Workout Log 25 Aug 2012: Kamalaya, Koh Samui Day 2
Thy gardens and thy gallant walks
Continually are green;
There grows such sweet and pleasant flowers
As nowhere else are seen.
There trees for evermore bear fruit,
And evermore do spring;
There evermore the angels sit,
And evermore do sing.
– The Song of the New Jerusalem (used to think of it while running the ten miles of Palo Alto that started in the Stanford Campus and went up into the hills. So shoot me, I like nice places)
Dreams of words that start with the first four letters of the name of my new grand-daughter, then I awoke to use the fitness center right next door to my room. Only did thirty minutes because got confused about the time zone and have a Pranayama class at nine, but it was great. Got through some mild hip pain on that step thing that looks like you’re a Chinese peasant operating a water wheel, pain that I experienced in swimming on the right side away from the sciatica pain.
The Stewarts who founded Kamalaya back in the 1980s or so have a bit of a Club Med thing going in which guests are expected to be more chummy, and respect rules: for example, you’re not supposed to use a laptop in the dining area even at breakfast because it creates image and pressure in the minds of other guests.
A woman mildly questioned my use of the laptop and my need for headphones and an iPod on the beautiful rain-slicked path yesterday afternoon, which had that green intensity and clarity of light I associate with the tropics, and we had a long conversation about the separation of work and leisure…she comes here to “let go” of the world of Tekno-Berlin.
But I asked her to consider that Laptop Man might not be working at his day job. He might, be chronicling his life as a way of communicating with his estranged family in the context of a rather serious illness, doing so in “real time” for a reason.
He might be an unpublished and perhaps, in these times of carefully structured TED videos, carefully structured to exclude the one alternative (economic decency) that might work, unpublishable writer for whom, I said, writing is Adorno’s “home for the homeless”.
He may be Gramsci’s organic, to the point of savage, intellectual made almost extinct by the corporate transformation of the free intellectual (the intellectual without toilet training) into a commodity that’s useful to corporations…from the entrepreneur to the software developer, always willing to work anhedonically when the client doesn’t want what she thinks the client might need, and then go to a spa like this to let go of the anger. The Subject is wanted as input to Objectification.
[Nobody out-Krauts me, dammit: you want pedantry at warp speed I am your man.]
It was not a hostile exchange and I do not need to listen to my iPod here outside my room. I told her about running for years without it, and even recently losing it, and still running, feeling precisely the same *joy*, a *joy* which insofar as it is peculiar to the running gesture, one lets go of given the condition of my left femoral artery and the availability of other forms of exercise. You could not seriously run with cassettes even the Walkman and the motile CD player of 2000 was too expensive (and quickly outdated by the first iPod).
And Adorno would not recognize any sort of aesthetic right (a right to appreciate art, which he was perfectly willing to legislate from on high, and good for him) to “listen” to music whilst in some gym or on some trail. It would fill my Fat Pal with horror, for his contemporaries circa 1920, named Jurgen or Bohinga, were the WanderVogel (Wandering Birds), a proto-Fascist movement, who made the wilderness resound with forced group singing and today, when alone, would be certain, as modern Germans are, to have iPods. To transform all music into Hindemith’s hausmusik.
Adorno would find repugnant the mixture of music with other things: like many Modernists, he had a bit of a problem with opera. He wouldn’t like my Wagnerian Dad’s tendency bill patients and collect stamps to the Ring.
But this is just a high-class version of Thomas Stearns Eliot’s “twittering world”, in which we are “distracted from distraction by distraction”. We need, and the German lady is right, to focus on one thing at a time.
My cancer diagnosis helps me to learn this hard lesson. It’s so hard to focus on what the Chinese doctors are saying at Queen Mary because of some language issues, so I must, but then cannot obsess over the bad news in order to take pleasure in what’s left of life…whether it’s short or long.
The wellness counselor was overall very impressive for when she heard I have “stage IV cancer” she said that most of the extra-cost options (aggressive massage, etc.) are OUT, because they so aggressively increase circulation as to possibly spread the carcinoma to other lymph nodes. Which means that Kamalaya is not, of course, selling extra procedures to make money without properly considering the needs of their guests.
But the wellness counselor was a little freaked out about my decision to come to a spa with stage IV, saying that although some stage IV cancer people have come here Kamalaya isn’t focused on their needs. I admitted that I should have discussed my situation by email prior to coming here and said I’m stable as far as we know.
It was a bit undermining. I felt as if I had a stigma, had run for help to the wrong place, inverse to my surprise at getting good care in Hong Kong. I’m sure she did not mean it.
But the doctor in residence then more or less contradicted what the counselor said later in the afternoon since overall the doctor and I had better rapport being of the same age. While Kamalaya is not focused on cancer patients’ needs it has had many, he said, and as long as they are willing to take responsibility for their condition they are welcome. If I’d presented as other than I am, a healthy and fit male (bit on the thin side) with a lump, they would have redirected me to the posh western hospital.
The doctor is a retired oncologist and reviewed my Queen Mary/University of Hong Kong data. He said that the carcinoma shows “good differentiation”. That’s what I thought: my immune system entrenched on one side, the bad guys on the other side, of no man’s land. ‘Course, that means that my guys have to mount an offensive, and that could be nasty. We could lose this differentiation between I and not-I. That would be a schwarzes Tag, a black day.
My instinct is like that of the ordinary lads at the front in 1916, especially the French: to lie doggo in the trench with red wine and Gauloises and not try to dislodge the Germans. But does cancer just go away? I don’t think so, not as a scientific possibility as opposed to spiritual. Every time I pee I hope it’s being flushed out of me…for hope is the thing with feathers.
