thraxil.org:

tuck

3 years late

a long time ago i mentioned my acting debut. there were problems with the production of the film, and things were complicated further by the death of one of the actors (a piece of the set collapsed under him while filming at the Beijing Film College), and i pretty much figured the whole project had been scrapped. well, while looking for some new dvds this afternoon, i noticed one that had a familiar face on the cover. it took me a few moments to place it, but, it suddenly dawned on me: “isn’t that… the guy i was in that movie with?” i grabbed it, took it home, and sure enough.

<p>the bad news is that they decided not to use the sequence where i actually say a line. bastards. the good news is that&#8230; i&#8217;m in there! and i look cool. Warriors of Virtue II: Return to Tao. i&#8217;m a prisoner, i&#8217;m wearing a cloak with a big hood. i have chin hair. what talent! what natural ability! four stars for me!</p>

random piece of writing that wants to be out-and-about

The mystical crossover caught me off guard, leaving me standing there, arms hanging, in a silent battle to keep my composure. The experience was caused by a particular piece of Mr. Hu Youyi's collection of antique pianos in his museum on Gulongyu.

The piece, an automatic piano, was made in 1928 by the Haines Bros. company of New York. Its mint condition and warm sound denotes an instrument well loved through the years. Of the 70-plus pieces in the museum, our guide revealed that this unit, which rests in a private section off-limits to the public, has the best sound of them all. He wanted us to hear for ourselves. As it began its soft chords, I felt the distinctive pang of homesickness suddenly creep into my throat.

Unlike a normal automatic, this piano uses a particular kind of playing mechanism called "Ampico" and is categorized as a "Reproducing Piano". They're called such because they not only play the individual notes of whatever song has been inserted (the medium being a roll of grooved paper), but they actually reproduce the "keyboard touch" of the person who originally recorded the sheet, including the intensity with which each note was struck. This allows for perfect replication of the player's individual sound and tonal nuances. In a sense, it's not really a replication at all; nor is it a reproduction: it's the actual sound of a person playing a song on that piano at the time of recording. In this case, it was an American named J. Milton Delcamp playing his song in the late 1920s, and as he gently struck those keys, his notes struck me nearly 76 years later, on the other side of the world. Rather than sound, however, it was location that caused the mystical to occur.

The people and places of my China life belong to their own segment of my reality--one that seems non-transferable, unable to cross over to my American life. As far as its notes could reach, however, this piano was able to bridge into Gulongyu, forming a bubble of New York around itself. Upon entering there, I pleasantly ached for that place and wondered whether the player, in that far-away time, ever imagined that someday his sound would be immortalized in China. It was then that I realized the mystical effect of "place" on this listening: only by standing in that room here in China could the Haines Bros. piano, that song, and the ghost of Delcamp create what they had for me. The beauty of the moment was that the song needed China to exist as it was. In any other place, it simply would have been a different song.

The old Antico is in a marvelous setting on Gulongyu--a piano heaven--and its one warm, melancholic tune, "Salut D'Amour", will live on, sharing a kind of beauty it never could have achieved at home.

TAGS: piano mystical

the searchable archive/database answer for OSX users

i’ve been looking around, asking questions and getting various suggestions for an application that can help me work more efficiently with my giant collection of documents and articles. i often need to find stuff that i know i have, someplace, but can’t remember the title or what folder i may have put it in. someone in a forum suggested i take a look at Devonthink and, in an absolute rarity, this is exactly what i was looking for. exactly.

<p>incredibly simple, stable and open. you just drag any of the supported file types (just about every common text encoding, including .html, .xml, etc) into the app&#8217;s field, and the text is, from that point, rendered entirely searchable by keyword or category. i dropped 8 gigs of data into it (my entire documents folder, mostly .pdfs, .html, .rtfs), and in a flash, my entire library is now keyword searchable&#8212; i mean the actual contents of every file, not just names or abstracts, is now searchable. search results come up sorted by hit count. </p>

<p>you can actually drop your entire media collection in too.</p>

<p>&#8230;this basically has replaced the Finder for me (<span class="caps">OSX</span>)</p>

<p>i&#8230;   love this.</p>

karmic reversal

While living in a new and foreign place, there's a certain mysticism that shrouds the acquaintances I make. Take, for example, the woman who sweeps the dirt (off of the dirt) behind my building. If I was to attempt bringing her to America, I'm convinced that somewhere along the journey she would vanish. I visualize this happening in the same way that Marty McFly begins to fade away in BTTF. The sweeper-lady's existence and reality is only there, behind my building; any displacement is misplacement and violates a time-and-place cosmic order. I'd even be surprised if she shows up in photos. She'd be in pictures whenever I looked, but as soon as I show someone from home, she'd be gone.

