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.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My 12 books

“Dream of Self” (1980): a poetic essay with autobiographical stories as counter-weight to idealized sentiments expressed in verse. Illustrated with line drawings by Jonathan Lethem; some supplemental material was added 30 years later. 50 copies of the first set of poems made earlier in Beloit WI, then 270 illustrated copies made in Brooklyn NY, and 50 copies with most of the additional material in Chiangrai, Thailand.
“Dignity, Too” - the Midwest meets the Southwest in this novelistic examination of the human condition, native arts, rabbit raising and the path of discovery sometimes called re-invention of the self. There’s a short story of ancient Amerinds in the middle.
“Watching Little Sister” – a novel of the rise to international prominence of an antichrist-like creator of an alternative economic system, with Little Sister (instead of Big Brother) and an anti-hero.
“Chiangrai Guide” - issued annually 2001 to 2005, presenting information of value to visitors, with minimal attention to transient matters like guest houses and restaurants.
“Enticing Siam” - a different approach to describing what many think they know something about, but few actually do: what it means to be Siamese, or Thai.
“Tao, Chi and Altai” - how the world’s arguably oldest still revered belief system relates to early East-West interface, mythology and modern understandings, with information on the Iu-Mien people and their art and beliefs, and a bit of poetry.
“A Little Knowledge” (“Matters Deserving Comment”) – essays about commonly misapprehended fact, with suggestions for further reading.
“Thai Lingo Lightly” - lessons to carry casual learners beyond beginning basics without using a new alphabet or the kind of unfamiliar terminology one is often expected to learn in order to learn another language.
“The Dollshop on Go-go Row” - hijinks and magic where love is sold with a smile.
“Going to Laos” - organized crime confronted by the chaos natural to the human condition proves resilient because less rigid than our more formalized systemings.
“Chiangrai Lanna” and “Lost Lanna Found” (ISBN 974-85466-1-6) overlap with Chiangrai Guide and Enticing Siam some, mostly in historical narrative. In 2000 I had 1700 copies of a dual-language Chiangrai Lanna printed; it was mostly history. That work transmogrified into the guidebooks, a handbook for volunteer ESL teachers come from England to Chiangrai, Thailand, and then “Pleasing Siam (ISBN 974-85466-0-8, ©2004). The 1000 copies of “Pleasing Siam” had color pictures, which “Enticing Siam (©2006), also 1000 copies) does not. Wanting to write about aspects of ancient Lanna which remain to be found, and realizing that neither the double entendré of the title nor the cover picture, depictive, I thought, of generous welcoming hospitality (covered clay water bowls with wood dippers, for thirsty passers-by) were much appreciated by potential purchasers, I came up with the title “Lost Lanna Found”, which clearly gleaned greater appeal. Later I wrote more on that for one of my blogs,, creating enough material that Lost Lanna Found and Chiangrai Lanna (last printed only in Thai language, and containing mostly history) need not be considered a single work.

My first book, a poetic essay now reissued, dedicated to the ignorant people within whom all wisdom lives, once began:
One low, lilting glow reveals
light lead-grey listless phantoms drifting,
refracted patterns floating in gentle plains behind;
many soft shades smoothly merge
and a mild sweet scent soothes, shrives.
Lifting labile melodies,
Sparkling bright beverages,
and romantic rambling dreams Serenade.

Yes, the smoke weaves in the air,
a grand design to see,
As listless and unfettered
As ambition within me.
And yes, I may be listless,
with schemes come all afrought
But freedom now surrounds me:
I may question what I'm taught.