Theater of the Dead

Theater of the Dead

Book Review:  Theater of the Dead: A Social Turn in Chinese Funerary Art, 1000-1400, by Hong Jeehee. (2016, University of Hawaii Press).

This new book by Hong Jeehee is about the aesthetics of 1000 year old tombs in China. I picked it up because I thought it might tell me something new about the ritual elements of theater. Hong starts out with this question: Why were they putting theater stages, images and statues of actors, and theatrical reliefs in tombs over several hundred years in China? 

To be completely honest, I thought I would just scan this book for juicy bits, but I ended up reading it cover to cover. It is fascinating and weird. As it turns out

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End of Summer Links

1. They found the tomb of playwright Tang Xianzu (1550-1616). I wonder if they buried him with a stage and statues of actors (that is a teaser for my next post on Theater of the Dead!).

Strongman trick.jpg

2. We are studying these strongwoman tricks because many of them work in similar ways to Chinese internal martial arts. There is a PDF link in about the 11th paragraph that is well worth reading! 

3. Finally some push-back against zero-tolerance! 

4. Chinatown Goes Whoopee! 1940

5. A nice interview with Paulie Zink.

6. When you are in LA check this place out. A unique sort of depth at the Dharma Health Institute.

7. If you are in Colorado you have a chance to check out He Jinbao.

8. If you've ever wanted to visit China, Livia Kohn would be an awesome guide.

9. My Father just wrote a book called The Most Important Book in Human History! Check out this great review. You'll want to grab a copy while they're hot.

What is Strength?

What is Strength?

The definition of strength has changed dramatically in the last 10 years! It has expanded! The way we used to use the word strength today would not have been recognizable 15 years ago. It is a true paradigm shift. The old meaning has largely disappeared, while simultaneously, people use the word strength in more and more creative ways.

What is the old definition of strength?

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    How to Integrate Yin and Yang in the Body?

    How to Integrate Yin and Yang in the Body?

    The yin side of the body is the shadow side if you are on all fours. The yin side of the body developed early in our evolution as "radial" creatures. A starfish attaches to a rock using only it’s yin side, its yin side is also for eating, its yang side is crusty and colorful for defense. This kinesthetic sensation is a very powerful whole-body organizing tool. 

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    Sidney Gamble's Film of a Martial Arts Pilgrimage Ritual

    Sidney Gamble's Film of a Martial Arts Pilgrimage Ritual

    Ben Judkins has a great write up on the context of this film!  Many of us have seen the last few minutes of it completely out of context (starting at 11:43). The whole thing is fascinating. If I was teaching a class about my book Possible Origins, this would be a great film to show and discuss. 

    Do read Judkins' commentary, I just have a few things to add. 

    Gamble worked for the YMCA in the 1930s, long after the values of the YMCA had become Chinese state institutions. He is curious about Chinese religion and theatricality in a way the foreshadows Taiwan's role in preserving Daoist

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    What is Rooting in the Martial Arts?

    What is Rooting in the Martial Arts?

    Rooting in the martial arts is roughly defined as transmitting force from outside the body to the ground. Paired with drop steps, these two methods are the most common ways of generating power in a punch or a strike. Drop steps are timed with the moment of impact to increase the amount of mass being transmitted into the opponent. Rooting allows one to push the opponent. That rooted push can either move them backwards, or if they collapse their structure, penetrate into their body.  

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    Portland and Thresholds

    Portland and Thresholds

    I recently had a breakthrough in teaching. I started thinking in terms of thresholds. I'll get back to that, but first let me remind readers that I'm teaching in Portland this weekend! 

    I'm also doing a little book signing at Portland Shaolin Friday evening, where I am planning to spill some of the hot stuff from my next book which is all about Tai Chi. I discovered a play that features Zhang Sanfeng fighting 24 palace guards, and it dates to the Sixteenth Century, it is the oldest reference to Tai Chi ever discovered other than General Qi Jiguang. And I also dive into Qi Jiguang's participation in a Zhang Sanfeng cult. Yes, I'm doing this! Will you be there?

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    Is Surgery Better than Qigong? Ask Claude Lévi-Strauss

    Is Surgery Better than Qigong? Ask Claude Lévi-Strauss

    We have tested the idea that what a patient believes is the cause of placebo, and belief isn't the cause. Placebo's work on small children and animals, do they really think they are convincing animals to "believe?" But people who are embedded in Protestant Scientistic culture just can't hear that. It is a good example of cognitive dissonance. 

    https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/surgery-is-one-hell-of-a-placebo/

     

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