Friends, citizens, lend me your ears.
An evil shrouds this great land called America. It lurks behind doors and walks freely in every street and town. It whispers from our textbooks and it stalks us in our dreams. This specter is growing bolder with each passing day, and soon it will try to devour us all. The specter that I speak of is white supremacy, and it is slowly tearing the world apart, piece by piece, town by town, community by community. If nothing changes, I fear this land will once again be consumed by the fires of racial animosity and civil chaos. With every passing day this country moves one step closer to that bleak future. The time for white American to wake up cannot be delayed one moment more.
In his Nov 24 remarks following the Ferguson grand jury’s refusal to indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown, President Obama urged protesters to remain peaceful, noting that “we are a nation built on the rule of law.” But as anyone who has even a marginal knowledge of recent US history knows, the US ignores the rule of law as often as it upholds it, and the rule of law has come to mean for many people simply whatever US politicians or Presidents want it to mean at any given time. Unfortunately this ongoing American myth, besides being false, reflects a deeper problem in the American psyche. The official historical narrative of the US continues to whitewash the role of colonization, occupation, slavery and genocide in the founding of the nation, all of which was done in the guise of the rule of law and the civilizing mission of whites. This tidy narrative of the rule of law also ignores the fact that it took several small wars and a major revolution to found this nation. An honest recounting of our history would acknowledge this is what the “rule of law” has also meant since the founding of the republic–in other words white people using law as a weapon and a tool to get whatever they desired. To suggest the history of the US is otherwise is to continue to erase 500 years of history.
So I finally got around to going through most of my photos from Nepal. I still have a bit more to review, but based on a first pass, I was able to narrow the trip down to about 150 photos, which is not bad for a month-long trip that generated a huge amount of visual materials. Sadly some of the photos I was most looking forward to seeing from the monasteries turned out poorly, due to a mix of lighting and technical problems. But I think this slideshow now gives a descent sense of the trip, and is arranged in chronological order, so you can get a sense of how the trip progressed, and how the landscape was changing along the way.
So I recently gave a presentation at the American Academy of Religion (AAR)’s annual conference in San Diego. This was the first time I have done a digital presentation, as I prefer the old school oral presentations, with some visuals added for effect. But due to a last-minute intervention by the universe, I was forced to make alternate arrangements. My talk works through some of the ideas of Bruno Latour which he developed in his 2013 Gifford Lectures, in a series of talks entitled “Facing Gaia”. In those lectures, among other topics, Latour engages with the idea of the Gaia Theory and the Anthropocene, two topics which I am also working with. He also introduces a third idea, which he refers to as the People of Gaia, or the Earthbound people, which are a hypothetical but potentially future people that he begins to sketch out. My paper looks at these ideas, with a suggestion that perhaps the Earthbound people Latour is imagining can be expanded and informed with some of the ideas from the study of animism. Read More
So my trip to Nepal was amazing, to say the least. It was productive both for my own PhD work as well as the developing Sacred Himalaya Initiative that I am involved with at the India China Institute at The New School. I’ve had to jump right back into a lot of work, so have not had much time to write lately, but I am working on several short pieces reflecting on the trip. Once those are done I will post them here, or links to them, if I publish them elsewhere online. While that is in the works, here is one set of photos from my recent trip and research in Nepal. Much more to come soon.
So I am currently sitting in the Abu Dhabi airport waiting for our flight from Kathmandu to New York to start its second and final leg. It has been just over a month since I left New York for Nepal, and needless to say it has been an amazing experience. This was my first time in Nepal, but it will definitely not be my last. Even though I was only there for a month, and was in two very different places (the far northwestern Humla and the capital Kathmandu), the taste of Nepal that I had so far was amazing.
I’ve already posted a number of pictures since returning from our initial trip in the more remote region of Humla, but I still haven’t really had time to digest everything that I saw, heard, tasted and experienced–at least not fully. A lot of the next month will be spent going through photos and video, reviewing our trip records, working with GPS data and geo-tagged photos, and basically going through all the “raw data” from the trip. I don’t have a final tally yet, but I probably shot close to 150 video clips and about 15,000 photos, enough to fill about 150 Gb of space on half a dozen flash drives. Read More