Monday, March 16, 2009

Many Minds

I should definitely look up the review mentioned in this blog post on About Last Night about Elfreide Jelinek; I tried reading The Piano Teacher after it was made into a movie starring Isabelle Huppert, but I could not make it through.  I just could not stand it.  Maybe the review will change my mind.

Interesting experiences with words in the last few days--first Laurie Anderson performing in the Third Mind Live series at the Guggenheim, and then kirtan with Krishna Das at Kripalu.  The Third Mind Live series is supposed to illuminate The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia exhibit.  The connection for LA, supposedly, was her experiences with Asian musicians, and their different ways of thinking of time, both in music and in life.  However, as far as the experience of her concert, it seemed to be a convenient way to select a variety of stories from throughout her career.  Looking back, I suppose time played a role in all the stories, but sometimes the connection was tenuous.  It really didn't matter, though, because her stories were often funny, and made fascinating by the multimedia presentation, including music, voice play, and visual effects.  I don't know what the first and second minds are, but if LA's mind is an example of a third mind, I want one like it.

OK, now I get it: The first mind is western/European/American, the second mind is eastern/Asian, and the third mind is realized when western artists adapted Asian art forms and ideas.  So I guess a westerner like myself experiencing kirtan would be an example of the third mind struggling to become.  After the first chant with Krishna Das the other night (Seetaram), he stopped and said something along the lines of, "Wow, nice chant.  Wouldn't it be nice to know what the words meant?"  He's obviously very aware of the difficulty the educated, liberal, urban American would have in kirtan, because we are hyper-conscious of what words mean.  What do the words in kirtan mean?  Well, some do have specific meanings, and others are supposed to be names for different aspects of God, so probably out there in the world somewhere is a source that would purport to tell you what it all means.

But frankly, I don't care to find out what they mean; the whole point of the experience is to sing in response to the leader, and let the physical vibrations take effect.  As KD described it, after singing the chants together with a large group, hearing the music, and moving to it, people tend to get happy.  When you get happy, he said, "Your life is ruined."  What he meant was, you will have nothing left to strive for, no trying to be happy left, no unhappiness left to try to shrug off.  Just happiness.  That's insane, right?  That couldn't possibly, logically, rationally work.  And that's the point.

At the close of the concert, KD said: "As we say in India, [beat] take it easy."  Would that be an example of the fourth mind?


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New York, NY, United States
Overeducated mom, addled by constant interruptions due to demands of family and dog, trying to read books and write coherent sentences about them. Luckily, yoga keeps me centered. Sharing my love of yoga through teaching helps make sense of it all. I have a yoga blog at Since 2015, it has been my pleasure to serve as a reader for Epiphany, a literary journal publishing fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and art; on Twitter as @epiphanymag.


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