south followed a white deer to the lake and the chief subsequently decided to move the tribe to the area for its hospitality of resources. Now the tribe is basically confined to a protected village on the lake, and they still perform their traditional ceremonies on a sacred island in the middle of the lake, “Lalo island”. We did a long hike around the lake, on and off comftorable lakeside paths dotted with viewing pavilions and benches that allow a nice view of the lake and the sourrounding mountain range which includes a peak reaching 2,000 meteres. Then we climbed one mountain side by stairs which led upp to a huge Taoist temple. The stairway leading up to the temple is enclosed by a fence which hangs small blessing lanterns on which dangle personal blessing to be auspiciously blown into the world. The stairs number 365, so you attach the blessing to the fence next to the stair of your birthdate, since each of the stairs contains a day of the year and also the famous people born on that day is inscribed on the stair. When I saw the steps, each one engraved with a date and Chinese characters, I asked Yutsen if they were Buddhist scripture sutras, and she replied, “No this is Ernest Hemingway’s birthday”. The temple is a grand and elaborate structure complete with golden shrines to the traditional gods in the Taoist pantheon, beautiful frescoes with paintings from traditional Chinese myths. I marveled at a giant sword labeled the “Serendipity sword of dragons blood” accompanied by a Chinglish (poorly directly translated Chinese) account of how when a legendary God-general was welding the sword a fire from heaven cut a dragon that was flying overhead in half and its blue blood fell on the sword, giving it supernatural powers. I also recieved a blessed bracelet in which I had to tell the Gods my name and address in order that they knew who to bless. On our hike back to the main town of the resort, the daily afternoon rains set in, and we made our way back to Puli.



Kaohsuing

After Puli and Sun Moon Lake, we took the bus to Kaohsuing. We warrived at 4 Pm and Thursday and were picked up by Grance and her friend “Huntz:. Huntz is a very kind and generous piano salesman who was eager to show Yutsen and I around Kaohsuing in his Toyota. Grace said that being a tour guide for out of towners is Huntz hobby, and when her German boyriend came to visit he showed him around too. Kaohsuing is an industrial city in the south of Taiwan which has a large harbour so it is a main shipping center for Taiwans manufacturing base. It is a city of 1.5 million people and is quite a modern motropelis loaded with shopping malls and equipped with a subway siystem, although most of the innvations are reletavily recent. However, like all of Tiawan, it is steeped in traditional Chinese culture, and seems to have even more Buddhist monks, temples and vegetarian restaraunts than Taipei. After picking us up from the train station, we were shuttled to monkey mountain. A mountain on the old city’s edge, Monkey mountain is home to Tiawan’s only native extant monkey populations. There hikers enjoy a view of the city accompanied by hundreds of fraindly monkeys who hang out on the path eager for food and attention. After chilling with our mammal cousins, we went to a kung fu training house bnuilt by the Japanese during Japan;s occupation of Taiwan before and during World War 2. This was a traditional Kung Fu gym complete with a shrine to martial arts and some ancient fighting gear. For dinner we went to a delicious vegetarian restaurant in the company of monks eating pizza. Then, for the ladies, we went to a huge designer brand shopping mall, “the largest in southeast Asia” my Taiwanese hosts informed me, beamingly. And finally we ended up on a mountain with a night view overlooking Kaohsuing.

In line with Huntz boundless hospitality, he provided a room for us in his apartment. We awoke the next morning and had a delivious vegetarian breakfast at hunt’s friends’ moms’ veggie breakfast bar. Then we went to the “love River”, Kaohsuings river attraction for a stroll in the mornings sun and blue sky. Next we went to a giant temple complex where there were Chinese Taoist and Buddhist tamples as far as the eye could see. There was a giant confucious temple and pavilion of the gods on the banks of a large lake. In the temple was a 30 feet statue of a god from an ancient Taoist myth, along with some Pagoda’s and statuesque scenes of Bodhissatva’s and Buddhas hanging out with tigers and dragons that form tunnels. A sign informed us that you must enter through the Dragons mouth and exit through the tigers mouth, for it is bad luck to get eaten by a tiger but good luck to get eaten by a dragon.

