Monday, December 29, 2008

for emily

Chris Romain told me this great quote. It's from the integralnaked blurb about Saul Williams.

"The goal is not to be color-blind, as our politically-correct society often tells us to be, but to allow ourselves to see the entire spectrum of color, much more vividly than ever before. From this integral vantage point, we can see that our similarities are where we find Truth, our differences are where we find Beauty, and navigating between the two is where we find our Goodness."

This year, my family and friends got Kapibara for Christmas. Japan has a way of making even the most random, ugly animals cute...

Here is another cute animal from Japan, Satoru. He is visiting me until the 5th. It's his first time to America so I have been trying to show him the greatest parts of Kansas City. We have already seen great KC Jazz and KC's best break dancers and poppers. We also got to see Ad Astra Per Aspera at the Record Bar. They blow my mind and take me back.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

christmas windows

These are pictures from my iphone. I met these two angles in Kansas City thanks to Micheal Garfield and this sign was by the front door of their apartment house. I want to use it in an English lesson.
My parent's front porch.

Kitty on the couch.
Boo defeating the Kapibara.
Edemame-san in the yarn jar.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

December 2008

Pope Benedict XVI has said that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behavior is just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction. What is he thinking? How hurtful. I'm very disappointed.

In the video below Jon Stewart makes some good points about how ridiculous and inhumane it is to be anti-gay marriage.

I was surprised to see on the cover of a recent Newsweek the bible with a rainbow bookmark and the caption, "The Religious Case for Gay Marriage," complete with a very convincing and interesting article inside titled, "Our Mutual Joy," by Lisa Miller. The online version has some shocking comments. There is a culture war going on here. "Is Gay the new Black?"

My rule of thumb: be thrilled when anyone finds love in this life. Support all marriages. Support all forms of mutual love. Conservatives try to make a good point by equating same-sex love to incest and pedifilia. "Not all forms of love are good." Yeah, but all forms of mutual love are. Just imagine two old ladies that are soul mates and want to get married.

The great American bumper sticker is also settling: If you don't believe in gay marriage, don't have one.

Ashley and I playing our roles at a local kindergarten. It was my first time as Santa.
The Dalai Lama is so cool. Just check out this short article.
Also, Paul Lonely, author of the mind-boggling Suicide Dictionary, recently added me to his website! I must be dreaming.

I visit the largest elementary school in Ehime: six classes per grade, 35 to 40 children in a class, six grades in the school, plus a special needs class. That's about 1,350 kids, perched on the side of the mountains, overlooking the city, sea, and islands beyond.

It's beautiful, and freezing here in Niihama right now. The kids have to wear their regular uniforms, which means skirts and short shorts. The cold is a stupid distraction from learning, in my opinion. Either heat the schools (which they try to do, with loud, smelly kerosene heaters), or let the kids wear the warmest things they have. Japanese kids are pretty damn tough, you know. May I remind you that they clean their own schools?

Here we all are in the cold, cold gymnasium for an actually quite impressive morning assembly: the monthly poetry recital. Entire grades recite famous poems to each other. I could sometimes hear a single voice, the first child to shout out the next word, so confident, everyone else coming in half a second behind.. It looks like second grade is standing up and reciting theirs in the back left corner.
A typical choice at a vending machine. Red means hot. See the hot chocolate in the middle? It's so good. They have hot corn soup and hot lemon water, really good teas and coffees. That hot coco in the middle, though, is mine. I don't even look down at the cold stuff any more. Notice, though, that there is nearly no pop; it's mostly coffees and teas. Japan is very caffeinated.

A Christmas tree decorated with Santa Hello Kitties. Emily and I visited Osaka this weekend. We saw the forest of bright yellow ginkgo trees that line Midosuji street and witnessed first hand the monstrous Christmas cheer infesting the entire city. Modern versions of old Christmas songs blast throughout the streets...sales!! sales! sales. Christmas in Japan is weird. Man I'm excited to come home!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Here is that moss-covered holy tree again, with the nondenominational temple and friends on her roots. We move so fast.