In addition to random people here, I also have difficulties imagining friends from my Beijing existence crossing over into my US life, my US world. After two years of sharing stories with Chinese pals while walking down shit-smelling, dusty, rotting-garbage roads around parts of Beijing, I'm somehow unable to imagine them someday in the passenger seat of my car in the US as we drive to a city. Again, these people belong to a segment of my reality that is non-transferable.

I remember posting on thraxil after a multi-month hiatus last year. I put up some (possibly shocking) pictures of me teaching English to a class of 6-year old Chinese children. A few months later I mentioned that I had introduced a tabletop, modified-for-purpose RPG to a high school class as a way of boosting student morale and motivation for getting into the technical grit of English grammar. It worked well; the students were less likely to err if each mistake made (per sentence) was a cost to their character (ranging from robots, to NBA stars, to Weiner dogs).

This school wasn't one of Beijing's 3-4 best, which means that the students are essentially doomed, regardless of aptitude, motivation or effort. For them, getting a real education or getting outside of China (if desired) is practically impossible. If they had the kind of money that would grant such freedom, they'd be at a different school. They'd already have a completely different life.

I grew somewhat fond of one student. She was incredibly free-thinking, ballsy, a little rough around the edges, underprivileged and essentially cool as hell. She was particularly keen on my stories describing expanses of clean woods, free roaming dogs, and the absence of people in my area of New Hampshire. She used to ask me questions:

"Are there animals in the woods?"

"Yes, bears."

"Are they dangerous?"

"Only if very hungry."

"Would they eat a person?"

"Of course."

While playing English-Class RPG, she was always asking for huge, open space. "Is there a field over there?" "Yes." "I go to the field and explore."

Her teachers repeatedly told her mom that she wasn't destined for higher education (in China, this entire judgment is made on one's middle school math aptitude)(Reason #189 to despise China's system)), and should begin to consider what she wanted to do with her life that wouldn't require college. This basically amounted to a sentence of stagnation and poverty.

I don't know exactly when the idea came to me, but at some point last year I began thinking about how much she would enjoy seeing a place like New England, and parts of New Hampshire and Maine in particular. To us, people born and raised there, the landscape is commonplace and boring. We flock to cities (usually) to escape the drab spaciousness, and to be closer to other people and things. The key dynamics of rural life in New England consists of things like seasonal changes, the very occasional new restaurant or shop to check out, and home maintenance- very attractive perks for the elderly, yes, but for anyone with energy and motivation, it can suffocate. The dynamics of city residency, however, are infinite. Each day outside is full of surprise and newness. Just walking to work is guaranteed to be somewhat interesting. But for people who've only known "city", getting out in the woods can have its own thrill. For these types, driving through certain areas is like visiting a park. Actually, most of the places of which I'm thinking are just uncared-for expanses bordered by forests between Here-and-there Maine, USA. Yet they beat the hell out of most parks, especially those in developing countries like China. Not only do you have to pay to visit these state-owned greeneries, you are also nearly always forbidden to trod freely about.

I managed to broker a $17,000 scholarship for this girl, Ma Su Shan (a.k.a. Susanna) to attend my old boarding school in Kents Hill, Maine. She'll be the first Mainland Chinese student to attend there, and hopefully not the last.

I would have given anything to see the faces of her fucking psychologically abusive teachers once her family announced her acceptance abroad. I wish I could have stormed into the classroom to yank her away and load her into a limo in front of the school while all her teachers and classmates looked on in anger and confusion. We'd flip them off as we drove away.

While many other friends and acquaintances remain locked in this Beijing reality, to my own surreal awakening (she's crossing over!), there is new globe-trotting renegade where once there never was, or, in her environment, never could be.

It'll be fun to take her out for weekend trips to Boston and NYC. Hopefully friends will help add to her experience as well.

