Wednesday, October 17, 2018

CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THE MOVIE! (repost)

[Book review for The Star written in 1996. In June 2009 I received an email from Mars Cavers, Wayne's wife and lifelong traveling companion, informing me that Wayne had succumbed to the cancer he had been diagnosed with in his early twenties. Seizing life with superhuman passion, Wayne Stier was extremely productive till his death at the age of 62, churning out travelogs, novels, plays and metaphysical poetry. He even tried his hand at woodcarving and sculpture, and did a few tours as an itinerant monologist and raconteur. I dedicate this post to an old pal who made a few inspiring cameo appearances in my life.]



Title: MALACCA GOLD
Author: Wayne Stier
Publisher: Meru Publishing
Pages: 369
ISBN 983-99152-0-7

My trusty Britannica describes Ophir as “an unidentified region, famous in Old Testament times for its fine gold.” In the time of King Solomon (circa 920 B.C.), “Ophir was thought of as being overseas... the Jewish historian Josephus... evidently understood that India was the location of Ophir...”

How does this relate to Mount Ophir (now known as Gunung Ledang) which straddles the border of Malacca and Johore? Was this landmark peak named after an original Mount Ophir located in the Pasemah Highland of Sumatra - where English mining engineers found ancient gold mines dating back at least 3,000 years? Could this have been the true location of King Solomon’s legendary mines?

Farfetched as it may sound at first, the notion isn’t altogether preposterous. Otherwise, Wayne Stier’s rambunctious but highly readable romp through Malacca’s intriguing past and present could simply be dismissed as a darn good yarn spun by a Texan gunslinger-turned-punstringer who happens to write “in a hammock with a laptop on top of his lap on the veranda of a house in a coconut grove on the beach of an island in the Gulf of Thailand.”

This might explain Mr Stier’s “swinging” style - which gleefully combines swashbuckling adventure and historical romance with a dash of mystery, treasure-hunt travelog with a generous dollop of vaudeville comedy, maverick scholarship (guaranteed to annoy the dour academic) with straight-talking, in-your-face satire.


But pure whimsy alone would not have fired the author’s imaginative flair to such a compelling degree of literary ardor and passion. Stier is quite clearly convinced that he has stumbled upon a mystery of mind-boggling significance. Yet, he has opted for a flamboyant, flippant tone - and further protected himself by attributing the entire manuscript to an ex-colleague and barmate named Edwin Prebble - who, in turn, credits the story to a certain Ms Cindy Anna from Montana, salivatingly described as a “luscious, statuesque woman” with “long, blonde hair... long supple legs... powerful lapis eyes... stunning!” Hmmm. Who do we cast in that role? Kim Basinger? Sharon Stone? Uma Thurman? Daryl Hannah?

Can’t wait to see the movie. Maybe if Steven Spielberg turns it down, Wayne Stier will offer the film rights to me? Malacca Gold undoubtedly has all the ingredients of a big-time Hollywood box office hit. The epic action sweeps across time and space: starting on an island in southern Thailand, we’re taken on a dizzy Disneyland ride to Munich, a beach resort in Spain, then on board a gas tanker bound for Tokyo. Our heroine Cindy Anna accidentally falls into the Malacca Strait and gets rescued by a boatload of amateur Gudang Garam (clove cigarette) smugglers. After a brief sojourn in a hormonally charged Malay village, she meets the dramatis personae of the Majestic Hotel - Alfonso Fernandes, Dominique D’Abreu, Jimmy Ng, Arthur Rangjit, Percival Wiggins, and Vijay the newshound - who take turns guiding us on a whole gamut of magical-mystery-history tours.

Here’s what you get for the price of your ticket: Malacca before, during, and after the Portuguese; medieval China, the Revolt of the Red Eyebrows, Shaolin Temple, ta’i ch’i chuan, kungfu monks, and the rise of the Chinese triads; Mesopotamia, Ptolemaic Egypt, Phoenicia, Palestine, Damascus, the Dead Sea Scrolls, cryptic gold inventories; the Knights Templar and the secret history of Freemasonry; Madagascar, the Solomon Islands, and Pulau Upeh (a nondescript isle off the Malacca coast). Somehow there’s even space and time for a few poignant Chinese immigrant vignettes like Tai Tai Bong and Lucky Lim’s amazing lifestories - set against the soap opera backdrop of Malacca’s Baba and Nyonya families, and the hellish horrors of the Japanese Occupation.

Stier manages to conjure a constant undercurrent of mystery in his copious history with titillating references to magical kris (wavy-bladed Malay daggers), “gileega” stones (usually spelt geliga, bezoar stones associated with dragons, the mythical guardians of subterranean hoards), Batu Pahat gold (reputedly the finest in the world), and apocryphal speculations about the cabalistic Keys of Solomon and the precession of the equinoxes.

Among the colorful and everchanging cast of characters in Malacca Gold, two are particularly memorable: the young Portuguese troubadour-chef Duarte Fernandes, and retired planter Percival Wiggins. Duarte Fernandes is portrayed as a prototype Forrest Gump: besides playing romantic lead to the beautiful 16-year-old firebrand Anyi, daughter of Utimuti Rajah, Duarte is credited with (among other things) introducing the joget and red hot chili peppers to Malacca high society, penning the lovesong that would later be adopted as Malaysia’s national anthem, and “donating” a drummer dwarf named Captain Universe (Panglima Awang) to Fernao Magalhaes, better known as Ferdinand Magellan, the “first” world circumnavigator.

Anyi and Duarte’s foredoomed liaison parallels the ill-fated passion of Putri Ledang for her lover, Dua. (Note the “coincidental” similarity of the names Duarte and Dua.) Putri Ledang, of course, was the love-maddened princess and sorcerer’s daughter of Malay legend after whom Mount Ophir was renamed.

Stier’s portrait of Percival Wiggins as the archetypal expatriate-gentleman-scholar-raconteur is charmingly crafted. (Sir Alec Guinness would have been the ideal choice for this plum role.) The fact that Planter Wiggins - the embodiment of the late Classical European mind at its scientific and encyclopaedic best - is named after the Percival (or Parsifal) of the Grail Quest is significant. It reinforces the intricate interlocking motifs of all major planetary myths: lost kingships, lost civilizations, lost treasure, lost keys to the Mystery, lost stories, lost meanings. Wiggins is a crucial lynchpin of this multi-layered, meandering tale; indeed his solid characterization anchors the more exotic sub-plots in the realm of the credible.