So it’s off to breakfast and a Pranayama class…without my laptop. But I hope I can get away with a book…Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Hopefully there is a communal table as there was for dinner last night. The single visitors are encouraged to be at this table.
A Note on Fathers and Sons
I can see how a son could hate his father. Old bastard’s got the DROP on you all your life; for starters he is always older.
Take my old man. Please. Ha ha old joke.
Well, God did. But how could a father other than a monster, like Ivan the Terrible, hate a son? I don’t know. So my “tragic equation” for solution is loving my late father whereas I know I love my kids. Baby stuff, as we used to say. Baby stuff.
Whoa that was intense: to get in Pranayama meditation not to the heart of the matter, or even within shouting distance, offshore in a leaky boat, between my son and me.
After a long Pranayama meditation session in which my resistance dissolved in tears, I said it was like Ravi Shankar. In Pandit Ravi Shankar’s music I hear I said a yearning of a son (Ganesh? Jesus?) for a father (Krishna?) and indeed we read of how his father, a very long time ago, abandoned his family in India as I did in America for a proto-Yuppie dream of the West. For as recently as 2005, men were made cruel (like Wadi Said, the father of Edward Said, the Palestinian intellectual) and made mad like Ravi Shankar’s father (for like me and Othello, he threw away a pearl “richer than all his tribe”)…because they wanted to be wogs (a racist acronym for westernized oriental gentleman), and I wanted to be that symbol of the West at its apogee, a Yuppie (for let us not speak falsely now)
It’s a fundamental problem. Like Othello. You love what you hate and hate what you love and it is a poison tree. Causes cancer. Love cures it but not when admixed with the slightest and most homeopathic particle of hate.
But as in mathematics naming the problem is only a start. I AIN’T fixed my family, I have not even changed the oil.
I made this, I have forgotten
The rigging weak and the canvas rotten
Between one June and another September.
Made this unknowing, half conscious, unknown, my own.
The garboard strake leaks, the seams need caulking.
Oh my daughter…
– TS Eliot, Marina
So I just used the power I found as a Meditation Newbie and klutz to send what I could in Peter’s direction. I do not know how to back it up with action at this time, for for a father, sometimes the best action is inaction. And silence as in zip the lip. A kind of silence, and a kind silence, one that’s kind.
An Unfortunate Legacy…
Of that demotic and necessary decade the 1960s was unrestraint of tongue and pen.
I have had to relearn restraint, and believe it or not I am exercising it in this chronicle (for “I could thee a tale unfold”, as Hamlet’s father says, that would cause paint to peel off the walls, and I have done so in the past).
Feminisms of the 1960s which were plural, multiple and legion seem in my view (OK, let us not speak falsely) enabled women to UNLOAD on men in ways that really hurt.
For example, there’s that marvelous old standby, are you a man. Guy’s got enough problems hanging on to a software job that oh just happens to include a medical insurance policy with well baby care and what, his wife admires real as opposed to Ersatz men, such as lumberjacks and gardeners. Meanwhile you’re humping mental ass trying to learn C.
“What kind of man are you you’d abandon us if the going got rough, don’t you dare call yourself a man, boo hoo, etc.” (perhaps I did and perhaps I didn’t). Stays with you. Like cancer.
But having said this I can let go. Showroom dummies can love.
Cf Kevin Spacey. As an actor he both instantiates and portrays the non-man, the target of Revolutionary Road and that hate-filled boozehound who wrote the novel on which that movie was based, who believed that real men had been destroyed by the War as a category. Who had as a result a stunning contempt for men, but felt women could be heroines as is Kate Winslet in the film, despite the fact that she aborts herself, and, in so doing, takes her own life.
[But it’s just an agon, like that of the Greeks, it isn’t real. Or is it?]
So…I saw Spacey’s role in Glengarry Glen Ross as Williamson the office manager and was too dazzled by Jack Lemmon to see the power of the new guy. Then I saw American Beauty and was, like, whoa. And I’ve seen clips of Spacey doing Shakespeare and it is even more powerful. Even my British friends admire his Shakespeare and they tend not to admire Americans who do S.
That is: das ist: Adorno’s dialectical point is the truth. You cannot be a lumberjack again, at least not without cross-dressing as in the Monty Python song. You have to go through the bestial humiliation of modern life in which the poles aren’t man and boy, they are unsuccessful “failed” male and psycho.
I am serious: quite serious. Most of my friends think that CEOs, for example, are psychos. It’s become, in fact, common knowledge, post 2008, on Facebook. So the Spaceyer the better. Be a Loser.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: and no I’m not a believer but I believe this.
Come on, it’s Philosophy 101. Well, maybe 230. Spinoza said it: if you win as people win today, to the general applause of the cybernetic mob, this means in most instances (a supermajority, let us say, 66%) that you’re an ass-hole by way of the math (least common denominator). Now that we can measure popularity with computers, we sure as hell measure it accurately, and for this reason the popularity of the popular has an over broad base in animal and bestial appetite…even classical musicians today have to have nice tits (I ask you, really).
A Note on Cooling My Jets
Starting tomorrow and continuing until I leave Kamalaya I shall put a word count limit on these posts and keep to one per day. Aaaaargh. Me hate word counts, but there’s much to do here and I like the community. It’s a modern-day Club Med and a bit of Outward Bound but with less physical challenge, not just a hotel. Like Starbucks’ founders, idealists of the 1960s, the couple that founded this resort hired a hospitality manager to ensure they’d survive whence the ala carte offerings and obvious subcontracting.
So love to all who read this.