Dr. Suess, Joyous Leaping of Uncanned Salmon. This painter was and still is a huge influence, I imagine.
Mark Tobey, he and I share a vision. Here, I'll give you another one of his. Tobey was a Baha’i Zen Buddhist living in Japan for a while, too. Hmm.

oil on wood
This painting is pretty small. not so new. I put it in the show and Yasuchika said he liked it the best."It gives me so much space to enter and create.It's full of space, and I like."
That made me happy. And then today Tricia said she liked this painting the best because, "it feels like me. or at least, how I want to be."
Support is cords of god.
Hammocked in support cords of god.
This is heaven.

And here is my sister Martha, teaching at Niihama elementary school when she visited this fall. You might already know this story, but I want to publish it here because it is so epic, and so telling about how wonderful my sister Martha is.

So, how should I put this? While Martha was visiting me in Japan, I planned for her to visit an elementary school. This was a great idea, except that the best day to visit was when another English teacher would be there (I had to work at Junior High and couldn't be with her), and that day was also the day after Saijo Festival. Which is bad news. Because Saijo festival is an all night long event. So, after we walked all night with the city of Saijo up to a fertility shine in the heart of the mountains, we got home at around 6:45 and fell asleep for 30 minutes. When I woke my sister up, she was so angry; she was crying. “You will thank me later,” I told her. "But seriously, if you can't make it, you don't have to come." I said.
"No, I can do this." she insisted.
"Thank you. Alright, let's go. It takes about five minutes by foot, so we better get moving." How dare I.
We hurried down the street and were there by 8.

So in this picture is Martha, on next to no sleep, with her legs and feet killing her. And she looks great! She is a brilliant actress, and a strong, powerful woman. Imagine though, elementary school, alone, all day. It takes a lot of energy. Just repeating the flashcards to the kids wears the voice out. And head, shoulders, knees, and toes? You are on your feet all day. I am pooped at the end, even when I have had plenty of sleep! Did I mention Martha had no breakfast?
Of course nobody at the school knew this. She looked great and acted impeccably.

It gets better. After some weird Japanese lunch, when she was finished and all she had to do was walk home and sleep, she took a left instead of a right and found herself wondering around Niihama for three hours in the hot sun, on her now blistering feet. I went looking for her, worried sick, finally gave up, came home and passed out. When Martha finally made it home, I remember being woken up by some severe cursing.
God bless her.

I know it was cruel, what I made her do. And I told her she didn't have to go, and definitely not all day…, but she said “I don’t want you to look bad.”
And so, with a smile, fighting back tears, she taught elementary school, four classes back to back.

You see, I wanted her to experience what I experience every Wednesday. My family is so in the dark about what I do over here. This was my chance to share something golden. Hundreds of excited kids happy to see you. I wanted her to stand in front of a class of shining, beautiful almond eyes, and listen to them try to speak English. She got it, but her feet will never forgive me.

Martha left such an impression that when I visited the school last week many of the kids said, “Hey Look! It’s Martha Sensei’s brother.”

More influences.
Thanksgiving at Emily's.
Everything was heaven.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


by Alex Grey 2008

"After hearing Barack Obama's speech in BerIin, and noting the degree of excitement and hope that he generated throughout many countries besides the US, I started to see him as one of the first true "world leaders." This may be partly because of his extraordinary childhood and political life that has bridged many cultures. Obama's restraint and intelligence, exhibited as foes were bating him throughout the campaign, his heartful clarity coming through in his talks are all qualities of a highly evolved person.

We need to consider our planetary citizenship, because solving the world's ecological and economic problems, and creating a culture of peace and reconciliation will require the co-operation of all nations."