Despite her obvious sex appeal, Cindy Anna (from Montana not Indiana) emerges as a perfectly edible... sorry, credible and well-developed central figure (pun intended, if only as an example of the spicy ribaldry that seasons Stier’s storytelling). Indeed she comes across as a fine embodiment of feisty, free-spirited femininity: adventurous, intelligent, imbued with an earthy spirituality. When she describes ch’i as “that mysterious force in the universe that causes water to ripple, and mountains to fold, that puts the spin in planets and makes stars explode and then reform within our bodies,” she makes perfect, poetic, profound sense. The quest for buried treasure - the thematic thread which links the diverse characters in Malacca Gold - acquires an altogether deeper, alchemical meaning in the light of many such metaphysical epiphanies hidden throughout the text.

Author Wayne Stier in his Hawaii home
However, it is as a veteran writer of travel documentaries that Stier’s prose flows most comfortably. The cinematic detail of his descriptions of Malacca and its street life are among the most animated and vivid I’ve read. Naturally he couldn’t resist throwing in a satirical montage of “current affairs” images culled from reading the local newspapers. The Great Malacca Drought of 1991 and the two-million-ringgit “High-Tech Rainmaker” scam receive prominent attention, along with grisly gossip inspired by Mona Fandey (the infamous killer-witch) and the private shenanigans of people in public office.

Occasionally, the narrative flow is broken by the interjection of painful puns and sophomoric sexual innuendoes - which, of course, the reader must blame on gin-and-tonic-loving Ed Prebble, recording angel and interlocutor. Ed comes across as an incorrigible pedant with his poker-faced, pseudo-academic footnotes, signed “Ed, ed.”

Alas, Ed’s pedantry is sometimes unjustified, as his facts are not always impeccably researched. (For instance, Ed informs the reader that Malayan independence was declared “in a ceremony in the center of Malacca” on August 31, 1957. This isn’t completely correct: the imminent granting of Merdeka (independence) was announced in Malacca on February 18, 1955. But the actual Merdeka ceremony was staged in the national capital, Kuala Lumpur more than two years later.)

In a brilliantly succinct chapter on the advent of the Knights Templar as the first international bankers, Stier - or, rather, Ed - misspells the name of the first Grand Master, Hugues de Payens - as well as the last, Jacques de Molay, who was burnt at the stake on the orders of King Philip le Bel, and died cursing the French monarchy. But these are trivial complaints when weighed against the sheer entertainment value and little gems of gritty, witty insight Malacca Gold provides. For example, Cindy Anna on her short stint as a sidewalk mime: “Takes a lot of concentration to stand still. I never realized how much we use speed to help keep our balance. I think that’s why so many people are afraid to slow down - afraid of crashing. It takes guts to do nothing.”

I won’t vouch for the originality of the following quirky quip, but I liked its sparkle: “He calls himself a ‘Heinz 57’ breed, a mixture of a little English stock, Dutch, and probably some orang asli, the aboriginal people of the Malay peninsula. Alfonso hinted that there might also be an orangutan swinging around in Dominique’s family tree.”

Is there anyone on earth who can deny that we all have a primate or two swinging around in our family tree? After all, recent paleo-anthropological evidence suggests that the Adamic race may have been created by the “Sky Gods” - Nefilim from the planet Nibiru (symbolized by the winged orb of the Sumerians/Assyrians/Egyptians and the splayed cross of the Templars) - specifically to mine for gold. Isn’t that why men (and women, too) have always been obsessed with the Metal of the Gods?

Personally I found Wayne Stier’s fantastic patchwork of short and tall stories so engaging and enjoyable, I would have happily kept the Malacca and forgotten about the Gold. But who knows... the world may soon be queuing for the movie version, thereby inspiring Mr Stier to switch from Gudang Garam to Lucky Strike.

Read Wayne Stier's memoirs, Stars When The Sun Shines.


[First posted 19 June 2011]

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

THE PENAN: True Sons and Daughters of Mother Earth (repost)


The Star | Monday November 3, 2008

Semi-nomadic tribe goes back into jungle after delivering lost surveyors


MIRI: The group of Penans who rescued two surveyors lost in the deep jungles of Long Seridan in remote northern Sarawak have declined any reward for their heroic deed.

The Sarawak police are impressed by not just the bravery and kindness of the semi-nomadic Penans but also their humility.

So too is Ba’Kelalan state assemblyman Nelson Balang Rining, who stressed that the Penans had been at the forefront of many search and rescue missions in the jungles and mountains of Sarawak but had never asked for any reward or publicity.


Surveyors Ismail Salleh, 31, and Rano Sani, 26, went missing on Oct 28 while carrying out demarcation work for a multi-billion ringgit inter-state gas pipeline project between Sabah and Sarawak.

The two men were in a group of 50 surveyors that is handling the task of drawing up a land route to lay the 500km-long gas pipeline from Kimanis near Kota Kinabalu to Bintulu town, the gas capital of Sarawak.

The duo were found in a mountain village on Saturday afternoon following an aerial and ground search mission launched by the police.

They were rescued by a group of Penans, who were out hunting and gathering jungle produce, and escorted to the village.


Baram district police chief Deputy Supt Jonathan Jalin said he had spoken to the group of surveyors via satellite phone from Long Seridan yesterday.

“They are weak, but otherwise unhurt. They confirmed that it was the Penans who saved them, not any of our search parties.

“The group of Penans led them out from the jungle to a settlement after giving them food and water.

“My conversation with them was brief because of connection problems, but the surveyors said the Penans left them in the hands of the villagers and promptly went off into the jungle again.

“We (police) are trying to find out who these Penans are, and which settlement they are from. We must give them due credit,” he said.

Asked if the duo would be brought out for medical treatment, DSP Jalin said that they were still recuperating in the camp and did not seem to be in need of urgent medical help.

Long Seridan is located between Long Lellang and the Bario highlands. It is eight hours by land from here via Long Lama village.

