27 October 2008

Letter 4.4

Somehow I have the feeling I've been here before. I keep trying to analyze what it can be that gives me that feeling -- maybe it is the stringhoppers, maybe it isn't the way I sweep up leaves -- but the only result is that I suspect the feeling arises from trying to analyze it, and that if I stopped trying to figure out why I feel that way I'd stop feeling that way. But what would there be to do instead? Write indolent letters to exdolent friends, no doubt.

It's definitely a change for the better. Thailand has such a rigid hierarchical social structure, so unyielding, and so hostile to any with the temerity to not accept their proper place, let alone to not accept any place, and on the other hand so rewarding, materially, to those who do (I speak of farangs -- certainly the poor rice farmers get no rewards for being rice farmers) -- for a loner like meself it was difficult in extremis, and that's why, of course, the twits gave me the old heave ho. Others may follow, but I was clearly the worst example of a bad lot -- 'the worst of hippies', as one writer styled me in a widely circulated Buddhist journal. I would have preferred 'the worst of late-blooming beatniks', myself, but we have to accept what we can get, these days, and be duly grateful.

Anyhoo, ol' S.L. is a breath of fresh, if rather damp, air, after the stifling mentality of Thailand (not to mention the pollution), and a green and beautiful place still, showing unfortunate signs of a disease called progress, but not yet infecting the whole of it, and there are a few odd corners left where an odd person can tuck himself away, and so, after completing the bureaucratic business of Colombo, I now find myself, or perhaps lose myself, in Upcountry, walking beneath cloudy skies down little-travelled roads, all of which feel like I've been here before. I feel like I've written this before. Or perhaps it's you who has written this before and I've read/not read it before -- it's getting harder to tell who's to blame for what, these days, both of us shaping the same Carmen Vipaka[1]. (I re-read W.B. before leaving Colombo, and must admit that it was funnier to write than to read. Still, it did evoke some smiles, one or two chuckles, and assorted wheezes and snorts. But yes, the thing is open to just about any potshot, fair or foul, one might care to heave at it, and it don't mean a thing 'cause it ain't got no swing -- the shots, that is, not the book -- but there too much, plotwise, to swallow easily, and possibly not enough, characterwise, to chew on. I say it what wrote it, or atleast what partly rewrote it, so it's said with some affection and love, and if a publisher says just the same without affection and love, that's his bag, but the mss. can be made into something, there's enough good stuff to be molded fairer and finer, amen.)

And you?

The Once and Future Present



[1] The name of the Israeli heroine of Worthy Bones is a pun on the Pali kamma vipaka: 'ripening of karma'

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