Anyway, it feels good to have been a part of this. And I needed to negate some bad karma from my youth anyway.

Life Of Agony reunion show

As the only one of my friends who managed to get into the Life of Agony reunion concert a couple weeks ago at Irving Plaza, and as its still so fresh in my mind, I should record the experience for any who are interested.

<p>Im unsure how many thraxilites have <span class="caps">LOA</span>s legendary sounds in rotation. The band is distinguishable by the abdominally throataceaous singer Keith Caputo, and it was mostly due to his sound that <span class="caps">LOA</span> was isolated from others in the genre. He can carry a very  loud, powerful note with a certain grace, making the sound truly his own. Even at peak decibels, his voice never gets hoarse, it just gets loud. He also tends to carry the perfect pitch on perfect time, and, as almost all their songs revolve around an addictive chorus melody, this trait is important.  Content is also probably responsible for a lot of their fan base, which is one of the most loyal on earth.  It was mostly of Keiths shitty deal in life (abusive, drug-addict, divorced parents, both of whom are now dead of heroin), and of how he felt about it all. It all went into, and formed one of the first truly emotional hardcore bands. </p>

<p>River Runs Red (1993), their first release, is one of the best records ever made. I was initiated at 16 while playing Rifts with my good friend Tom Riley. He had the album on repeat for the duration we played, usually overnight. Eventually it was just always on, in my head, and I came to crave it. The cuts on this album were, and are, amazing. The voice certainly, but the riffs are also surely to blame for a fans instant obsession. It was, and embarrassingly enough, still is, nearly impossible not to air-drum/guitar, and sing along. <span class="caps">LOA</span> has caused me a vow of music-making in my next life. </p>

<p>Keith left the band in 1997, a couple months before I was to see them play up in Lewiston. When I learnt of the reunion show, I was in disbelief. When the tickets sold out in under 20 minutes, I wasnt surprised. When my chick said she could probably find a couple tickets, I was reminded who the greatest girlfriend in the world is. Once I told her for certain Id be back in America by the shows date, she scored us two <span class="caps">VIP</span> passes (getting those sorts of things is the only perk she has in working for a record label, which is otherwise heinous in every way).  We picked the tickets up in person from Alan Robert, <span class="caps">LOA</span>s bass player, who now works at McGathy  Productions in <span class="caps">NYC</span>, practically across the street from where Julie works. That little experience was incredibly weird for me</p>

<p>On to the show.</p>

<p>Irving plaza is great. Its small, with a balcony that horseshoes around a general-admittance-only floor in front of the stage. The <span class="caps">VIP</span> area was the entire right side of this balcony, providing a perfect view of the stage, and the fans. Once up there, we found ourselves in the presence of various record executives, members of the opening bands (whos performances we missed thanks to the snow in NH, and some bad fairy timing from Staten Island), and also, I was to learn, the families and friends of <span class="caps">LOA</span>.  There were other familiar faces up there too.  Some members of Type O-Negative, a band which has always had a close relationship with <span class="caps">LOA</span>  from their beginnings together in Brooklyn, where there. The weird, heavily pierced fat guy who interviews Type-O fans in their After Dark <span class="caps">DVD</span> was standing directly behind me. </p>

<p>While Julie went to find the bathroom and get a drink, I started talking to this hulkish, tattooed-to-death guy who was explaining to me how the atmosphere and buzz of the place took him back ten years when he used to see every <span class="caps">LOA</span> show in NY.  Although I never made it to a show when they were still Red, getting ready for them to take the stage did sort of play with my temporal registry. Tom and the all night Life of Agony sit-downs of my 9 years-ago youth seemed so right then and there. </p>

<p>While the last opening band (they were pretty boring, called Shinedown) was finishing, the singer addressed the crowd, and commented on what an honor it was to be sharing a stage with <span class="caps">LOA</span>, and he called River one of the best metal records of all time. I nodded in approval. At that mentioning, the crowd, which until then had been very tame, quiet, and pretty much just standing around, began chanting L-O-A. It shook the roof. The perfect unison of their voices gave me chills. I think Julie thought I was ridiculous, but I just clutched the railing and joined in.</p>

