Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes Part 267
Greetings Stickmanites and Dana Fans:
Today a shocking introduction not suitable for children followed by an essay that is a sign of our monger times. Adult material all and not suitable for the weak. Perhaps this would be a good time for some of you to exit out of the site and go to a Thailand web address that has family value stories about visiting a temple and talking to a monk and getting a lucky string tied around your wrist and handing out gum to cute little village kids and having insightful conversations with feminists here to release Thai women from male slavery. Nah, what am I thinking: just give this a read and I'll see you on the boardwalk.
"Though small on the map, the beautiful islands of Fiji at the time of white contact two centuries ago were a garden of barbarity and warfare that it would be difficult to equal. The old were strangled. The sick were buried alive. War canoes launched over living bodies returned from coastal raids flying victory banners called 'birds of the sail' — bodies of children hanging by the feet. Human sacrifice was common, the flesh consumed on behalf of the gods. A special plant was grown near temples so its leaves could be used to wrap human flesh for baking, and its tomato-like fruit were made into sauce to reduce the meal's constipating effect." — from The South Seas Dream by John Dyson.
1. At last, someone has said it; I hate the constipation I get from eating human flesh.
2. And we complain about Thailand? Maybe we should all carry a reduced laminated card in our wallets with the above quote printed on them. The next time we are irritated by tuk-tuk driver thieves, bar girl mood changes, currency exchange booth nonsense, and poor restaurant service; we can just reflect:
'Well, at least they are not going to eat me, or launch a canoe over my body, or hang my children upside down by their feet, or strangle me because I am sixty-one years old, or bury me alive if I get sick.'
And further reflect:
'Hey, all things considered the Thais are pretty great and this country and culture is pretty fantastic.'
But that is not really what I want to talk about today. What I really want to talk about today is an essay/story called: The Four Worst Words, and we start with me talking to a class of writing students. Enjoy.
My name is Dana and I am going to be your instructor in this creative writing class. As a first day exercise we will start with a basic reading comprehension exercise. Please read the following excerpt from a book called the Bible and, in your own words, write what it means.
"And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?
He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their children, or of strangers?
Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free." — Matthew 17:24–26
Don't worry class, you'll all get A's. Just someone please tell me what this means. I've got no idea.
Do you ever wish you could be granted omnipotent powers to edit? I do. My life is full of 'accepted' and 'classic' and 'traditional' and 'genius' and 'unassailable' writing that is incomprehensible. No person reads it, and no one understands it, and it does not make anyone smile, and everyone is lying to everyone else about this writing. Literary fraud as intellectual napalm you can't get rid of.
A good example? The poet Ezra Pound. Unless you are a classics scholar you are not going to get the references. And it is necessary to get the references to get the poetry. Poetry is not something you can skim. You have to read and understand every word of every line. Even then it may be long odds if the poet was really just talking to himself.
Another good example? Some of Shakepeare's plays. Once again, unless you are a scholar of the references you are not going to understand what you are reading. Taking Junior High School and High School students to see Shakespeare's plays is a waste of time and by the way shows how ignorant the teachers are. In fact, it might have the opposite of the intended effect. Plays are dynamic uses of the language, not literary talismans.
Another example of literary ignorance sold as cultural something? Mark Twain's two books Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Librarians put these monsters in the children's section of the library. These are not children's books. Don't believe me? You're an adult. You try to read one.
Right now Thailand is not really a reading/literary culture. If it ever happens that the Kingdom does become a reading/literary culture, and I hope it does happen; I hope they leave behind pretension and literary foolishness so common in the West. For example: only teach what students can read, do not teach classics first and references second, and be kind to people who do not understand what you think is important. The Bible? Ulysses? Shakespeare? Milton? Homer? You've read and understood and enjoyed these books and authors?
No and no and no. Stop lying and try to think of ways to help next year's students. Words are important. And speaking of words, the meat of this story/essay is called:
THE FOUR WORST WORDS
Are you like me? Has your writing inspired plays, poems, documentaries, suicides, movies, stamps, children's stories, diahrrea, comic books, T shirts, mime schools, criminal enterprises, ballads, stage plays, graphic novels, writing schools, and death threats?
Of course you are. Of course you are like me. Everyone has contributed to death threats, suicides, and diahrrea with their wordsmithing. Glad to know you. But to iterate, that is not really my main thrust today. ( Note: my main thrust today will be with Fa. )
Anyway, what I want to note is: from almost the beginning of settled stockaded communities the four worst words you could hear were: Enemy At The Gate. No other group of words got more attention. Enemy At The Gate. ENEMY AT THE GATE.
Well, now that women of the commercial kind in the Kingdom are being trained to only have sex with condoms the new four worst words one can hear are:
'We Must Be Safe'
I heard these words once from Wan, a woman I had been spending time with for years. They were the last words I heard her say. Goodbye Wan.
Goodbye 'Enemy At The Gate' and hello 'We Must Be Safe'. Like water down the drain, your life spirals downward.
WE MUST BE SAFE
No comments because I truly don't think I can say anything worthwhile.