Marginalia – 29th August 2022

A Russian writer in a Dublin bar
Took a metaphor way too far
The idiot brother spent the day
Conjuring up their words at play
Newspeak made them more afraid
And on the farm, a price was paid
Conch holders soon made no sound
As Alexandria’s library burned to the ground
A plague, a joke, the man outside
Tall tales of prejudice and pride
Repeated and replaced with robots, I
Struggle with two suns in the sky

The thousand nights spent on the floating ship, I wish I had another night – 11th October 2021

After reading both Stephen Fry’s books on Greek Myths and Heroes I picked up two volumes of The Arabian Nights (or One Thousand and One Nights) and I started reading the first one today.

Whilst I was reading I was conscious of the fact that I often take something in from the story and then almost immediately forget the details. For instance, I started reading a new bedtime book last night and today I can’t even remember what it is. Just being a file on my iPad doesn’t help with trying to remember things either.

So as I was reading this first story, which sets up the premise for the rest of the book, I decided I should write down a summary of the events, without too much detail, to help me remember, but also to understand more deeply.

Summary of the Story Of King Shahryar and His Brother

There were two brothers. One found his wife cheating with another man, so killed her. He was devastated by her betrayal and also remorseful for having killed her. He made himself sick.
The other brother, seeing him sick, took him in but whilst there found his brother’s wife cheating too. He realised that whilst he was suffering, others were also suffering. Telling himself things weren’t so bad he started to feel better.
His brother asked what had brought about this change and he reluctantly told of what he saw. Once the brother also saw this betrayal with his own eyes, he too, killed his wife.
They decided to get away from their betrayals and perhaps seek others who were suffering even more, a way to make themselves feel better.
They came across a monster, who kept his wife locked up. He had let her out and promptly fallen asleep, whereupon she saw the two brothers and insisted they make love to her whilst the monster slept.
They saw that the monster was suffering even more than themselves but the actions of the woman were immoral and vowed never to trust a woman again.
They returned to their lives and after sleeping with a virgin woman, killed her the following day so she would never be able to twist the hearts of men.
Eventually, virgins were becoming scarce and one brother asked his friend where to find more. The friend repeated the story to his two virgin daughters and one insisted she knew a way to put an end to this difficult situation.

These weak men, never challenging themselves as complicit in their wives actions, prefer to blame and punish what they dare not understand. Of course, women have suffered in every region and era of history yet it begs belief that if tales such as this become established amongst children they are likely to take that into adulthood and pass it on from generation to generation.

Should tales of old be updated for modern audiences and cultures? Cut the wheat from the chaff? Should they be completely replaced?

Of course, the summary ends on a more positive note as a woman is prepared to put herself in danger to provide a solution. Does it work? I don’t know yet.

I purposely left out the fact that the brothers are kings and tried to make the summary more human. The downside of this is that it is not in most human minds or possibility to kill every woman they sleep with. Being a king (or having that illusion) seems to allow for that possibility!

I used monster instead of jinn or genie as I was trying to understand what difference this makes. I feel that a human can be a monster but not a genie.

As in all good stories, I want to know what happens next.

The Poems of a Ridiculous Man – 7th August 2021

So here’s the last of my Dostoevsky cool quotes for now, this time from the fantastic The Dream of a Ridiculous Man. Despite being quite dark and moody I feel like my poems came out a little more on the positive side – perhaps a reflection on how I was feeling when I wrote the poems compared with when I was inspired by the quotes as I was reading the story.

Acknowledgement to Husker Du and Rob Crow/Heavy Vegetable for some relevant phrases and ideas and, as before, the poems borrow heavily from the text.

Searching for a picture for this post also lead me to finding this hand painted animation of the story.

Ah, it’s so hard to be the only one to know the truth! But they won’t understand it. No, they won’t.

No Truth

Only I know the truth
They sure won’t understand
I carry this burden
It is just as I planned
Truth is in the saying
The truth will set you free
But I will never share
The truth is just for me

Maybe it was the result of the conviction that dawned upon me quite independently of my will that nothing made any difference in this world.