<p>The crowd settled down and the curtain dropped so the stage hands could change the set. From the angle I had, I could see a little of what was going on, and when I saw the huge, four skull banner drop down to background the stage, I was instantly pumped again. Here I was, about to watch one of my favorite bands, which for the last 6 years had an R.I.P. after their name, and it was with their home crowd in New York.  After  trying to explain to Julie how mystical it was for me, the curtain rose and the crowd was bathed in light reflected off the banner; always a chilling, beautiful band logo if ever there was one. </p>

<p>Then Keith appeared. He was wearing bellbottom-ish pants, a white tank top, a bright green silk scarf, and his hair was shoulder length. This was not the Keith I knew. But I had already known, through reading articles and interviews, that he had gone through a sort of transformation, which was the reason why he couldnt go on singing with the band back in 1997. He just wasnt angry any more. He certainly didnt look like the raging ball of angst he used to be.</p>

<p>There were no words at this time, I dont think-  maybe a hello again new york or something. Then the entire band sort of rocked back, and as I anticipated their landing, I squeezed the railing, and was still completely unprepared for what was to come.</p>

<p>The blast that erupted, in my exaggerating memory, practically knocked the front row off their feet.  In my mind now, I see the color red, tuned to a B, blasting from the amps, hitting everyone square in the face, and about 700 heads popping off of bodies. It was River Runs Red, the title song of their first album, and the hundreds of fans, packed like sardines onto the floor, went completely insane and, I, while practically jumping off the balcony in trance-like ecstasy, thought people were going to die.</p>

<p>A gigantic pit formed instantaneously, and the moshers were crashing, backfisting, and kicking each other indefatigably. After ragingly fast, pounding metal, the chorus of this song slows everything down and Keiths voice, in a completely band-branded melody sings: god help me.. the river runs red and I think Im. dyyyyyyy-yiiiin!,  during which all the moshers, pushers, shovers, yellers, screamers and innocent bystanders paused, quite dramatically, sometimes mid-punch, like some sort of pledge of allegiance, to sing along at the top of their lungs. </p>

<p>Throughout the set, Keith continually warned of safety, and brought up the death that occurred at one of their shows and then the band would explode into another, then another, and another of Rivers most aggressive and emotive songs, which the fans feasted on. Keiths body was shaking violently, twisting, turning and reacting to each pound of the bass, each power chord and bass-pedal thump. He may have looked like a hippy, but he was as much in this performance as he must have been 10 years ago.  Twice he was down on the floor, standing in the crowd, singing.</p>

<p>Everyone in attendance knew almost every word to every song. Most non-metal heads dont associate the genre with lyrics, just lots of yelling and screaming testosterone bullshit. But the vocals and their delivery was one of <span class="caps">LOA</span>s greatest traits, absolutely critical to their sound. After listening through a couple times, knowing the words or not, liking them or not, youre singing along, usually with all the air you have.</p>

<p>They broke the set up with songs from Ugly (1995) and Soul Searching Sun (1997), but <span class="caps">RRR</span> was what everyone was there to hear and see.</p>

<p>An unexpected highlight was how good Weeds, their one song to get radio play nationally, from Soul Searching Sun, sounded live. Keith also did an acoustic solo that sounded great.  Lost At  22 was strong. After about 90 minutes of seriously rocking out, my ears and body were a little tired, the band was getting a little worn out, and the fans were practically drooling and panting. Appropriately, it was time for things to wind down. They finished with three <span class="caps">RRR</span> tracks- Underground, My Eyes and then the last song of the night. Actually, I dont know how these things work, but judging by the absolute commitment of the performance, and the overwhelming enthusiasm of every single person in attendance, I cant imagine it was the last time the band will play together.</p>

<p>I was expecting something slow and symbolically conclusive to end things, like Three Companions. But in retro, I realize how weak that would have been for a band as aggressive and hard as Life Of Agony.  As soon as the fans heard the bassline to Through and Through, and even while tired as hell, the entire house jolted to life, and bodies were flying through the air as if it was the first number of the night. </p>

<p>It was the perfect end of ends.</p>

<p>After the performance, the band hugged, and, staring at the banner with their arms around each other, had their picture taken. They shared some words of thanks with the crowd, and thanked their families, who were standing around me. The drummer, Sal Abruscato, took the mic and said that it was the greatest day of his life. I have a feeling that it was probably the best show Ill ever see.</p>

<p>I picked up a River Runs Again 2003 hoody, which doesnt sit well in China with the huge skulls on the back- but I wear it with pride. The <span class="caps">VIP</span> pass will stay in my wallet until I come to my senses. And I eagerly await the CD/DVD release of the performance.</p>

atms

although its just a side project, ive started a business, and im trying to make it the best it can possibly be. ive managed to acquire some resources here which no one else has, or can, and im in a good position to build a really solid foundation for what could be a truly kickass service with good, honest intentions, and born of a desire to support what i feel to be an important area of study.