Balang, whose constituency also covers Long Lellang, Bario and the area north of Long Seridan, said the Penans who rescued the duo should be given public recognition.

“It is the Penans’ nature to be helpful and yet shun publicity. They know the jungle like their backyard. They are capable of walking from Long Lellang to Bario non-stop,” he said.

Balang called on the police and the survey firm to try to trace the Penans who saved Ismail and Rano, saying that at the very least, they should be given a banquet.


This story was also featured in Malaysia Today and here are a few comments from readers worth quoting...
written by liko, November 03, 2008 09:31:23:

"Balang called on the police and the survey firm to try to trace the Penans who saved Ismail and Rano, saying that at the very least, they should be given a banquet."

They don't need a banquet, Balang. What they have done are just a noble act of human beings whose hearts are not polluted with greed for power or materialism. They might not have proper educations like us but their act of humanity are higher than most of us who claimed to be highly educated. Not everyone who do good deeds ask for material rewards. Shame on you for implying that the Penans will want to party and be happy with you showing them around the tables, proudly parading them for photographers who will be snapping photos of them as if they are one of those exotic animals. Just leave them alone, respect them, respect their way of life.

----------------------------------------------

written by Kreator, November 03, 2008 09:47:30:

Stop cutting the forest. Stop raping their women. Let them live in peace. That would be the greatest gift to the Penans. Not a banquet!

---------------------------------------------

written by sactyr, November 03, 2008 11:51:35:

The original Bumiputeras of the land, I salute and thank you from the bottom of the heart. And I have strong reasons to believe, had you been in power in this country instead of arrogant self-declared bumiputeras, I am sure we would be doing way better than we are now.

--------------------------------------------------

written by magickriver, November 03, 2008 19:15:23:

Who are the "primitive" folk - the billionaire eco-rapists whose greed is insatiable and whose arrogance knows no bounds and who only ever perform charitable acts when the media are present? The Penans may live simply and in perfect harmony with their forest home but their spiritual qualities are LIGHT YEARS ahead of bureaucrats, businessmen & politicians who behave like human locusts.

I have met some Penans on several occasions and have been deeply impressed by their gentleness and patience. They don't speak unnecessarily, but they are constantly observing and remembering. What they don't know about the outside world, they are far better off not knowing, for it would only burden their souls. The Penans are the closest human species to the mythical elves that you read about - without doubt they are much akin to the Orang Halus and a universe apart from the Orang Kasar who only see MONEY when they look at a forested hill and whose every step lays ruin to Mother Earth and poisons the soil that sustains us.

BRUNO MANSER: Tribute to an Ecowarrior

[First published 3 November 2008, reposted 16 October 2013]


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Tribute to a Working Class Hero (reprise)

John Winston Ono Lennon (9 October 1940 ~ 8 December 1980)

Happy Xmas (War Is Over) ~ John Lennon/Yoko Ono, 1969




WORKING CLASS HERO (John Lennon, 1970)

As soon as you're born they make you feel small
By giving you no time instead of it all
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool
Till you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

When they've tortured and scared you for twenty odd years
Then they expect you to pick a career
When you can't really function you're so full of fear

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV
And you think you're so clever and classless and free
But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

There's room at the top they are telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

If you want to be a hero well just follow me
If you want to be a hero well just follow me


John Lennon was assassinated by Mark David Chapman outside his New York City apartment on 8 December 1980. He had just celebrated his 40th birthday on 9 October. I shall always be grateful for the tremendous inspiration I received from this great soul during my teens and even into my adult years.

[First posted 8 December 2008, reposted 8 December 2016]

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Golden Spiral & Fibonacci Sequence explained in 4 minutes!



Published on 3 March 2013

Spoken Word: Alan Watts
Music: Blockhead
Clips & Audio:
Spirit Science - Jordan David
Inner Outer Worlds - David Schmidt

[Brought to my attention by Olivia de Haulleville & Walter Smith. First posted 21 September 2013]


Friday, October 5, 2018

ARE WE STILL WAITING FOR THE MESSIAH?


I haven't written about local politics since the Great Reset of May 9th, 2018, apart from a 500-word overview for The Edge's Merdeka Special.

There are several reasons for my silence. First, I have been preoccupied with the construction of a guest facility behind our house which has consumed much of my energy and all of my cash reserves. Secondly, now that Barisan Nasional is no longer in power, I feel that my political crusade (which began after October 1987) is more or less accomplished. Thirdly, people are getting much more vocal on social media now that the fear has receded and the cacophony of clamorous voices isn't something I wish to add to, although I look upon it as the grating sound of a nascent democracy akin to construction noise (which we tolerate when it's our own house that's being built).

So why do I feel compelled to put in my two bits' worth now? Truth be told, folks, I'm fatigued by the quarrelsome adversarial nature of political rhetoric. I have never liked to argue for the sake of argument, which I regard as nothing more than a competitive sport, a game of semantics. cunning lingual exercises that never penetrate beyond mere superficialities.

Above all, I have never subscribed to the notion that authentic change can be effected on the political level, that all it takes is to replace one captain or manager with another. It's the very idea of being subject to external authority, generation after generation, unquestioningly surrendering our innate power and sovereignty as conscious individuals, that needs to be reassessed and outgrown.

So why did I publicly endorse, consistently over 20 years, the prime ministership of Anwar Ibrahim? The answer is simple: I am no game-player and find politics every bit as tedious and banal as courtroom proceedings. I generally prefer engaging my right brain and gut feelings to getting embroiled in hair-splitting left-brain exercises. That's why when Anwar led a massive rebellion against Mahathir in 1998 I decided to monitor him closely. His determination, stoicism and tenacity impressed me greatly, so I made Anwar my political avatar.

Through Anwar I could be vicariously involved in the grubby, sordid world of political power play, without physical risk to myself. I can't imagine enduring 10 years of imprisonment for my political views - but Anwar did and I wholeheartedly admire his fighting spirit and resilience. To me his astonishing perseverance against all odds qualifies him as a bona fide national hero.