Conviction

I tried and tried and tried and tried
To make a difference before I died
Close to the end a sudden dawning
Independently and without warning
Your time is pointless, meaning, none
A pinprick in millions more to come
So make the best and start believing
Despite the sentence we’re all receiving

…eternally dear to the hearts of her most ungrateful children.

Realm

This earthly realm
Where it all starts
Never ending, eternally
Dear to the hearts
….of her most ungrateful children

We can truly love only with suffering and through suffering. We don’t know how to love otherwise; we don’t know any other love. I want to suffer so that I may love.

Love and Suffering

I wanted it all, wanted it so badly
Staring out of misted windows like a fool
To love this love is to suffer it gladly
Our twisted hearts make us look so cruel
This love, true love, it knows no other way
Crushed and broken hearts not spoken thereof
Life lived without it, not for another day
I must, I want to suffer so that I may love

My hatred for the people of our earth had always contained a feeling of despair – why couldn’t I hate them without loving them?

World of Masochism

My hatred for the people of our earth
Has always contained a feeling of despair
Why couldn’t I hate them without loving them?
Why did I have to care?
Some days I’m just in KEN Mode
A rage of pure hate and seething
Other days I wish for utopia
A paradise full of our dreaming
Which way will it go today?
Which side of the bed did I wake?
Every thought is masochism
No matter which path I take

They grew to appreciate the beauty of untruth…the germ of the lie penetrated their hearts, and they took a fancy to it.

A Good Lie

Sometimes a lie is like a lover
A beauty to be believed
The untruth penetrates the heart
Willingly deceived

…they experienced suffering, and came to love it; they declared that suffering was the only way to Truth. Then science spread among them.

To Suffer

He felt he’d suffered enough
So the Buddhist jumped from the roof
Science says ‘he’s dead’
He thought it the way to truth

Each became so jealous of his individuality that he had to do his best to belittle and humble the individuality of others….

Tall Poppy

You’ve reached the greatest height
Like it’s some crowning achievement
Society brings you down to earth
Where everyone is in agreement

Voluntary slavery in which the weak submitted to the strong of their own free will, if only in order to gain their support to oppress those who were even weaker than themselves.

Shit Trickles Down

Submit to the strong by your own free will
Eat the shit until you’ve had your fill
So you may enslave those below you
Pass on the shit your master throw you
The human centipede, a fitting analogy
A voluntary agreement to this economy
A vicious circle made of 7 billion pieces
The pyramid scheme of human faeces

We’re striving for the same things; we’re all, from the sage to the worst criminal, making our way toward the same objective. Only we’re trying to get there by different roads.

Different Roads

You take the high, I’ll take the low
It’s the same whichever way you go
You take the low, I’ll take the high
Arriving together, just in time to die

Let’s say paradise will never come about! I know myself it won’t – yet I’ll still go on preaching.

Right Turn

Never stop believing
Counter negative traits
Never stop the search
Paradise awaits
It will never come
In your lifetime’s fight
You know what is right
Be doing what is right

Afterword:

Man’s desires are not reasonable and often make him act against his own interest and common sense, but they are what makes him human.

Contradictions

I am respectable, yet not reasonable
My flaws are the things that make me
My desires maybe contradictions
This human interest will not break me

I Am The Librarian – 15th May 2021

I am the librarian tending to my books
Sniffing, smelling, rearranging order
Perhaps one day I’ll read them
Be a reader instead of a hoarder
A world of so many tales
Told by those who breathed them
Where I can be lost, then found
And I can be relieved then
I am the librarian lending out my books
We can share such stories
Of those failures and losers
Or those who shined in glories

It gets deeper, let me say and it gets higher day by day – 16th June 2020

Trip undertaken on 31st May 2020

Sleeping alone out in my office man cave meant being able to listen to music quietly through the night and I sometimes approached consciousness and felt deep involvement in the sounds in the room. I have no idea of those sounds or songs once awake again and I also had to turn off the stereo when a long noise piece came up on the shuffle as the sun was rising outside.

The sofa in my room is plenty comfortable for a one-hour nap but not so great for a whole night and as the brightening day chased away the night I threw down a couple of glasses of water and headed out on the motorbike with the intention of heading into the mountains to see if I could get to the stupa that is visible from the fourth floor of our school.

