mercredi, novembre 30, 2005

deb musher used to sing with the roaring 20.. this song.



Snow can wait
I forgot my mittens
Wipe my nose
Get my new boots on
I get a little warm in my heart
When I think of winter
I put my hand in my father's glove
I run off
Where the drifts get deeper
Sleeping beauty trips me with a frown
I hear a voice
"Your must learn to stand up for yourself
Cause I can't always be around"
He says
When you gonna make up your mind
When you gonna love you as much as I do
When you gonna make up your mind
Cause things are gonna change so fast
All the white horses are still in bed
I tell you that I'll always want you near
You say that things change my dear

Boys get discovered as winter melts
Flowers competing for the sun
Years go by and I'm here still waiting Withering where some snowman was
Mirror mirror where's the crystal palace
But I only can see the myself
Skating around the truth who I am
But I know dad the ice is getting thin

When you gonna make up your mind
When you gonna love you as much as I do
When you gonna make up your mind
Cause things are gonna change so fast
All the white horses are still in bed
I tell you that I'll always want you near
You say that things change my dear

Hair is grey
And the fires are burning
So many dreams
On the shelf
You say I wanted you to be proud of me
I always wanted that myself

He says
When you gonna make up your mind
When you gonna love you as much as I do
When you gonna make up your mind
Cause things are gonna change so fast
All the white horses have gone ahead
I tell you that I'll always want you near
You say that things change
My dear

mardi, novembre 29, 2005

_Rent_ original play written by Jonathan Larson, musical movie directed by Chris Colombus

"Forget regret or life is yours to miss"
"No day but today"
"Another day"
"520,600 minutes"
the songs that add up to give us another "carpe diem" theme... why do we only think about seizing the day, when we're faced with death? (aside from the fact that the movie's themes were good and worth thinking about, but that the movie as a whole was not a very good movie)

The movie made me cry... I think I started crying within twenty or thirty minutes of the film's beginning and kept crying until about an hour afterwards...

I remember standing up in front of a crowd and giving an impassioned plea for not pulling AZT, the psychological hope that it gave him and our friends was so important. At the time, back in 1992, we didn't know that AZT may have killed him faster. Maybe I would have responded differently had I known, but Bob's life was still really so precious. He cared so much about people. His love for other people was so great. I didn't know until later that all the bruises were something else -I just thought he was clumsy. At first he just thought he was clumsy, too. I remember the way we made our gifts each year... how I would search out the perfect and largest apples and he would find the perfect candycane. We made a point not to get things that were expensive or flashy and made a pont to take the time to talk about our lives. What I hoped to be someday.. and his asking me never to forget him. As if I could? I miss you, Robert. I wish you could see who I am now. How I've failed and how I've succeeded... you were so good at just loving without any expectations. My successes made you smile. Your gentleness and your stories made me happy. I found safety for a tiny moment there. When he shared the news I remember being devastated, but thinking he won't he can't die and then slowly struggling along with it a I realized he got weaker and weaker and I had to accept that he would die. That I couldn't ignore it and make it all go away. I lost one of my favorite people to AIDS on February 14, 1995.

I thought about my Angel, so like Mimi. I remembered how Angel strugggled with living and dying. She let people use her body like an object, because she never believed in her self-worth. Years of self-hate beaten into her head. How she struggled not to give into the druggies pushing and taunting. How she wanted to belog, to be loved, to fit in, and how she never could or would, because that was the lot life dealt her. Angel went from abusive boyfriend to abusive boyfriend occasionally being rescued by well-intentioned guy friends some of whom simply ended up using her, too. A few notable fellows who stayed above all that... at what sacrifice I can only imagine. I remember how she'd cry so easily and how she thought she was so broken she could never be fixed. The day she told me that she wished she could live her life over again and make different choices. The day she thought M. would somehow be her rescuer and how when he left her, she collapsed. So I cried for Angel, too -- the Angel in the movie and the Angel in my life. I remmeber how I dreamed because of Angel about opening a school where I could teach girls how to really know their self-worth how to struggle and work to love themselves in a disciplined and compassionate way and how to meet unconditional love in their lives. I wanted to teach the boys that the world requires respect and dignity. I dreamed of helping to make the world a place where Angel could have lived happily. Angel disappeared on NOvember 18, 1994. Sometimes in random places and at random times, I look up and I think I see her.

