Sunday, October 31, 2010

why halloween and ghost month aren't the same thing

last night at my apartment complex, we had a halloween party for all the kids. it was fun- 12 kids aged 1 to 5. we had stories, candy, went on a candy treasure hunt. all good!
a parent asked me before the party if halloween was like ghost month. i told her that it was originally, but since christianity took over europe, that part of it (ancestor worship) was abandoned. now it's just a holiday for kids.
halloween isn't like ghost month. for one thing, we don't really beleive that ghosts, gobblins, and most surely not that vampires and werewolves come out on that day. even though halloween shows death and other gruesome scary things, it's all making fun of it! that's right. we made death into a temporary joke. rather than fear it, we make a joke and a holiday of it to say" yeah we're gonna die, but til then we're gonna have fun"
contrast this to ghost month- death is serious business. ghosts are real. and they'll cause serious havoc if you don't do according to the tradition.
can't swim, can't do this and that, cause ghosts rule! they will kill you.
yet, i have lived 44 years without following the traditions of ghost month, and NOTHING HAS HAPPENED TO ME. that's right, not a ghostly thing!
now why is that? i also don't follow feng shui beyond basic air flow for my room.and i don't read the chinese farmer's almanac. i'm doing just fine.
and i have tons of dead relatives that i don't pray to/for and never will. life goes on for me. i have a rich, wonderful life in taiwan.
what gives? if all these taiwan traditions are true, how come they don't affect me? and how come they don't affect the millions of people living in the West?
maybe because i have an armor that protects me that's stronger than those silly idols sitting in your temples.
and maybe just maybe, your religion is a lie- a lie created to keep the chinese people in spiritual bondage. think about it.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

tai ji mun- cult of the KMT?

tai ji men is not just a martial arts group. they are, in my opinion, a front for a chinese nationalist cult, promoting all things chinese (which would be sort of ok if they were upfront about it) even using deception and myths.
take for instance the origins of tai ji chuan as they claim it. according to most tai ji-ist, it was invented by a taoist monk named zhang shan fung. they claim tai ji is of taoist origin and proves the teaching of tao.
actually tai ji was invented by a chinese general named chen about 300 years ago. and the original name was NOT tai ji chuan but Hao Chuan. it was not a taoist creation, but one of a chinese general who was very knowledgeable in the human body and the art of china there is a village called chen where the original art is still taught.
so the taoist connections are a lie. they are historically untrue.
personally, i can't stand a lot of tai ji-ists. a lot of them are all up in their own mystical-ness and percieved chinese superiority. i would love to see their anachronistic asses walk into a cage match and get taught a thing or two about humanity and equality.
tai ji mun is all up in themselves with their chi kung, dance, etc. they are the perfect vehicle for cult nationalism.

Friday, October 29, 2010

taiwan's government approved foreign artists, part 2

the following are the approved foriegn artists which recieve the full blessing of the taiwan government:

Air Supply
Avril Lavne
Richard Clayderman
matthew lien

these artists have been "darling-ed" by the taiwan government as either safe, not harmful, or even useful to their purposes. the only choice i can agree with in that are air supply, but that's just my taste.
look at a richard clayderman video he made back in the 90s. it was the sappiest, most "don't worry foriegners won't hurt you/try to fuck you" video i've ever seen. plus he plays the sappiest music on the planet.his pieces are at most etudes for children, and at worst the sound track for some artsy-fartsy french semi-porn flick.
as for matthew lien, i suspect he's just a cultural plant brought here to promote tourism as well as boost the ego of taiwan by singing about the trees, birds, and local scenery.
avril what's her name can't spell it don't care too, was courted by the government for awhile, hoping her fucked up mascara would encourge further mental lostness among taiwan's youth.
air supply is the one choice i don't get, because they actually create good music and are expert song writers. but the fact that they are only popular in asia AND the taiwan government loves them means they're circling the musical drain, i hate to say.