Anwar Ibrahim was politically crucified in 1998 by Mahathir, who spared no effort to humiliate and crush his adversary. Not only did Anwar survive six years as a political prisoner (and, I believe, at least one attempt to poison him with cyanide), he successfully resurrected himself as a messiah and led the opposition coalition called Pakatan Rakyat to a near-victory in March 2008, then again in May 2013. Indeed, were it nor for the all-too-obvious partisanship of the Election Commission which aided and abetted massive electoral fraud, I'm certain BN would have fallen five years ago, and Anwar anointed as Malaysia's 7th prime minister.

I was overjoyed, like many others, when Anwar Ibrahim received a full pardon from the Agong on May 16th, 2018, vindicating his 20-year battle against the behemoth BN. It was a great relief for everyone who can't bear to witness such grotesque travesties of justice, and a poignant moment indeed for his beautiful family. For me, it didn't matter who deserved the most credit for removing the utterly corrupt BN from power. Whether we succeeded with Mahathir leading the charge... or voters silently resented Najib's brutal incarceration of Anwar... or the rotting white elephant in the room named 1MDB finally began to stink too badly to be ignored... it's purely academic now. I'm certain it was all these factors, compounded with the collective will of a sizeable majority of young voters, that won the great victory against cynicism and fatalism.

What prompts me to speak up now is the vitriolic antagonism I see directed against Anwar, even before he made his "PD move." Cherished friends whose opinions I respect and value have risen up as a bilious phalanx of vociferous opposition in an attempt to thwart Anwar Ibrahim from fulfilling his political destiny.

He's too ambitious... a political chameleon... he endorses the reactionary Turkish dictator, Erdoğan, whom he regards as an ally... Anwar will be forced to pander to the religious fundamentalists, just to maintain his power base

That's what I hear all the time on my Facebook newsfeed. Anyone who makes a career of politics has got to be ambitious and adapt chameleon-like to changing circumstances, so these are actually positive traits. As for cozying up with the likes of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan... well, it could just as well be Paul Wolfowitz, Bashar al-Assad, Emmanuel Macron, Vladimir Putin or, God forbid, Donald J. Trump. End of the day what we think we know of public figures is mostly from media reports. Anyone can be easily demonized by media shills with an occult agenda. Remember what the Zionist-controlled media did to Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi? One day we might even discover that Winston Churchill was far more villainous than Adolf Hitler, and that Barack Obama was, in truth, a Manchurian candidate installed by the CIA on behalf of the Deep State.. so keep your mind open (at least a crack).

Can all these well-informed, highly intelligent and articulate friends be utterly wrong? Yes, they can. Their judgment may be clouded by their own biases, fears and prejudices. After all, they are mostly the same "street-savvy" Anglophilic crowd who delight in dismissing Donald Trump as a buffoonish boor, unfit to occupy the White House. That's right, folks, this may come as a shock to you but I have nothing seriously negative to say about Trump's presidency, which I view as instrumental to a Great Geopolitical Reset.

Notwithstanding DJT's apparent lack of lexicological range, I am inclined to regard him as the reincarnation of some ancient Roman emperor who has been given the opportunity to step up to the world stage at this evolutionary juncture as a wild card (or more appropriately the Joker), even as the entire deck is being reshuffled.

Enough of meaningless labels like left and right, liberal and conservative. Life is way too complex and fluid to fit into a simple binary context of Good and Bad, Right and Wrong, Democrat and Republican, Whig and Tory, Government and Opposition. If you can be so easily classified as either this or that, then it's probable that you haven't been completely candid with yourself. Or perhaps you have been conditioned to rely on ideas and opinions injected into your psyche by the plutocrat-owned miseducation system and mass media - instead of your own instincts and intuition.

I doubt if there has ever been a political figure of note who isn't somehow controversial - who inspires admiration from some and triggers fear and loathing in others. If the founders of the world's main religions were active in today's cybernetic world, imagine what the media pundits and shills would have to say about them - whether they be Krishna, Laotse, Confucius, Siddhartha Gautama, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad or Baha'ullah. Imagine the scandals buzzing around them like bluebottles, the stinking muck raked up, the nasty remarks, cynical deconstructions, scholarly critiques written about these long-gone icons. Humans, time and again, have created gods to adore and worship - only to rip them apart or crucify or debunk them when they suffer a collective mood swing.

Perhaps it's time we begin to accept responsibility for how we experience the world around us - instead of hoping for a messianic cult figure, some great savior to rescue us from the confusion and mayhem of everyday reality. Don't you think it's puerile of us to still believe that a single president or prime minister or guru figure can set aright all that has gone wrong in the nation, resolve all problems that beset humanity, and lead us all to the Promised Land?

Having said that, I'm painfully aware that the vast majority of my fellow citizens may not be ready as yet to upgrade their own software and become self-governing entities. They must be given time and a conducive space to take their first faltering steps into an unknown, but potentially glorious, future. If I were to do the unthinkable and offer myself as a political candidate, my open disregard for all forms of institutionalized religion would scare, shock and offend too many. I probably wouldn't survive a week in politics. However, someone like Anwar has not only survived, he actually seems to thrive in the midst of controversy.

Nobody can dispute his resolve, tenacity, resilience and inner strength. His remarkable rise in politics, followed by a fall of mythical proportions, and his ultimate resurrection and ascension, lead me to conclude that he is indeed capable of overcoming all obstacles and inspiring the entire populace, regardless of racial or religious conditioning, to transcend the artificial divisiveness that has kept us from becoming a truly splendid and accomplished nation.

I don't reside in Port Dickson, but if I did, I would support Anwar Ibrahim in his quest to be reinstated as an active Member of Parliament. Those who condemn his strategy of triggering a by-election through the voluntary resignation of an incumbent MP do so without a full understanding of all the nasty intrigues going on behind closed doors. This species of low-grade jostling for positions and power has long been part of political culture everywhere - not just in Malaysia. Non-players and outsiders only know what gets reported - or leaked.

Occasionally an internal rift reveals itself like a crack in the wall, weakening the prospects of a particular political party owing to petty ego conflicts. Unless you are fully immersed in the water, it's impossible to know what's lurking below the surface, and even then you can be caught off-guard by sabotage and the invisible machinations of rivals. This is a game of thrones I myself have chosen not to play, except by proxy.