That's one way to look at him: a semitransparent guy with the world in his head and a star in his eye. It's interesting how Grey incorporated the American Flag motif. If there were to be a new interpretation of the stars and stripes, I would sure love to see it like this; rows of blue skies and white stars taking the place of the fire and tiny buddas found in the mandorla (body halo) radiating from the center of the Deity's mind. And the white, radial lines, representing luminous awareness, are now embedded in red, representing blood. Are there 50 stars? Can you find them all?

Also, to the right I posted a preview for the movie "Dalai Lama Renaissance." It contains some great shots of the trek to Dharamsala. Leigh, I'm thinking about you.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Equanimity and Sacred Sexuality

Here is a school lunch. Today's is especially vegetarian: rice and seaweed paste, carrot-onion-mushroom soup, mashed potatoes, fried tofu in a sweet-n-sour orange sauce topped with green peas and a cup of warm green tea. Damn I love school lunch.
Here is a picture from the drum circle I went to Saturday night. Afterwards we all feasted on lentil curry, cooked potatoes, salad, Kyoto cakes and red wine.
And here we have the Yanagi's treating me to a Korean lunch (The Yanagis are part Korean). This was a feast, my god, and nearly everything you see on the table is vegetarian. There were lots of different kinds of seaweed; so healthy. Who out there likes seaweed? I sure do.

I've been watching all these old family videos my sister sent me, stuff from when I was three and four years old!, and naturally it's making me think about time and change and death, again. Luckily, here in contemplative/spiritual land, death is not a darkness but is a Light that shines onto/into Life, bringing it into radiant focus. I find that thinking about death quickly brings life's fleetingness into light, which generally results in a rapid forecast of panic, fear, acceptance, love, appreciation, energy, and a new desire to open as love, right now, get shit done!, connect with others, generate compassion, and embrace all of it now. There is no time to loose.

And sex is a "tiny death"?

Keeping with this theme of sexuality, I'd like to talk a little bit more about erotiphobia (aka genital phobia), and tantra, or sacred sexuality. In my particular tradition tantra is known as the highest level of the Buddha's teaching. (Moreover, one can practice it effectively only after they have developed a stable, mature equanimity, a state of mind that can now embrace everything consciously and equally. Essentially equanimity is the "mirror mind" in you right now that is absorbing everything, reflecting everything, piercing through bias and just seeing things as things. It is a view that is not attached to any one view. It is a spaciousness, and even-hovering awareness, a mirror, aware of these words right now. Missing the equanimity is like missing the surface of a mirror. We miss it all the time. But we can practice resting on the unmoving surface. We can develop our abiding equanimity.

The development of equanimity is preliminary to any sort of stable realization, and is, according to the above link,"one of the most sublime emotions of Buddhist practice. It is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love. While some may think of equanimity as dry neutrality or cool aloofness, mature equanimity produces a radiance and warmth of being. The Buddha described a mind filled with equanimity as 'abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill-will.'"

Sounds amazing, and a lot like the ecstatic, radically embracing mind found in orgasm.

Interestingly, from a spiritual point of view, equanimity develops with practice just like orgasm (or erotic energy). They grow as the consciousness grows. "The view gets bigger as the climber gets higher," it's that simple. When what you are aware of becomes greater, the mind aware of it gets bigger too. Gets fuller. And the content of the mind gets richer, and darker, and juicier. A great analogy used by one of my teachers is how the sun's light, while at dawn is very weak, soon grows in power to fiercely embrace and embody all the life within it. Once one's awareness is like the sun, able to shine light onto all thoughts and things equally, it is truly free, and can now exercise or play with all life, holding nothing back. It can open as a love without end. It can effortlessly incarnate passion, communication, sexuality; it can flow freely as a tantric, alchemical power in an individual influencer. Here is a great article I just read on RealitySandwich explaining some basics behind "intentional sexuality," and I've gotta say, it was a very nice read, clear and integral. I especially liked the description of Taoist massage, as well as the explanation about why sexual ecstasy can induce mystical experiences (passionate equanimity). Here is a clip:

"Great, open awareness can exist in the silence of ecstasy. Essentially, intentional sexuality is an ecstatic practice, a concentration, and an energetic practice -- all three of which lead to a quieting of the ordinary mind, with the attendant cognitive effects noted by mystics worldwide. It is an ecstatic practice not in the sense of the soul literally leaving the body, but in the broader sense of an excitement practice, which "turns up the volume" of sensory input (speaking loosely here) to flood the neurons of the brain. Like ecstatic dance or ecstatic vocal work, intentional sexuality drives out the ordinary faculties of discursive thought, creating a stillness akin to that experienced in samadhi meditative states; thus intentional sexuality becomes a concentration practice as well."

Great way of putting it!

Sexuality as spiritual practice is a powerful way to heal a negative self-image. Too bad our culture is so erotiphobic, shaming completely natural things such as genitals, masturbation, and even basic nudity. "Put that away!"

But on a lighter note, from the article:

"Experiencing the body as holy can bring great emotional healing. Even if one never has a mystical or realization experience during the practice of sacred sexuality, just knowing that the body is a temple instead of a latrine is a precious liberation."

And how exactly can we begin to experience the body as more holy? Well, to begin with, we need to not be so irrationally ashamed of our genitals (we need to start thinking about them differently), and we need to get over the fear of our ability to love our own sex. I agree with John Ince and his book The Politics of Lust; Homophobia is the best recognized type of erotophobia. Just about everyone I know is homophobic to some degree.
How do we get rid of our homophobia? Well, "same-sex love" includes your own body (in most cases), yes? So, how well can you love, sexually, erotically, spiritually, your own body? How well can you celebrate your genitals and those of others as the glorious stairway into the temple of God?
Which is to say, how well can you masturbate?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


It’s windy, and everyone’s clothes are waving dangerously wild on the balconies.

Does it strike anyone else as odd (or erotic) that 73% of the people who read my blog have had a homosexual experience? True, many of my friends are gay or bisexual, but THAT many? Come on. Maybe most of these homosexual encounters were just one-time-only experiments, (after all, you know what they say, (with movies like American Pie): when guys get horny, anything goes).The same is true with women, of course. Not to downplay any of these rare, spontaneous, homo-love experiences. I mean, most of them were probably pretty emotional, pretty erotic… It is “making love,” after all, and love-making is a good thing, always. In this fragmented world we could use some more love, homo and hetero, I always say. But it’s just hard to believe that so many of my readers are, or have been…queer. Actually, I guess in this particular pool of people it is the "heterosexual" crowd which is the minority, the outsiders, the queers. Interesting.

I'm just happy to know that so many of my readers are able to make love with the same sex. That's a really good thing.

Winter came today, under the disguise of sunny and bright.

wind biting my bluing face
Where’d I put my coat?

Sunday, November 16, 2008


"Sorry to read that you're homesick. Mind you, it's a blessing really... imagine if you grew up somewhere and left it and had never loved it enough to miss it?
It's an honour to have people and places to miss; so I tell myself....

If we are lucky, when we leave Japan we'll miss it too. It's a good, healthy pain."
~Briohny Walker
Yesterday was so wonderful. I woke up with Bri, and together we met up with one of my old, organic farmer friends (and an amazing sculptor), Kuma. Then for breakfast we had this amazing vegan rice-quiche and tempeh sandwich at a little organic cafe called Naturel in Matsuyama. After talking to the owner, who had lived in Australia for ten years, we went to a lecture about Merkaba meditation, whose core mandala, interestingly, is the star of David, or tetrahedron). Our teacher, Kuma, also talked about the shifting poles, 2012, the flower of life, and then gave us some brown rice coffee and home grown goodies. Afterwards he took us to a kindergarten he teaches at, which was, on this beautiful day, having a kind of festival/flea market, and I tell ya, this was the greatest kindergarten I had ever seen! They had log cabins and rock-climbing walls! (Look closely at this picture and you can see what I'm talking about! See the climbing wall!?) Golden leaves falling on our heads, we got to watch hundreds of kids play, great live folk music, amazing art on the walls, sculptures in the playground, and I learned how to make an origami paper airplane from this guy:

who I swear I had met a hundred times before; he was very much like an uncle (and a world champion origami sculptor.) He used simple English to explain very technical origami terms, and I just faithfully followed, mind open like a little boy.
Bri: "I liked the bit where he said 'the top of the mountain becomes down' and inverted the paper."

