Taoist mythology, Lanna history, mythology, the nature of time and other considered ramblings

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Location: Chiangrai, Chiangrai, Thailand

Author of many self-published books, including several about Thailand and Chiang Rai, Joel Barlow lived in Bangkok 1964-65, attending 6th grade with the International School of Bangkok's only Thai teacher. He first visited ChiangRai in 1988, and moved there in 1998.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

“Dr. Brody’s Report”

From “Dignity, Too”, © 2010 by Joel John Barlow, all rights reserved by consideration freely given blah blah

He presented George a copy of Jose Louis Borges’ misanthropic vision of human roots in short-story format: “Dr. Brody’s Report,” saying he hoped it’d cheer him up by placing personal woes in larger context. Expressing thanks, George said he’d been looking for some good reading, as might cast a new light on things. Paul asked him to hold on for a minute, then brought out two more books. Philip K. Dick’s Clans of the Alphane Moon he explained as turning mental diseases into collective empowerment for their carriers. The Narration of Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, equally weird but non-fiction, shows Amerind tribes of the early 16th century as having some similarities to those depicted for Alphane Moon clans, in a fascinating display of the width, depth, breath and topsy-turviness of human conditions.

Home, George found the first story described a supposedly hither-to unrecorded tribe, “Yahoos.” They “sleep in no fixed abode but wherever night overtakes them”; few have names, all relish raw, rancid meat and evil-smelling things. When eating they conceal themselves or close their eyes, but other physical habits they perform in open view, “much as the cynics of old”… “To a grassy plateau with springs and shade-dispensing trees, they prefer to swarm marshlands,” going about naked. They worship a god called “Dung” and are puzzled by the Christian concept of “Our Father,” unable to accept a cause so remote and unlikely as copulation carried out months before, being at all related to childbirth. What time-sense they have they relate to perceptorily. The future, which can’t be seen, is held as behind one, while the past, well enough apprehended, is ahead, and included all time before one last slept. Behind one is the mystery of what might happen after one sleeps again. Yahoo counting is but one, two, three, four and many (the thumb). Other words correspond to general ideas with specific meanings dependent on context or accompanying grimaces, involve no sentences or phrases.
Their queen likes to stick golden pins in those she favors, while providing an object for adulation by her adoring masses. Kings, mutilated at birth to the point of being unable to do anything but act as an emblem - born aloft flag-like to lead men into battle with ape-like neighbors - seldom survived long.
Six or seven words, generally enigmatic, might come to a man’s mind. Guileless, he immediately utters them. Most likely he’s ignored, but if the words strike anyone as significant, then the others will draw away “from this yahoo no longer,” but perhaps rather a god and thus someone anyone has license to kill, if only for the sake of personal glory. Those ‘gods’ with wits remaining, the report concluded, fled to lonely safety in the despised, airy grasslands above their area of residence.
Shades of Jonathan Swift, thought Geor



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