I had a rough idea of where to go and figured it wouldn’t take too long and could get back home before the day got too hot. It was a little cloudy and the big rain the day before had cooled everything down by a couple of degrees too.

But first, to Utopia to throw down a couple of coffees to get fully charged. They perfectly hit the spot and I hit the road in earnest.

I had a rough idea of the direction to head towards, which involved going over a road I travelled down with Amy a few weeks previously. I took the highway down to the other university in the area, this being the first time I have actually gone that far on this road. It’s usually a little hectic on this road with lots of crazy aunties just pulling out from side-roads and houses on their dilapidated old motorcycles, so I was glad to get down there and off towards the university as soon as possible.

Around to the side is a huge pond of water lilies with flowers yet open looking like massive cabbages on stalks.

A little further and a fishing lake with views towards the mountains at the back of my house.

Onwards towards the hot spring and then across to the Big Buddha, which isn’t a Buddha at all, but the Chinese goddess, Kwanyin.

Big Buddha is easier to say and absolutely everyone knows where you mean. This monument is a good landmark as you head into the mountains too.

To get there you have to pass a landfill which is tucked between a couple of hills and only announces itself as you turn a corner and the stench hits the back of your throat. Here the road crumbles down to a dirt track but having been here fairly recently I remembered the way through. The old wooden houses here are dirty and rotten and mangy old dogs stare at you if they can even be bothered to lift their heads from their slumber.

Then it’s onto the bypass – another scary proposition but at least there are not many side roads here for motorcycles to sudden pull out from, it’s just the speeding trucks to be aware of. Fortunately this newish road is still not used that much and it’s an enjoyable ride along. At the bridge I can see the stupa in the distance that is my planned destination (the little white dot on the mid-left in the picture above). The hill in the foreground grabs my attention though as there is a house up there as well as another Buddhist monument. How the hell do you get up there – the view must be amazing. One day in the future I will find out.

The opposite view takes in the river, which flows towards the city. It looks fairly sedate but from my one experience of falling in I can confirm it flows quite fast! The ground is dry yet the jungle manages to maintain well enough. We’re approaching the rainy season and there was a big rain a few days prior but not enough to waterlog anything yet.

Here’s the side on view of the same hill, it looks like the monks accommodation is in the white building but there’s no obvious temple here. Apparently there are caves in here somewhere too. Investigate later.

The red trees are flowering everywhere though the photos don’t really show up how bright they are. I love these rigid lines of plants growing, they counter the randomness of everything else here in Thailand.

I don’t know what the plants are. Anyone know?

Further on, I’m struck by this modern looking building on the hill – what a great place to live. A couple of hundred metres down the road and there is a sign indicating that there is a coffee shop up there, so what the hell, let’s go have another coffee and see what the view is like. The toilet is a tiny cute shack but I couldn’t find a light so had to guess with the small amount of light penetrating the gaps and cracks in the wooden frame. I think I got some in the bowl.

And the view was indeed fabulous. Yet another Instagram cafe here in Chiang Rai. Everyone seems to have one. The owners house, back and above the cafe looked magnificent, with two big dogs lazily guarding the gate. And the coffee was great, along with the refreshing tea that comes with it.

Just around the corner I noticed a big dragon staircase being built and a road up the hill next to it, so I nosily went to have a look. The top opened out into this area with this beautiful tree which I wanted to take home and use for shade in our garden. Behind the tree is a small stupa and I’m wondering now if this was the one I could see before. I thought it was a bit further along than here but I actually didn’t end up going to where I had planned to see what was there. Again, plenty of time to go back and investigate again.

I’m a sucker for these red flowering trees.

And in the distance here, again, not accurately significant in this picture, a huge pink flowering tree that I hoped to see more of so I could get a picture close up.

I was due to turn away from the river so stopped a few times to take more pictures. Here, two locals were walking along the banks, possibly looking for fishing spots. They saw me and shouted ‘Hello’ as I replied ‘Sawatdee khap’ in return. People are generally happy and friendly everywhere I go. They are curious about what you are doing and give them something to gossip about when the community gathers in the evenings.

This picture was taken at a covered area with a few plastic chairs scattered around – probably the community gathering spot. Like everything, it’s dirty and dusty and looks unused and anywhere can a meeting place anyway. Who knows what happens here at night?

