SLVIII: New Ballgame • 24 January 2009

Yesterday morning, I finally went to practice around five. Corporate brand signs blazing in the Los Angeles witching hour, and gotham-dim streetlights whose inadequacy once allowed an errant car to hit me straight in to ashtanga. In the dark I strongly imagined my brother, on an art expedition to the Arctic Sea. They drive for miles across the polar ice, through caribou herds and flocks of midnight doves, through the dark dark dark. I'm delirious in the beauty and impossibility that he is there, so at the end of nowhere, in the inhuman cold. Treading the moon itself would be less romantic: in the dark of the Arctic there’s still life. What’s a midwestern winter to one in tribal Tuktoyuktuk?

The life changes that made for a sleepless Thursday also make for a reinvestment of the energy I’ve been withholding from the yoga. There is still uncertainty, but at least a container to feel in the dark. Total uncertainty can be immobilizing, so I’m laying it down: I know that I will practice. I know that I will write. I know that I will be a sociologist. Some lines of energy in the unknown. As true and bracing as President Obama on the radio.

Predawn practice is back on, together with the whole breathing nonsense I bracketed in the fall. But today, since I slept an hour Thursday night, then taught a client whose cold tripped my immune system, and fasted all day for a blood draw, yesterday caught up with me as I went out to dance. I put an alpaca blanket on the floor and rolled around for an hour while listening to 80-era Christian rock operas. Dance is so abstract you can find it under any conditions, presuming you’ve got a lot of experience in self-hypnosis and know how to find the body. Ashtanga is a stronger discipline.

Saturday links

-I am not that interested in Vampire Weekend-era indie pop. This too shall pass. But I have to say that The Crying Light is so beautiful. It takes a decent stereo and some attention. Feels very January 2009.

Temple Grandin’s new book is called Animals Make Us Human. Read it if you eat meat. She’s a carnivore herself, so you don’t have to worry.

-It would be good to stay with Ashtangis in SF in May. I have no idea who might be reading this—I dumped my stat counter a year ago—but if you know me as a reader and have guest space for the world tour, I would love to meet some locals rather than staying with university friends the whole time. I am quieter in person and would be working days at the library or some cafe in the Mission. I will not dance on your tables unless you ask. I won't take oil bath in your tub. And I’d be very grateful for ashtangi hospitality. Gmail insideowl.

12 Comments

  • charusheela
    Posted 25 January 2009 at 10:41 am | #

    you don’t make sense. why would you return to something you call nonsense? i know, maybe you don’t want to admit that the breath could have a deeper meaning than what you’ve given it. but maybe, as s. says, you just have to practice it. without any expectation. allow its meaning to reveal itself to you. rather you trying to impose your own meaning on it. you could also try looking it up in the dictionary. then contemplate its meaning. sometimes we think we know what a word means, and then discover that it was limited to our own vocabulary. because contemplation is itself a practice. it’s a dharana and one of the eight limbs of yoga that can be practiced by anyone aspiring to know who they are.

  • meniscusmerangue
    Posted 25 January 2009 at 5:02 pm | #

    Then again, charusheela (with no real apology to JM):

    Of owl’s first disobedience, and the scent
    Of that unbidden tree, whose coiled sap
    Drew flight down from the wold, and westward ho
    To sullied Eden, with dwemmer mind
    Full- tousled unto sthiram seat,
    Sing heavn’ly muse, that from the faded slopes
    Of Sindh, or of Sinai, some flicker
    Of our forestral loss, whose tended shoots
    Belied beginning and premised end,
    Though seething chaos sundered Sion hill
    And Durv’a’s palm swiped skinless walls,
    Held in this coracle of God, I thence
    Present some aid to her adven’trous song,
    Whose winnowed flight intends to roar
    Around the Aonian mount, while it contends
    Things yet attempted in prose or rhyme.
    And thou, O nascent spirit, who would’st prefer
    Before disciples a clearing of the nerve and hip,
    Embrace her, for thou knowest presence first,
    And booming wings with kind Garuda’s wrath
    Blow hardstone fear to fate: what in her is dread,
    Ennoble; what is low bring forth again
    That to the depth of that great argument
    She may assert internal providence
    And vivify the ways of heart to men

  • meniscusmerangue
    Posted 25 January 2009 at 5:26 pm | #

    And women. Sorry.

  • Posted 25 January 2009 at 8:35 pm | #

    You will practice, you will write. You can ride out the weirdness just fine.

