Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Gears not of stars, but stardust

Return to your rooms with portraited walls,
Rejoice as you pass through our hallowed halls.
Restart the gears turning! (obedient learning)
Set machinery whirring! (obsequious purring)

Swallow the Cipro, you need not protest;
Close your eyes and gain seasons of rest.
Exams stand imminent, entertainments await;
Sleep now, dear child, for the hour is late.

Empty your head of agitating ills,
Such addled designs strain common sense, defy common will.
There's nothing here to arouse any action,
All has been cared for to immense satisfaction.
(Bravo! Such a virtuosic performance of administrative abstraction!)

Insistence on truth only hastens your fall;
Ask not! Stay enshrouded in clouds, wrapped in your perfumed shawl.
Ideals dissolve you from inside to out,
Save yourself, lie back in silence: there's no reason to doubt.

With temptation unlocked, nothing else will suffice,
Feel the anxious, magnetic tug of aspiration enticed,
Propelled by inexorable, self-fueled volition,
Compelled by the majesty of self-burning ambition,
(Assisted conveniently by ethical concision!)

Find magical form in the substance of dreams,
Look only ahead for those bright, gleaming things,
Tomorrow's a new day, petals painted in dew;
oh blessed child, the future's waiting for you.

Inspired by the events surrounding the University's forced closure of the self-organized, student-managed Dining Commons at Suites. It has outraged so many, but the question remains: can anything actually be done? Or will we simply be lulled back into our complacent Stanford lives, which the University seems intent on doing.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Viennese Ball II

Early Viennese Ball Photos (c. 1979)

We are definitely part of a lineage, dear friends!

From Todd Doersch: "For the archives, attached are a few snapshots from Year Two (1979) that I scanned in a few years ago ... Alle tanzen!"

Thursday, February 07, 2013

We belong here

Apparently there are ignorant, racially-insensitive white people at Duke. Who knew? Great for your reputation, Dukies. I'm simultaneously surprised and not surprised because ... this is America. -_-

I'm disappointed, but not entirely shocked. My heart goes out to the minority students at Duke who have to deal with this BS. (P.S. I'm refraining from going off on an "exoticizing/imperialist majority" rant; others cover that ground pretty well.)

The cynical part of me wants to say, "It's America folks. Get used to it." But then I rebel, because we are Americans, too -- not outsiders, not even immigrants. (Though all those cultural groups deserve respect.) We are as American as the next person sitting on the bus, or the neighbors who share the same communities we live in, or the teachers and students who walk along the hallways of our schools. We are also as American as a corn farmer in Iowa or a rancher in Montana. Engineers in Silicon Valley and environmentalists in Washington D.C. count too! Thus, the racially-charged actions by the Duke fraternity weren't just an attack on Asians and Asian Americans; they were an attack on the idea of a diverse America.

Yet I'm not giving up on my country, on our country, just because of the juvenile (and either malicious or devastatingly uninformed) actions of a few buffoons. There's nowhere else we belong more than here. I refuse to feel alienated; we aren't the ones being marginalized in society. The racist individuals are soon going to realize they just marginalized themselves.

Given that, I see why it's important for a united community reaction -- so those minority students don't feel alone, but know they have support, that they have allies, that there are people of decency who see and care. It's also critical for Duke to come up with an institutional response. They need to define what their university stands for.

Those fools picked the wrong ethnic minority community to mess with. We aren't quiet, docile and obedient anymore. We are educated, informed, outspoken, independent-minded and connected, and we aren't going to "take it" as our parents might have, the way earlier pioneering generations of AsianAms had to endure abuse without complaint, for fear of provoking further aggression.

Despite the stereotypical image of AsianAms staying silent, even before present times and the advent of social media, there already were courageous, articulate individuals in history who spoke up for our community. (Some of these heroes are still alive!) My hat goes off to all of them. Now, more and more as I write this, I am beginning to awaken to the important role an AsianAm *community*, including student groups, community centers and advocates, can play in the fabric of our schools.

I'll end by noting that I was actually born in North Carolina; and I'm sure glad my parents decided to move to Silicon Valley. My experience growing up here is one that AsianAm kids in other parts of the country might not have had, and this reminds me to be grateful for the Bay Area: its openness, its embrace of difference, its respect for those coming from distinct backgrounds (almost a given in a place that is a global crossroads), and the general sense of celebration surrounding all these variegated ideas and identities. We see diversity not only as part and parcel of daily life, but as something of value that enriches all of us.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Things I'm Listening to Lately

I caught the last few minutes of Dylan Mattingly's "Invisible Skyline" on the radio tonight. The Berkeley Symphony premiered the piece, and it was being re-broadcast on 91.7 KALW. (Funny timing; moments before, we had finished rehearsal with the Stanford Symphony).

I don't quite know how to compliment the music, but it really grabbed me. It feels like there are different parts of my brain being activated, attention being gripped and held. The music is both focused and atmospheric. I'm here and only here; yet simultaneously, I'm elsewhere, I'm away.

It explores little moments here and there. These moments carry you along, sonic gems, bright pockets of feeling and playfulness and motion. It's "new" music, but somehow it all JUST MAKES SENSE. And now I really want to hear the whole piece!

I searched on YouTube, and am currently listening to Mattingly's "A Way A Lone A Last A Loved A Long the Riverrun." It's awash with images and memories; maybe not my memories, but memories that I can imagine, floating to the surface and then drifting downstream.

To be here and not here ... the times I have been able to feel like this are when I am dancing -- waltzing, to be precise -- which is probably the best compliment I can give. It's strange, but the music generates a very similar feeling for my brain. It's something regular and synchronized, intertwined with something that feels absolutely spontaneous and open.

It's new and familiar all at once, like coming to where I know I'm supposed to be.

Interview with composer Dylan Mattingly, plus another blog interview and five facts.

Later on, I came across this Schnittke piece, played by "A Far Cry" which is an ensemble I'm a fan of!

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Sustainable Flowers

Flower bases for Viennese Ball