This monument presumably brings luck and abundance to the surrounding land. I haven’t seem any other places similar to this.

I started deviating from the plan I had in my mind (actually I forgot to turn off at the right point) and ended up in this strange village with just a few buildings and didn’t look like many people were around. Maybe it’s just one big extended family living here. Their mango tree is doing better than ours.

And so I started heading up…

…and the views got more spectacular.

Finally a waterfall. However, the road ahead was begging me to keep going, so I did. I don’t know how to measure inclines but this picture doesn’t really show just how steep it was. And beyond here an Akha village where everyone was gathering for the Sunday church service. Beautiful hymnal singing came out of the building, in what sounded like the local language, making it all the more intriguing to me. There were many locals standing around, staring at the dumb lost foreigner and I felt like I was invading their space somewhat, so chose to head on. That was a mistake, as the hill got ever steeper and thinner until the road ran out at a house at the very top. As I tried to manoveur around on the slope, with out rolling backwards and over the edge, the owner came out to see what the noise was and told me, in English, I had to go back and turn at the bottom of the hill. I didn’t realise yet but I’d totally missed the turn off I should have taken and ended up here.

I went back down the hill and tried to ride up to the waterfall. I only got about 15 metres before the path was blocked and not knowing just how far the waterfall was (I have walked to other waterfalls for several hours without ever finding them!) I just took this quick snap and turned back. Friends tell me later that it isn’t much further along, so, again, one for another time.

I head back down hill looking for this turn off I should have taken. Google Maps shows it as a major throughway so I’m looking for some solid concrete road. The local kids are bemused to see me riding up and down looking for it.

And it turns out this is the main road – actually the only road – through the mountains going south. Here it is a little wider, the actually entry from the road I was on is little more than an overgrown foot track. And once again I’m heading up but this time through some slippery, sloppy muddy parts.

First part navigated and things dry out a bit. But I’m still going up and I’m starting to hear and smell the engine working hard over this tough irregular road. It’s a struggle and at some points I ponder turning back. But the thought that there might be something special just around the corner spurs me on.

I’m also spurred on my the fact that there are relatively fresh bike tracks along here which means that it is still getting used often enough that I can be rescued if the need be! In fact I start to worry about hitting a rock and falling off and breaking bones. But not enough to stop me. Around here I could also start to hear the buzzing of chainsaws so I figured these bikes tracks may have been made today. It was only a few minutes later I realised it was the buzz and rattle of cicadas (or whatever other bugs make noise in here).

Up and up and just a small gap in the bamboo jungle. Now I have to hope that Google Maps is keeping me on track.

This one is still one the way up. About another 15 minutes later I reached a peak and took some video (which I can’t upload here). It’s a panaroma around both sides of the ridge and it is absolutely silent except the buzzing of insects. No industry, no people, no machines. Just nature. If you can zoom in to this picture you’ll find Kwanyin as a tiny white dot in the distance.

And so, to the other side. Now, getting down was a scarier prospect than going up. Just over the edge here turned into thick mud and brakes became less functional. I could hear the roar of engines in the distance and presently four teenagers rounded the corner on their trail bikes and we smiled and nodded at each other and I’m sure they had a good laugh at the silly foreigner trying to navigate these roads with his little step through motorbike. Whatever, I made it down safely.

Going down hill didn’t last for long as I finally arrived at this village which was only 4 kms away from the main road but had taken me about an hour to get here. At each village the road returns to concrete until you get to the other side. At each concrete road I had thought I had arrived back on regular routes, only to discover more mud just around the corner, or, once again, up the hill. It was also threatening to rain up here but only managed a spit.

If you’re going to live in a wooden shack, make sure it’s the best spot in the village. Up some more again.

Zooming in on this shows the ridges of the mountains repeating off into the distance. It was around here I started to feel a natural ecstasy. A oneness, a wholeness. Goddamn, I want to hold on to that feeling.

I joked with myself that I was getting sick of seeing beautiful things over and over again. It just didn’t stop. When I showed Amy these pictures later she was very blazé about them. ‘It’s my country, it’s what I’ve seen all my life.’ I was intoxicated, however.