I thought of that band of friends and missed my cadre. I missed my previous life's band. The joys of how we lived and were are still so precious to me. Each day I remember that life is so precious we have to live for today. When I speak to people who speak like they live for tomorrow, I am sad, because I want to know what happens if tomorrow their loved ones are gone? In my mind, I say, "You. Did they know how much you loved them? Did you know what they meant to you?" When I say live as if this is your last, I don't mean shirk your responsibilities. I mean remember that people are so precious and our time with them is limited. When you speak with them, give deeply of yourself and be really there with them in your heart. TReasure them as if they might be gone tomorrow.

The clock ticks...
but "the bell tolls for thee..."

Life is too short to spend angry and remorseful. When our friends die we don't eulogize their Nobel Prizes or their Tony awards, we eulogize the human being, the love, the life, the warmth, the uniqueness, the laughter, the sense of humor, the character that they were. I would rather buy you a copy of _A Grief Observed_ then take you to see this movie, except I'd like to show you Mimi and Angel in the movie. How they were like people I have loved in my life and how they tap into soemthing I miss very very keenly even still today.

lundi, novembre 28, 2005

Lama Lama is Great

Meowmix Chatul wrote:

If there was a program written to describe today it would go something like this..

When xy00 hours, some part of experimental set up fails,
when fails, if Chatul gets frustrated,
then bang head into wall or some other sign of frustration
When y = even, laboratory equipment fails,
when y = odd, experimental equipment fails.
When 1715 hours arrives, allow tiny amount of success and bait the cat into
staying longer...

Meowmix's friend Lama Lama wrote in response:
How about this?


my $time = 0;
my $magicTime = 1715;
my $result = 0;
my $failure = -1;
my $n;

my %Chatul = ();

#initialization stuff here

while($result == $failure) {


try {
$result = experiment($Chatul{thesisResearch}{data});
catch IOException with {
push(@{$Chatul{thesisResearch}}, "frustration");

$n = int(rand(2));

if (n % 2) {
throw IOException("Experimental equipment failure\n");
else {
throw IOException("Lab equipment failure\n");

if ($time == $magicTime) {
$time = 0;


vendredi, novembre 25, 2005

_Saving Face_ by Alice Wu

Wow! There is nothing in the world as rewarding for me as seeing an Asian woman succeed in a non-traditional field. Kudos to Alice Wu!
Director and screenplay writer...

This film was amazing!
Really stunningly amazing... beyond words for how amazing it is. I sooo want to own a copy of the DVD. Wow... All I can say... is WOW!
A phenomenal work.. touching, humorous, so rich, ...

in some ways this movie is my hero... it is like my big fat greek wedding in some ways, and an average joe american movie, and still asain american... and it breaks the barriers that I see so many asian americans struggling with.. I am so phenomenally excited and happy to see a film like this.. I really think that Alice Wu will go down in history as having made a film that broke a barrier never touched before in the film industry. I'm shepping nachas.... oh, baby. oh, yeah.

mardi, novembre 22, 2005

Yehuda Natan ben Moshe Mordechai

I look at all that I am, the human a compilation of experiences unique because with my mind, my soul, my experiences these all sum to who I am. If I had an identical twin who did the same things and went the same places, it still would be different, right? So when people look at the person within, is hat person's soul and mind a product of the genes? It is as if you begin with a certain thing, but that everything you do from here on out will change and affect that initial being. A parent could do the exact same thing to two children, but the two children will absorb it differently. In some ways, it amazes me that if people are so complex -- how could we ever contemplate that it would ever be possible to make generalizations? yet somehow in the human experience generalizations are possible and quite commonly so.

When I think of Yehuda I think of how special he was. Unique, indeed. I think of how particular his quirks were. I might think of his preference for hotdogs, chicken breast, and anything without sauces or particular flavors. This is hardly unique, though. So going on... I think of his "tornado dance" or of his Stetson. I think of the kriat yam suf Purim costume and of the wacko hallel. I think, too, of how he gave so much of himself to people he met and saw. When I think of how powerful his presence both positive and negative could be... People talk about how selfless he was. ...and I realize how much it took to hold the negative within to keep it from ever touching or affecting anyone else's life. I contemplate how much loathing he had to hold inside to go there... and believe that that meant he had no one with whom to share that negativity, being always required to be positive and giving. No one allowed him the right to be both the negative and the positive. So he turned it inwards entirely. Looking at that, what must he have thought or seen of himself? How skewed a picture could that have been? I can only flip through the pages of the worn file in my dusty lair as I review to myself this picture. I -almost heretically- think to myself: a selfless person has other things behind the selflessness... perhaps it is a sense that he hasn't got the worth to demand from others what he gives to them? perhaps he has learned so much not to ask, because his heart is so big he sees other people's needs as being so important, so much more necessary before his own... not out of ill-will to himself, but out of love for others? who knows... the list could be endless...

