Killing the Sensei with Improvisational Theater and other Irrationalities

I am doing a lot of work on my next book. A lot of it is about polishing. One of the reasons I have a blog is so that I can put out ideas which are unpolished. Here are some rough ones. Enjoy. 

When you perform improv theater in front of an audience that wants you to get better, the audience can see when you listen to your inner critic. The audience will give you instant "we love you," signals, or "we are going to eat you" predatory feed-back—or dead silence. Read Rory Miller's post on killing the inner sensei.  
Your inner critic will tell you to look before you leap, and you need that sometimes.  But in theater you can clear away even the most primitive versions of it. To give an extreme example, your inner critic will stop you from eating shit on a stage. A sane audience probably does not want to watch you eat it either. But if you are snooty, they will at least want to see your reaction when you taste it. (or eat it without knowing, especially if you enjoy it.)  

I wonder if the inner critic is like a taboo creator. It separates the Whole Foods people from the McDonalds people. It pushes us into groups because tight knit groups have an evolutionary survival advantage. Rational and irrational reasons exist side-by-side with equal power to persuade. Living around other people is a mine-field of rational and irrational reasons for doing or not doing and we put these into our own heads to motivate and de-motivate ourselves. It is a briar patch life.  


In the Waltz, there is this idea of a threshold where you have control of the center of mass, of both you and your partner together. And if you do, they also have control. Either person can break the connection, either person can establish it. The normal categories of passive and active break down.  In ritual studies we call this liminality. If you just take your partner's center and throw them against the wall, you are an a--hole. If you resist ever letting them gain control, you are missing the funnest part of the relationship. When you are so deep into the joy of dancing together that neither of you wants to stop, that is the time to test the limits. Passionate arguing has a similar threshold. Find it and hang out there. Argue your point like it is the absolute truth, or argue their point like it is the absolute truth, both work. State the most obvious thing you can think of, say something that is obviously false, both work. Play with the threshold. Trust that there is a time/event/place where truth is self-revealing. 

The more intimacy there is, the more potential for betrayal.  


One of the purposes of Chinese Opera was to educate the Gods. The goal was to teach them ethical values and behavior. This is obvious when you look at the content of Chinese theater and you know that a popular term for it was, "putting on a show for the gods." Think about that, Chinese gods need to be taught how to be good. 

Yet we in West and perhaps modern people in general, are obsessed with the supremacy of rational arguments. People ask me if the Daoists believed the gods were real. I have to explain that the word "Fake" in Chinese, means "emptiness" and is the highest expression of divinity. It is also the word used for a fake punch used to draw out your opponent, and the word used for lack of tone in medical texts. In that context, how can one even think the idea, "are the gods real?" obviously the answer is yes and no and maybe.

My sister, who does science-magic at the government-corporate level, is an expert at getting working science-fiction tested for legal release into the commercial world. This stuff is super powerful and will heal millions of people, probably billions, and it costs millions of dollars and years of work to jump it through the official government hoops. Anyway, China wants her stuff too, and like most governments they require tons and tons of data and documentation. Well she hired a Chinese company for the project and they faked the data. And she caught them. And fired them. And then she asked me, why on God's Earth would they do that? 

 This is the god of fire. But is he also the god of "getting fired?"

This is the god of fire. But is he also the god of "getting fired?"

The Filter

You can not teach people about history or religion without cleaning out their filter first. People have a filter that stops them from being able to understand Chinese religion. Naturally the elements of Chinese martial arts which are religious are difficult for people to see because their filter is full. It is like a laundry dryer, if you forget to clean the filter the laundry will just spin around in there and never get dry. (I wasn't sure about this analogy either. So I googled it. It is legit, but a lot of people are worried about setting their clothes on fire too.)

The Speed of Perception

The speed of our visual refresh rate is normally constant. It is part of our sense of time. It is also energy expenditure sensitive. In emergencies, like during a car crash, our refresh rate can speed up so much that it feels like time is slowing down. But this is exhausting, we need a lot of rest and sleep after such an event. Violent encounters are also like this--time often slows down. This raises two major questions for me. 1) Is that the real reason Tai Chi is done slowly? Is it because it mimics the feeling of time slowing down? 2) What about slowing down the refresh rate so that we experience time speeding up? Is that a side goal of meditation and ritual? Does it conserve energy?