Tuesday, July 28, 2009

revisiting i love to you exactly two years ago today.

thinking now of the triggering events that led me to Irigaray's work brought me back to a question that was posed to me two years ago: why have you never dealt with sexuality and the body in your work on decolonization? and the answer was that I needed to integrate the wisdom of my body into the cerebral work that I do. I needed to learn how to dance (again), how to chant, how to breath deeply; in other words, to be in a body-mind-spirit sense of wholeness.

last night as Vedel played her own composition Wonder on the guitar, Frances picked up some shells from my sungka and gave them to me and Venus to use as percussion. Lizae had the bells. and then Frances began to move to the music...slowly at first, low on the ground, then slowly rising and building up a crescendo of energy and movement. the cat scampered away as the thumping of feet on the floor must have confused her.

after the music and dance, it was palpable that we had briefly been in a non-ordinary state of reality. and there was no more need for words.

but shortly thereafter, i asked the group to describe what just happened and try to articulate it within a cognitive framework of some sort for an academic audience. you want to know the answer? you have to plan on attending the Babaylan conference...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Chatelaine's post about public education (7/21) deserves mention here because I like it when poets rant about the dire issues facing our public education.

California K-12 schools are ranked at almost the bottom of the nation's schools. The legislations that have been passed over the past two decades that undermine public education funding - the near-total elimination of bilingual education programs, anti-immigrant legislation, English-only policies, Prop 13, lack of adequate preparation of teachers for a diverse population, low pay for teachers (prison guards are better paid) -- are but a few of the major issues.

The bigger picture, though, is that it's not only our public schools that are failing. The financial and corporate sectors have also failed us. No need to say more about this.

Matthew Fox says that both religion and education are failing to prepare us for the post-modern 21st century. Check Thomas Berry, too -- both visionaries.

No matter the big picture, a parent still dreams and wants the best education for her child.

What is the "best education" for our times? I think about this when I think of five-year old Noah.

I have friends who have put their kids in Waldorf schools because they believe that Rudolph Steiner's philosophy about educating the spirit, body, and mind is the way to go.

Then there are parents who have abandoned the public schools for private Catholic schools or to private academies for children of the elite.

Today we visited an Instilling Goodness Elementary School at the City of 10,000 Buddhas in Ukiah... just thought I'd mention it since I've been thinking about alternative educational institutions lately.

I know young idealistic K-12 teachers who are passionate about teaching academic excellence and are successful in inspiring students to become active learners. Kalpna Mistry and the Fulbright fellows are among those. The turnover for these bright and idealistic teachers is five years...

There are teachers like the ones Eileen describes: those whose low expectations of their students reflect their own lack of faith in the system that fails so many. So a student of color is often tracked early on to not go to college and is passed on from one grade to the next..."just to get them through."

It's hard not to believe that there is underlying racism going on here. California economy has thrived on migrant labor and immigrant labor...why then are wealthy Californians refusing to vote to raise taxes, repeal Prop 13, in order to fund our schools? Is it because more than a million of our students come from non-English speaking households? or are foreign born? or come from developing countries?

Ack! I don't like the feeling of thinking of it in these terms and I could go into globalization and its discontents or the manic phase of globalization...but not now.

Back to Eileen - I know she will be a great advocate for her son...and those teachers should be forewarned that she's about to turn tables and kick ass. Knowing her, she will be advocating not just for her son but on behalf of all the students in that school that often suffer the neglect of low expectations. Go Eileen!

Monday, July 20, 2009

this makes it all worthwhile...

I was deeply moved by both the Center for Babaylan Studies and the Babaylan Files blog, as if finally so much of my spirituality, politics, artistic/literary work, and heritage research was coming into sharp focus and integrating into a holistic, comprehensible whole. I am currently looking for resources to attend the 2010 Conference, as I live in Ottawa, Canada, which is a far trek to Sonoma University in the States. I'd also like to help in any way I can to bring the ideas and awareness of what the Center for Babaylan Studies is all about to Ottawa, and possibly Toronto and the surrounding Ontario areas. It's been difficult to find indigenous spiritual information and knowledge in Ottawa, so your sites have provided me with a wealth of wisdom. Thank you so much, and all the other organizers.



