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Following the Bliss of Gamelan+Architecture, Sacred Sites, Techno and Religion. (1 Viewer)

Gongchime

Member
Please have a look at these nonfiction stories if any of the titles strike you as interesting. These are the very newest pieces I've written.

"Following the Bliss of Gamelan," "Architecture, Sacred Sites, Techno and Religion," "Primordial Cosmic Ocean Ksheerasagara," "On the Ramayana," and "Creation of Garunaga's World."

Rip me a new hole. I can take it.:)

Gongchime
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
how can they be both 'stories' and 'non-fiction'?... are they essays, or what?... and how can i take a look at them, when they're not posted here?

post one and i'll be glad to check it out...

love and hugs, maia
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
sorry, but i, like many here, don't go elsewhere to read material... to get the most feedback, you need to post the work here, not just a link to it...

thanks for the explanation... had you said 'true' instead of 'non-fiction stories' i wouldn't have been confused... out of curiosity, due to the titles not sounding like 'true stories' i did take a peek at your site and found that what you seem to be calling 'stories' are probably better referred to as 'essays'... there is a difference...

hugs, m
 

Gongchime

Member
I do like to get advice. However, I'm confused. I didn't think essays would use the first person singular such as, "I'll never forget the day when..."

I was under the impression that could never be an essay. However, I feel my writing is often more like an essay as well but according to my book on non-fiction it says that people will keep reading a story. I'd like to keep my readers and not have them drop me like a bad habit so I've been trying to tell a story that involves at least one person, often me.

Also, I'm afraid to call those writings essays because then people will call me on the lack of academic rigor.

All the best,

Gongchime

P.S. Here is the "story",

On Following the Bliss of Gamelan



I started this blog with a creation story because the Western world's narrative has an originary point that I want to recover. The Buddhist and Taoist orientation doesn't suppose a beginning. The Asian narrative makes the middle to be more important that the beginning.

It's completely different to be a story teller with no first story. This isn't to say that Asian narrative is better than western. Preserving and resurrecting western narrative forms is important as well.

On Following the Bliss of Gamelan
I was studying music at Northern Arizona University in 1999 and scouring the library for interesting books of all kinds. I looked in every section but I gravitated towards topics such as the classical music of India and especially ethnomusicology. I came across two very thick books.

One on Balinese and another on Javanese gamelan music. Within their rough, old and dusty pages were reams of descriptions and transcriptions of performance practices that I made copies of and studied. I had enjoyed what little I had seen of the Southeast Asian aesthetic in watered down movie presentations such as The King and I.

I also watched movies liestened to cds and read books about the cultures of S.E. Asia. One documentary told the story of a man looking for a certain tribe in Borneo. He befriended people in a different tribe to help him find them.

He received a tattoo from an old woman that I thought was the purest expression of spirituality I had ever seen. It was a vine motif that had eyes. To the unchristianized Dayak, the native inhabitants of Borneo, plants and animals of the jungle are like cells of a larger organism that is sentient.

This is similar to the much debated Gaia Hypothesis. While having difficulty finding the tribe they were looking for during weeks of trekking in the jungle, the native of Borneo, acting as guide, had a dream. It was as if the jungle told him where to find the members of the other tribe.

I felt a strong desire to encounter these cultures, musics and spiritualities directly. One of my favorite C.D.'s was the soundtrack to the movie Siamese Twins by Bangkok Blue. I have never seen that movie but the music was the best that I had ever heard. Here's a link to hear clips from the album. Sometimes it doesn't play but revisit it at another time if it doesn't play the first time you try it. http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/store/artist/album/0,,208150,00.html

It combined traditional Thai music with jazz including marimba. I didn't make much money and I didn't see how I was ever going to make enough money to visit S.E. Asia or retire there. And, while researching jobs at the career placement office at school I discovered that I could teach English overseas.

