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Friday, March 6, 2015

9.08pm thoughts

I've been sick the past few days.

Woke up in the middle of the night, two nights ago, with nightmares and fever.

I skipped work yesterday, as a result.

Today, I took a half day.

I have been reading Tim Soutphommasane's book "Don't Go Back to Where You Came From: Why Multiculturalism Works". It's very good.

Considerations of Spirituality

So I work for an organisation that focuses on spiritual care and spiritual health.

These are not easy concepts to explain.

A reflection on spirituality as an aspect of health and wellness. That one of the historical "homes" of spirituality has been in religion and in religious institutions. Of course, many religions and religious institutions these days are unfortunately less homes for spirit and more for homes for myopia, the maintenance of privilege, political regression, and an inability to remain present to evolving global realities.

All that said, some things that religions, religious institutions and religious leaders have done, that have been integral to any evolving definition of "spirituality" per se, have included:

- Ethics (e.g. a consideration of Old Age, Sickness and Death and the implications these considerations have on how we choose to live)
- Hermeneutics (textual interpretation in a community of practitioners)
- Ritual
- Contemplation/Reflection/Meditation

When I think of "spiritual health" in the context of a secular health sector, I think not only of the more esoteric aspects of spirituality (e.g. the "transcendent" or issues of "ultimate concern"), but also of health and medical ethics, hermeneutics in the sense of theological literacy when relating to patients and people living with chronic illness or degenerative disease, including more deliberate and mindful forms of ritual (including a reading of the extent to which a mindless ritual is already implicit in terms of access to health systems, e.g. intake forms, confidentiality statements, the taking of medicines, policies and procedures that delimit what sorts of movement or speech are possible, etc.), and moments of silent contemplation (with all the evidence-based promises of increased work efficacy and neurogenesis), integrated into the practice of health professionals, beyond just contact with patients/clients.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Why Do Art?

It is simply what we do,  when peace is possible. Art is simply what is done, as a residue of peace, however precarious, however violently protected or brought into being...
Art is the moment of pause from exteriority, and is the process of interior translation of the experiences of phenomena through some particular form of conveyance, be it piano, painting, or printing.
Art is the possible, out of some moment of peace, or peaceability.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Monday, February 9, 2015

Problematising Problematising

We begin with the phenomenon, as it is usually experienced, then
the phenomenon, as it is usually described, then... a slow movement away...:
an observation, by some critical mass of observers, or at least from
a significant lone voice, whose critical perception, however lonely,
may transform a critical mass out of a disjuncture, out of their dissonance between their experiences of phenomena and their description of their experiences, which may, in turn, liberate new forms of experience...

Liberatory experiences.

This lone voice is that which Problematises.

Problematising gender relations, for example, to observe the ways that habitual patterns of socialisation entrench female subservience relative to male domination.
Problematising race relations, for example, to observe the ways that historic global patterns of Euro-American media hegemony can entrench cross-cultural commitments to Eurocentrism and maintenance of white privilege.
Problematising economic relations, for example, to observe how normative economic participation increases the wealth of the already wealthy, while continuing to entrench further impoverishment of the already poor.

Et Cetera.

So, this voice that Problematises, ordinarily heroic; necessary.
In the service of justice.

And then:
There is the way that Discourse itself becomes part of a particular status quo, preserving elitist ideals, not only of intellection (which is not itself to be feared), but in particular of an intellection that is excessively deconstructionist, relativistic, and only falsely democractic.

The performative contradictions of Problematisation:
That I problematise all pretences to universality, except the very dialectic of problematisation, which remains as an unproblematic (or unproblematised) good, at least by those who proclaim compassionate progressivism.

This is what Tim Mansfield may mean by "Statusidentitaetsverlustneid"... observing the importance of differentiating between forms of Problematisation.

That it is worth paying attention to the ways that a struggle for justice may be speaking to a sense of thwarted entitlement, motivated more by jealousy (statusidentitaetsverlustneid) than by a sense of selfless compassion.

To pay attention, in this sense, is to problematise... but not only here to tear down, but also to invite that missing (or postponed) compassion.

Thursday, February 5, 2015


This moment. 2015 has been a strange year so far. Very very melancholy.