In the end I think also of how specifically he was unique because his family, his friends, his lifestyle, his schooling, his sensitivity, and his hopes and dreams... He wanted people to see him and love him, maybe just the same as anyone and maybe only the way he could.

Sometimes when I think of how unique each person is I look at social science fields and I want to throw them all in the trash and tell people to just stop.. stop it all.. stop the psychology, stop the sociology, stop that stuff, but other times I know too how those fields are valuable to us as a whole... even if it pains me how thpse fieldscan encourage society to make every person a generality and to see people moving en masse instead... but then I think of it in the same manner that I assess light, photons individually trave;, but I assess them as a statistically relevant sampling ... particles moving as an emsemble, but not those assessed as individuals can be described... (biologists know nothing of this type of thing, so they can scoff much more readily at the softer sciences), but if I were to be completely honest.. well, I am not sure I could scoff so.. and not be hypocritical at least... because I would have to say that I see there is some point to the generalizations. Indeed I do.

Yehuda was a ray of light. He was able to carry beauty with him. Whatever was in his mind... and I surely do not know... I know that he touched my life with beauty and grace. His ability to love another human being was precious... rare no matter who your associates are. I know I see precious little of that in the people I have encountered thusfar in life.

dimanche, novembre 20, 2005

I Decide by Lindsey Lohan

Last night was remarkably interesting. I actually wrote a whole post about this and then my PC froze which meant I lost it. Sad, but not the end of the world. Last night, I made the green mung bean dessert soup for Miriam and her family. Batya kept me company and we watched _Princess Diaries 2_, which I realize will make Shimon groan and roll his eyes, because -yes, it is remarkably predictable, but I was okay with the fluffiness of thhe movie. There are three songs on the soundtrack whose lyrics I like very much. I Decide, This is My Time, and Your Crowning Glory... it was so cute though that Batya held my hand when she got really excited in the movie.. it was so funny and reached one of those deep inner spots of humanity.

I had really interesting discussions with a friend of mine who came in town for job interviews. We haven't had time like that in a really really long time and it was so nice.

There seems to be a general concensus from people that there isn't a one person this bashert who is the only person one will ever match up with ever... which is fascinating to me. I remember having a discussion with Josh about the Talmud's "take" on marriages and how one and another one get together and how it "works." I remember speaking to a number of people about how one "knows" when one has found one's match and it is interesting to me, not the variance and not the similarities in their opinions about how one meets or who one meets that other person, but more the emotional and internal position of the person when he/she discovers the person he/she chooses to marry. It seems more from talking to a lot of people that that mental frame is of great importance for a match to occur. It's like Plonit Aleph says this year she will meet her husband and get married this year and Ploni Bet says that he just decided that he was going to meet a girl, and then he found and decided to marry Plonit Gimel. It is really intriguing to me. Because in a bunch of cases of people that I've spoken to now, both married and non-married people seem to agree that the idea of there being one and only one doesn't seem to work. It's humourous to me, because several people have mentioned this niggling suspicion independently of each other.

Besides that I saw a remarkable case this week of another one of these intentionality/mindfulness, Buddhist training things at work, which makes me marvel and feel awe for the human mind. I agree with those who would postulate that emotions come from that unique set of experiences that an individual goes through.. those experiences add up to create the person, complete with his/her complexity... that complexity that CSLewis wrote about in _A Grief Observed_ and that complexity that makes it so we can't truly ever predict another person's thoughts, beliefs, and actions.

vendredi, novembre 18, 2005

overheard recently from tigerlily

Overheard recently... "oh, and the cutie can't spell for shit."

How amusingly funny a line. I love it!

mercredi, novembre 16, 2005

Manon Lescaut by Giacomo Puccini

I heard/saw last night and EXCELLENT performance of the opera Manon Lescaut. It was so phenomenally good actually I was so pleasantly surprised.. When I was a child we would go to the opera and sometimes I would be bored and sometimes I would be entranced.. it really depended on the opera and the opera company.. I wish I could take my father to hear an opera performance when he comes to visit, but I don't know when he will next come to visit. sEriously though.. he would love to hear opera performed live here. It's much better than what we had back at home. When we were little my parents took our whole family to the opera and we would listen and just breathe in the gorgeous music. It was amazingly wonderful.. the performance brought me to tears actualyl.. it felt so good to hear the music performed well.. there's soemthing about how music really touches the soul.. My "aunt" Rachel says I am a sensitive person, tehre's some book about sensitive people, she was reading it to see if my "cousin" Miriam was a sensitive child, since she is sensitive to sounds, but when she was done reading it Rachel emailed me and said, I don't think Miriam is sensitive like this book says anymore, but I do think *you* are. It made me laugh at how cute and funny that was. I have yet to read the book though I hope to at some point, because I am very curious to know what this type of person is. Anyway, I believe it probably connects to the way I experience opera. I efel it deep in my soul. The storylines are never greatly developed, but it is the music and the staging which make opera so incredible.. the pathos of the music.. there is soemthing about those sounds done just so which strike my ehartstrings and brings me to soar in glee and crash in sorrow with the opera as it unfolds before my eyes. It is so beautiful.