After eating a delicious Thai dinner, Yutsen and I were bulleted back to Taipei in a High speed train.



Cloudgate Dance Performance

On the Saturday night before I came back to Taipei, Yutsen and I went to see the “cloud gate” dance performance. Cloudgate is a Taiwanese dance group which has gained international renown for an innovative fusion of modern dance and traditional Chinese arts. The composer of last nights show is an acclaimed genius of modern dance but died at the age of 36 of lymph cancer. His works have achieved great acclaim the world over, and he was the choreographer at the Berlin opera and trained in Germany, the hub of modern dance in the last century. The show was a free performance of the “four seasons”, and Chang Kei Shek memorial hall, a sprawling complex honoring the former dictator and housing the national theater, was packed full of people in the open air mall in typical asian fashion. The show was exceedingly modern in that it was an erratic blend of traditional dance interspersed with writhing and twitching movements that appeared as involuntary movements that people make during times of high stress and intense pressure. For example, the opening dance was a group of high strung dancers in their underwear tossing themselves about in frenetically scratching their body as if they were mad with poison ivy. The naxt moment they would be arm in rm in a traditional waltz., and then again throwing themselves on the floor or pulling their hair out as if they were undergoing a nervous breakdown or were buckling under intense pressure. Other scenes would be the involuntary movements of couples breaking up – mimicking sighing, shouting helplessly. This was all set to passionate latin or german lounge music, or motzarts most moving cannons. One must be reminded that this was performed for an audience of about 30,000 Taiwanese families and couples, not quite getting some of the post-modern manias, but beaming with pride that this was an homegrown institution.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

How Jio Bo Jian (Long time no see)

Well ive been putzin around way too long and have been ever forgetful of posting my latest happenins. There are other reasons too. I moved into a new apartment about a month ago, and I dont have an internet connection there. My new apartment is in an old quarter of town, near the largest Chinese temple complex in Taipei, Confucious and Bo-an Temples. It is primarily populated by older Tiawanese folks, so it is a bit more genuine, traditional and slower paced, and most importantly, cheaper. Its got a nice vibe to it, and there are a few traditional and night markets in the proximity, including one on the street that adjoins the alley where my apartment is. THe night market street has a cheap Juice bar, tasty tea bar, and a vegetarian buffet so it is easy to make myself at home in the area. My girlfriend also lives in the neighborhood and it is on the main subway line into town. I have been profoundly busy of late, attending some outdoor parties at the beach and in the mountains, as well as seeing some avante garde theater and film festivals with Yutsen, my girlfriend.

Recieving the Tao

On a saturday in the beginning of June I went to a taoist initiation with my friend Sophia, a vegan taoist who I met at a vegetarian resteraunt near my work. Yi Guan Dao is a modern Daoist sect founded in China but propagated in Taiwan. They are a modern incarnation of traditional Chinese beliefs-a fusion of Taoist-Buddhist-Confucianist beliefs and p[ractices, a more ritualized, organized and systematized form of Chinese religion based on traditional Chinese spirituality and Taoist philosophy including Chuang Tzu and Lao Tzu. They are all vegetarians, as well. Sophias philosophical and spiritual enthusiasm always garuntee an interesting interchange between her and I. She picked me up after work Saturday and took me to the temple complex in the mountains with her fiance, and another member of her temple. I was very excited at this oppurtinity to experience authentic Chinese Taoist spirituality which I have learned so much about in its intellectual and philosophical exchange with modern western culture. Everyone at the temple complex was excited to have me because I was a foreigner, and the movement is largely Chinese, with good reason considering that is steeped in the rich religious and ethical heritage of China. I took part in a "recieving of the Tao" ceremony in which a priest blessed me under the gaurdianship of the "Spirits and Buddhas" who she summoned in an elaborate ritual and esoteric recitations. SHe explained to me the three treasures or practices of Yi Guan Dao in whcih if I practice regularly I can "cultivate Tao" and "enter the gates of heaven". They also explained to me a meditation practice and mantram to help me cultivate Tao. They provided me with some literature about practicing Taoism, which is very interesting because it provides methods for reaching Tao, or the way of all things, through daily practice, meditations, and Yi Ching harmony. The ceremony lasted about an hour, and I was also given a tour of the temple complex which contained a museum of Taoism, with exhibits on Yi Ching, Taoist astronomy and astrology.