There appears to be a contradiction here: while I have never taken economics or politics all that seriously, I am at the same time aware that the 3D Matrix is still largely influenced by the primal drives for money and power. A single individual at the helm, with the unwavering support of a large enough majority, can dramatically alter the course we chart as sovereign nations. A charismatic leader can steer the ship of state towards dangerous reefs by publicly preaching unity while privately sowing seeds of discord and discontent - but he or she can also opt to play the pivotal role of maintaining harmony and stability during a major transition between eras.

On April 14th, 2008, I was present at the Sultan Sulaiman Club in Kampung Bahru when Anwar Ibrahim made a stirring comeback speech in which he declared it was time for us to replace Ketuanan Melayu (Malay Supremacy) with Ketuanan Rakyat (Supremacy of the People). The response was unanimous and absolutely moving. Looking around me, I saw locals in white skull caps and robes enthusiastically cheering Anwar for his vision of Greater Unity and Harmony, transcending artificially imposed racial and religious barriers. It was as if we had finally stepped across an invisible threshold between adolescence and adulthood as a nation. I saluted Anwar for articulating this truly powerful sentiment and he reinforced this vision by intoning at every subsequent ceramah:

"Anak Cina anak saya, anak India anak saya, anak Iban, anak Kadazan, anak Melayu semua anak saya!" 

I am inclined to believe that, after ten years of unjust imprisonment as a political dissident within a tradition-bound feudalistic establishment, this is essentially what Anwar Ibrahim desires to be congratulated and remembered for. His destiny, I am still convinced after 20 years, is to steer the nation back on its intended course - to evolve gracefully into a unified, harmonious and mature melting-pot of diverse cultures, looking forward instead of backwards.

There, I have broken my silence.

5 October 2018












DING DONG THE WICKED WITCH IS DEAD!


That’s what the Munchkins gleefully sang in the wee hours of May 10th, when it became apparent that Barisan Nasional had finally been voted out after 61 years. As we celebrate Merdeka three months and three weeks from the epic and euphoric Great Reset of 2018, let’s grab a drone’s eyeview of what grand promise regime change may hold for the nation in general and the Arts in particular.

For a start the fraudulent toad of financial excess has been forced from its comfort zone - the odious tempurung of identity politics, founded on false notions of tribal supremacy and monoculturalism. Bare their reactionary fangs and beat their atavistic breasts all they will, they can’t turn back the quantum wave of evolutionary change that swept them off the ramparts of their crumbling fortress. The sheer energy and exuberance of millennials who proudly posted pics of blackened fingers on election day, combined with the tenacity and passion of elders who never lost their youthful idealism, will ensure that things will generally improve rather than worsen (although not as swiftly we’d like).

Now, the essential difference between practitioners of Commerce and the Arts is that while the unrepentant entrepreneur compulsively seeks to privatize what’s public (for instance, fencing up a forest, installing a turnstile, and selling tickets to the waterfall), the true artist feels obliged to transmute private experiences and insights into public displays or performances (turning a painful romantic breakup into a catchy folk ballad, or some childhood nightmare into a blockbuster horror movie).

The sneaky and destructive urge to exploit, control, anesthetize and enslave is shared by the bureaucrat, corporatocrat, technocrat, aristocrat and plutocrat; while the inherently creative artistic impulse seeks to excite, awaken, enlighten and liberate. We can gauge the maturity, sanity, vitality and wisdom of a nation by the value it places on the future-shaping dynamic of cultural and spiritual ferment generated by its arts practitioners and sociocultural visionaries.

As a rejuvenated nation (and who doesn’t feel young seeing an acerbic but grandfatherly nonagenarian reinstated as prime minister?) celebrating its hard-won freedom from the mental shackles of a murky feudal past, Malaysia would do well to encourage and nurture creativity and innovation in all its diverse forms - even if fresh ideas and a revitalized national narrative may horrify a few stick-in-the-mud Keepers of Outmoded Tradition.


Only an inept and timid fool would drive into an unknown future with eyes glued to the rearview mirror of a dysfunctional past. So let’s look forward in confidence, calm and clearheaded, and trust in the innate decency, creativity, resourcefulness and wisdom of all Malaysians.

Failure to seize the moment and ride the momentum of metamorphosis will lead to cultural paralysis, intellectual stagnation and political disintegration. If we wish to witness a reverse brain-drain and a resurgence of true patriotism expressed creatively, then we would do well to embrace the enthusiasm, optimism and positivity of a Dorothy Gale, whose close encounter with the dreaded Wizard of Oz ends happily with his being exposed as merely a bogus god, fearfully hiding behind expensive machinery and massive propaganda.

[Originally published in The Edge Merdeka Supplement, 31 August 2018]


Thursday, October 4, 2018

TRANCE-FORMATION ~ a movie by Maxwell Igan (repost)



"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders and millions have been killed because of this obedience. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves and the grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem." ~ Howard Zinn

Visit The CrowHouse!

[Note: This was posted sometime in April this year but I don't think anyone actually viewed it. Maybe over the weekend? It's worthwhile! First posted 14 September 2012]





Alan Watts on Doing What You Really Want To Do... (repost)



[Brought to my attention by Reika Ratnam]

Alan Watts and The Skin-Encapsulated Ego

Wisdom of the Ridiculous: 3 timeless lectures by Alan Watts

[First posted 13 October 2012]

Thursday, September 27, 2018

REMEMBERING STRAVINSKY (revisited)



Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) was a massive musical influence during my teen years. I was introduced to this brilliantly eccentric Russian composer by Duncan S. Catling - a Peace Corps Volunteer assigned to teach English literature in Batu Pahat High School from 1964 to 1965. I'll never forget the day I visited Duncan in his rented terrace house and he put on The Rite of Spring for me. I was never the same again. Stravinsky had the same transmutative effect on the young Frank Zappa.



The recording of Rite of Spring Duncan played for me was conducted by Ernest Ansermet, a Swiss colleague of Igor Stravinsky and only a year younger than the composer. Ansermet was a highly regarded academic conductor who could be relied upon to render technically consummate interpretations of any score.