The only thing that bothered me was the bad step that they gave the male singers.. to prance forward and back.. it was badly done. The sets were gorgeous. Manon's acting and signing were stupendous. Des Grieux's singin was fantastic. Lescaut was obviously a lesser qulatiy voice which was troubling. Geronte also had a beautiful voice, but sadly it was unremarkable when placed next to Manon and Des Grieux.

this whole production was about gorgeous mouth-watering presentation and stunningly vivid juxtapositions. It was very decadent and brimmed full of passion in the entire act 2.. which I think was really Puccini's masterpiece. I've never seen a more compelling act or heard a more heart-wrenching and beautiful series of duets.

I really loved this ending scene in Act 2 where Manon brings to Geronte the mirror and says look at yourself and then look at us... she is juxtaposing the lovers vs. the lecherous old man (there seems to always be a tragic woman who dies and a lecherous old man in these great stories), what was astoundingly played was the fact that when Geronte has her arrested, he brings her tattered belongings before her and then shows her the same mirror and that final positioning .. physically is so striking.. it compels one to see the juxtaposition and to recall the actions that were mirrored.. likewise there is this lovely bit of music in the first act when desGrieux falls in love with Manon and wants her to run away with him. It is mirrored in words, language and even a hint of the musical theme when she is in prison and he is hoping to have her break out of the jail.. the juxtaposition of her life before versus her life in the jail... he tries to free her from both previous scenarios.. in one case doomed to the convent, loveless, and poor, young and lovely... and in the other case, imprisoned, separated from her love, trodden by time more now, and about to be exiled... He is proof that "Omnia Amor vincet" is not true as the nun in _The Canterbury tales_ would have us believe... Love does not conquer all. Apparently, Puccini felt it was a worthwhile tale to tell of how love cannot conquer a woman's folly, a man's jealousy, human greed, nor a man's lust... or is that really his theme.. perhaps not. Perhaps really Puccini was trying to tell us how miserable life, even with the noblest of emotions, cannot be unsullied and ideal in this world. this amazingly deep love that des Grieux feels for Manon drives him and her on this terrible downwards path.. had Manon never met des Grieux and instead been abducted into a life of luxury with Geronte she could still have borne it well and fared decently.. but once one has tasted that beautiful thing of a real love.. precious, delicious, and amazingly powerful --kind of like one of the richest creamiest of custard.. ah, the perfect creme brulee for example... so soft, so transient, so delectable, one wants to keep it forever but even the moment it is on the tongue it is vanishing before one can capture it and commit it to memory. (Can you tell I like a gourmet creme brulee? heh.) Anyway.. I am not yet sure I have a handle on what was fantastic about this opera theme wise, but I have to tell you my artistic palate's epicurean desires were so well soothed last night I am eager to hear Der Rosenkavalier in February... and tempted sorely to take off to hear Cosi fan tutte or die fledermaus in january ... though I haven't a clue who i would go with if i went in january.

Apparently, Jacob doesn't think that a gorgeous opera is worth the travel... sigh. The unappreciative!

dimanche, novembre 13, 2005

_Kitchen_ by Banana Yoshimoto

"...a kitchen, some plants, someone sleeping in the next room... perfect quiet. At peace, I slept. ... p.16"
So BY writes about Mikage's own experience recovering from the death of her last family member. Me, reading it, I thought about the weeks after Yehuda's death, when I took comfort in having people sleep over in my living room.. somehow they provided me with peacefulness that I think someone who is sensitive to some degree might understand. I take comfort now, despite Sheena's berating me for leaning on people too much and Dalia's disapproval, that other people, too, who have felt such pain have also taken refuge in the same kind of things I did. That for a handful of people perhaps, such slight alterations to a situation keep the aura of death at bay until the pain can be handled more easily.