On the one hand, a cisgender white American dude writing about how the world, on aggregate, is safer now than it has ever been... (admittedly, that is a 2011 reference... I'm not sure how things are stacking up these days)

On the other hand, my smarmy identity politik that attempts to "discredit" the objectivity of his work by pointing out his whiteness, his Americanness, his ... dude-ness...

The Sydney siege
Charlie Hebdo
Boko Haram's mass murders
ISIS/ISIL/DAESH beheadings, immolation, gay-killings

Just the pornographic virality of filmed murder...

Reflecting on how social media (i.e. FB/Twitter) and high speed internet access
contribute to my notions of "brutality"

Reading Judith Butler's "Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence"

Also, the physical separation between me and most of my family.

Tiredness, as well. Tiredness, yes, as well.

Tiredness exists in part because of ongoing expectations (however self-imposed or inflicted)
about achievement, correctness, etc.

The sense of the Internet, such as:
Afghanistan, of the 1950s/60s
- An anthology of Radical Black (mostly African American) thought

Also, retrospectives... I read articles now from prior to The Most Recent...
It is worth revisiting old pieces, from elsewhere, from a decade or more ago
to see how far we have come, or how little has changed, or how "backward" we have gone...

Judith Butler's "Precarious Life" was written soon after the attacks by al-Qaeda on the TwinTowers of NYC on Sept 11th 2001...

And the book resonates with me still today, her insights into what ethical quandries we need to deal with, after every new beheading...

I have also recently become much more interested in reading the corpus of works by Noam Chomsky...
connecting with Anarchism, beyond the early20s-hipster-identitypolitik of the anarchist spaces I have traversed

I have also, in 2015, become more wary of identity politics in general, with a visible (online) expression of endless cycles of impotent anger, of rehashed (and perhaps rehearsed) traumas, of allergies to beauty (as if beauty were some affront to the purity of precious political outrage)

My friend Tim writes about
n. the feeling of jealousy one gets when one is born into a powerful family, ethnicity, class or social position, but one winds up with no power."

I reflect on my own class privilege, my obsession with 'justice', perhaps
a clinging onto some sense of power and privilege and access I once knew
as a Chinese ethnic majority in a Chinese-run country, even as I spoke English fluently so I was still
the elite Chinese among Chinese in a post-British colony, and
I remember now, also

I was approached at 14 years old, in my favourite shopping centre (the Heeren, which was once almost entirely devoted to the HMV music store, which has since gone bust in Singapore), 
being approached by a person who told me
that I was handsome, that I could be a model, that I should be a model...
She gave me her card for a modelling agency, with some details for an orientation into the business...
I used to be so... gorgeous.
Young man, Chinese, of course, among Chinese
fair skinned, tall, I was told: I had impeccable dress sense, that 
I had good skin, smooth and fair, yet also 
darker than female
and that all the girls who knew me
wanted to be with me, even as 
I found myself primarily wanting to 
give fellatio to Caucasian tourists
who were escaping the tyranny of their own
monoracial nightmares, from their countries of origin

Singapore is so amazing, it is so. so amazing

and I am not young anymore.

The air I breathe is Australian bush air
desert air, and
a new sense of justice is possible here, necessary here

I leave behind my legacy of class privilege, my statusidentitaetsverlustneid... I must try on some other outrage
move beyond indignation or pity
meditative inquiry, let's say
psychonaut erotica

in 2015, 
I am as bewildered as I have ever been

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Post-Warburton Yarn

Been to Warburton, close to the source of the Yarra River, with my lover.
Getting to an interfaith ashram, feeling the power of the land,
sharing doctrine with the Yogi and the Priest while having tea
on a Sunday evening
a walk (beginning with banana) to and from Lala falls.
On Monday, a slice of Californian Redwoods,
surreally planted in rows
on the Western edges of the Eastern Victorian Yarra Ranges,
an afternoon yarning with a Catholic woman, still searching.

A thought of just settling there
a young retirement, not quite:
more a renewed dedication to spiritual practice and study,
a privileged space for magic.

A Buddhist monastery with by-donation lunch & retreat,
a love of breathing, river and bush.

The Spell of the Sensuous
A memory of some younger dayze.

Other possibilities abound.

I drink red wine to prevent heart attack, and hope for the best.