<p>visit the <b><a href="http://www.atmschina.com">page, atmschina.com</a></b> and tell me what you think.  try to go through all the menus and learn about what im offering and get a feel for things.  right now you guys are the only real source of input i have.  from the ground up, i built  around what i conceptualized as the most complete, appealing program which i would have enjoyed being a part of while having the goals that i did upon first deciding to leave for china. all the ideas, all the writing, even the schools name- its all my creation.  so hack it all apart and tell me where things suck, and im sure theyre many places which do suck,  if you have time.</p>

<p>ive kept the focus small because im just starting. this is just something to gain experience and fix the bugs.  once a season or two pass, my eventual goal is to make this more of a cultural immersion program which uses  martial arts training to achieve a deeper knowledge and understanding of various lessons in oriental philosophy. as it is now, philosophy is more of a byproduct of the training instead of the purpose. as mentioned,  with the help of some professors, i eventually want it to be the other way around. </p>

<p>i know some pictures need to be changed because theyre lame, but i had no others available. also, a couple violate copywrite laws, probably. but replacements are coming. </p>

<p>my partner/roommate/pal  morgan (of vermont, total metal-head) is going to be on an <span class="caps">ABC</span> Newsmagazine special about his training here (and i get a few comments in there too, but unfortunately i have to talk about him hehe) and hes going to mention the business and the page. its kind of crucial that it be a real solid url since a few million people will be learning about it in a few weeks.</p>

<p>were shooting to have the first real load of students this feb, and a megaload (20-25) for next august.</p>
TAGS: china atms

MDB

today was a great day. i now own the following four My Dying Bride albums:

<p>34.788%</p>

<p>The Dreadful Hours</p>

<p>The Light at the End of the World</p>

<p>Turn Loose the Swans</p>

<p>i freakin love this band.</p>

cd shopping

i found a great cd store today and grabbed a bunch of shit, all for around $2.00 each. the highlights are:

<p>Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Murder Ballads</p>

<p><span class="caps">NIN</span>: All that Could Have Been</p>

<p>Napalm Death (double): Harmony Corruption and Leaders Not Followers</p>

<p>Dizzy Gallespie: Coolworld (1965)</p>

<p>Bud Powell: Hot House  (1964, France)(cool because he was pretty brain damaged at this point and since its a live, small venue recording, you can hear these grotesque, inhuman grunts and squeaks coming from him on all his solos&#8230; all of which are entirely distracting). hes a pianist, btw. </p>

<p>Type O Negative: After Dark (<span class="caps">VCD</span> with home video footage, plus videos for Black Number 1, Christian Woman, My Girlfriends Girlfriend, Love You to Death, Cinnamon Girl, Everything Dies, and fucking cool backstage stuff reminiscent of Panteras home video Watch It Go.  </p>

<p>because i was so impressed with the diversity of the music selection of this tiny shop, i also picked a bunch of random death metal which i wasnt familiar with.  my criteria for selection was: coolness of cover art, coolness of band name, and coolness of track names.  one of the picks was called Lacrimosa- and this ended up surprising me, pleasantly. its actually opera music, mostly sung in german.  its playing now.</p>

<p>hmm.</p>

<p>its entirely listenable. theres a full classical orchestra, occasionally classical guitar, all behind some calm and collected vocals by some german dude, or his totally hot dudette. </p>

<p>basically, this seems to be sort of a sedated Theater of Tragedy.  the two occasionally seem to be singing in response to each other, sometimes together in harmony.  and oooh, as im writing now, it just started to get a little faster with some borderline metal guitar. this has potential to be great if the dude starts getting angry or something.   </p>