I found this book to be so cathartic and so good at pointing at how I felt that I was relieved and happier for having read it. Recovering the will to live after so many traumas in a row, beginning with Dave's death, Carrie's death, and leading up to this point where the tolling bell came to be so painful for me, is a journey in itself. I found that reading of MIkage and Yuichi's struggles and then Satsuki's struggle, too... it reminds me of the bits I went through on my own, too. Grieving is so personal in a way. When Ilana asked, meaning to be kind, how I was doing... I just thought to myself, how can I tell this person who doesn't know me and doesn't know what I felt or took into my heart, ... but who also doesn't know what my life's past has been and why it mattered to me so much. It hurt like you couldn't believe that people who aren't grieving stare at you like you're a freak and they judge you for things they don't know and don't feel. No one seems to "get" it. And the grief is renewed again and again for each person --I don't think that grieving gets easier when more people die. It's just different. I remember the numbness I felt when Ronald Marshall died. That numbness was nothing like the chill that grabbed my heart when Carrie died. It was worse when Yehuda died. It comfotrts me that other people feel the same heart stop when they see a reminder them.. maybe it's a laugh, or a joke, a hand mannerism, a moue, an object, or an article of clothing, somehow the little pieces that we hold in our hands... how we don't let go, how we let go, but then are called back to remember, ... pausing for pain happens continuously, because we don't ever really forget ... and how people further down the line in our lives will never understand why a red pickup truck might make me sad, or why a black leather vest or a black hat might cause me to stop breathing for a moment longer than normal,... but that people down the line in my life wont' know, won't udnerstand, won't see past the curtain of superficialtiy.

Yoshimoto writes on p. 20" No matter how dreamlike a love I have found myself in, no matter how delightfully drunk i have been in my heart I was always aware that my family consisted of only one other person. The space that cannot be filled, no matter how cheerfully a child and an old person are living together --the deathly silence that, panting in a corner of the room, pushed its way in like a shudder. I felt it very early, althgouh no one told me about it. ... When was it I realized that, on this truly dark and solitary path we all walk, the only way we can light is our own? Althrough I was raised with love, I was always very lonely. Someday without fail, everyone will disappear, scattered into the blackness of time. I've always lived with that knowledge rooted in my being..."

That passage speaks to me so strongly I am not sure I have the words to convey it well to anyone else what it conjures within me.

Living with the Tanabes, Mikage finds that "little by little, light and air came into [her] heart." With the peace in their unobtrusive company, she slowly reacclimated herself to life. This emergence into light comes with something that Mikage only slowly recognises within herself, though.

"Even I, slow as I am, finally understood his excessive unnaturalness. When I took a good look in his eyes, I understood. He was terribly, terribly sad. Sotaro had said that even though she'd been seeing him for a year Yuichi's girlfriend didn't understand that slightest thing about him, and it made her angry. she said Yuichi was incapable of caring more for for a girl than he did for a fountain pen. Because I wasn't inlove with Yuichi, I understood that very well. The quality and importance of a fountain pen meant to him something completely different from what it meant to her. p.29" She sees it first in Yuichi who is mourning the loss of a parent and his own family. Yuichi's tender protective care for his fountain pen seems to the outsider -even to the girlfriend- so weird. The fountain pen though is a symbol of something steady, reliable, trustworthy, and meaningful that isn't true of the girlfriend. She doesn't understand him and becuase she doesn't understand who he is, she doesn't "get" how to meet his needs and get her needs met by him.

"If a person wants to stand on her own two feet, I recommend undertaking the care and feeding of soemthing. It oculd be children, or it could be the houseplants, you know? By doing that you come to udnerstand your own limitations. That's where it starts." so said Eriko to Mikage p.41.

"...if a person hasn't ever experiences true despair, she grows old never knowing how to evaluate where she is in life; never understanding what joy really is. I'm grateful for it. p.41" (Eriko, also to Mikage) (personally I agree with that line.) p.42" There are many days when all the awful things that happen make you sick at heart, when the path before you is so steep you can't bear to look. Not even love can reascue a person from that. ... As I grow older, much older, I will experience many things, and I will hit rock bottom again and again. Again and again I will suffer; again and again I wil get back on my feet. I will not be defeated. I won't let my spirit be destroyed." Mikage promises to herself that she will learn to be happy in the moment and to take the pleasure today and the pain tomorrow, the pain today and the pleasure tomorrow. that this piece of life will be again and again.

"I felt that I was the only person alive and moving in a world brought to a stop. Houses always feel like that after someone has died." p.55 oddly this is so true... I know exactlyt he feeling she is writing about.. it is like a shiva house feeling. Amazing to put words to it... because it doesn't seem logical but that is precisely the feeling I felt.

also on p. 55"Truly great people emit a light that warms the hearts of those around them. When that light has been put out, a heavy shadow of despair descends."