He was as high on life as we were, eyes twinkling.

Here are a couple small paintings I'm working on. The tree is that sacred, nondenominational tree near the river I took Em, Ty, and Yasuchika to the other day. The one below is called "Climber". I used some really thick paint on the dandelions; 'felt like I was painting with some mayonnaise. I wanted this painting to be kind of sensual, maybe even sexy, while also juxtaposing the two dying, metemorphing forms-the dandelion and the caterpillar, both wonders of the natural world, because in my vision they speak to each other on many levels. I want to start a conversation and I dream, or I think that both stories are powerful metaphors, as well as extraordinary natural processes, that can shine a special light onto the self and what it means to die or transcend. But I shouldn't tell you that, because then the painting won't fit as well into your own world of meaning, so forget what I just said. It's not the only thing the painting is about.

I want to layer, in lay, inject vision with meaning. And it's because, madam, I'm Adam. Capturing a little bit of light in the yellow stalks has been difficult, but necessary. I still have a long way to go. (Another reason for the painting is that I need to practice drawing. Artists never stop practicing and training. They are like musicians, or monks, in this regard.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


"Are you ready to come home, or are you just beginning?"

"Home is where the Heart is."
"The Heart is where We are."
"And where We are, well, that is a shared heaven not limited by space or time."

Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, fresh and new, already home, and yet also always yearning to be closer to home, to the familiar, to the heart of self and love.

I miss my family. I miss my sisters! and my friends. I have a home here in Japan, sure, but it's not my real home. My real home is Kansas City, Kansas, Heart of America, Obama. My family and friends are there, patiently waiting for me to come back from my adventure in Japan.

And why haven't I come back yet? Why am I still here, anyway? Is there something in America I'm afraid of? Am I putting something off? Maybe I secretly fear home, fear going back to school, getting into fights, feeling the pressure that is inherent in America. Maybe I'm afraid to follow my dream and become a teacher. But then again, I'm getting great practice teaching over here. And I'm studying here too, Japanese and International Communication. I'm a bad student, though, but when I'm not on the Internet or dreaming, painting, dancing, or drumming, I'm studying. I have to give a lecture over my art and spirituality next Sunday at the Woman's Plaza, and I have to be able to answer any questions asked. My Art and Spirituality, which attempts to be integral and Buddhist, covers a lot of reading and history. I'm trying to brush up on my art and Buddhist history. I'm a busy boy, when I'm not watching TV on the Internet.

Maybe I've "jumped ship," as they say. America is so messed up, anyway. I've escaped to a tamer, safer, older corner of the earth. Maybe that's why I'm still here in Japan. But Japan is not much better off than America. In fact, whenever I visit home I'm amazed at how much love and diversity, good ideas and good food gets shoved into my being. Japan lacks many things America has to offer, such as sisters, hummus, Mexican food, and gun deaths.

Maybe I'm "turning Japanese." Maybe I'm getting absorbed into their world, their society.
Shikoku is a lovely island. Japan is ancient and clean. And the people here are mind-bogglingly gorgeous.

