Ongulé ondulant

The moose is moving house and has no interweb for a while. The moose shall return. Adieu.

Maximum City

The moose recently had the pleasure of reading Maximum City by Suketu Mehta, an endlessly fascinating window into a bustling, barely imaginable world happening right now.

Part autobiography, part travelogue, part anthropology, it is a startling study of modern Bombay. Mehta left for America as a young man and returned 20 years later. Through a remarkable set of connections he takes us from the Hindu/Muslim riots of the early 90’s into the Bombay underworld, the Bollywood scene, beer bar dancers and Jains, all the while bombarding the reader with the visceral madness of the world’s most densely populated city, the practicalities of life with fourteen million people on top of each other – most of whom are crammed into just one third of the city – and the stark realities of a world where life is damn cheap, the legal system doesn’t work, and everything depends on who you know. As well as a pop analysis of the Indian subconscious stemming from the severe sexual and social repression necessary for the society to function as it does.

He writes of his city the way a New Yorker speaks of New York, a mixture of frustration, infatuation and bewilderment. The writing is crisp and well paced. The characters are astounding, from a modern day uncorruptable Elliot Ness fighting the gangwar with torture and summary executions, to a 20 year old beer bar dancer (think fully clothed non strip clubs that are like strip clubs where you fall in love with the dancers and throw money at them for weeks until they sleep with you), philosophically troubled hit men, and a diamond merchant renouncing all possessions and family to become a wandering holy man. (The Jains are hardcore: a quote from a story of a Jain saint: “In what way would you like me to stand so you are put to the least inconvenience while peeling off my skin?”)

All the characters we meet (except the Jains) share the same fate – they are trapped in Bombay’s web, unable to escape, or really imagine a life outside their particular chaos. We are happy to have met them and have no idea what their future holds, like meeting people in the eye of a hurricane, the winds descend again and who knows if our paths will ever cross again.

Colourful, entertaining, eye-opening. Well worthwhile.

Ocean's Two

It feels so wrong, and a sure sign of the end of all things, but this site is still so damn funny.

Girl: My girlfriend used to date George Clooney and he would have her shave his balls all the time.
Drunk guy: Really? I shave down there, what do you think about that?
Girl: I kinda wanna stop talking to you now.

–Loki Lounge, Park Slope

B-Lite, Blind Rapper

Old school rap from a blind white guy. Go here and download the track Wall-Mart, which is a thing of beauty.

Foucault on Philosophy

“The movement by which, not without effort and uncertainty, dreams and illusions, one detaches oneself from what is accepted as true and seeks other rules – that is philosophy. The displacement and transformation of frameworks of thinking, the changing of received values and all the work that has been done to think otherwise, to do something else, to become other than what one is – that, too, is philosophy.” – Michel Foucault, from “The Masked Philosopher” in The Essential Foucault.

We of the dancing moose are genuinely delighted by this quote. (Hat tip to our simian brethren for the recommendation.) For the first time we can say, with a straight face, “the dancing moose is a philosopher”.

Despite having read a bunch of philosphers’ writings and discovering that the questions they were asking were similar to questions I found interesting, even after watching the book I was writing trawl deeper and deeper philosophical waters, I had somehow never been comfortable identifying with the term philosopher, perhaps struck by the sneaking suspicion the word was synonymous with wanker.

However, the sense of philosophy and philosopher Foucault describes above describes well the process the moose is engaged in; it also describes well the intellectual component of the spiritual/mystical path, and some of the practical effects of “occult” or consciousness change techniques. Philosophy is an active process leading towards enlightenment.

World goes boom

And then, suddenly, the moose was homeless.

Things to Come: 3 & 4

The final two instalments in Michael Ventura’s current series on what’s happening and where we’re going. The first two are linked from this earlier post.

Recommended reading.

A decade since I've been clean shaven.

Odd day, 29. Did Tai Chi. Wandered around in the sun. Went to see Serenity, came away happy. Didn’t buy that Zapatista t-shirt again, some weird fashion push-pull for the past year and a half. Did family stuff. Was lured away by band stuff which turned out to be what will have to be the only chocolate pudding cake surprise birthday at Valve in history, then got drunk til after 3am. Yay for people, and thanks.

Spent today breaking in comfy new shoes from No Sweat – sweatshop-free – available through Trade Aid.

Fritz Peters

“What Gurdjieff literally hammered into me as a child was that death – whatever else it may be – is inevitable; it is one’s ultimate and only destination. It is largely thanks to this knowledge – or the innate understanding of this fact – that every minute, hour or day is something one should experience fully.”

“The fact of life is a simple one: we are here and living. With a certain amount of effort – tempered by drinking, play and perspective – let’s try to live as if each day is what it is: maybe our last moment on earth. Don’t let the sun go down without saying good night to it. Life IS a miracle, after all. Let’s live it.”

(From Balanced Man by Fritz Peters.)

a new guilty pleasure

Dude: So are you going to sing karaoke?
Girl: No, I don’t think so. Are you?
Dude: Nah.
Girl: Why not? Can you sing?
Dude: Oh yeah, I can sing. I just don’t read.

–Nevada Smith’s, 3rd Avenue

from Overheard in New York: The Voice of The City

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