One theme for which there is no perfect series of quotations, but for which there is a connection between what BY writes and what I saw and experienced myself is that somehow after a death, people work together to clean things up.. and somehow in the cleaning up.. there is some kind of a sense of calming down.. I'm not sure I know why, but I know that somehow the cleaning motion, cleaning up a kitchen for example is a means of making the world feel okay.

Mikage gets a job for a famous cook... "When I saw the women who attend the classes, it made sense. Their attitude was completely different from mine. Those women lived their lives happily. They had been taught, probably by caring parents, not to exceed the boundaries of their happiness regardless of what they were doing. But therefore they could never know real joy. Which is better? Who can say? Everyone lives the way she knows best. What I mean by 'their happiness' is living a life untouched as much as possible by the knowledge that we are really, all of us, alone. That's not a bad thing. Dressed in their aprons, their smiling faces like flowers, learning to cook, absorbed in their littel troubles and perplexities, they fall in lvoe and marry. I think that's great. I wouldn't mind that kind of life. Me, when I'm utterly exhausted by it all, when my skin breaks out, on those lonely evenings when I call my friends again and again and nobody's home, then I despise my own life --my birth, my upbringing, everything. I feel only regret for the wole thing."p. 59 {personally, i found this paragraph startling in its sharpness, but wholly something I knew the taste of.}

pp.59-60 "No matter what, I want to continue living with the awareness tha I will die. Without that, I am not alive. That is what makes the life i have no possible. Inchin one's way along a steep cliff in the dark on reaching the highway, one breathes a sigh of relief. Just when one can't take it anymore, one sees the moonlight. Beauty that seems to infuse itself into the heart: I know about that."

p.61" Of course there is a relationship. ... don't you think that seeing such a beautiful moon influences what one cooks?"

Eriko explains to Mikage what happened to Yuichi's real mother. and finishes with this soliloquy about how it was just her and the pineapple plant and how event he pineapply plant died and there was no one who could possilby understand her left... p.81-82 "I realized that the world did not exist for my benefit. It followed that the ratio of pleasant and unpleasant things around me would not change. It wasn't up to me. It was clear that the best thing to do was to adoprt a sort of muddled cheerfulness. ..." eriko ends up investing in her beauty and her self, she and Yuichi buy some fun, bbeautiful and tasteful appliances.. things which will make them happy and add a level of quality to their lives. Mikage reflects and says " this what it means to be happy? ... Why is it we have so little choice? We live like the lowliest worms. Always defeated --defeated we make dinner, we eat, we sleep. Everyone we love is dying. Still to cease living is unacceptable." p.82.

p.86 "... it was true that she jumped to conclusions and that her life was a mess --even her earlier stint as a salesman had been a failure. I was aware of all that, but the beauty of her tears was something I would not soon forget. She made me realize that the human heart is something very precious."

pp.96 "Look at you, I thought. thanks to a sudden whim, here youa re hanging from a roof, panting white puffs of breath. You've really outdone yourself htis time. ... pp. 97 Lying there on my back, I looked up at the roof of the in nd , staring at the glowing moon and clouds, I thought, really we're all in the same position. (It occurred to me that I had often thought that in similar situations, in moments of utter desperation. I would like to be known as an action philosopher. We all believe we can choose our own path from among the many alternatives. But perhaps it's more accurate to say that we make the choice unconsciously. I think I did --but now I knew it, because now I was able to put it into words. But I dont' mean this is the fatalistic sense; we're constantly making choices. With the breaths we take every day, with the expressions in our eyes, with the daily actions we do over and over, we decide as thugh by instinct. and so some of us will inevitably find ourselves rolling around in a puddle on some roof in a strange place with a takeout katsudon in the middle of winter, looking up at the night sky as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Ah, but the moon was lovely." p.98

p.101"You see, Yuichi, how much I don't want to lose you. We;ve been very lonely, but we had it easy. Because death is so heavy --we, too young to know about it, couldn't handle it. After this you and I may end up seeing nothing but suffering, difficulty, and ugliness, but if only you'll agree to it, I want for us to go on to moredifficult places, happier places, whatever comes, together. ..."

p.104 "While watching them, I felt a strange, sweet sadness. In the biting air I told myself, there will be so much pleasure, so much suffering. with or without Yuichi."

dude, this post took 6 hours to finish typing up.