From the testing office and from reading, I knew English was one of my marketable aptitudes. So, at the age of 35, I got my passport and studied how and where to apply for jobs overseas and found a job in Korea through the website Dave's ESL cafe. I chose Korea because the pay and benefits were better than other countries in Asia and S.E. Asia.

Living in the center of Asia made it easier to travel around here. On my first trip I went to Bangkok and then to Ayuthaya, the ancient capital of Siam. While I was there I bought cds of traditional Thai music that I just loved.

I also went to a music store that sold Thai instruments. I wanted to buy everything but could only afford a flute. When I returned to Korea, I met a musician only who had been a guitarist for Frank Sinatra( but he's not Tony Mottola who I have also met) and claims to have been the inventor of the first optical reader which is the basis of cd technology.

He invited me to come stay at his home in the souther Thai city of Hua Hin. I thought I would apply for some jobs while I was there as an experiment to see what I could get. When I went to a junior high school, I discovered they had a music room with thai instruments.

Again, I got to see up close the circular pot gongs and the wooden xylophones that look like boats. One day, by chance, I went to the larger temple downtown and there was a traditional ensemble rehearsing. The director was an elderly man standing in front facing them playing cymbals the size of an average pair of hands.

I had my Lonely Planet Thai Phrasebook and when they stopped playing said to the director in Thai that I had taught music in America to junior high school students. He was very happy to meet me. He invited me to play each of the instruments in his orchestra. They seemed to be impressed with my mallet work and shawm playing.

He invited me to come back the next day for a concert. I came the next day and there were a lot of people. Chairs were placed in a roofed pavilion.

I sat about 3/4 of the way back. Everyone wore their best clothes and some men were wearing what looked like white Naval uniforms. There were younger orange robed monks wearing long mala beads talking to people and making preparations, mostly offerings on the altar.

An old man got up to speak wearing one of the white uniforms. He spoke for a long time and everyone sat quietly listening. When he stopped speaking, the buildings very loud fire alarm bell rang that surprised me a great deal and the musicians began playing simultaneously.

At some point people started to go up onto the altar. Some bowed with hands placed together in a "Wai. which is the gesture of hands folded as if in prayer used as a respectful greeting in Southeast Asia as well as India." Some placed flowers and other offerings such as incense or fruit.

What finally became aparent to me was a long rectangular white box with gold trim in the middle of all the flowers and that it might be a casket. An older woman who had been at the rehearsal the day before motioned for me to go up to the stage but I didn't want to break the solemnity of the mood by distracting people with the presence of a blond haired, blue eyed foreigner. It was the same woman who began to cry as people slowly filtered out.

No one was comforting her so I put my hand on her shoulder and she eagerly put her arms around me to be held as she cried. She must have been his wife. She eventually wanted to leave with a female friend and pulled on my belt for me to come too but I just stood there.

I felt it was sad that she had to let go of me when she needed someone so much, the same way she had to let go of her husband. I went back to the temple again over the next two weeks but I never saw the musicians again.

For composers who don't find their voice until late in life Brahms is regularly invoked because he wrote his first symphony when he was 40. The reasons why I wasn't able to accomplish many of my musical and life goals much earlier was because I spent too much of my life earning a living through manual labor. I didn't have enough leisure time and the time I did have was devoted to acquiring and taking drugs and also commuting to and from work often by bicycle or by bus.

My father and mother thought that children don't make themselves useful enough so I was working at Taco Bell even before the legal age. I did not have access to institutes, equipment, large libraries, or special collections devoted to artistic persuits at an early enough age. I also did not have a family who supported my sobriety let alone involvement in artistic or intellectual activities.

I was not free to express any opinion. I was not able to travel freely and there wasn't an influx of highly educated foreigners who enjoy intellectual endeavors for their own sake but I was able to study art in high school and philosophy much later which are the most closely related to music. I was able to observe others performing a similar task and to read descriptions of, what was at the time, novel work practices especially the two books on Javanese and Balinese gamelan music at Northern Arizona University library where I also worked, later in Korea on the interent and in other Asian libraries.

