Sunday, September 23, 2007

from Herman Hesse's 'The Glass Bead Game'

"Doesn't the history of thought, of culture and the arts, have some kind of connection with the rest of history?"

"Absolutely not," his friend exclaimed."That is exactly what I am denying. World history is a race with time, a scramble for profit, for power, for treasures. What counts is who has the strength, luck or vulgarity not to miss his opportunity. The achievements of thought, of culture, of art, are just the opposite. They are always an escape from the serfdom of time, man crawling out of the muck of his instincts and out of his sluggishness, and climbing to a higher plane, to timelessness, liberation from time, divinity. They are utterly unhistorical and antihistorical."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Active Life Versus Contemplative Life

Since coming to China on May 4th:

Swam in the South China Sea. Hunted for flammable materials in the dark and the following morning, walked the length of the beach and back several times.

Probably averaged 2 hours a day of Chinese-language study, I'm now transposing the book I used to learn conversational Chinese from pinyin into characters.

Got up at 8 am to meet somebody by the Li Jiang River where it's at its deepest. Tried to catch fish with my bare hands and dived in several times as my companion sat and watched. I did drop my watch in there but managed to David Hasselhoff it out of the riverbed.

Wondered about the hypocrisy and indifference of institutional education, yet decided that the real reason why I won't end up a part of it is because I'm ot sufficiently fond of kids.

At the moment I'm reading Herman Hesse's The Glass Bead Game , which is largely about the artificiality of such distinctions. Anyway, I've seen base animal instinctiveness and life-affirming insight in the most unexpected places.

In other news:

I got very drunk on National Teacher's Day. An entire evening of gan bei-ing and then several whiskeys just about did for me.

I've been promising it for a while, but I've made a big step towards making more music videos by finally buying a laptop.

The school has resumed Chinese lessons after a month and a half without. I have been placed in the advanced group (actually I just placed myself there) and my teacher is also my teaching buddy who sits in the classroom while I'm teaching and intervenes whenever necessary.