I have friends and lovers in both countries, so lack of love is not an issue. But a few packages, letters, and phone calls with friends is not enough. It is, and it isn't. I don't feel disconnected as such, but since I am physically disconnected, so much is changing in all my friends' and family's lives back home that I cannot be in touch with, and that creates a gap. Luckily, since Emily moved here, Emily who has known me and loved me since I was 13!, having her here is like having a warm, fresh piece of home with me all the time. And she lived in LA for years before moving here, so she also knows what it's like to be away from home for a long time. But my sisters and parents and family and sangha are all in America, right in the very middle, right in the heart of the country, the Obama country, and I think I'm feeling homesick.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Star and The Heart

Paul Lonely reviewed Michael Garfield's Get Used to being Everything! And in it he describes Micheal so well: "So here we have it; a 24 year old meta singer song-writer who is part Hunter S. Thompson (Michael is a professional essayist), part Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (Michael is a trained paleontologist), part Joseph Albers (except Michael paints fractals), part Ken Wilber (Michael is earning his Masters in Integral Theory), part Timothy Leary (self explanatory) and all the while creating integrative artifacts to this point unrecognized as being a more evolved Bob Dylan and embedding it in a message that would have Deepak Chopra bobbing his head to the beat. For all souls fortunate enough to be vibing at a similar frequency, this young musician and his lifestyle can be seen, quite simply, as part of The Announcement." You will love this article, I think.


The screen saver turned into a beautiful kaleidoscope of pink hearts unfolding into each other and a question formed in my head. I leaned over to Jin and asked him in Japanese,
"Is the heart also a Japanese symbol?"
"No, not really(iie, betsuni). But we like it. Girls especially. Girls like it a lot, but boys, not really."
"Yeah, it's really girly in America, too. Very feminine. I wonder if there is a more masculine symbol?"
"The star."
"Yes, totally. The star is masculine. It represents Light [and Freedom, and Wisdom. It's biblical. It means Kingship, as well as guidance]."
"And it means independence. The American flag, for example, uses it to represent the independent states."
"Yes, the Territories."
"It's also a symbol of Power."
"And Freedom."
"And don't forget Light."
"Well, yeah. Light itself a great symbol for wisdom, freedom, and power."
"It's very masculine."
"Yeah, men like all those things."
"The heart, on the other hand, is a symbol of Love, Life, the earth."
"All of creation."
"Yes, Exactly. The two are Freedom and Fullness"
'"Light and Love."

"Heaven and Earth."
"Wisdom and Compassion."
"The masculine and the feminine."
"The Star and the Heart. And both are really popular symbols."
"All over the world."
"And both are very real experiences, real energies."
"I think it's important to consider that both energies, the masculine and the feminine, the star and the heart, are good, of course. Both are equally fantastic. I mean shit, they are Freedom and Love! But they are both best experienced together [androgyny as an alchemical symbol for integration]."
"Yeah, they deepen each other."
"Oh yeah (ho yo)."
"And since men already have freedom and the desire for freedom, they probably could use more love and the desire for love."
"And women could use more freedom and the desire for freedom."
"Balance (barensu) is best (saiko).
"Naturally (atarimae)."
"And both energies are inside everyone."
"That's the deeper meaning of androgyny (ryosei)."
"Yes (Hai)"
"I'll be right back."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Butoh Collaboration and Mirror Neurons

"Leave them wanting more."
Thanks to Emily, here is a video of part of the performance. The thing Yasuchika does at the very end, that look, is so controlled, so intentional, and yet he moves almost like a puppet, like he is being controlled by another being. I think we all know that feeling! In fact, try watching this without any sound. It's even more powerful. (In Butoh, music isn't necessary.)
I'll post another video soon.

(last week)
God, right now I am so exhausted. Not enough sleep? Probably. But maybe it’s because a huge presence, a huge event, has come and passed and it left an extraordinary, new w(hole) in my being. I'm infinitely more, and infinitely less, because it (and he) has passed. I guess that is true of every experience, though. Our brains are constantly changing; the river of life continues to grow. But some events are particularly meaningful, or exhausting, and they fill you up with more energy, more insight, and more appreciation for the Love and Life that is the One and All.
And thus, when they leave, they leave behind a (w)hole.

Maybe I'm having "unicorn withdrawal," as Emily describes it. Unicorns are very powerful beings, as you know, and when they vanish from you suddenly, they can take the wind out of your chest.
I'm catching my breath.