Here, the local soccer pitch looks like it could use some loving. Just to the right is a Chinese gravesite, looking over the valley which runs long and wide. ‘Bury Me High’ indeed.

Yet, it seems I can still go further up. A couple of spots of farmers burning crops thankfully weren’t enough to smog up everywhere.

Scenes like these make we want to travel more. This one reminds me of places in Sichuan province in China and I also love the mountains in Switzerland.

I guess I’m a mountain person but I think I equally enjoy the beach. 22 years in Sydney probably took care of my beach pleasures though there are times here in Chiang Rai when I wish it was possible to just go rush into the cold waters of the ocean again.

Finally I made it to the other side, about 4 hours after leaving on what I thought would perhaps only take 2 hours in total. I still had to get back yet. This view is to the south of Chiang Rai – all the others had been looking north or west.

I didn’t take any more pictures as I was going down again as I was hanging on for dear life, most of the way, followed by trucks and other motorbikes and sometimes negotiating tractors and other farming vehicles.

And finally a rest stop, with 4g connection and I tell Amy I’m fine and not to worry. I call my friend to meet for lunch in about an hour at a cafe back near the river. I basically completed a large circle on my journey and would finally end up back on the bypass.

But, I still had an hour before needing to be at the cafe and going directly there by road would only take about 20 minutes. So I rode around Singha Park, enjoying it’s manicured grounds, and ended up coming out the other side back near the mountains again. Another hill tribe village and a check of Google and there looked like roads to make it through, so let’s go and see.

Quickly, the farm land was taken over by rows and rows of pineapple and these dirt roads petered out into walking tracks. Still, Google showed that there was a way through so after crossing a couple of streams I finally found a way out.

Here the vista opened up to these papaya trees and a happy dog was lounging in the shade of the rubber trees on the right.

All around this hill sat various Buddha images which I lost count of as I rode on past. After meeting my friends for lunch I headed home as directly as possible as my skin was already turning crab coloured from sunburn. I made it back at 4pm. Once this sunburn was healed I hope I can go out again. I might also have to wait for the rainy season to finish too. There’s been a couple of big rains since this adventure which may have made much of this journey impossible now.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful that I can remember that 24 hours can change everything. One day you can feel so bad but the next day things become good.

Brain dump

Better, better, better today, glad to be feeling this way. Are you reading this, future me? Future anyone? Can you read this drivel scribble?

Naked Reagan Vanilla Blue – but I’m okay. Talking with Hayden on the first floor (sunshine girl in hotpants buying drinks) we make an agreement to tell each other more about our lives. He has gone through the wringer and I can tell he is grateful for our support. He tries to make me feel better and I really appreciate that.

Memory goes in and out – trying to recall things in my past – maybe removing things from now. Doesn’t matter too much but Amy gets mad. What a life! I’ve been and done little compared with some but done so much compared with others. Rise, fall, rise.

So many books. Loving reading – take me to a different world. Thankful. Time to meditate.

Remnant monkey claws – 27th May 2020

Sweaty workout with the aircon.
Poor Deep Turtle poster, how much longer can it live? – the shelf isn’t straight – the torn poster is straight but torn!
Kneeling to write, sweaty workout for five mins, five mins is it enough? My muscles ache so don’t push it.
Remember two things today – check Aing’s grammar and… What’s the other thing – my brain is forgetting more easily. Old or painkillers – it’s okay I’m okay.
My toenails annoy me for some reason, I want them as short as possible – what are they for? Remnant monkey claws.
Books I want to read. Read and read, get lost in those worlds.
I think the other thing I want to remember is to do that introductory lesson for English revision.
Sitting now, kneeling was uncomfortable, should do at a desk but desk is cluttered. Should write quicker in cursive but even less legible than this, doesn’t matter – tomorrow cursive, see if I remember – thumbs ache – When to study Thai Drops?
This task is to empty brain and meditate – maybe should do before my five-minute workout – experiment with schedule.
Coffee, sudden thought of coffee at Eat and Sleep.
80.8 kg today, it’s okay but want to stay permanently under 80 kg – exercise – no beer!
Books, books, books – stomach okay today – situps – let’s do some. Okay so done empty brain?! Meditate.