Many years later I heard a recording of Rite of Spring conducted by Seiji Ozawa and was completely blown away by the raw, primal feel Ozawa succeeded in capturing, especially with the percussive sections. If you'd rather listen to an X-rated interpretation of Rite of Spring, go for the Ozawa recording!





[First posted 3 January 2011]

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

HEY, GO JUMP IN THE LAKE! (reprise)



Jens & Dominik, two Swiss travelers who hopped on the Love Bus and ended up at Magick River, take a giant leap into the Selangor Dam Lake off the Pertak Bridge. Both survived to act as British soldiers in a feature film called Hanyut ("Carried Away"). Music courtesy of Duncan Bridgeman, Jamie Catto and 1 Giant Leap. Dominik shot the brief interview with Jens; then I took over the camera.

Yup... it's all about conquering fear!

[First posted 29 May 2010]

Preface to TANAH TUJUH ~ Close Encounters with the Temuan Mythos



AT THE OUTSET I wish to declare that I am not an anthropologist.
 
I am, however, deeply interested in mythology. What fascinates me about the mythic tradition is that it has proven to be an effective way of preserving important archetypal images and ideas for thousands of years, merely through oral transmission down the generations. Like nursery rhymes imbibed in early childhood, a myth once heard is never forgotten, even if a few minor details get added or subtracted along the way.
 
Nadi Empok & his wife Lumoh in 1994
In this respect I perceive myths as organic time capsules of the tribal superconscious. More precisely they are a semiotic time-travel device: “reality spores” designed to survive aeons of incomprehension or indifference, only to germinate anew as soon as favorable conditions occur. To bring the stories back to life, you only have to add the water of empathy, of emotive resonance.

Of course, it helps greatly if you also have “genetic access” to the stories. For each story, like a life, has its own specific genealogy. But in the end, all stories can be traced to a single source - the Mother Lode of Stories - which I comprehend as the deep memory of the Earth herself.
     
MYTHOLOGY, folklore, and grandmothers' tales are by definition non-logical story forms, meaningless to the rational mind and subject to no “scientific proof.” Characters tend to appear and disappear without rhyme or reason, and their actions and reactions are generally an unfathomable mystery - until one adds the essential ingredient, subjectivity. The fact that “mystery” and “myth” both contain the key word my is highly instructive. One has to own them, take personal possession of these transpersonal, extra-dimensional truths, before they yield their secret kernel of meaning. More specifically, one has to incorporate the mythic system into one's vision quest, so that the sense of revelation which follows the sudden flash of insight becomes an intensely intimate experience. For whom does the bell toll, if not yourself?
 
Halus, Titit & Kusak in 1996
In attempting to piece together the few Temuan myth fragments that I chanced upon, I have had to apply a liberal amount of interpretative glue. It is certainly not my intention to present this as some sort of “definitive” Temuan gospel. The shreds of tribal lore that have survived, at least amongst the Temuan I know, are too tattered and incomplete to reconstitute into any meaningful whole - unless one matches them with myth fragments from other native traditions. But essentially I just want to share my own insights and opinions - and the exquisite tingle of quiet excitement that each discovery brought - with whomsoever may be interested.   
 
The gods and heroes of antiquity are, in truth, fragments of our own mystery, our own unfolding story in space and time. We need only take the initiative to reclaim them from the myopia of our throwaway consumer culture and the self-destructive forgetfulness of our times.



TANAH TUJUH ~ Close Encounters with the Temuan Mythos was published in 2007 by Silverfish Books. It's available in hard copy as well as digital format.



[First posted 16 November 2017]

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

ONE SURE WAY TO DESTROY A NATION (repost)

This timely and lucid essay by AB Sulaiman was lifted from Malaysiakini as a service to those who have no subscription and therefore cannot access it...

"I do not share the euphoria surrounding the formation of Perkasa. I do not see how its claim to protect race and religion can promote Malay socio-economic progress. Ibrahim Ali's declared intentions show all the promise of repeating the mistake and are an exercise in futility."

PERKASA - REBIRTH OF A DEMON


AB Sulaiman
March 10, 2010
7:31pm



The birth of Malay NGO Perkasa is obviously causing a stir in the Malaysian social, intellectual and political landscape.

It has a declared intention of acting as a "shield against those who question Malay rights, the royalty and Islam," according to its founding head and Independent MP Ibrahim Ali.


Ibrahim Ali (courtesy of The Malaysian Insider)

The target and philosophy is thereby made clear - to protect and promote the sanctity of Islam, the martabat (dignity and honour) of the Malay people, and the spirit of nationalism. This falls under the ideology and banner of untuk agama, bangsa dan negara (for religion, race and nation).

But hasn't the same philosophy and ideology been used by the Malay leadership in governing the country ever since Independence in 1957? Wasn't it adopted in the interests of Ketuanan Melayu (KM) after the launch of the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1970?

To be sure it is the same. Yet, over the last 52 years, it has not seen much success.

So what's the idea of creating Perkasa now and making the defence and propagation of religion and race sound like a newfound revelation that must be pursued with such immediacy and enthusiasm? Against what threat is the shield designed to protect? From where does this come from anyway? It is indeed a puzzle.
The truth of the matter is that people today are tired of KM leadership. It is so blatantly racist and theological that even Malays are embarrassed by it. Today's citizens think, listen, read, travel and demand more - they are better informed and knowledgeable, and reject racism and religious extremism.

They are also more aware of the situation around them. They are aware of the abuse of power, abuse of the NEP, corruption and the breakdown of institutions of governance. Civil society movements are agitating and demanding liberty and respect for universal human rights.

All this does not bode well for the KM leadership, considering the realisation that KM has not really fought for Malay dignity and honour. It has been fighting more to fill the pockets of a few and to protect a small number of politically-connected individuals.

The disenchantment was amply demonstrated by the results of the 2008 election, leading to BN and Umno - the latter being the most active front for KM - losing the two-thirds majority in Parliament, and the Opposition gaining control of five states.

The influence of Umno is waning. Malays are running away from Umno, as are Chinese from MCA and Indians from MIC.

In other words, BN is in tatters. This is why Perkasa was hastily created - to stem this erosion of support.

Inherent illusions


This quick analysis and conclusion may or may not be right but, to me, it is entirely consistent with the facts and situations surrounding the formation of Perkasa.