Peacefest


Two weeks ago I went to a peace festival in the mountains outside of Taipei. This was a gathering of the alternative, countercultural, anti-war ex-pat and Taiwanese community. Full of jams, dancing, and good fellowship, it was billed as a "celebration of humanity, a chance to show Taiwan an alternate view on life, to move focus away from individual ego towards the greater good" with a whole lot of mud and vibes thrown in. Aside from grooving in the mountains all day long, the most inspirational part of the festival was the "peace circle" held during the Saturday afternoon sunset. This consisted of about half of hte festival goers assembled in a circle hind in hand while an aboriginal drummer and sunger troupe conjuered up benevolent spirits via heartical rythyms and soulful chantings. It was like a giant tribal Hora dance in the mountains, super entrancing and soul bonding. It was so powerful that a clean cut Canadian fellow with a big grim looking cross tattooed on his chest, not the stereotypical flower power type, said to me, " I know I just met you but can I hold your hand" after being broken off from the circle due to the mass movement of the formation. This set the vibe high and the spirit full for the remainder of the evening while soul-funk, reggae, japanese folk, and "tribal trip bop" musicians served up extensive grooves and roots-centric funky rythyms the whole night long. Everyone dancing and grooving in the mud in a far eastern woodstock, I was filled with good heart and spirit for a good time after I returned to Taipei.

Avante Garde Theater

Last weekend I went to an experimental theater show at the National theater. The show was written and directed by an American playwright who has lived in Tiawan for the past fourteen years. It was extraordinaly experimental, with no dialogue. I would describe it as very Dada-ist. The set looked very wooden and rustic, with just a decayed wooden chair and a big wooden box in front of it. In the first scene a woman comes out with a brown paper bag, and her movements are extremely slowed down. She carefully takes out a tape recorder that looks rusty and dusty, places it on the table and presses play. The tape player commences an extremely slow piano music which is the theme of the entire show. Then she places the bag on her head. Another woman comes out and rips the top off the bag (on the womans head) and after a few moments pulls her hand out to reveal that her hand is smeared with blue paint which seemingly originates from the inside of the big on the woman's hand. In the next scene the woman is standing on the table, music playing, and the second woman on looking, and slowly lifts up her skirt to reveal the blue paint splattered on her white underwear. In another scene, a person in a bird suit comes out, pours a liquid from a brown bottle on the sleeping first gilrl and lays down to sleep with her. Another scene displays a masculine woman dressed in a suit who pulls a peice of cloth from her crotch and scissors it off, later to be stuffed in her mouth. The scenes of slow acts of irrationality and visual nonsense proceed for about an hour, all to the tempo of slow and dramatic piano music. At some points the entire 5 or 6 person female cast (including the directors mother, a hearty looking midwestern woman) harmonize elegently to correspondingly nonsensical lyrics. I think the beautiful and slow tempo and singing to graceful piano notes reflect some sort of hope in the midst of the flagrant irrationality, gender and sexual confusion of the modern hyper-information over-sensitized post modern reality.



Pictured above is the Temple complex located across the street from my new apartment.

Me skankin and rockin with groovy Taiwanese at Peacefest.

Yutsen at Peacefest.


More from the Temple...

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Peaceful Warrior

Last night I watched the movie "A Peaceful Warrior". It is about a restless, naive, and egotistic young championship gymnast who comes under the tutelage of a wise, zen master type mentor he owns a Gas service station. The movie documents the waking and wizening up of this young man as he goes from being a typical headstrong and selfish American party-animal college student into an aware and mindful of the present moment inner warrior. The wise service station mentor was played by Nick Nolte, and he was full of wonderful parables and idioms taken directly from the wisdom traditions of east and west. I would like to share some of the useful quotes from the mentor character, Socrates:

1. Life has three aspects: Paradox, Humour, and Change.

2. Paradox: Life is a mystery; don't bother figuring it out.

3. Humor: No matter what circumstances, do not lose your sense of humor.

4. Change: Do not be so sure in life; anything can change.

5. There is never nothing going on. There are no ordinary moments.

6. This moment: The past and the future do not matter; all that matters is now, this moment.

7. It's not the destination that brings happiness, but the journey.

8. Take out the trash from what's inside your head.

9. Empty your mind.

10. Everything has a purpose, even this, and it's up to you to find it.

11. A warrior does not give up what he loves, he finds the love in what he does.

12. I call myself a Peaceful Warrior... because the battles we fight are on the inside.

13. A warrior is not about perfection or victory or invulnerability. He's about absolute vulnerability.

14. There is no starting or stopping - only doing.

15. There's no greater purpose than service to others.

16. Everyone wants to tell you what to do and what's good for you. They don't want you to find your own answers, they want you to believe theirs.

17. I want you to stop gathering information from the outside and start gathering it from the inside.

18. People are not their thoughts, they think they are, and it brings them all kinds of sadness.

19. Death isn't sad. The sad thing is: most people don't live at all.

20. What time is it? Now.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peaceful_Warrior

the Free Market in the 21st century

This article highlights the windfall profits that multi-national corporations are lining their pockets with while the rest of the world continues on a downfall plunge into starvation and poverty. As the supply of staple foodstuffs dwindle due to increased demand that has "partly been caused by the boom in biofuels, which require vast amounts of grain, but even more by increasing appetites for meat, especially in India and China; producing 1lb of beef in a feedlot, for example, takes 7lbs of grain." (Would we be having such a serious crisis if the Indian and Chinese kept to their religious heritages and maintained a vegetarian diet?); Giant agribussinesses reap huge profits from skyrocketing prices -

"Monsanto last month reported that its net income for the three months up to the end of February this year had more than doubled over the same period in 2007, from $543m (£275m) to $1.12bn. Its profits increased from $1.44bn to $2.22bn.

Cargill’s net earnings soared by 86 per cent from $553m to $1.030bn over the same three months. And Archer Daniels Midland, one of the world’s largest agricultural processors of soy, corn and wheat, increased its net earnings by 42 per cent in the first three months of this year from $363m to $517m. The operating profit of its grains merchandising and handling operations jumped 16-fold from $21m to $341m.

Similarly, the Mosaic Company, one of the world’s largest fertiliser companies, saw its income for the three months ending 29 February rise more than 12-fold, from $42.2m to $520.8m, on the back of a shortage of fertiliser. The prices of some kinds of fertiliser have more than tripled over the past year as demand has outstripped supply. As a result, plans to increase harvests in developing countries have been hit hard."

On Top of that, investment banks are doing the same speculating on these dwindling foodstuffs -"investment in grain and meat has increased almost fivefold to over $47bn in the past year". This excessive greed and "immoral" behavoir is downright irresponsible, and this immense wealth made off the suffering of the worlds poor should be confiscated and redirected towards solutions for the apocolyptic global food crisis. This is the same as huge profits oil companies are making off of increased oil prices while the communities of the world pay the price.

