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#1443 - Wednesday, May 28, 2003

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  • Jerry Katz
    #1443 - Wednesday, May 28, 2003 - Editor: Jerry ... Put Your Hooves Together for the Horses By John Freedman
    Message 1 of 1 , May 29, 2003
      #1443 - Wednesday, May 28, 2003 - Editor: Jerry

      Put Your Hooves Together for the Horses
      By John Freedman
      Vladimir Lupovskoi / For MT
      The Zingaro equestrian theater's "Loungta," or "Wind Horses,"
      features a cast of two dozen horses, 11 riders and several
      Tibetan monks and can now be seen in Kolomenskoye Park.
      You cannot argue with Bartabas. You can take his Zingaro
      equestrian theater or you can leave it, as you can his newest
      production, "Loungta," the world premiere of which took place
      a week ago here in Moscow. But Bartabas exists entirely
      outside of what anyone thinks about him and his performances.
      His vision is utterly unique; his convictions are unassailably
      sincere; his execution of his objectives is remarkably
      If anyone can solve the ancient riddle about whether a tree
      falling in the forest makes a sound if no one hears it, it
      would have to be Bartabas. He certainly would say yes, the
      sound of the toppled tree is self-sufficient. This seems to be
      a notion inferred in all of his work, that everything has
      meaning and absolute value, no matter how small, no matter how
      subtle, no matter how insignificant. Every action, every being
      and every collision that may come about among them is a
      universe unto itself.
      Bartabas works with horses and people, about two dozen of the
      former and 11 of the latter. He employs music, dance and
      clownery. In Moscow, once again as a participant in the
      International Chekhov Theater Festival, he performs under a
      large tent located near the edge of the Moscow River in
      Kolomenskoye Park. Inside the tent is a small circle of red
      clay dirt surrounded by a ring of black sand. Hanging over
      this space is a mobile, collapsible and invertible canopy
      which, depending upon the lighting, may be transparent, opaque
      or may become a movie screen.
      "Loungta," or "Wind Horses," is a highly abstract work with
      only a distant echo of dramatic plot to it. It is more
      properly a meditative piece driven by Tibetan music that seeks
      to find a space and a rhythm of inquiry and, when it does, to
      hold onto it long enough to allow it to sink into our
      This is where I cannot help but take issue with this
      production, no matter how futile that may be and how tiresome
      I may sound. Singing and performing on traditional Tibetan
      instruments in special boxes set among the spectators are two
      groups of Tibetan monks. Before the performance begins, an
      announcement is made that since the music being performed is
      sacred, no applause is allowed until the show has reached
      completion. Frequently, throughout the course of the evening,
      ripples of applause begin to build at the end of a segment,
      followed by a quiet chorus of others hushing the clappers.
      Theater emerged from religion and ritual and the pull to take
      it back remains strong even thousands of years later. There
      are things, however, that are beyond the powers of men, even
      artists and poets. Art can induce us to have religious
      experiences and religion can become a profound aesthetic
      experience, but the two cannot become one again. Moreover,
      there is a fundamental flaw in using pretty pictures and
      clever marketing to entice spectators to purchase tickets to a
      theatrical performance and then inform them after the fact
      that they have come to be present at a genuine sacred event.
      But how genuinely sacred can this really be?
      The Buddhist costumes, masks, dance movements and music are
      deeply and richly imbued with meaning for those who believe.
      These are aspects of the language of interaction with the
      Buddha and the Bodhisattvas which can be no more than
      attractive trinkets and impenetrable gestures to those of us
      who remain ignorant of the Buddhist system of symbols. In
      short, my presence at this holy rite is an intrusion and a
      profanation. Meanwhile, the theater that brought the monks and
      me together under the pretense of watching a theatrical
      performance has deceived us all.
      All right, someone is saying, get off your high horse and tell
      us about the show. After all, theater -- with or without
      horses and monks -- is the art of deception.
      "Loungta" is an often gorgeous, painterly production in which
      horse and human become symbiotic parts of suggestive, moving
      sculptures. It has short, bright snippets of humor and long,
      unbroken stretches of monotonous repetition. Perhaps one of
      the themes -- and there may be dozens, if not hundreds -- is
      the difficulty we have in knowing the world we inhabit. When
      we watch Bartabas himself sitting motionless astride his steed
      which he keeps moving in tiny, seemingly unnatural steps back
      and forth and to the sides, we are witness to a human and a
      horse seeking a point of understanding. The horse, knowing
      what it can and cannot do, is willing to let the rider
      experiment as he tests the limits of the horse's nature.
      Nature -- human nature, animal nature and nature in general --
      is the real field on which this performance occurs. There are
      so-called "horse tricks" -- riders making their horses buck or
      groups of riders standing in pyramid form on top of three
      horses racing ahead in unison -- but Zingaro is neither a
      circus nor a horse show, for Bartabas is intent upon exploring
      a philosophy, not entertaining the public.
      One of the most beautiful scenes brings together a rider in a
      white costume and white headdress on a white horse which
      interacts with about 30 white geese as they move slowly back
      and forth on the red and black clay. The contrast of the slow,
      powerful and stately horse moving among and leading forward
      the cackling, waddling geese is often funny, eliciting a good
      deal of laughter in the hall, although an attempt or two at
      applause remains muffled. As the scene develops methodically,
      thoughts of a god moving among mortals arise. We see the geese
      involuntarily separate into the strong and weak, the followers
      and leaders, those who are obedient and those who rebel. All
      of them, however, are dependent upon that rider and horse who
      push them back and entice them on.
      Similar scenes of riderless horses moving in circles, going
      with the flow, breaking up into opposing packs or isolating
      outcasts who prefer to run against the grain become powerful
      metaphors for experiences every spectator knows.
      "Loungta" is not as accessible as "Triptych," the show
      Bartabas brought to Kolomenskoye Park and the Theater Olympics
      two years ago. But the skill of his riders and the tangible
      spirituality of his horses remain as moving as ever.
      As for Bartabas' questionable decision to mix art and
      religion, I am of two minds. In fact, I heartily support the
      spectator who sat directly in front of me last Saturday. He
      sat for the entire performance with his fingers stuck in his
      ears to ward off the droning wails of the Tibetan religious
      music and then applauded as enthusiastically as anyone when it
      all came to an end.
      One final warning: The performances last weekend were getting
      underway almost a full hour late. If this continues in the
      future, you should not expect to get away from Kolomenskoye
      much before 11 p.m.
      "Loungta" (Wind Horses, Koni Vetra), a production of the
      Zingaro equestrian theater, continues through June 12 at 8
      p.m. shows (except Mon., Thurs. and June 9) in Kolomenskoye
      Park, located southeast of the Prospekt Andropova and
      Nagatinskaya Ulitsa intersection. Metro Kolomenskaya.
      International Chekhov Theater Festival information: 229-3785.
      Running time, 1 hour, 45 minutes.