taiwan's government approved foreign artists

basically, if you're an overseas (aka real foriegner) you can perform at any venue your mananger books for you, provided that the booking takes place overseas. in fact, the cultural bureaus are happy to have you. but if you're a taiwan foriegner, they will do everything in their power to make sure that you stay off most cultural venues, unless of course you are part of a group sponsored by other taiwanese.
why this paradox? because taiwan is still living in the chaing kai shek days. they want to keep an eye on what foriegners are or might be saying.
i have been paying taxes to the ROC for 13 years. but i still cannot apply for use of any public facility, and neither can any other foriegner, without a local taiwan organization supporting them.
but getting that support is very hard, because of the way they think. take for instance my band. there are 3 people: guitar, bass and drums. my drummer is an excellent taiwanese guy who plays stellar jazz. my bassist is a young guy, but he is learning how to use interesting notes to fill things in.
the way we play, we don't need a 4th person. but all these organizations think " if there aren't at least 4 people, then it won't be exciting enough". this is one of those areas where taiwan people like to talk beyond their knowledge of things, and thereby make things harder for people trying to do something new. and also, when they see my fucking white face, treat us as if we were going to sing some debaucherous western song, though i tell them we are a jazz trio.
of course, if it were 3 taiwanese highschool punks trashing a song, they'd let them,no matter how bad they sing, and no matter who bad the lyrics, because we have to give our young people a venue to perform.
the thing is, i paid the freight on that venue too. all tax payers should have equal access to the facilities in our city. simple as that.
of course, if you don't speak any chinese and act rudely, they'll just give you whatever you want. but if you're polite. speak good chinese, they treat you like shit.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why I Do What I Do

in a nutshell, i'm tired of the hard sell of chinese culture being made by various nationalistic cultural entities on both sides of the taiwan strait and by the chinese disporia, trying to tell us how superior they are, when 90% of their present life is from western culture.
yes chinese culture is wonderful. it is an important part of my life. but i cannot make a wholesale embrace of it.i enjoy most aspects of traditional culture and some of the modern. but i cannot say the modern music produced in asia is worth much, and i cannot fawn over movies like "crouching tiger" and "yip man". and i cannot say the way chinese people tend to think is a blueprint for societal improvement. i think writers such as Bo Yang support my view.
i also cannot be silent about the use of cultural propaganda by the chinese speaking entities in our world today, some of which are outright lies that fly in the face of generally accepted biological theory , ie, we all came from africa, the chinese DID NOT develop on their own as some of them would like to beleive! nor did their culture. this (the cultural aspect )is verifiably proveable.
chinese, korean, japanese, german, any form of nationalism is dangerous, because it seeks to use myths to grandize their view of racial superiority.
the taiwan and chinese governments are both using control of the arts for their own purposes. and i take offense to that, because we artists should never be under anybody's thumb.
chinese people, and all of us, depend on western culture for our lifestyle. we CAN'T go back. we should take what is useful from chinese culture and leave the rest behind, and stop living in nationalistic myths and neo facist wet dreams about a revival of "the glories of the past".
that past wasn't all that, people. think about it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

exposing chinese ancestor worship

most parts of chinese culture are wonderful. some parts have a dark history and meaning.
this site gives a LOT of info about the things in chinese culture that are evil. it encourges chinese people to avoid those bad things but still keep their chinese identity.
this is what i have been saying as well. we must take the good and leave the bad, but first we need to recognize what the bad is and why it's bad.
this site shows things i didn't know before and maybe you didn't either. read it and see for yourself.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Ugly Chinaman by Bo Yang

The Ugly Chinaman /Crisis of Chinese Culture by Bo Yang

this book interests me greatly. it is about why the Chinese cannot change and improve despite being exposed to other cultures.
i find Bo Yang to be a facinating person. he takes a good hard look at chinese culture, and doesn't pull any punches. i like that. i've never pulled any punches with american culture or taiwan culture. Bo yang is in fact a well known taiwan author who spent 9 years in prison under chiang kai shek's regime.
anybody who thinks any criticism of chinese culture is racism has been sucking on the political correctness titty for too long. bo yang is worth reading, if you dare.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

are taiwanese emotional wussies? (can't please taiwanese part 2)

