Saturday, January 26, 2013

And the first shall be last...

Came across an item that pointed out that tonight's full moon will be the first of 2013.  Unless of course you follow the lunar calendar in which it is the last of 2012, Chinese New Year beginning Feb. 10 with the new moon.  Yin and yang, moon and sun, east and west, oscillating.  When really is the new year anyway? I like the idea that there can be two. I exploit it.

To welcome the Chinese New Year, Year of Water Snake (sometimes called junior dragon), I have been practicing some calligraphy and painting to create some little new year's cards with snake motifs to send to all the people who sent me Christmas cards, but to whom I failed to reciprocate.  Am I ahead or behind?

My Chinese painting class resumed this week, and my Manchu teacher, unlike the Korean nun, has encouraged calligraphy study, said I should do caoshu, not kaishu.  Caoshu is  the flowing flourishy style--"running", although there is also a "walking" style, and a "lying down" style-- as opposed to kaishu, which is much more controlled. (Like the difference between Taoism and Confucianism; modern dance and classical ballet?) "You have a freehand style," he said, "in your painting and this."  He pretty much gave me permission to do this, and to copy great caoshu masters like Huai Su, the Tang dynasty monk who wrote while drinking and couldn't even read his own calligraphy the next morning. (Haven't we all done this, drunk or not?)  But it is very beautiful.  My teacher is very sensitive to personality and how it comes out in the brush.   "You don't have to know what it means, anyway," he said.  "Hardly anyone can read caoshu."

So brush in hand, I channel snakes.  The character is actually reminiscent of the snake, which as I was doing it I realized is just like the caduceus, the medical symbol, and also the rising of kundalini.
Snakes in my brush. There's a couple of horses there too, but snake, she, 蛇, is what I'm working on.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Never-ending Holidays

It's Jan. 6, Epiphany, in the Christian/Christmas liturgical cycle, the 12th and last day of Christmas. But for so many, I can tell Christmas is long gone, all done on Dec. 25.  Why do we expend so much energy in the run-up to things, and not savor the actual time, as if it were just one minute or a day and not a period?  We were supposed to have our Christmas trees out of the condo earlier this week --that seemed wrong to me, and I like my tree so much, the lights and color and symbols, it is hard for me even now to think of dismantling it.  Especially in the Hawaii winter with gusty winds and a lot of rain. It makes things cheerful!

When I was in the grocery yesterday, (or was it last week?) the first thing I saw was the Valentine candy display.  Does anyone buy such things now, a full month and half out?

Since Halloween (Labor Day really) my life has been a virtual whirl of holidays, markers in the year...Halloween, the scorpio moment that precedes the Wizard's birthday. Then there were elections (you'd think they were holidays, the way folks go on and on) and other federal observances leading up to Thanksgiving. We managed to spend some serious holiday time with family and friends on the Mainland.  Then my birthday, then our wedding anniversary/winter solstice and Christmas.  And now... Valentine's Day?  It isn't even Chinese New Year yet!

On Christmas eve, in addition to my annual ritualistic baby boomer nostalgic viewing of Polar Express, I also watched Holiday Inn, a DVD of the 1942 musical with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire with Irving Berlin music. It recalled to me the cycle of holidays of grade school in the '50s, construction paper craft projects making silhouettes of Washington and Lincoln, and Valentine hearts to decorate the box in which we deposited little cards for classmates, unaware of any erotic significance,  and on and on through the year. But they never seemed to run together, those holidays, as they do now in consumer-based celebrations.

Holiday Inn was fun to watch, including Fred Astaire's famous patriotic firecracker dance, (compare to Gangnam Style) and Bing and Marjorie Reynolds singing White Christmas to a tree, using the bells on its boughs as part of the acompaniment.  It was a quaint reverie, except for the colossal embarrassment (and bizarre counterpoint to White Christmas) of the Lincoln's Birthday celebration, with Bing Crosby in blackface, giving the shameful impression that Abe freed the slaves so they could find acting jobs in Hollywood movies as stereotypical mammys and pickaninnys.  Well, it was 1942 and Irving Berlin.  We still had a long way to go.  (Who would go to a sophisticated song and dance inn in the country to celebrate Lincoln's Birthday anyway?)  Apparently broadcast versions of the film edit this number out; I suppose if Hollywood wanted to remake the movie, in a politically correct fashion, they might add Kwaanza to the holiday celebrations or replace the Lincoln scene with Martin Luther King Day.

And it would be cool to add some lion dancing and kung fu for a Chinese New Year scene.  That's the next holiday I'm looking forward to!  Fifteen days! Spring festival! The Chinese know how to stretch out a holiday.