http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/05/04/8710/

Sunday, May 4, 2008

My yoga routine







As much as possible I try to do the postures of yoga for their manifold health and spirit benefits. I practice a mixture of Ananda Marga Yoga, Vinyasa, Anusara Yoga, Classical Hatha Yoga, and Iyengar yoga, all picked up from various classes in each style over the past 5 years. I became interested in Yoga as a way to practice meditation and also improve my physical health. Now that I have been practicing it on a regular basis for quite some time now, I have found it is a subtle system of total health, mind and body. There are countless physical benefits, such as weight loss, muscle building, greatly increased flexibility. They promote mind body and harmony, positive thinking and positive self-image. It excercises the intuitive faculties of the mind. Yoga connects you to the source of mind, body and breath. It brings in a new awarenes, one that is more organic and connected to subtle aspects of life. I am speaking from my own experience, which has confirmed the testimony of a tradition that has roots over 7,000 years.
Any constructive criticism from fellow yogis is welcomed and encouraged.
I always try to wait three or four hours after I eat before I begin my practice. I do it almost everywhere, in the big city, in the mountains, on the beach, even in freinds apartments with a hangover. All that is required is a body and a basic knowledge of right and wrong posturing. I welcome pain which acts as a massager for breaking the new joints and muscles out of suspended animation, but if I have any suffering or post-practice pain I seek advice from a qualified Yoga instructor or physician. If it is a pose which is aptly held for a long time, such as shoulder stand, I breathe consciously through my nose for 30-60 breaths while in the posture, and repeat 2 times. If it is a posture which I only hold for 8 seconds 8 times, I hold my breathe while in the pose, inhale/exhale going in/out of the pose depending on the posture. Usually when I go into a bending posture, such as standing/sitting forawrd bends,, I breathe out going into the posture and in coming out. When it is a more strenious muscle building posture such as wheel posture I breath in going into the posture, which provides more strength. The benefactors of the Yoga tradition maintain that for the full range of psycho-somatic benefits of regular yoga practice to be effective, a vegetarian diet is incumbent upon the practitioner.
My basic routine is as follows, more or less (unless I need to work on a particular part of my body in which case I consult Yogajournal.com for the appropriate healing postures):
1. Surya Namaskars (Sun Salutation), with arm and leg posture 4X
2. Tree posture>Warrior III 2X each side
3. Pyramid posture 2X each side
4. Yoga Mudra 8X
5. Seated Spinal twist 2X
6. Dangerous pose and Cow faced posture (legs in dangerous posture, arms and back in Cow Faced) 2X
7. Sitting forward bend, butterfly stretch 2X
8. Cat/Cow posture 8X
9. Cobra 8X
10. Bow Posture 8X
11. Locust posture 2X
12. Wheel posture
14. Shoulder stand into plow 2X (hold shoulderstand for a minute each)
15. Fish posture 2X (between shoulderstands)
16. After these Asanas, I self message my whole body, then I lie in Corpse Pose for 5-20 minutes.
17. After Yoga Asana, I practice tantric meditation for 30-60 minutes. Any sort of meditation after yoga practice is key to fully integrating the powers of yoga. It re-orientates the awareness fully into the mind-breath continuum.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

general thoughts on general thoughts





today the weather was very nice, sunny and pleasant, the kind that laid back summer days are made of. After I woke up I worked for a few hours teaching 10 yr olds about colonial america and related vocabulary for a short story in their reading book. Then they did oral presentations which us foreign teachers had to evaluate. Some of the kids are so shy that they are inaudible and have to dictate to their FT who relays it to the rest of the students packed in the library room. Following teaching I hung out and got a seaweed-yam-rice burger from a japanese fast food resteraunt chain a la McDonalds with my new co-worker who is from Rockville Maryland and whose parents are Taiwanese. Then I went for a hike in my mountains, then off to Wulai hot spring resort with some people in my yoga club. Wulai is a hot spring resort town to the south of Taipei set fairly high in jagged and lush mountains, we sat on a bench on the side of a street and dipped our foot into a pool of 100+ water straight from the hot springs in the stream below. I made peanut butter sandwiches for Zoe and Yogindra, two taiwanese Yogis as the hot spring water massaged my calloused (from previously mentioned hike) feet. Then we went into a path where other Taipei day-trippers were checking out the display from the fireflys, all concentrated in this one area due to displacement from the Taipei basin. Following that I hit a late night meditation session at the yoga house with my boy Dada K.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