i recently got called aside by my bushiban boss for a sit down. it seems the students are very happy to stay with me. no complaints. but the boss feels that i should not correct students' english when they say something wrong, the reason being that taiwanese might feel called out and loss of face for being told they were wrong in front of others.
boss's suggestion was that i remember all the mistakes, then write them later on the board, not calling attention to who made the mistake.
i am really tired of taiwanese people's "emotional pussy-ism". it makes everything dealing with them that much harder.
first of all, we are in a class to learn. i have yet to have a student complain that i corrected them; in fact on the questionare, they said they were happy that "teacher always takes time to correct us". but the idea still exists among the establishment that correcting mistakes is bad.
in english teaching, you sometimes run into "entitlement students", ie those who some lazy foriegn teacher has let dominate the class forever and who think their english is so superb. if you call THAT person out, your job is at risk.
to be honest, i sometimes wish i didn't have to depend on this market for my income. pleasing them is a major pain. and i'm not one to walk on eggshells or avoid any toes.
another thing i hate is the "english only" rule, which is really stupid. i keep my class at a 90/10 ratio- 90% english immersion with some chinese explanation. the reason for this is that explaining it in english doesn't always work. i've heard many students from "english only" classes come to me with totally WRONG renderings of phrases. i really want my students to learn.
i care, but i'm not really paid to care, am i? just give them what they want, the way they want it, even if it's detrimental to them in the long run.
funny thing is, we are foreign teachers. the whole point is to be immersed in a foriegn teacher's class/culture. but what many taiwanese want is western culture the taiwanese way, ie a taiwanese version of western education. and that's the real oxymoron of this whole thing.
and anyway,why should we as foriegn teachers be required to do things the taiwanese way if the whole point is to immerse our students in a foriegn teacher environment? isn't that ill preparing them for if/when the do go overseas? isn't all this emotional pussy coddling doing them a disservice?
one cannot separate language from culture. if my role is as a foriegn teacher, then i refuse to teach the taiwanese way.
simple as that.

you really can't please taiwanese

okay, damn it, for the disclaimer: not all taiwanese, but enough to talk about.

you really can't please (a lot of) taiwanese.and the reason for this is they have a very narrow scope for what they want. if this were specific and thought out, that would be a good thing. but many times, they don't know what they want and will keep changing their demands.and also they carry a lot of baggage.
i remember one case i did. the boss's wife had written the lyrics to an english learning song. the lines to the song were not in symmetry. for example:

"johnny is boy
sally is a girl
johnny likes to play baseball and soccer in the evening
sally likes to play with dolls and make pretend tea with her friends"

These lines are fucking UNUSABLE without major revision. the reason is that melody also has METER and meter is better done when the lyrics actually have meter as well.
i told the boss lady politely that the lyrics would have to be revised a bit because they lacked meter.i said i would do it, then start on the melody. i saw the look on her face, which immediately told me that SHE had written these stupid lyrics.
it ended up that they really wanted the lyrics the way they were because they had already printed the goddamn books that way! as a result, they were looking for someone to write and record the songs within that narrow scope. in other words, write a bad song to bad lyrics.
and herein lies the difficulty in "pleasing taiwanese"- they don't really want good, they just want what they want.
that for me is very difficult, because i was raised to always do my best. whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your heart. give them your best.
but your best is not required in taiwan. just give us what we want, no matter how messed up it is. and above all, don't REALLY try to help us. we can help ourselves.
but let's say you do give them what they want. from my experience, once`they've gotten that, they will feel they can get anything. they will ask you to change it again and again.
so i teach english. but even there, you find a big problem caused by the way taiwanese think.
you'd be shocked to know that one really doesn't have to be a good english teacher to be a "good english teacher" here. as long as students "feel" they are learning, then perception is everything. what students want is a chance to practice their english, but there also needs to be some structure to a class, objectives in the practice and so on,otherwise they'll never improve.
i also find that taiwanese people have no patience to learn things the right way. that's one reason i basically stopped teaching music- they want to skip many steps and the end result, if you give them that, will be that they are still dissatisfied, and most importantly I will be dissatisfied, because i have standards that i don't drop for anybody.
you walk in my studio, you are going to learn the right way (read music). it's just as simple as that. you will learn all your chords correctly. you will do worksheets. and sorry, i don't teach pop songs like in those popular "6 line" books. i teach ETUDES, which are time tested! i teach for real, not fucking around.
but real is a relative term, and the reason is because for taiwanese,what i feel is real.

that's it in a nutshell. my advice to foriegners in taiwan:
don't try too hard. don't take yourself too seriously. if you want to play the "use them at their own game" game, your decision. i don't blame anyone for playing along.
me,i just get by as best as i can, and try not to lower my standards.
poorer? yeah! struggling. but i only know how to do my best, not second best.