This ancient, holy tree (Goshinboku) enshrined in the mountains near my house, complete with a mysterious, nondenominational shrine/temple standing at its base, has been the subject of a few of my paintings, and so I thought I'd take Yasuchika, Ty, and Emily to see her early Saturday morning. The moss was super soft and smelled fresh, green-purple-orange. The atmosphere was brisk, light wind, and the light was crisp and cool. You can't hear it in these pictures but this tree is standing next to a rushing river made of fresh spring water you can drink, waterfalls, and emerald blue swimming holes. There is a beehive next to the tree as well.

The exhibition went great. I sold two large paintings and a bunch of prints. I received support and love and positive feedback from my community, and I got some very powerful criticism from one of my oldest friends (I’ll write more about that later). Some of my students came, with their friends or with their parents. I said at school that I would buy them a drink if they came, so I did.

The Butoh collaboration went well too! We sold out again (pride not intended), filling all forty seats in the gallery. Yasuchika danced like a medicine man, like a centaur, pulling everyone into an ambiguous space of emotional freedom and fullness. At the end he was shouting and slapping the ground in joy. People came up to me afterwards and said, “The end made me really happy,” and that, my friends, is power. And it’s what performers, actors, shamans (and all of us, for this matter) do, right? We enter into certain states of consciousness and then because of the brain’s “mirror neurons”, we immediately pull our audience into a similar state. The interesting question becomes: What happens when the performer has experienced states that the general public has not? What happens when the performer has trained for hours everyday, when the pianist or shaman or artist can enter into these ecstatic states, states that the audience’s mind and body have not yet experienced? What happens then? The mirror neurons in the viewer's brain will do their thing, but the interpreter, the mind of the individual has no experience with the state. They can't label it, can't identify it. The viewer might feel a bit awkward-they don't like that their body and mind can't accurately interpret this new stimuli, this new state, and so they might close down any connection or desire to connect. "This is weird" or, "This is stupid."

But in our case, partially because of Yasuchika’s intense level of physical beauty, and with his radiant mental beauty shining though his every motion, there was enough familiarity and general attraction to keep every mind interested (I would look up periodically from making music and see all forty pairs of twinkling eyes locked onto Yasuchika's state. I don't think anyone blinked during the entire performance. I think everyone let him right in.)

His body holds people’s attention like a magnet, and then the secret states are passed unobstructed into the viewer, changing them forever. There might be healing involved. He might be dancing with our souls, giving them a safe space to open and just be, deeply and fully. Like a shaman, maybe he travels into the dark, unfamiliar worlds and places that we all have within us. The shaman goes there and then comes back. He becomes our guide. He takes us there, and protects us. We mirror him as he shines. And "everything light touches becomes light." Is observing a shamanic dance a radical inner-energy change, a ripping open of boundaries and emotional barriers we had built up inside? Is this a burning up of fear, a fear of visiting the dark, uncharted waters of our emotional and mental worlds? (We all have uncharted territory in the depths of our being, and art can validate these inner, shared, (mythic) worlds. And this validation I think is immediately also supporting and encouraging our will to exist freely and fully within these states. It's like a Big Mind process using body language to become all the different voices. Does this heal the self? I think so. ("If you are no longer afraid of death, you are healed.")

The shaman heals himself, the observer gets an opportunity to heal themselves too. They can go there with the shaman, no, they do go there with the shaman whether they interpret it that way or not, because wherever the dancer goes, the viewer goes. That's just mirror neurons; the "mirror system," empathy, it's how perception works, how reception works, mutual resonance, mutual's unavoidable/understandable. But the fact that artists usher us into states carries with it implications so far out (that stimuli can get in our heads that way, reflected onto the inner screens of our innermost private space, well, it's not to far away from psychic powers, astral planes, and mind-reading. 'Turns out everyone can put thoughts into people's heads because of subtle resonance and body language. Even our thoughts are registered and can be measured in the physical realm. There is a connection.