I was also able to recognize gamelans potential for a fruitful direction I could follow. I was not able to get significant others to agree that my work was creative. I wasn't able to orient, plan, execute and evaluate my musical compositions until I was 42.

I had a fairly clear work objective but not enough autonomy and wasn't presistent or persuasive enough in selling the idea to people. My father continually dominated decision making and discussions used, as he was, to making decisions from on high as the president of a Las Vegas Casino and also exacerbating conflict therefore reducing or nullifying the effective benefits of diversity. My family and I didn't have good conflict resolution or problem solving skills.

I wasn't able to define the world or other people in a way that allowed me to do what I wanted. My sense of identity came from narrative forms alien to my family and friends. The modern cultural era's values were still operative in my environment though I was living in postmodernity.

I didn't cooperate smoothly with the masses. I didn't want to consume more and more. My tastes are not standardized and they cannot be easily influenced or anticipated.

The material and social conditions in which I lived fostered contrasting ideas of what is important or possible. I belonged to about 1/4 of Americans who don't fit the mold. The traditionalists and conservatives are unaware of such a large number of people who aren't buying what traditionalists and conservatives have bought into -primarily from Hollywood- or are now currently selling although more of what Cultural Creatives want is becoming available.

I didn't consistently choose higher income over companionship to the detriment of my happiness. I cut down on watching much TV a long time ago and really quit completely in 2004. I desire to be surrounded by people I care about and not by objects of wealth and I don't want my time to be occupied with the acquisition of goods and messages.

I have had to put the thought of a final identity aside. Though great works are as much a product of the culture as that of the individual, cultural identites only postpone the violence we would do to each other if we allowed our inner wildness more freedom to assist us in having our way. It only heals the split between the competing factions temporarily. And does nothing for healing the split between the ingroup and those other cultures who are not "us."

I have had to learn to reside conceptually in a mediate area which cannot be totalized and to create a space where traditions are summoned and modify each other being critically confrontational but not combative.
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
there is a category in non-fiction called the 'personal essay'... it's what you so often have to turn in with a college app... no one who knows anything about writing non-fiction in general or essays in particular will call you on it, as it's a standard kind of writing... i'm surprised you didn't know of it...

you could also call these writings of yours 'personal anecdotes'... to me, either that or 'personal essays' would be much preferable to 'non-fiction stories'... but that's me... and i write essays all the time, a few of which do fit the 'personal essay' label...
 

Gongchime

Member
I'm not very well educated about writing which is why I joined the forum. Your thoughtful response has proved to me that it was a great idea to join.

Thanks for the info,

Gongchime
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
glad to help... you might want to consider simplifying your writing style, to maximize coherence, make it more reader-friendly... your closing lines are a perfect case in point:

I have had to learn to reside conceptually in a mediate area which cannot be totalized and to create a space where traditions are summoned and modify each other being critically confrontational but not combative.

sorry to say, it comes off as gobbledygook... meaningless grammatically, due to overly-ornate/inapt word choices and scrambled syntax...attempting to sound 'literary' usually results only in not making much sense to anyone... if you have a message to deliver, consider your target audience and tailor your style accordingly... 'less is more' is still the best maxim for any writer...

some of your writing is effectively plain and simple, but occasional lapses into this sort of purple prosy rhetoric makes it seem almost as if two different writers were at work on the same piece... you may want to go through and smooth it out into a single 'voice'...

hugs, m
 

Gongchime

Member
Yeah, I did a lot of reading in my lifetime of scholarly works so I've got all these different things floating around in my head that I've read. I'll be going along explaining my point when one of them pops in and I just use it verbatim so as not to disrupt the flow of my thoughts. I know I need to go back and improve stuff. I just don't have that much time and I'm lazy on top of it. But I will get around to it eventually.

Gongchime
 
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