- California born by a Cuban mother, married to a Japanese man, and have lived in Japan since 2004, minus one year living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I have friends and family in many places in the world. I dreamed of traveling to many distant lands, creating music and dancing to it, meeting interesting people, and discovering treasures in the most unlikely of places.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Last year, on a hot balcony on the second floor, we would go out and see, through summer until the chilly late autumn winds blew death into the surrounding leaves and he went away, a little green grasshopper grow fat and big and very lazy on the leaves of my Cuban Parsley. We would sometimes scare him a little in innocent fun, shifting the leaves to look at him, wondering if he would move. At first we thought he would leave the next day. Then we thought he would certainly move on the next week. But though the parsley plant didn’t suffer much under his consistent munching, he stayed for many months within that 15 inch diameter sea of leaves. For a while, we thought he must be drunk, drugged by the intoxicating scent of the leaves, not to leave. We finally determined that he must have considered it his home. What is time like for an insect that only lives a few months? For a cat, one year is our seven. For a person living in one place their whole life, that place is everything. For an insect, a few months could be an eternity, a life. This year, foraging for lunch greens, I found on campus two patches of wild purslane. On the one patch that had only one plant, isolated among the gravel, mid-building, I noticed a grasshopper. I would pick for my lunch, and he would hop off onto the rocks. When I came back the next day, he hopped off again. He would look at me, shifting his weight from side to side, waiting for me to be gone. This happened for a few weeks. I started to feel bad that I was taking his home away little by little, so I stopped eating purslane salads with my lunch. Then, last week, the area was weeded, and the purslane abode was gone. I stopped and wondered at the area where it had been. Had he grieved for his lost home? Had his cries risen into the wind? Or had he just jumped off, and searched for a new place to live? Remembering him and the other one last year, I find it difficult to imagine that they felt nothing at the loss of their home, considering how tenacious they both were, and their absolute refusal to leave, always returning home, even in the repeated presence of danger. How does an insect perceive life? Is it possible to compare the people of Sakurajima or Kansas or Pakistan’s Swat Valley to these small, green, gentle creatures, just trying to live? HAIKU TO THE GRASSHOPPERS Grasshopper weeps to / the autumn wind at seeing / his home in fate’s hand.
Monday, September 9, 2013
-----The Dispossessed is about a man named Shevek, who has come through unusual circumstance to live on another planet, the planet of his people's origin, Urras. His planet, a desert, is quite barren and devoid of complex living organisms. The people live off of what they can. The reason for their self-exile is the desire for a utopia; anarchy against government, war, the situation of a rich class and a poor class. We also feel what it means to move to another country, very different from our own, and what it is like to be an expatriot, or be between two worlds, not knowing where you belong anymore, feeling at once with one, at another time with the other, never again of your own world. I would like to thank LeGuin for once again, in this novel as well as all of her others, giving us the ability to see with great depth and genius empathy, what it is to feel life from the heart of another. -----Shevek is shocked by the opulence of Urras, which is actually very much like our society. We wouldn't think twice about a "nightmare shopping street", equivalent to one of our malls. As far as empathy goes, most people would not immediately be able to imagine his situation, but perhaps we might imagine being a person working in a sweatshop in Southeast Asia or South America somewhere, and how we might feel if we were to suddenly be in a mall, maybe surprise mixed with envy and anger, maybe... But she gives a very interesting perspective of someone coming from a place where THERE IS NOTHING, and what there is, is made, and sold directly by the makers, like it might have been before there were mass transportation, as in medieval times, but even more intense, because even in the old days, there were rich and poor, but in Shevek's society, there is no money, and so, there is no concept of buying, not concept of the haves and the not haves, and so there is no concept of crime, and no hierarchical power over others. Instead, there is beaurocracy controlled by computer, waiting for years, a lack of being able to choose your life, not being able to ask and receive what you want, your children are taken from you, and if you choose not to follow or fit into the system, you are ostracized by the people around you and cannot fulfill your desires at all, or only with a fight. It seemed really frustrating. Having come from an exiled Cuban family, and hearing the stories of the people who lived there or died there in Communist Cuba, it reminded me of many stories (Even more sadly, Cuba, like all communist governments on this Earth, is not an all-are-poor situation. Castro and his buddies enjoy steak and wine every night, while the rest of the country starves. As far as I have been able to see, a true communist society - on this Earth - can only exist in very small numbers...if at all. I lived on a commune of 20, and can attest to the difficulties of it.) *******P.98****** _____“Excess is excrement,” Odo wrote in the Analogy. “Excrement retained in the body is a poison.” _____Abbeney was poisonless: a bare city, bright, the colors light and hard, the air pure. It was quiet. You could see it all, laid out as plain as spilt salt. Nothing was hidden. *******p.131***** ______Saio Pae had taken him "shopping" during his second week in A-Io. Though he did not consider cutting his hair - his hair, after all, was a part of him - he wanted an Urrasti-style suit of clothes and a pair of shoes. He had no desire to look any more foreign than he could help looking. The simplicity of his old suit made it positively ostentatious, and his soft, crude desert boots appeared very odd indeed among the Iotis' fanciful footgear... ______The whole experience had been so bewildering to him that he put it out of his mind as sooon as possible, but he had dreams about it for months afterwards, nightmares. Saemtenevia Prospect was two miles long, and it was a solid mass of people, traffic, and things: things to buy; things for sale. Coats, dresses, gowns, robes, trousers, breeches, shirts, blouses, hats, shoes, stockings,...clothes to wear while sleeping, while swimming, while playing games, while at an afternoon party, while traveling,...- all different, all in hundreds of different cuts, styles, colors, textures, materials. Perfumes, clocks, lamps, statues, cosmetics, candles, pictures, cameras, games, vases, sofas, kettles, puzzles... figurines and souvenirs and kickshaws and mementos and gewgaws and bric-a-brac, everything either useless to begin with or ornamented so as to disguise its use; acres of luxuries, acres of excrement..."The coat costs 8,400 units?" he asked in disbelief, for he had recently read in a newspaper that a "living wage" was about 2,000 units per year..."Pretty thing isn't it? Women love furs." And they went on. After one more block Shevek had felt utterly exhausted. He couldn't look any more. He wanted to hid his eyes. ______And the strangest thing about the nightmare street was that none of the millions of things for sale were made there. They were only sold there. Where were the workshops, the factories, where were the farmers, the craftsmen, the miners, the weavers, the chemists, the carvers, the dyers, the designers, the machinists, where were the hands, the people who made? Out of sight, somewhere else. Behind walls. All the people in all the shops were either buyers or sellers. They had no relationship the things but that of possession.