Saturday XXXI • 10 November 2007

Not much going on here. Taking the car to the shop. Taking the skates to the beach. Taking the Editor to a contemporary dance thing, which I don’t expect to understand all that well. No contortion today as there is a small piece of concrete occupying my stomach and making no signs of assimilating.

Last month I found an independent, spotless coffee shop with loose genmaicha and sturdy tables, where I’ve had a few excellent Sunday afternoons. But then I had my 2-year old niece and her folks meet me there last week. I am always overlooking distance, assuming that people experience the world in basically the same ways. But the truth is anyone in my family is so culturally distant that there are few public spaces we can equally share. Sad. I didn’t care that they were loud and filthy because delighted to see them, but the owner was horrified. I suppose my BIL rolling in and ordering “a Diet” and a mass of whipped cream in a cup for the kid didn’t set the best tone. The owner shuddered at the mess when they left.

The episode complicated our business relationship. Both because I felt rotten about it, and because I was disappointed at her lack of sophistication. Does it really have to spoil your aesthetic identity to have some simple people pass through your space (especially if escorted by your regulars)? I could ease up in that way too. A lot. Flirting with cultural boundaries (of inter-class mingling, food, and acceptable exercise forms) is the theme this week for that reason. Meanwhile, I need a place to work on Sundays.

After months of asana-free moondays and an abnormally grouchy afternoon, I broke down and took a flow class last night. Full on corporate flow, with music (Dntel, Radiohead, Elliot Smith and… this?). Interesting that mention or marketing of Diwali was nowhere to be seen at the corporate studio, which I suppose is a good thing. Very sweet and skilled teacher, although I see after a long break from the flow world, the distance between this and my practice is laaaarge. Still it did take the edge off the monkeymind. I think this is because the astanga method has trained me decently well: just assuming some postures does this pavlovian thing of mind calming and body releasing. But I doubt it would have that effect if I weren’t trained in a silent, contemplative, non-performative version of asana practice.

I’m wondering whether the American invention of Flow yoga might have more in common with ecstatic dance, modern choreography and pilates than with krishnamacharyan contemplative asana practice. Flow yoga is either self-expressive or transports you out of yourself entirely. Contemplative asana is different in the mind-state it cultivates and in its intention. Both are good. I probably need to dip into the strange subculture of spontaneous ecstatic dance—not “trance dance” (which sounds horrific, though please correct me if you like) but the grassroots stuff akin to raving—in order to understand better how it relates to this unique American creation of Hatha Flow.

Definitely a crack in my cultural comfort zone, that ecstatic dance stuff….

● Mary Taylor and Richard Freeman started a blog. When I lived alone last year, on rare (and I do mean rare) nights I’d want to hear the sound of another voice in my house. R's recordings are good for that. I have not yet listened to those archived here.  

● Junot Diaz is so good. So fucking good. There’s been a ton of press, including a boring interview with Terri Gross. But this week, Michael Silvelblatt (the national treasure) truly got him talking. About how reference-dense writing is encyclopedic of the world; about the fear of abandoning the OLD stories and the OLD masculinity because this means a man has to put his body out into the world and be so much more open to whatever experience is there for him. About Trujillo’s rape-dictatorship and the de-fetishization of sex. And about reading as a collective act. “Reading is a debt we owe to a collective even though we may practice it alone.” LISTEN. 

● For Norman Mailer, who is dead today. A short 1971 news story in which he condescends to feminists ("diaper Marxists") at Town Hall, with all the NY literati there to watch. A comic snapshot of the ideas and alliances of the day. “We broke our hearts trying to keep our aprons clean.”

● The Blog Readibility Test. I am Junior High School Level. Nice!