Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Still here...

...but life is pretty dull right now, so there isn't much to say. We're on course 4 of the year, the five-week extended chimps' tea-party that every year I vow I will not do, but can never avoid because I need the bloody money. There's too much material, too little time and too many teachers competing for the photocopier which frequently packs up as a result. Five minutes before you have to be in another building to teach business English or Academic Culture or English for Computing, the rhythmic ftthhht-ftthhht-ftthhht of your copies being churned out is replaced by the hysterical weee-wahhhweee-wahhhweee-wahhh siren and a flashing red light, and the hot urge to smash the contraption to atoms courses through you. Or me. I suffer from acute lack of serenity and chronic want of sense of proportion, and I should therefore be allowed July off (on full pay) on doctor's orders.

It's muggy and noisy in the building where I'm teaching this year. We overlook a building site in full hammering and drilling swing, and a main road near a hospital with ambulances screeching past every few minutes. The city council could pass a ruling resticting heart attacks to evening hours, but of course they bloody won't, useless sods. My classroom is the size of a tennis court, so everyone has to holler to be heard two tables away, and shy Chinese girls do not like to holler. Yesterday I felt like everybody's stone-deaf grandad, cupping my ears and requesting endless repetition from shrinking violets with atrocious pronunciation. Brits tend not to do air conditioning, much as the Greeks tend not to bother with insulation. If I close the windows, the temperature goes tropical and everyone nods off.

We get a week off at the end of Course 4, for good behaviour.

Thanks to Bo, last week I discovered the excellent Pema Chődrőn, an American Buddhist nun whose serene bearing, good humour and utter lack of pretention made me realise yet again how easily I let my head become a sackful of snarling, scratching wild cats, and how I actually feed the buggers by reading things I know will incense me. Just what masochistic urge makes me enter into correspondence with homophobic Young Earth Creationist Jesus-botherering Bible Belt bone-heads on You Tube? If someone's mental furniture consists exclusively of aumbries, credence tables and hassocks, no point in trying to altar any of it, arf arf. Here's a sample or two, all from a young man who specialises in the dodgy analogy:

'So, since gay people are the minority, I should simply accept and tolerate this and do nothing about it? So, since the minority of people are starving, I guess I should just accept this and do nothing about it?'

'Science recognizes that opposites attract. Take two magnets for example. Only the North end attaches to the South end normally and vice-versa. The North end and the other North end push away from one another; the same thing happens when you try to put the South end with the South end. It's harder to put N with N or S with S, than it is to respect the fact that N goes with S and S goes with N no matter how hard you try to naturally put N with N or S with S. This is exactly what homosexuality does. It tries to put North with North and South with South, then it tries to pass it off as being completely normal in the same sense that North with South is normal.'

Imagine it: you meet a bloke, you like each other, you agree to get it on, but as soon as the pair of you get your kits off and hit the sack, one of you is catapulted off the bed into the wardrobe and the other lobbed into the en suite. Eventually you decide this isn't working and go to the pub instead. You decide thereafter to be straight. Aye, right.

'So you're promoting homosexuality because it "feels" right? So if it "feels" right for me to murder everyone in sight, I guess that's something to be tolerated and welcomed, right?'

What need is this serving? I'm bridling even now at his use of caps there, as if he were quoting me, when he isn't, the bloody cretin. I never fucking said... Anyway, I sent off immediately for one of Pema Chődrőn's books, I devote some of my daily commute to za-zen (not in the lotus posture - can't do that any more) and eventually I may bloody calm down a bit, dammit.

*****

With thanks once again to the ever-inspiring Bo, here's Ani Chőying Drolma, of whom I first heard about fifteen minutes ago. She is the perfect antidote to the saccharine frumpiness of the god-botherers in the last post; a cool stream versus a cloying ice-cream soda. Try to ignore the painting behind her.



By their fruits ye shall know them. Interview with Ani Chőying here. Compare the way her religion resonates in her character with the sunny sweetness of the lovely Margie here.

15 comments:

ydnacblog said...

Djewant e cummin work fe me in your break?

Vilges Suola said...

Thanks a lot, but in my break I'm going to sleep! However, bear me in mind for future reference - I might be out of a job after September...

ydnacblog said...

Seriously - think on it!

shaz said...

Sounds familiar but think of the gossip potential in that room shared with a xmas tree....room 3.....???

Missing you all actually in a strange family-like way..bickering and backstabbing..

Keep up the Za Ze or whatever it is as we all need something! Believe me, if you came back to Greece, you'd need more the a bit of Buddhism!

Vilges Suola said...

@ Sharon, καλώς την, how are you? Nah, now we have our own centre, but on this big course some of us are in the old C building, which seems very primitive after our shiny new place.

@ Candy yes, I'm serious too! Where in the world are you, exactly?

billoo said...

Fantastic blog, Vilges. Strayed here looking for the lyrics to azam ali's the hunt.

Salams,

b.

Vilges Suola said...

Thank you. Glad you like it

ydnacblog said...

Love Trapido. She grew up where I grew up and 'Frankie and Stankie' could be about me. 'Brother of the More Famous Jack' works well too.

Vilges Suola said...

I'm rereading it right now, hence the quote. I like 'The Travelling Horn Player' most of what I've read of B.T. It's hilarious.

Bo said...

Enjoy Pema. I find watching her helpful. This is lovely too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBQfUqd8pqI&NR=1

Vilges Suola said...

Thanks for the link. The book arrived this morning so am saving it for the train journey tomorrow.

Mediterranean kiwi said...

any chance of getting your photocopies published in web format??? i've decided to go paperless come next semester

Vilges Suola said...

Errrr ... dunno. Bit technical for me, that question. I'm still in favour of a wax tablets and stylus.

Fionnchú said...

Helluva lot of Pema C tapes and books out, at least in America, VS, if you're so inclined. She was from a secular Jewish, as so many of her American Buddhist generation, upbringing and interestingly gave up a marriage and children I believe to seek her way as a nun in the Tibetan tradition. Rodger Kamenetz's book The Jew in the Lotus has a section on Pema.

So, unlike the permanently celibate priests and gurus and lamas common, she brings in her teaching an intriguing set of experiences that inform her dharma. As a byway, I find it intriguing in Buddhist monasticism how one can "disrobe" and be released from vows so as to marry without the opprobium associated with this in, say, Catholicism. I like the concept of monasticism as a temporary or permanent choice.

Thubten Chodron, no relation but also from a related background if not family set-up, has a great primer on Tibetan Buddhism, and has written a lot about it from her training as a psychologist. Open Heart, Clear Mind review.

Vilges Suola said...

@ Fionnchu. As always you are far better informed than I am, and many thanks for the links. I too like the idea of temporary monasticism - I've been looking for a suitable retreat for some time.

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