      Christianity Today, June 2003

      Reflections: Walk Humbly
      Quotations to Stir Heart and Mind
      Compiled by Richard A. Kauffman | posted 05/28/2003

      If a man humbles himself, God cannot withhold his own goodness but must come down and flow into the humble man, and to him who is least of all he gives himself the most of all, and he gives himself to him completely. What God gives is his being, and his being is his goodness, and his goodness is his love.
      Meister Eckhart, Sermon 22

      Pride asserts, humility testifies.

      The proud want to seem what they are not. The one who gives testimony does not want to appear what he is not, but to love what, in the full sense, is.
      Augustine, Explaining the Psalms

      The church is not made up of spiritual giants; only broken men can lead others to the cross.
      David J. Bosch, A Spirituality of the Road

      It is often (always?) our mistakes that get us going on the spiritual journey. Error is turned into pilgrimage.
      Alan Jones, The Soul's Journey

      Christians do not need to be perfect, before they can find in one another an acceptance and an approval which is that of the truth itself; or rather, let us say, the truth himself, Jesus Christ.
      Austin Farrer, A Celebration of Faith

      One of the elders was asked what was humility, and he said: If you forgive a brother who has injured you before he himself asks pardon.
      The Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings of the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century, translated by Thomas Merton

      There are no such things as mistakes on this [spiritual] journey, just learning opportunities. You won't always get it right, even supposing that you think you know what "right" is. But we are dealing with a loving and forgiving God, and the best way of learning is through making "mistakes." So take the journey seriously, but not too seriously.
      Henry Morgan, A Time to Reflect

      Humility is facing the truth. It is useful to remind myself that the word itself comes from humus, earth, and in the end simply means that I allow myself to be earthed in the truth that lets God be God, and myself his creature. If I hold on to this it helps prevent me from putting myself at the center, and instead allows me to put God and other people at the center.
      Esther de Waal, Living with Contradiction: Reflections on The Rule of St. Benedict

      What is humility? It is that habitual quality whereby we live in the truth of things: the truth that we are creatures and not the Creator; the truth that our life is a composite of good and evil, light and darkness; the truth that in our littleness we have been given extravagant dignity. . . . Humility is saying a radical "yes" to the human condition.
      Robert F. Morneau, Humility: 31 Reflections on Christian Virtue