I question why it is re-using the religion, race and nationalism card when this has been proven to be obsolete and irrelevant in bringing progress and change to Malay social and economic development. My scepticism is based on the following observations on KM-based thinking and its inherent prejudices and illusions:

• It claims to hold the monopoly on truth. Such thinking holds the view that Islam is the only religion approved by god and that other religions are false. This perception of exclusivity is, of course absurd, for religion is a matter of faith between an individual and his or her god.

• It caries the illusion that the Malay culture is the world's foremost culture, with its pristine budi bahasa and sopan santun coupled with a high sense of morality. Again this is an absurd, unilateral claim, for any culture has its etiquette and morality, no better nor worse than any other. It can be seen therefore that the KM norm is decked with hyperbolism - that being Malay and Muslim is the luckiest draw in the lottery of life.

• It can also be arrogant and has little or no tolerance for alternatives. Indeed its parameters have no avenue to realise its own mistakes. In short, it is black-and-white thinking: 'I am right therefore you are wrong. If you are not for me then you are against me.'

• It is a world of collective delusion of the superiority of the Malay culture and the uniqueness of Islam.
Well, the record of Malay governance has shown fairly conclusively that the religion- and race- based philosophy of governance has not worked. This is hardly surprising for any economics textbook will explain that the factors of economic production (or the creation of national wealth) are land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship. Of late, knowledge has been included. Further factors favouring the development of a civilisation are secularism, materialism and intellectualism.

Of these eight factors, none refer to race or religion. In concept and reality therefore, the KM formula for social and economic success is way off the mark. Indeed it has been a colossal mistake. The failure of the NEP is proof enough of this sobering contention.

I do not share the euphoria surroundimg the formation of Perkasa. I do not see how its claim to protect race and religion can promote Malay socio-economic progress. Ibrahim's declared intentions show all the promise of repeating the mistake and are an exercise in futility.

Given that this philosophy is no longer viable, it is still a wonder why Ibrahim still resorts to it. Can there be any reason for this? I have a hypothesis explaining his loyalty to a failed philosophy and ideology.



DPM Muhyiddin Yassin (courtesy of The Malaysian Insider)

There is a denial syndrome inherent in KM thinking, particularly since it lacks an avenue for self-realisation of mistakes. It will go on thinking that it has been right all along, and that other alternatives are figments of the imagination of anti-Malay elements.

KM brooks no dissent. Liberal and liberated Malays are quickly branded as ungrateful and 'mudah lupa' (forgetful). Non-Malays are also branded as ungrateful for not appreciating the hospitality of the Malays in giving them citizenship.

KM then states that non-Malays wish to deprive Malays of their rights, hence the birth of Perkasa.

Hidden agenda


Perkasa has claimed an immediate membership of 5,000, with another 50,000 ahead. It has the direct support of former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad and incumbent deputy premier Muhyiddin Yassin. And barely a week ago, the Home Ministry issued a permit for its newsletter.

Based on all this, the suspicion is growing that Ibrahim may have a hidden agenda. As to what this is, only he can say for sure.

In any event, Perkasa's future terms of reference are to recapture and nurture yesterday's status quo:

• Develop a herd mentality among Malays.

• Delay or deny the sense of individual from developing in Malay psychology.

• Promote the prevailing dependence mentality among Malays.

• Nurture the sense of insecurity normally felt by the KM polity, namely political leaders, the ulama, civil servants and officials in government agencies such as the police, military, customs, immigration, and even the police and AG's chambers.

• Make all of them feel that the Malay ethnic group is still not ready to compete against the non-Malays and the rest of the world on a level plain.

With all this revitalised, Ibrahim can put his secret agenda into action.



All said and done, Perkasa's birth reflects the real or perceived sense of desperation and paranoia of conservative and orthodox Malay thinking. Or, it is the rebirth of the spirit of 'Malayness' that has apparently dwindled over the past few decades due to the process of change.

It is the rebirth of the religion and race-based KM demon that does not know its game is up. And sad to note, in the name of religion and race, the KM demon does not want to learn from its own mistakes.

AB SULAIMAN is an observer of human traits and foibles, especially within the context of religion and culture. As a liberal, he marvels at the way orthodoxy fights to maintain its credibility in a devilishly fast-changing world. He hopes to provide some understanding to the issues at hand and wherever possible, suggest some solutions. He holds a Bachelor in Social Sciences (Leicester, UK) and a Diploma in Public Administration, Universiti Malaya.



[First posted 11 March 2010]

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

All The Best Limericks Are Lewd (revisited)

Abraham was a wily old Jew
Who kept company with the Chosen Few
By forswearing sin
And his own foreskin
He proceeded the whole world to screw



It was a limerick that got me my first job as a junior copywriter. I had just turned 20 and was living with my parents in the house where I was born. I knew it was time to leave the family nest and learn to stand on my own feet - so when a friend mentioned that an ad agency in KL was looking for new blood, I immediately wrote to them. A few days later I received a test in the mail and was asked to compose a limerick; then write a news report about it, followed by an editorial. This was the limerick I came up with (of course I had to keep it clean):

A grand gourmand named Gus
Decided to devour a bus
But as he began to chew
He said, "Oh no, this won't do,
The passengers are making a fuss!"



Needless to say I got the job and soon found myself turning into a professional wordsmith, churning out readable text by the column inch. It didn't take long for me to realize I wasn't cut out to be a hack. Within 18 months I quit, after winning $5,000 in a slogan writing competition for Hall's cough drops, and began a checkered career as a freelancer and creative consultant. I continued to compose the occasional limerick - but somehow they were never quite lewd enough...



A fair mädchen was having her lüncheon
In a very chic cafe in München
Well, I got bold and told her
That I wanted to hold her
"Ja ja," she said and we got engaged pretty sünchen

As clean limericks go, this one ranks as an all-time winner (unfortunately I didn't write it and I don't know who did): 

A wonderful bird is the pelican;
His beak can hold more than his belican.
He can hold in his beak
Enough food for a week,
Though I’m damned if I know how the helican!