<p>err.  its staying slowish.</p>

<p>losing me now.</p>

<p>hmpf. </p>

<p>whoa, kick ass!   its Dich Zu Toten Mir Schwer (track 6) and the dudette just got totally pissed off at something and yelled over some heavy metal riffs before a while.</p>

<p>dammit. the dude came back and is pissing me off now. he killed the metal. neat bubbly septic tank sounds though&#8230;</p>

<p>yeehaw! picked up again! (please, pah-lease let the chick come back!)</p>

<p>gaaa.  shes gone.</p>

<p>but wait&#8230; wait, wait, wait&#8230;.  this is pretty cool. an angel chorus is now chanting Sanctus&#8230;      Sanctus&#8230;..      Sanctus&#8230;   Dominus&#8230;.   over and over.  </p>

<p>and now other stuff i cant make out. </p>

<p>yeah man, Sanctus! Sanctus!  hehe.  </p>

<p>two mood-dependent thumbs up for Lacrimosa.</p>
TAGS: lacrimosa

6-4-89

i remember my parents explaining to me what happened on June 4th in Tiananmen Square after the american media began its typical frenzy of spitting emotional content directly onto our tv room carpets. students were murdered for protesting the same government which murdered them. some foreign reporters at the time said hundreds of people died. but of course, they were mostly running away from bullets, so couldnt really see. i remember my history teacher in high school, Ms. Vadebonceur (we got extra points on tests if we could spell her name correctly) a product of Colby College (a liberal arts school very similar to Bates, and also in Maine) spending an entire eerie class discussing Chinese lunacy. she had the Tiananmen Square death toll at a couple thousand at least. the following year when i was in India, my roommate, Lima, who was from a small northeastern state called Nagaland, was terrified of the chinese (for reasons which would take too long to explain here) and explained how in India, the Tiananmen Square body count was said to be as high as 10,000. i was also told in history class there (this was 1996, during the first real China-Taiwan showdown, so we were covering China pretty well) that pro-democracy advocates all over the country were killed that day, not just in Beijing. The official Chinese report on the matter was that there was only a small handful of casualties.

<p>its hard to know what to think, or, as the chinese government  would prefer, whether to think about it at all.  china has made so much progress since then; people can now wear shoulder-exposing shirts, they can joke about politicians without getting thrown in jail (usually, anyway). but a few months ago something happened that really bothered me:  i was reminded that according to the chinese govt, Tiananmen never happened. a chinese highschool student friend of mine doesnt know anything about  June 4, 1989. he asked: was there an accident or something?  somethings wrong there; the unacknowledged massacre haunts my optimism.  it was only 13 years ago, yet it seems completely forgotten. is the Party actually capable of erasing history? as i sit here typing, on this 13th anniversary of the murders,  the entire country is watching their team play Costa Rica in the world cup of soccer.  the only massacre on their minds is one of sports victory. maybe they have the right idea: just move on. maybe theyre now conditioned to feel like being heard is hopeless, and that no amount of speaking out and the resulting jailings will change the iron fist rule of this still corrupt and oppressive and usually ridiculous government.  by thinking back to 6-4-89 im cursed with  brain-numbing frustration. the fact that the government still lies about the reality of what happened, that it tried to kill off anyone who saw anything, including bystanders and people watching from high-rise windows, that it even had police guards at the graves of the victims each june 4th for years after to prevent anyone from mourning them, that it boarded up the Square on the 10 year anniversary of the murders claiming it was under construction  (police guards quickly informed anders and i that taking pictures or even peeking at the merely under construction site was illegal, for some reason)&#8230; it all makes me remember that even though the country is seeing some money, looking a bit better, and filled with more smiles, i must never mistake this new atmosphere for political freedom.  this  country is still an iron-fisted authoritarian regime, and the authority of the Communist Party is not to be questioned in any way, ever.  unless, of course,  you want to spend 8 years in reform camp or be shot in the back of the head.</p>

<p>move on, or remember?  moving on is easy when you see the progress which has been made, but hard when you remember that those killed were students like us, asking to be heard.  theyre still dead of course, mostly unremembered, many with bullet holes in their backs from running away, terrified and shocked that the long trusted <span class="caps">PLA</span> would actually shoot them, their own people, for trying to initiate positive change.</p>

Part Five: Please Make Him Stop Writhing, er, Writing!