Japan- the willow tree, her branches blowing in the wind and reaching heavenward and then back down to her toes

I forgot until this past shabbat about the time I lived in Yokohama, Japan and the time I spent in Kamakura. There are beautiful buddhist shrines at Kamakura, which no good self-respecting religious Jew would probably admit to having been inside of, but ... well, I have been there and I remember speaking with the monks, becuase I wanted to learn more. I learned about how Buddhism is really no avoda zara, which gave me a great deal of inner rejoicing. It made me happy too when a great Rav acknowledged that he too did believed that the buddhists were not avodat kokhvim. I remember also being dressed in a kimono, with a tight, but gorgeous obi, around my waist and with the tiny wooden slippers/shoes on my feet dancing a special dance with fans and table utensils, learning how to maniuplate cups, saucers, and platters in my hands as I twisted and turned them in and out around my body to music. Recalling the offset of the collar around my neck, and the rice flour on my neck and face, I remember the beauty of the cloth and the tremendous feeling of the traditions and the power of that time and existence. I remembered performing the tea ceremony, pouring the green powder, the beaten fiber whisk, the dark wooden bowls, and the burning hot earthy-dark water pot/kettle. The rituals which bind us and both take and give power. Deep down inside I am still oddly connected to those things. It strikes a vibrant chord within me to see the traditions... to remember how I was a part of those traditions...and as I look around to the Jews around me, I wonder to myself if any of them can ever know me really. I wonder when I'm around the non-Jews, too, if they can ever know me really also. Internally, I shudder and simply accept how alone an individual's experience is.

It is difficult to explain to people how strongly my existence is tied up into that which is Chinese, Taiwanese specifically, Japanese from the occupation of Taiwan, that which is Jewish, that which is American, and that which is French. I became split yet again when I acquired a tie to Israel. I feel almost as if I could sympathize with Voldemort, with one's soul being split up by the horcruxes, except mine is not maliciously meant, nor evil in essence. That it holds one in some kind of limbo of existence is too true though. I understand alone very well as Banana Yoshimoto wrote in her book _Kitchen_ (which I highly recommend as an excellent work of fiction). It pains me to think that I know no single person who could possibly understand me in this deep complexity of all the different facets of my identity... but that people say they know me and they don't even know the half of it.

Our traditions, my traditions, your traditions, mingling traditions... my father was right to quote to me a Confucian teaching that the leaves fall back to the roots.

jeudi, novembre 10, 2005

returning from a seminar on BenS's work on tehillim 24

First, off, I like Ben. I should hardly have anything bad to say about him or his work.
Second off, I am reminded why the sciences called so strongly to me. I hate sitting through mindless conversations with a ton of name dropping and nitpicky little comments which seem to ignore vital and pertinent and logical points. (For example LZ, Ph.D. was mad that Joseph Campbell's work should have any mention, becuase he's a remarkable anti-Semite. I say look in academia, why should the man's biases and political leanings influence whether or not you remark upon his work and use it, especialy since it isn't his comments about Jews we are using. Those notably may have been influenced by his anti-Semitic leanings. I can't find good justification for hating scholar simply because he holds views that are repugnant to me. If that were the case I might have to ignore a great deal of the scholarship in the world... including scholarship that is better than that done by those people whose views may be more in line with my own! Indeed.)

(unable to finsh right now, so i'll post but return to complete the thought...
I find the works that lead people to call G-d impotent and powerless when he give people greater and greater power to be a bit short-sighted because they don't record and acknowledge the IMHO concept that one achieves greater power --in fact, one achieves a "rank" closer to "deification" by leaving an impact greater than the mere circle of acquaintances, friends, and family and greater than becoming "father of a nation" or "father of capitalism" or "mother to the poor" --better than simply having a tremendous impact on other's lives by ideas is the ability to have an impact on their minds, daily habits and practices, and society. This is what the "powerless" G-d does in his role as "creator" -HaBorei.

dimanche, novembre 06, 2005

what i think of the events dans les quartiers" ne peux pas entrer"

So in the first comments section one may read the two articles that were sent to me which I find highly interesting. One would like to wish and hope that this is not true, but oddly, for some horrendous reason it appears that the wave of Islam is indeed taking over. I recall one journalist making doomsday predictions that Europe for all of her posturing against Israel and for Israel to leave Gaza and the West Bank saying that Europe was only doing so to protect herself at home. A friend of mine remarked they had no choice but to stand against Israel politically, because she feared the Arabs who would riot would become more out of hand. The French have stood by silently while Jewish offices, businesses, buildings were damaged or looted. They have hoped much as Neville Chamberlain did that appeasing the demanding monster would put an end to the difficulties. While I still love France and even have sympathies for the French, I feel very sorry for the situation they are in, I have to admit that there is a reason we speak more respectfully of Winston Churchill than of Neville Chamberlain. France, gloriously beautiful and sweetly cultural country that it is, has indeed been weak --and to Arabs, such weakness is a weakness to be exploited.