But enough of clean limericks! Bring on the best and lewdest ones I have collected over the years. I must mention here that some of the dirtiest limericks ever written came from Isaac Asimov, acclaimed writer of sciencefiction novels. Here are a couple I like:

Said an ovum one night to a sperm,
"You're a very attractive young germ.
Come join me, my sweet,
Let our nuclei meet
And in nine months we'll both come to term."

------------------------------


"We refuse," said two men from Australia,
"Bestiality this saturnalia.
For now, we bethink us,
The ornithorhynchus
Is our down-under type of Mammalia."

And I have a gut feeling we owe this classic to Asimov:

The astronomer's crime was heinous:
"We mustn't let convention restrain us;
Though I've made a career
Out of Venus, my dear,
I'm tempted to switch to Uranus."


Let's open the floodgates of debauchery and prurience, shall we? But first, a limerick defining what limericks are really about...

The Limerick's furtive and mean, 
To be kept under close quarantine, 
Or she'll sneak to the slums, 
Where she promptly becomes 
Disorderly, drunk and obscene!

It's almost impossible to trace limericks back to their source. The memorable ones tend to get circulated and recirculated over time till they end up attributed to Anonymous (presumably an obscure Greek lyricist). Here's the rest of my collection to date:

There once was a girl from Ealing,
Who said she had no sexual feeling.
Until a cynic named Boris,
Touched her clitoris,
And they’re still scraping her off the ceiling.

-----------------------------------------


There was a young fellow from Kent,
Whose prick was so long that it bent,
To save himself trouble,
He put it in double,
And instead of coming he went.

---------------------------------------



A lesbian girl from Khartoum
Took a gay young man up to her room. 
At the start of the night 
She said "Let's get this right. 
Who does what? And with which? And to whom?"


-----------------------------------------


There was an old bishop from Buckingham 
Who spoke of young girls and of fucking 'em 
But a bishop from Wales 
Took the wind from his sails 
When he spoke of young boys and of sucking 'em







From the crypt of the Church of St. Giles 
Came a scream that carried for miles 
Said the Vicar, "Good Gracious, 
Has Brother Ignatius 
Forgotten the Bishop has piles?"

-----------------------------------------


There once was a man from Peru 
Who fell asleep in his canoe 
As he dreamt of Venus 
he played with his penis 
And woke up with a handful of goo.

---------------------------------------------


There was a young woman from Yale 
Who offered her body for sale 
For the sake of the blind 
She had her behind 
Tattooed with her prices in Braille

--------------------------------------------



There was a young fellow from Leeds,
Who swallowed a package of seeds.
Great tufts of grass,
Sprouted out of his ass,
And his balls were all covered with weeds.


-------------------------------------------


There was a young man from Lynn,
Whose prick was the size of a pin.
Said his girl with a laugh,
As she fondled his staff,
“This won’t be much of a sin.”


---------------------------------------------


There was a young lady from Maine,
Who enjoyed copulating on a train.
Not once, I maintain,
But again and again,
And again and again and again.


------------------------------------------


There was a young actress from Crewe, 
Who remarked as the vicar withdrew, 
The Bishop was quicker 
and thicker and slicker, 
And two inches longer than you.

-------------------------------------------------

There was a young plumber from Lee 
who was plumbing his girl with great glee, 
she said,  "Stop your plumbing, 
I think someone's coming..." 
Said the plumber, still plumbing, "It's me!"

-------------------------------------------------

A kinky young girl from Coleshill, 
Tried a dynamite stick for a thrill, 
They found her vagina 
in North Carolina, 
and bits of her tits in Brazil.

-------------------------------------------------

There was a young man from Pitlocherie, 
making love to his girl in the rockery, 
she said, "Look you've cum 
all over my bum, 
This isn't a shag, it's a mockery."

-------------------------------------------------

There was a young lassie from Morton, 
who had one long tit and one short'un, 
on top of all that 
a great hairy twat, 
and a fart like a six fifty Norton.

----------------------------------------

There was a young man from Harrow 
who had one as big as a marrow. 
He said to his tart, 
"Try this for a start. 
My balls are outside on a barrow."

------------------------------------

There was a young girl from Hitchin, 
who was scratching her crotch in the kitchen. 
Her mother said "Rose, 
It's crabs, I suppose." 
She said "Bollocks, get on with your stitchin'."

-----------------------------------------

There was a young girl from Devizes, 
who had tits of different sizes. 
One was quite small, 
almost nothing at all, 
But the other was big and won prizes.

--------------------------------------

There once was a young man from Brighton,
Who said to a young lass, “You’re a tight’un!”
She said, “Listen, Hon,
You’re in the wrong one.
There’s plenty of room in the right one.”

------------------------------------

A lady while dining at Crewe,
Found an elephant’s dong in her stew,
Said the waiter, “Don’t shout,
Or wave it about,
Or the others will all want one too!”

--------------------------------------

There was a young woman of Croft,
Who played with herself in a loft,
Having reasoned that candles,
Could never cause scandals,
Besides which they did not go soft.

----------------------------------------

There was a young woman named Sally, 
who loved an occasional dally, 
she sat on the lap
of a well endowed chap, 
Crying, "Gee, Dick, you're right up my alley!"

----------------------------------

There was a young gaucho named Bruno 
Who said "If there is one thing I do know, 
A woman is fine, 
a donkey divine, 
But the llama is numero uno."

---------------------------------------

There once was a man from Nantucket
Whose schlong was so long he could sucket
He said with a grin
Wiping spunk off his chin
"If my ear were a cunt I could fucket!"



Nantucket seems to have inspired more than its fair share of limericks, not all of them lewd - but they do merit a passing mention, if only for their literary value:

There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket.
But his daughter, named Nan,
Ran away with a man
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.

This soon spawned a sequel...

But he followed the pair to Pawtucket,
The man and the girl with the bucket;
And he said to the man,
He was welcome to Nan,
But as for the bucket, Pawtucket.

What better way to end this post than with a mathematical limerick composed by Leigh Mercer (1893-1977) who came up with this poetic equation:

Translated into plain English it reads:

A dozen, a gross, and a score
Plus three times the square root of four
Divided by seven
Plus five times eleven
Is nine squared and not a bit more.


[First posted 26 April 2017]