Part Five: Please Make Him Stop Writhing, er… Writing! (Section One. Section Two is in comment One heh

<p>Part Four covered the how and why behind studying in china.  now ill discuss the important and controversial reason why the study involves nose knowing (i.e. why my nose is now more crooked than it was before).   reintroduced at the very end of part four was the smell of smeared grass which represents the sometimes unforgiving but always genuine physical experience itself.  now, here, im forcing myself into a physically experiential situation where the mental state in question, <span class="caps">SAM</span>, is required to manifest.   yes, there are other was of exploring these things. no, they cant substitute for my work here.  no, it isnt merely studying one of those chinese  things which carry a requirement of psychophysical unity. yes, it has to be fighting.  yes, of course i can tell you why.  </p>

<p>there are three main reasons why the fighting approach is irreplaceable:</p>

<p>first, the reality and threat of full-contact creates a situation unable to be duplicated in other training atmospheres. my very first response to the consideration of  a  total absence of self under full contact or life threatening circumstances was that:  if i dont perceive anything because my self is absent, then id have no self-care, no will to survive. without my self or my me wanting to resist death or loss, how could i possibly live or win?  thats the real crux of the phenomenon in this arena:  you do survive. in fact, thanks to <span class="caps">SAM</span>, your chances are better at surviving while in <span class="caps">LRC</span> for all the reasons previously mentioned: the lack of both emotion and controlled conscious thought provide a mental state allowing for heightened physical capability.  when the <span class="caps">LRC</span> does take over under circumstances of explosive, violent action, its a serious achievement bordering on the mystical and it indicates a degree of ability unable to be explored in meditation rooms with incense or while doing tai chi in the park. </p>

<p>the second  reason why this approach is important is because it involves a direct antagonist.  unlike other methods of sinking into <span class="caps">LRC</span> (from target shooting to yoga), in a fight, as mentioned in reason-one above, there is the threat of violence and harm, but, in addition to causing harm, the killer/assailant/opponent (cool, new acronym: <span class="caps">KAO</span>, pronounced &#8220;cow&#8221;, now to be written that way) is also specifically trying to prevent you from being able to obtain that silent fluidity.  unfortunately, losing your self doesnt happen the instant you step on the platform. it happens completely unannounced and unacknowledged (because your self is not there to regard it happening) and usually in phases, if it happens at all.  as mentioned, even under agreeable circumstances, this level of refined consciousness is elusive. but now, there&#8217;s actually someone trying specifically to render you unable to <span class="caps">SAM</span>ize by getting you riled-up, and otherwise emotionally involved.  the <span class="caps">COW</span> (kill me now before it starts, please) is doing whatever it can to get the psychological advantage in the confrontation before attempting to grind you into hamburger. but youre utterly confident (oh god&#8230;it would behoove you to stop reading now);  you know that if you can just shift into <span class="caps">LRC</span>, you won&#8217;t be subject to their cowardly attempts, and, that physically, by milking the benefits of <span class="caps">SAM</span>, your chances of winning (surviving) are good. but, you also know that if you consciously wait for a shift to happen, it never will.  if you want it to happen, it wont. if you <span class="caps">NEED</span> it to happen, it still wont happen. and then </p>

                ********////BAM!\\\\**********

<p>you get nailed, and it just mooooved twice as far away as it was before because now youre upset, maybe confused, probably herding  and</p>

                        ********////BAM! <span class="caps">BAM</span>!  <span class="caps">KABOOM</span>!\\\\\*******

<p>&#8230;now  youre lying on the platform looking up at  twenty fingers, oh ok, there we go, only 5, now 6, now 7, now wait&#8230; is this a&#8230; but its only been&#8230; hey, i feel like eating lima beans. oh hi coach. what are you doing here? why are you speaking chinese?  i&#8217;m a misslefish. oh hi coach. wo ye shi zhonguo ren ma? hen youyisu, wo hui shou hanyu. oh, hi coach, hanyu nihongo de iieba chyugokugo. pomplemousse? </p>

<p>the point here is that you cant talk yourself into refined consciousness even if your life is at steak. if you try, you end up merely helping the <span class="caps">COW</span> to keep you distanced from it and the <span class="caps">LRC</span> wont even graze you.</p>
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