widening perspectives



On Thursday night I visited, along with my freind Colleen, a friend of ours, another foreign teacher who out of the blue found out she has a brain tumour last Sunday. It was an incredibly inspiring experience, because her attitude was so positive and graceful , and her smile was so bright and she also was so open. Her vibe was so uplifting. Another freind kept asking about her condition, and she didnt want to go into it, but finally she said that the surgery is incredibly dangerous, the tumor has spread into the inside of her brain, and she also can no longer drain spinal fluid from her brain. So the situation doesnt look good, but she said finally, she is able to focus and appreciate the present moment. She said she is the kind of person who is always worrying about hte future, or about the past and never ever feel in touch with the present moment. She said this situation allowed her to appreciate this feeling that she never could, and it seemed like it gave her such a wider perspective of life, I was really moved and touched by this experience. The following night I had a profound discussion with my freind Oliver about death. He says that he thinks it is a positive thing becuase it allows one to move onto a bigger thing than all the petty worries and entanglements that burden our daily existence and produce so much suffering. Death allows us to move onto a bigger thing becuase we are part of something here, something that must be cosmic since we are of the same basic substance as the milky way and beyond. He said that the positive thing about death provides release from our tiny perspective, almost like the parable of Plato's cave. I have spent the weekend digesting these thoughts, and I really wanted to write them down. I hope I didnt freak out anybody with such morbid ramblings, but I really wanted to share them with my fellow terrestrial cosmic life travelers.
Anyway yesterday I had to sub a class in the afternoon, then I went to my french freind Olivers for some wonderful conversation, and barbecue on his rooftop becuase it was such beautiful weather, sunny and in the 80s, a real rarity on this subtropical island. Then we went to a progressive house dance party at a japanese club that my coworker's freind DJ'ed so had guest passes and got in free. There wasnt many people there becuase the music was a little too sophisticated for most Taipei clubgoers, who usually groove to Hip Hop, but there were some alternative people like me. I even saw one taiwanese guy in a tye dye which was refreshing. Today I went to a skatepark near my girlfreinds house, I picked up a board becuase there are a bunch of skateparks around here which set me craving to carve concrete. I met some Taiwanese skaters whjo are always really cool and freindly. Then I met with my girlfreind and we discussed Chinese poetry because I picked up a book of 100 T'ang dynasty poems, which are so beautiful.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

thoughts on eating organic and teaching english

So every morning I eat at this organic market. I get this multi-vegetable green juice which is the lifeblood of my day, I have been taking it every morning for about six months now. I was very sick with lymes when I first started drinking it, and I think it along with daily yoga practice helped my system recover (and continues to recover) from the trauma that the lymes did to my system. I live in a kind of nicer suburb (although still heavily urban) area northeast of Taipei, and its full of well to do families and Taiwanese are really into food and health so the organic thing has really caught on here. However, unlike in the states, only 30 and 40 yr old woman really eat organic, and all the people who work there are of that demographic, and so they are thrilled to have me come in every morning for breakfast and are so eager to say hi to me and teach me some Chinese. Its a really wonderful vibration, and I think my continued and consistent presence makes them so happy. They always say to me, "You are part of our family" and it makes me feel so good because my family is on the other side of the Earth. I think one needs to build a loving community in order to feel like one has a place and a home, and its such a gratifying feeling.
Teaching English is going really great, and I really am getting adjusted into the teacher role, although it is probbaly one of the biggest challenges insofar of my life. Its also difficult adjusting to the day-to-day realities of working in a full time job in that sort of 9-5 setting although everyone nows I'm kind of pretty wierd and alternative. There is a wonderful ambience among me and my coworkers, and my foreign teacher colleague, Paul, from England is a great guy who has the same sense of humor and taste in movies and television, so we have lots of laughs and running jokes which makes working so much better. And all the Chinese teachers are so sweet and down to earth, I think they enjoy my presence as muhc as I do theirs. Teaching English is basically creating games and activities, and some free discussion with the kids, and a whole lot of "whiteboard discipline". "whiteboard discipline" is basically dividing the class into two teams, and giving them points if they participate or win in the competitive activities, like spelling games and basketball incorperating vocubalary excercises. Whichever team has the most points at the end of class gets a prize of some gummy bears or maybe fake money. The best thing about teaching, in my opinion, is when you come up with a really fun and creative activity thats also really funny, and the kids love it, and you love it. Its such a group mind thing, and its so cool because the kids get so into it, they put all of their heart and soul into it.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

why i laugh alot and love everybody

blogs are great because they are a place where its perfectly ok, and even expected to be self-indulgent, which is what I am good at
anyway I thought Id try my hand at it and include some of the music ive been grooving to over the past few -

-Donna the Buffalo (thanks to Jim)
-Burning Spear, Peter Metro, Black Uhuru, Israel Vibration, (thanks to my french buddy Oliver who is the authority on all things Reggae)
-Country Gentleman, Seldom Scene (thanks to Daniel)
-Good Ol' Grateful Dead (thanks be to God)