Monday, October 4, 2010

buddhism is an alien philosophy

though i have great respect for tzu chi and all the good work they do, as well as for their founder, in addition having adopted some of the zen philosophy to my life, i have to say all in all, buddhism is alien, not only to chinese culture, but also to humanity and other life forms on this planet. just ponder the following:

1. vegetarianism- please! domestication of animals for food is one of the great accomplishments and steps forward of the human race, the Chinese being among the first cultures to do so.
and look in your own mouth! if we're not supposed to eat animals, why do we have incisors? only meat eating animals have those. check out a girrafe next time you're at the zoo. they have none, because they're herbivores. we're NOT!
and anyway, how many animals on this planet kill other animals for food? ever hear of a food chain?

2. releasing animals to be "free"- first of all, releasing fish into streams and lakes messes up the whole balance of the system, killing off previous species there. is that what they want?

3. celebacy- giving me a fucking break (pun intended)! how many converts would they have if everybody shaved their heads and suddenly stopped humping? ZERO! but not only that, it's a really bad policy considering human history. early in the 10th century, the plague swept from central asia into europe to the west and china to the east. it is estimated that half of the world's population died! luckily, people ignored buddhism (and roman catholics) and went right back to fucking,and now the world has a robust population;so in case that meteor hits like in the movies, we're covered.
and anyway, marriage and having babies is Chinese culture! what parent doesn't hope their child meets someone and starts a nice family?

4. leaving home to become a monk/nun- this is as un-Chinese as it gets! christianity also condemns people who don't care for their parents.

5. nirvana- no, not the band- the concept. if the ultimate goal is to cease to exist, then i'm running the opposite way. sorry, i really like existing. it's sort of fun.and if nirvana is some sort of "bliss", then perhaps ecstacy (see? even the label tells you what it's for) or even some weed might be an easier option for seeking it.

all in all, i think Zen has some useful stuff. but like a lot of things in this world, i think it's only 20% useful and the rest filler. i take what i find useful from it, but that's as far as it goes.
i'd much rather be surfing at kenting! that would be nirvana to me!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

why cultures are not equal

multiculturalism teaches that all cultures are equal, and that western culture has had an unfair advantage and that is the only reason why it has prospered. i wish to show you how that just ain't so:
for instance,the Roma (gypsy) culture has long taught their children how to steal. children were taught to pickpocket from onlookers as the flamenco dances were being performed. gypsies are also well known for dying young from alcohol and diseases via sexually permissive behavior,all of which were part of their culture.
the maya practiced human sacrifice. they cruelly took infants, women, men. how is this equal to western culture's emphasis on human rights? yes some western societies like germany in WWII adopted evil as their MO, but they were stopped, because western cultures abhor it.
what i am saying about taiwan is that it's culture is lacking. most of the things like charity were brought by western missionaries. if this is not so, why has DAOISM yet to build even ONE HOSPITAL?
and what do daoist say when disasters happen? the gods were angry. or the day was unlucky. the west has (except for a few zealots) long separated events from some moral connection. bad things do happen to good people.and vice versa. life isn't fair. but those of faith believe that they are not alone in their trials and suffering, and that things happen because that's the way the world is.
does taiwan culture teach people to be dishonest as the gypsy culture i just mentioned? not to that degree. but i have found dishonesty to be more common here than my experience elsewhere. i beleive it is a cultural phenonmenon.
culture has zero to do with race, and everything to do with choice. we choose what kind of person we are to become. if we choose to embrace mysticism and superstition, no progress can follow. if we choose to embrace Reason, then a whole universe opens up to us.