Friday, March 17, 2006

Quote of note...

"I have learned silence from the talkative,
toleration from the intolerant,
and kindness from the unkind;
yet, strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers."

Kahlil Gibran

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Quote of note...

"You get a strange feeling when you're about to leave a place... like you'll not only miss the people you love but you'll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you'll never be this way ever again."

from Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran

Friday, January 20, 2006

Quote of note:

When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.
Eric Hoffer

Thursday, January 05, 2006

I'm haunted by a tender passion,
The ghost of which will never die.
The leaves of autumn have grown ashen:
I'm haunted by a tender passion.
And spring-time too, in its own fashion,
Burns me with love's sweet song - so I -
I'm haunted by a tender passion,
The ghost of which will never die.

Mr. Nowrojee, in Vikrem Seth's A Suitable Boy
What to do?

I have recently found out that my current scholarship funding will probably be non-renewable. As such, I am thrown into the quagmire of picking a new path... yet again. And it's funny, because throughout my 20's I enjoyed nothing more than 'changing directions' -- however drastically -- mid-project. But my 30's so far have been about 'following the wind'... and though there have been strange and foreign gusts, I have followed them with enthusiasm and taken away as many lessons as were offered. It seems, however, that perhaps the ride is over... for the breeze that I followed has led me to a dead calm. The winds have in fact vanished, and I am adrift at sea... forced to pick a path on my own.

The beauty of following the wind is that there can be no regret. When the wind guides what is to come, there can be no fault, no blame, no regret if what comes is not exactly to your liking. For you did not choose it, and so there is no responsibility. Further, following the wind implies a faith in the world... a certain positivism that is not trite -- like organized religion -- but truly heart-felt. Despite the most unexpected of circumstances, one cannot help but feel that there is a reason and an order to what is happening... that there is some sort of lesson to be learned.

How, then, is my current conundrum to be explained? Am I meant to just 'float' now for a while? ....and the winds will, at some point, 'pick up' again? Or perhaps that was it. Perhaps my ride is over, and I am meant now to eddy closer to shore.

How to know?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Having been back in Canada for over a week now, I can honestly say that there's no place like home. Now granted, it's Christmas, and family and friends abound.... so my comfort level is presumably higher than it might normally be,... but still. Vancouver (and I dare extrapolate to Canada) is SOOO much cooler than Texas (and I dare extrapolate to the US of A).

Here are some of my supporting arguments...

1. In Vancouver, you can watch the news in actual hopes of getting some information about what's going on in the world.

2. In Vancouver, 'though it's been raining for 8 days straight, people go outside... to walk the dog, get some exercise, go for a run... whatever. And when they cross paths in the street, not only do they offer up a mutual 'happy holidays' whether they know one another or not,... they often stop to exchange words and let the dogs romp! Ahhh... community!

3. In Vancouver, although shopping centres have, I admit, acquired a size and breadth that rivals the best of the Texan box-store malls, our stores know when enough is enough and close their doors. Call me crazy, but to me there is simply no benefit in people being able to shop in the middle of the night. Go home already!

Hmmm... what else? I'll keep adding to the list as the differences hit me.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Hi again! Sorry it's been so long... I've been busy these past couple of weeks. Here's what I've managed to accomplish, though:
  • sought and bought a car
  • sought and bought GOOD grocery stores (with the car, of course)
  • sought and bought a turkey (that hadn't been injected with bouillon solutions or anti-biotics or preservatives or whatever the hell else they put in them down here)
  • organized a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner

Yup, so tonight I'm hosting 2-3 of my closest (read: only) friends for a nice Canadian Thanksgiving turkey. Hopefully, I can pull it off; it'll be my first attempt without Mom 'nearby and ready to jump in, if need be.'

OK. Let's see... What else has happened that might be of interest?

Well, there was the army recruitment incident:

I was happily going about my business... attending classes, etc. when three imposing men in camouflage took the front space of my Arabic class. Obviously, they had quite a presence... and it was impressive to see how their symbolic 'authority' affected the class atmosphere (-- the usual 'jokesters' were suddenly extremely well-behaved, and I got the feeling that everyone thought they were 'in trouble,' or that they were going to be 'questioned' about their interest in Arabic.)

Anyway, long-story-short, the students' minds were set to rest as the armymen proceeded to present us with a 'career opportunity' presentation -- the Military Defense Language Institute. Given that we were already interested in languages -- and, particularly Arabic -- they explained that we should really pursue work through the military because obviously we would be of use in helping to fight, and I quote, "the bad guys."

For those of us who might have had concerns about the 'basic training' component, the camoflage-men clarified:

"Y'know,... you think it's all about weeding out the weak, and all that? But it was SO easy. Everyone passed. Even the stupid guys." (It seems that there need not be a 'weeding out process' to determine who is of greater value when it comes to getting killed in Iraq.)

