This is not a call to arms.
Hat tip to Richard Payne for alerting me to a post (now nearly two months old) by Glenn Wallis regarding the Mindfulness Living Week and the “tipping point” of American Buddhism. You should read Wallis’ piece while listening to Childish Gambino’s “This is America.” As Payne reminds us, the Mindfulness Industry has been subsumed under the dominant capitalist struct of America because — why wouldn’t it be? Capitalism is so pervasive, is so deeply ingrained in the very fiber and being of American history and culture (America would not exist if it wasn’t for capitalism), that scarcely anything can escape its black-hole-like pull.
But I don’t want to talk abut mindfulness or capitalism. I want to shine the light elsewhere. And to do so, I’m going to be slightly critical of Wallis’ post on two points. First, audience and agents; and, second, nomenclature.
For several years, back in the waning days of Bush II and the rise of Obama, I blogged incessantly. It began as a way of letting folks who lived far and wide know what I was up to, since these were pre-social media days. It developed into a way to collect my thoughts about all things academic, Buddhist, and political as I finished my doctorate. In hindsight, there were a million better ways to spend my time, to be sure. I could have read more, I could have spent more time on scholarship, I could have channeled these energies into a journal article or course prep. God, anything, really. This is not to say that blogging is a waste of time; any writing we do improves our skills more generally. Trying — and especially failing — to get one’s point across (even in a blog post) makes one a better writer. But I’m also aware of the mistakes I made not only in logic and reasoning (and typos) but the mistakes in time management and creating positive relationships. I don’t regret these things, per se. I’m just aware of my own limitations as a human being and owning up to those limitations.
At the same time — because life is complicated, because there’s always awesome things mixed in with the less-than-awesome — there are some things about my blogging life that I cherish, that I wouldn’t trade in for all the money in world. And one of those things was the chance to meet and get to know the Angry Asian Buddhist. Continue reading
Oh, take me to the city,
And leave me there for a day —
Let me gaze at the tall buildings,
And watch me go astray.
The directions become all jumbled,
Could this be east or west?
The sun never sets behind the hills,
And wearily, I wish for rest.
Oh, take me back to the country,
Back where the heart belongs —
There, undisturbed, let me hear again
The familiar woodland songs.
Let me show you the Dipper;
The thrill of the Milky Way —
I need no map, no compass here,
‘This home, and here I’ll stay.
Ayako Noguchi (1941)
*Note: spitting this out during a bout of writer’s block was rather cathartic. Hopefully it will be entertaining for others as well.
Sometimes, you agree to write something because you’ve been invited, or cajoled, or downright ordered to, by someone (quite possibly a mentor or someone you owe very nearly everything to). You are invited, and maybe it’s a sunny day and you’re in high spirits and the deadline is far off and you say, yeah, that sounds fun. So you say yes. And then. And then. Time marches on. And the deadline looms. And what once seemed fun and gleaming and magical is now dreary and dreadful and dull.
I wrote a post on a plane from San Antonio, post AAR, to San Francisco. I had every intention to publish it, once I landed, but never did. And then the usual distractions of familia obligations over the holidays ensued. I’m back at the office. Digging myself out of a post-AAR-Thanksgiving email hole. But I don’t want to loose sight of the importance of writing.
In years past, I’ve posted a list of Buddhist-studies-related panels and other events at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion. Not this year.
If you’re interested in Buddhism-related stuff, it’s fairly easy to find — the meeting program book is available online here.
From 2003 to 2012, this site was host to a fairly regularly updated blog, by me, “the buddha is my dj.” By around 2010 I had stopped posting as regularly, and did a long slow fade out trying to figure out what I was up to, what the point of the whole project was. Then I gave up. Then I archived everything on WordPress.
The long slow fade out was the result of a lot of factors (too much of the wrong kind of attention, my decision to focus on my “career” rather than my “hobby,” having a kid, you name it). A couple of years ago, I decided to resurrect the blog. I thought it would be good to have a space where I could wrestle with some thoughts and ideas or research projects I was working on. I tried to post regularly, but nothing came of it beyond the random thought separated by months.
This past August, I was invited to give a “book talk” during which a very kind woman came up to me and said that she was a long-time reader of the old blog and wondered if I was going to write again. I said I’d been thinking about it but nothing had gelled. I’ve got a lot of things going on, work, family, whatever.
I’m done making excuses.
I am sitting at my desk in my office the morning after. I do not know what to say or do or feel. I know how I feel. Desperate. Sad. Angry. Uncertain.
That word isn’t strong enough, uncertain. Uncertain in the way that Edvard Munch’s subject in The Scream is uncertain. Uncertain because the world is changed, and I cannot even begin to comprehend what the next three months — let alone two to four years — will look like. I know there will be violence. There will be seemingly irreparable broken bonds between us. I cannot see the other side. I am uncertain.
A couple of quick notes.
First, the book has arrived. You can order it direct from the publisher or from Amazon (including in swanky Kindle format) or your friendly local independent bookseller. If you’d like to see a preview of the book, click here to read the introduction and first chapter.