Friday, July 10, 2009

The Solemn Lantern Maker by Merlinda Bobis

(My notes after reading this novel in one night).

I read somewhere that the novel was invented for the entertainment of folks whose bland lives needed to be spiced up with adventure. In other words, reading a novel is a form of passive adventure for those who like theirs on the couch.

But the mind is a trickster. What it reads seeps through to the heart, to the soul, and then to the skin as goosebumps, to the throat as parched thirst, to the heart as quickened beat, to the eyes as tears. The body participates in the story and asks questions. Small ones. Big ones.

Who are these people whose lives intersected in a squalid squatter area of MetroManila?

Noland, the solemn lantern maker. No land. What dispossessed people of their land? What is this history? Whose history? Theirs? - those who came to these shores hundreds of years ago or 50 years ago?

What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be an American tourist in the tropics? Why did Cate Burns choose the Philippines to flee a marriage gone sour? How does David Lane, Iraq and Afghan war veteran, begin to put together his wholeness when his memory is crowded by the faces of women in Fallujah? What does "come home" mean? Home from Iraq, he is reassigned to the Philippines as part of the Balikatan program. He is hated here, too, by anti-imperialists but the US Consul assures him that they are doing the Philippines a favor in spite of its ungrateful sectors.

Like the movie Crash, it all comes together at an intersection of a busy street, a few days before Christmas. The lantern vendors were vying for customers. And then there is a shoot-out, as it turns out, politically motivated. An enemy erased by a political ambition. In the crossfire, an American tourist is scraped by a bullet and falls into the lantern vendor's cart. Two boys hide her and rushes her back to the squatter area to hide her and nurse her back to health.

Noland imagines she is an angel. An angel is sent from heaven. The other boy, more pragmatic, sees her only as a white American. If they save her, maybe she will offer them a reward. Americans are rich. Perhaps this is the gift they've been waiting for - an angel who will save them from their hell on earth. They dream of a future.

Noland is mute. His silence is a container for horrors that can't be told. I have a story you don't know.

There are stories and there are official stories. The stories of the squatter folks are full of their search for hope, for luck, for a way out of cardboard box huts, fetid creeks. But Noland's stories are carved out of the promise of stars, of angels, of wishes that will be granted one day.

The official stories are spun out of political imperatives and ambitions from the local to the global authorities. Official story-makers invent cults, terrorist plots -- all hinting, not too subtly, at attempts to harm Americans in a post-9/11 world.

So an American tourist happens to be at the scene of a local crime and becomes part of an international political sport. Cate Burns pleads with her own Consul to disengage the story from its official version. She was not the victim of a cult or a terrorist plot, she's only a tourist who is saved by a mute boy and his mother. No one wants the unofficial story.

Elvis and Bobby Cool ply their trade at the red light district where foreign men come for their pedophiliac adventures. Where people are starving, they sell their bodies to foreign men and the pimp is always prowling for younger recruits. Elvis is determined to protect Noland from this fate. Bobby Cool is determined to prove him wrong.

***Reading this novel, a part of me shivers. There are large silences in this novel and maybe we only need glimpses to shield the story from the eyes of voyeurs. Be frugal where life is fragile.
Merlinda weaves a tale of power in this novel. For those who can embrace the Nolands of this world, even the Elvis, Bobby Cool, Nena - Noland's mother, Cate Burns, David Lane -- often requires a deepening silence and a heart large enough for grief and perhaps later...healing.

I feel the invitation of entrainment.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A friend used to offer this quote by W.H. Auden often:

Pray for us, for there are those whose works are in better shape than their lives...

so yes, I think of this when I think of Michael Jackson.

and on facebook, i posted this:

... as the universe of narratives narrowed down, people began to live vicariously through celebrities' lives...

perhaps all in an attempt to find the short cut to nirvana.

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