    I heart Temple Grandin.

  • Posted 25 January 2009 at 8:51 pm | #

    Like some strange hybrid of Gerard Manley Hopkins and the Bhagavad Gita, all sprinkled with Ezra Pound rhinestones.

  • Posted 25 January 2009 at 11:55 pm | #

    hi (0v0) regarding the May visit, lemme ask my teacher and her assistant for suggestions, as well as practitioners friends. all it takes is sending an email…
    hugs
    Arturo

  • Posted 26 January 2009 at 12:30 am | #

    My god.

    I never know who is the muse around here.

    C-oracle of God… M might also believe a tiny paradise herein. I’ll begin from that space.

    And yet each verse of thine, outdid the meat, outdid the frolic wine. Yeah, cheers to Temple G. She’s a big contradiction, but so’s American food production.

    Pound-stones? Nah. 🙂

    Joy thank you for the letter by the way. I’m mulling it.

    And Arturo, thank you. I have practiced in SF often but don’t know many in your community in person. Though your lovely teacher held space for me in difficult times in summer 2006.

  • Posted 26 January 2009 at 5:52 am | #

    Wish I lived in SF!
    You know if you’re ever in Austin…

  • Posted 27 January 2009 at 1:04 am | #

    Thomas Disch’s poem Ghost Ship about comment threads. Quoted in the Boston Review.

    There must be many other such derelicts—
    orphaned, abandoned, adrift for whatever reason—
    but few have kept flying before the winds
    of cyberspace so briskly as Drunk Driver
    (the name of the site). Anonymous (the author)
    signed his last entry years ago, and more years passed
    before the Comments began to accrete
    like barnacles on the hull of a ship
    and then in ever-bifurcating chains
    on each other. The old hulk became
    the refuge of a certain shy sort
    of visitor, like those trucks along the waterfront
    haunted by lonely souls who could not bear
    eye-witness encounters. They could leave
    their missives in the crevices of this latter-day
    Wailing Wall, returning at intervals
    to see if someone had replied, clicking
    their way down from the original message—

    April 4. Another gray day. Can’t find the energy to get the laundry down to the laundry room. The sciatica just won’t go away.

    —through the meanders and branchings
    of the encrusted messages, the tenders
    of love for a beloved who would never know herself
    to have been desired, the cries of despair,
    the silly whimsies and failed jokes, to where
    the thread had last been snapped,
    only to discover that no, no one had answered
    the question posed. Because,
    no doubt, there was no answer.
    Is there an “answer” to the war
    wherever the latest war is going on?
    If one could get under the ship
    and see all those barnacles clinging
    to the keel, what a sight it would be.
    Talk about biodiversity! But on deck,
    so sad, always the same three skeletons,
    the playing card nailed to the mast,
    frayed and fluttering weakly, like some huge insect
    the gods will not allow to die.

  • meniscusmerangue
    Posted 28 January 2009 at 10:12 am | #

    Now then!
    Pale nightwatch hen,
    Tis we thy guests
    Who savour long those crests
    Raised from thy wit
    And left in light to sit.
    Where else kaivalya’s shade
    Squats lonesome, a gnome-like spirit made
    Breathless, so the cold- shuddered spine
    Squeaks mean (at best) a foul and colic whine

    So then:
    Resurge again,
    For we attest
    Thy central-heated nest
    A royal roost,
    Full worth the synapse-boost.
    Yet ‘tronic pulse may fail, alas,
    So bracket not the subtle gas
    For, as once was written To Electra,
    We are communed by that gentle spectre!

  • Posted 28 January 2009 at 7:13 pm | #

    Unbracketed then. The intercostals ache to open again, from the inside, the first days back in. Like the dull greedy ache of the hip flexors in breaks from 1S. Puraka rechaka satisfies the greed. Kumbhaka, not so much.

    Some capacity has been lost but is so quick to return. And so much oxygen in the blood. An obviously beneficial nonsense.

    But still—-

    If I realight here I might scare you off.

    So to remain quiet, or at least pithy, winnowing, straining nectar.

    Herrick-Hecate-Heraclite.

    I am just a huge insect, in this light, after all.

  • meniscusmerangue
    Posted 29 January 2009 at 10:37 am | #

    Hard to swatters, immune to DEET,
    Is our leaf-cuttin’ exogete,
    Who, lawd a’ mercy! Jesu Christey!
    Maybe small but sure is feisty.

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