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3 Cards on a Box Top and the Politics of the Repellent

Shame in the New Gilded Age Part 2 — At Boston Court in June of 2015, Steven Leigh Morris of the LA Weekly, along with his colleague Luis Reyes and theater artist Mark Seldis suffered through a long afternoon of tech challenges in order to arrange, by satellite simulcast, the reading of new American theater texts by actors in Poland, and the reading of new Polish texts by American actors on the Pasadena stage. It was a while ago now and the technical aspects of the event dominate my memory, but I do recall being struck again and again by an interesting point of contrast between the Polish and the American actors. The gifted director Nancy Keystone, who staged one of the texts that day, captured that difference in a simple … [Read more...]

Field Mapping

Complex Systems and the Six Realms of Dharma —                                                                                         Photograph by Andy Ilachinski It was while reading the somewhat scandalous thinker Wilhem Reich that I first encountered the idea of emotional traumas being encoded into the flesh and blood circuits of the body. Freezing into a kind of “armor,” these encodings work to shape and delimit the ways we perceive the world, hence wielding an out-sized influence over the course our lives take. This was in the early 1990s, and I was reading Reich along with some of the Frankfurt School thinkers (Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse, etc.) who (broadly speaking) collide psychology and social theory to see what falls out. … [Read more...]

Paris and the Single Dose

Taking the Kohaku Challenge — Previously I have written about my daughter Eliza's reaction, as a two-month old child, to the sight of a neighbor’s cat leaping up onto the garden wall up where it turned to look back at us, tail twitching in the bright sunlight. Pointing at this emissary from a land of gorgeous dreams, Eliza's plump-fat baby legs kicked straight out, and she turned to me, eyes wide, to make sure I too had witnessed the miracle. A few years passed before I again observed anything as splendid as Eliza’s first cat-encounter, and it happened at midway through Hiyao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, which we were watching on our big TV. The heroine of the film, Chihiro (also known as Sen) has saved her friend Haku from the evil … [Read more...]

The Yoga Sutra of Patañjali | Sadhana Pada

A Conversation — When approached to make a contribution IYALA (Iyengar Yoga Association of Los Angeles), a sutra column, my first reaction was to run. A flat “no” would have sufficed, then as all things Iyengar yoga, the idea took seed and began to flourish. Working alone, however, was out of the question. I needed a co-conspirator to consider this text and give it it’s proper due. More importantly I didn’t know if I could stick to a commitment of isolation in study and feel comfortable as a singular voice of veracity. A conversation was needed and I remembered a great one that had taken place at a recent Christmas party with a young gentleman, but an old friend, Henry Wudl. He had become an Iyengar practitioner two years ago. His … [Read more...]

Shame and Connection

Affective Encounters on the Path — When we fall in love (even for five minutes) it means we have met someone who resonates with some aspect of our mind from which we have been alienated – in the lover’s presence we feel complete, and the feeling is strongest when it is mutual. Even then, however, there are, famously, no guarantees. As often as not the resonance gives way to something else. The bond begins to shift and change, quite often dissolve. We feel then as if some part of our being has again been torn away, like a ripped-off limb or a stolen organ, but none of this is actually the case. As the lover recedes we simply lose contact again with that aspect of ourselves they were able to embody, and the challenge is precisely to take … [Read more...]

Sympathy and the Devil

Tea and Morphine: Women in Paris, 1880-1914, Hammer Museum, January 25, - May 18, 2014 — An inventively curated exhibition of late 19th and early 20th century works on paper by fin de siecle artists, culled from the recent acquisition of the Elisabeth Dean Collection, Tea and Morphine achieves its effects by couplings and contrasts. This is show of ‘ands,’ (the emphasis of the title above is my own interpolation). Public and private are displayed in radical contrast. Public is a woman outside the home, here looking at an exhibition through her lorgnette, contriving her costume so that the ruffles of her hat are echoed by her neckpiece, a woman who is to be seen, and who is also seeing. This is the Belle Epoque teetering on the cusp … [Read more...]

Dance Central

Obama and the Dionysian Short Circuit — Listening to Obama speak about the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case I found myself thinking back to Halloween, a few days before the last election, when I drove to Pasadena to pick up my daughter, age 12, from a small class party. The airwaves that night were saturated with electoral news and commentary, the Democrats fighting back the Romney campaign’s increasingly desperate attempts to create the silk purse of “momentum” out of the sow’s ear of declining swing state poll numbers. While Obama has governed too far to the right for my taste (to put it mildly), and while the ways he has continued, and even enhanced, many of the most depraved and indefensible policies of the Bush-Cheney years (drone … [Read more...]

Notes on a Traveler

A Meditation on Impermanence — Like pharaonic retainers the passengers leaving the Swissair terminal ahead of the Yellow Man seemed to convey all his worldly possessions into the vast crypt of the LA basin, where he had descended to breathe his last. Out walked American teenagers in t-shirts and European couples in sensible shoes and families shouldering towers of suitcases on rolling carts. Finally the Yellow Man himself emerged, in a wheelchair pushed by my mother, who had accompanied him to the clinic in Switzerland and stood by as the doctors there relieved him of the mercury-based fillings in his teeth, and administered various other treatments not available within the U.S. health care system. Earlier in the week some threshold of … [Read more...]

Along the Stream, Doing Nothing

Of fascination and its opposite — Behind the house in New Hampshire where we lived when I was young there was a steep, overgrown hillside, and, at the bottom of the hillside, a wide parking lot. Marking the far end of the lot a stream curved and turned back on itself, eventually flowing out through a culvert that ran beneath the road. I’ve always recalled that stream with a very particular fascination, but the true nature of that fascination only settled into language a few weeks back. It’s as if the trace of that experience had been concealed somewhere in my body, and now, holding an asana in a studio in Silver Lake, something came open, releasing or “unconcealing” that trace into words. Pondering that moment, I feel my age, and recall … [Read more...]

Politique Institutionnelle

A Simple Point About Freedom of Expression – Today, the Senate (Upper House) of the French parliament will vote on a bill to criminalize the denial of the Armenian Genocide. This bill was drafted by lawmakers from President Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP party and approved by the National Assembly (Lower House) on December 22nd of last year. If it passes the Senate, anyone who publically denies the First World War mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks constituted genocide will face a one-year jail term and a fine of up to 45,000 Euros. According to Patrick Ollier, a UMP parliamentarian, the bill simply conjoins a 1991 French law defining Shoah denial as a crime. “This is a simple coordination of punishment,” he said. Reactions to … [Read more...]