A fellow I know in the USA has been talking quite a bit about how the Muslims are taking over the US with their investments of money and their hope to turn the world into an Islamic world without the privileges we call "democratic." People have laughed at him, but I would wonder greatly now, whether we are watching the world slowly become entirely Muslim. As I think about this, I know despite my desire to enter the hallowed Ivy tower walls and sit contemplating literature, culture, and trends, that I feel compelled instead to continue my work in applying science to the problems we have today. Inherently, I think that there is a great need for people to build this world today in such a way that medical, scientific, and social progress be met in as many countries as possible. The craft of words and colors is sadly a leisure time pursuit. I fear that time for such pusuits which impart joy to the mind and heart simply for the tickled pleasantness of it will be greatly missing from us in the years to come. It is a very very needy world that meets our gaze when we look out of our windows. We must educate our peoples, ourselves, and never stop growing and expanding our minds. It is vital that to meet the needs of the world today, that we be prepared to do what is needed.

vendredi, novembre 04, 2005

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it's well worth going to take a look.. really really really...!

jeudi, novembre 03, 2005

_Golden Child_ by David Henry Hwang

I just finished reading _Golden Child_ by David Henry Hwang... the last words of the play are Andrew's and it goes as follows:
"I watch your mother sleeping, knowing you are growing inside of her. And suddenly the room is filled with spirits -- so many faces, looking down on me. And on each face, a story, some I have been told, some I can only imagine, and some I will never know at all. But many of them, people not so different from myself, who struggled with what to keep, and want to change --for the next generation. And I realize my face too will one day be born again. I feel the eyes of our ancestors upon us, all awaiting together the birth of you, my Golden Child."

It was so interesting to read DHH's exploration of how in Chinese families the people are woven together in a network. His exploration of how generations affect one another... even in the beyond invisible pieces of the fabric of the world. So many of the ideas are actually very similar to Judaism.

What amazes me is that the real truth lies in the percentages of all of these things.
Siu-Yong says (pp47-48 Theatre Communications Group ed) "What is family anyway, but a loose collection of people with nothing in common but blood? Does blood cause all people to think alike? To love, or even like, one another? Of course not! If we wandered wherever our emotions might take us, we would all have murdered each other ages ago. That is why blood is not sufficient for order. Blood must be reinforced --by discipline. And your precious honesty is the mortal enemy of discipline. ..."

Where there are holes in the legal exegesis for halacha... what matters is discipline. Just as Adam named the creations, giving their innate nature and purpose a raised consciousness -a realization-, so too when we act in a disciplined manner we give an awareness and realization to the commonality, to Hashem, to being alive/creation, to kedusha... the discipline raises the level of kedusha, but is the actual action of building so that a greater thing can be achieved.

One thing that DHH touches on, but doesn't necessarily comment on is that faith might be the a priori to that discipline. He poses it in the form of Christian faith. Siu-yong says that faith can be in anything. Ancient worship, becuase it is their tradition. Tieng-Bin says it should be in Jesus, because it allows them to explore their individuality.

mercredi, novembre 02, 2005


Elisha used to sing this sometimes when we were at Princeton together. I'm not sure if it was a comment as to my personality, my name, my size, or simply his affection for children's songs, but still I'm fond of the song because we had such good fun those days.

"Thumbelina, Thumbelina, tiny little thing
Thumbelina dance, Thumbelina sing,
Thumbelina, what's the difference if you're very small?
When your heart is full of love, you're nine feet tall!

So you're no bigger than my thumb, than my thumb, than my thumb;
Sweet Thumbelina don't be glum.
Now, now, now, ah, ah, ah, come, come, come!

Thumbelina, Thumbelina, tiny little thing
Thumbelina dance, Thumbelina sing,
Thumbelina, what's the difference if you're very small?
When your heart is full of love, you're nine feet tall!

So you're no bigger than my toe, than my toe, than my toe,
Sweet Thumbelina keep that glow;
And you'll grow, and you'll grow, and you'll grow.

Thumbelina, Thumbelina, tiny little thing
Thumbelina dance, Thumbelina sing,
Thumbelina, what's the difference if you're very small?
When your heart is full of love, you're nine feet tall!"