      There is a beauty of soul in a humble person who has no other obvious talent than the humility to stand in awe of the gifts God has given to others.
      Joseph F. Girzone, Joshua

      Humility makes us perfect toward God, and gentleness [makes us perfect] toward our neighbor.
      Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life

      It is a great burden to live among others who think that you have arrived.
      Margaret Guenther, Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction

      Confession is nothing but humility in action.
      Mother Teresa, No Greater Love

      Copyright © 2003 Christianity Today. June 2003, Vol. 47, No. 6, Page 49

      Sadguru Sri Nannagaru



      Destiny is confined only to the body, and has nothing to do with the Self. Identification with the body results in grief. Men are conferred the liberty not to identify with the body. By practice the identity within the body can be overcome. The body drops after the exhaustion of destiny. Don’t give scope for vain thoughts, useless deeds and unnecessary desires. Utilize the freedom conferred by God. Restrain vain thoughts, and abide in Self. Then, new tendencies will not be generated, and you will be extricated from all sorts of bondage. If identification with the body is not overcome, grief results unless the latent tendencies are dropped away, the state of happiness cannot be enjoyed. For one who abides in the Self, there is nothing like destiny.

      Hoang Ngo | The Tao

      By Hoang Ngo
      Aggie Columnist

      May 28, 2003 - The clock blinks 2:16 a.m.

      I can’t sleep. Outside, the road stretches its arms wide open, inviting me for a midnight drive through the town under the starlight. Ever since Thomas Edison’s invention of the light bulb, people really have forgotten how beautiful the stars are. But I don’t have a destination in mind. Life is pretty lonely when one doesn’t have a destination — no one to call, no one to run to.

      The clock blinks 3:20.

      I am still wide-awake, staring at the crack in the ceiling. Will the crack, through its sporadic movements, reach the other end of the ceiling? I don’t know, but at least it has a destination.

      I go through my e-mail inbox, searching for an answer. I don’t think horoscopes of the day, penis enlargement pills or credit card applications will help me.

      The computer stares at me. “When will you shut me down? Haven’t you figured it out yet? I hold no truth,” it says. “You will never find the center in me.”

      I suddenly remember what my father once told me: “I can’t offer you any destination or road map, even though I know that’s what you are looking for. I can only advise you to simplify your feelings and needs — both materialistic and spiritual.”

      I laugh and write myself an e-mail for tomorrow: “You should stop finding someone to orbit around. Find your own gravity!”

      I open up my old and dusty diaries.

      Since you have appeared in my dream
      My bed has become a stranger.
      I wake up in the middle of the night
      to find myself drifting back from strange faces
      to then confide in the night your devious smile.
      But the silence is so thick,
      it stiffens my tongue to whisper the thought
      of a fairy tale,
      of a happy thought
      that you will hold my hand
      and stay in this contradiction that the night presumes.

      Dated Mar. 22, 2002.

      Has it been that long since I have written a poem? Has it been that long since the last time I have felt so lonely like tonight?

      I know the definition of the word warmth. But when was the last time I actually felt warmth from the touch of another person?

      Have I lived that long, to be so jaded that I now only know what feelings mean, not what they are? I might as well be a tree.

      I run around my apartment looking for my photo album — my mom made one each for my brother and me since we were born.

      I start flipping through the photo album.

      An array of memories: here I am naked, clothed, walking, coloring, graduating from elementary school, growing up.

      My mother’s hair seems to be thinner as I continue to flip through the photo album.

      She probably laughs at me. “You are only 22. Don’t be so sad! Any ending is a new beginning for something better. I know it’s hard for you since you have too many choices these days. But having a lot of choices is a good thing, right?”

      I reach the end of my photo album — a blank page.

      I suddenly remember a quote from the movie Chungking Express. “If memories could be canned, would they also have expiry dates? If so, I hope they last for centuries.”

      Is this why I write, to preserve these moments without additives?

      I step outside and light a cigarette, drawing my dreams with the smoke. I wish I could draw my ex-girlfriend’s face or the faces she used to make when I smoked to have some sort of company with me for tonight, but it’s been so long.

      I start walking around my apartment complex, listening to the heartbeats of lovers and loners — they all beat the same. And somewhere in the distance, a heart has skipped a beat.

      I sit on the pavement and finish my cigarette, then toss it on the pavement. I hope no one has the fate of a cigarette butt — used and abandoned.

      I walk back to my apartment and leave the night behind.

      The clock blinks 4:05.

      I want to lie down and wait for others to come and lie next to me.

      from the Owner's Manual of the Isuzu Zen car:

      adjust your windshield wipers

      until the speed of the rain

      is just right

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