Finally, they assured us that if we did end up going? ... we would probably be paid... like, really good money -- a notion that seemed popular with the students.

Following the presentation, a request was made that we fill out a 'survey' about the presentation... to help them improve it -- y'know. The 'survey' consisted of name, address, telephone number, email. (Only I and one other student opted not to fill out the 'survey,' so presumably, there won't be much change to future presentations as a result of survey findings.

Initially, I thought about writing a letter to someone within the languages department to express my disagreement with the process... but then I ran out of time. I've since decided that my letter will go to the Dean. I just feel like it was an entirely inappropriate use of our class time. I mean, if the army wants to set up a recruiting table outside of the Union building or something, then I'll be all for it. But don't take class time... time that I pay for! That's just wrong.

Still, it was an interesting experience.

Other than that, there's not much news.

The weather cooled off overnight (literally!) last week. We were in the 100's on Wednesday afternoon as I walked home, but Thursday morning was as crisp as a true autumn morning. And it has stayed cool, so I am basking in the freshness of nature again -- it had been too long!

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and relaxing long weekend. I'll be thinking of you!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Here's an interesting article I had to read for my Multimedia class:

John Cage
'Diary: Audience 1966,"
A Year From Monday (1966)

I. Are we an audience for computer art? The answer's not No; it's Yes. What we need is a computer that isn't labor-saving but which increases the work for us to do, that puns (this is McLuhan's idea) as well as Joyce revealing bridges (this is Brown's idea) where we thought there weren't any, turns us (my idea) not "on" but into artists. Orthodox seating arrangement in synagogues. Indians have known it for ages: life's a dance, a play, illusion. Lila. Maya. Twentieth-century art's opened our eyes. Now music's opened our ears. Theatre? Just notice what's around. (If what you want in India is an audience, Gita Sarabhai told me, all you need is one or two people.) II. he said: Listening to your music I find it provokes me. What should I do to enjoy it? Answer: There're many ways to help you. I'd give you a lift, for instance, if you were going in my direction, but the last thing I'd do would be to tell you how to use your own aesthetic faculties. (You see? We're unemployed. If not yet, "soon again 'twill be." We have nothing to do. So what shall we do? Sit in an audience? Write criticism? Be creative?) We used to have the artist up on a pedestal. Now he's no more extraordinary than we are. III. Notice audiences at high altitudes and audiences in northern countries tend to be attentive during performances while audiences at sea level or in warm countries voice their feelings whenever they have them. Are we, so to speak, going south in the way we experience art? Audience participation? (Having nothing to do, we do it nonetheless; our biggest problem is finding scraps of time in which to get it done. Discovery. Awareness.) "Leave the beaten track. You'll see something never seen before." After the first performance of my piece for twelve radios, Virgil Thomson said, "You can't do that sort of thing and expect people to pay for it." Separation. IV. When our time was given to physical labor, we needed a stiff upper lip and backbone. Now that we're changing our minds, intent on things invisible, inaudible, we have other spineless virtues: flexbility, fluency. Dreams, daily events, everything gets to and through us.) Art, if you want a definition of it, is criminal action. It conforms to no rules. Not even its own. Anyone who experiences a work of art is as guilty as the artist. It is not a question of sharing the guilt. Each one of us gets all of it.) They asked me about theatres in New York. I said we could use them. They should be small for the audiences, the perfoming areas large and spacious, equipped for television broadcast for those who prefer staying at home. There should be a cafe in connection having food and drink, no music, facilities for playing chess. V. What happened at Rochester? We'd no sooner begun playing than the audience began. Began what? Costumes. Food. Rolls of toilet paper projected in streamers from the balcony through the air. Programs, too, folded, then flown. Music, perambulations, conversations. Began festivities. An audience can sit quietly or make noises. People can whisper, talk, and even shout. An audience can sit still or it can get up and move aorund. People are people, not plants. "Do you love the audience?" Certainly we do. We show it by getting out of their way.) Art and money are in this world together, and they need each other to keep on going. Perhaps they're both on their way out. Money'll become a credit card without a monthly bill. What'll art become? A family reunion? If so, let's have it with people in the round, each individual free to lend his attention wherever he will. Meeting house. VI. After an Oriental decade, a Tibetan Bikku returned to Toronto to teach. He told me that were he to speak the truth his audience would drop to six. Instead he gives lectures transmitting not the spirit but the understandable letter. Two hundred people listen on each occasion, all of them deeply moved. (Art's a way we have for throwing out ideas -- ones we've picked up in or out of our heads. What's marvelous is that as we throw them out -- these ideas -- they generate others, ones that weren't even in our heads to begin with.) Charles Ives had this idea: the audience is any one of us, just a human being. He sits in a rocking chair on a verandah. Looking out toward the mountains, he sees the setting sun and hears his own symphony: it's nothing but the sounds happening in the air around him.