Bardo, Fuji, and Curated Butts

Please keep your head in the Bardo. It feels like in some ways the US has emotionally moved on already from all of the upheaval we’re still very much going through. This is disappointing and alarming. Nothing we’re facing, not Covid-19, not the sober recognition of systemic, historical racism and economic inequality, not the economic chaos that the global pandemic has brought - we’ve handled none of it, and we’re on the other side of nothing.

This lovely postcard came with a pen I ordered from this Turkish family leatherworks.

Bardo in Tibetan Buddhism is the name for the “in between” state, specifically between death and rebirth but it also has other meanings. It has some more specific resonances in that post-death context though. It’s a potent moment in that tradition wherein by simply keeping your head about you, you can jump the tracks and avoid being embodied in a human body again. That’s extremely exciting if you’re a Buddhist, because that’s the ultimate goal, to get out of the endless, mindless cycle of existence. When you think about everything you’re bound to in the course of your everyday life and lifespan, you’ll get a taste of this sense of cyclical existence even without bringing the alien to us (and frankly unnecessary) notion of rebirth or birth into it. Here’s a little more on Bardo in various Buddhist contexts if you’re interested.

This banana though: Laurie Anderson has a radio show going now called Party in the Bardo. She’s calling our current moment a Bardo, and I think that’s a potent way to think about it. The episode I’ve been listening to is from mid-June and has so many wonderful bits in it, really all sorts of things, including a brief discussion with the artist who created a sound installation in North Adams, MA that is one of my all time favorites. It took an overpass and added speakers below it, and some things that convert the sounds of passing cars and people into music. Laurie also talks about what she’s been up to during the quarantine/social distancing times. She talks about how there has been a different sense of time, and things feel more adrift. She apparently has been doing a lot of raking.

We’re still there, in the in between. We were always there in a sense, but the urge for the gloss of normalcy and our habits and shared powers of cognitive dissonance have held it together for us previously. And part of that near-constant gloss of normalcy is itself privilege that not everyone has access to. This forced taste of something else is, in a way, a gift. Take advantage, and don’t give it up so easily. Bardo is a good and powerful place to be, where there’s important work to be done. It’s a unique spot where everything is at stake and there’s limitless potential to become, change, or not become. I’m strongly advising you to hold on to that feeling of danger, of possibility, of everything at stake and nothing taken for granted, and of becoming rather than being what you’ve been. If you need to connect again with what things felt like a couple of short months ago, Laurie’s Party in the Bardo can help mood-wise.

A stunning view of Mt. Fuji.

If you don’t see the video, or see an image but no choice to see it move, click the link above to bring it up in Instagram.

I found this view awe-inspiring. And along somewhat similar lines, I’ve been enjoying the views Sabin.Shipspotter has been laying down with a drone in my old hometown of Providence, RI.

If you don’t see the video, or see an image but no choice to see it move, click the link above to bring it up in Twitter.

The oldest known straw hat in the world.

From this tweet I found the #CURATORBATTLE tradition, which is a barrel of fun led by Yorkshire Museum, where curators from various museums attempt to one-up each other with the coolest artifact or artistic work under a particular theme. Their most recent theme was butts. Recommended.

Harvesting those three bananas took everything I had, so no bonii this week. You can hit “reply” and it will go only to me. Thank you.

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