And there is an Art of Communication, an art of perfecting the process of influencing the inner minds and worlds of others, and it is taken seriously in many artsy circles. It's the "responsibility" side of the street, and I for one..sorry, this is getting too mysty. Back to my original story...

I wish you could have been there.

This year’s collaboration was completely different from last year’s. For example, because Yasuchika arrived on Wednesday, we had about four days together to practice and play (!). Also, he suggested that from the beginning everything be out in the open, informal, “like a street performance.” He said, “I want something to already be happening when people arrive. I want them to feel like “Oh, something is already happening, we better hurry in and see what’s going on.” Thus, as opposed to staying hidden away in a back room until show time, we talked with the guests as they arrived, danced around, made people laugh…for a while Yasuchika drummed and I danced!! A 20 minute piece by Milford Graves (formless, chaotic jazz) played in the background, and then, when 7:00 came and the music stopped, I walked over to the drum, sat down, closed my eyes, and began. Some people were still talking, a sign that they felt relaxed and didn't know when the performance was going to start (little did they know, it had started 20 minutes ago). While singing I felt a comfort and confidence I didn't expect (probably because I had just made a total fool out of myself, dancing and singing like a tribal maniac with Yasuchika.)

While I worked the singing bowl and sang into it like I do alone in my room, he turned down the lights, got into position, and began his thing…The recorded music I mixed was timed to come in about two minutes after the welcoming music stopped. This recorded music, which begins with light drumming, radio sounds, and Paramahansa Yogananda chanting the Om and Amen slid quietly into the room, under my singing bowl, and into the audience, who sat wide-eyed and open to everything we were passing into them. Like I said, I would periodically look up from making music to see Yasuchika dancing in the light, and 40 pairs of eyes fixed in wonder onto his form. And it was beautiful.

More or less later.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

pictures on my iPhone

Unfortunately, during our last night in Osaka, my sister`s camera went missing, filled with all her pictures from her trip. Can you imagine? She is totally bummed, and so am I. If any of you have pics of my sister and I, PLEASE let me know.

Here are two walls of the gallery. I'm so happy to finally have it all done.

I just got back from Osaka. Outside my house the drumming and whistling continue as the Taikodai, like dragons made of light, illuminate the streets and return from the shrine back to their respected neighborhoods. Being the last event of the four-day long festival, it's mostly the young men and teenagers carrying (or rolling) the golden dragon-shrines. Positions which are usually reserved for the leaders of the neighborhood (such as standing on the polls and directing everyone) are now filled by the toughest youth-poor kids-their parents probably proud, drunk, and tired, walking slowly behind with the rest of the neighborhood. When two taikodai meet, which happened right outside my apartment, they usually prepare to fight: they yell at each other, chant "Sorya Sorya!" back and forth, and drum louder and faster. If the two teams decide to really fight, they will charge with their two-ton floats, poles tilted high in an attempt to pierce the other team's drum. It's so dangerous! But if this ancient tradition happens, not only can people die, but the floats are about $500,000 each and harming one would cost everyone in the neighborhood lots of money. And on top of that, teams caught fighting are punished by not being able to participate in the events next year. Thus tonight they just taunted each other, one team finally backing down and moving on. Lucky us, I got a rare photo of the hot drummers at work inside their float (they lifted the golden doors to cool themselves off). Although the young men were dripping with sweat and clearly exhausted, their muscular arms beat that drum hard and strong. I was very impressed.

-Erin and Fernando at the festival.
-Martha feeding a monkey in Kyoto.
-Some scenes from the bullet train this afternoon, japan right now is so effing beautiful.
-Martha, Erin and I with the backup guitarist from The Offspring. Thanks to Emily who knows their current security guard, we got to see their show in Osaka, go back stage, and party with them afterwards!
A fur protest in Osaka. "I'd rather go naked than wear fur."

May all beings be Free and in Love.

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