Lofty Mount Lu by Shen Zhou | Blue Birds at Night by Watanabe Shotei | Pear Blossoms by Qian Xuan | Apricot Blossoms and Peacocks by Lü Ji | Plum Blossoms by Sun Long and Chen Lu | Moran Hojeopdo by Joseon | A Pair of Peacocks in Spring by Imao Keinen | Summer. Blooming wisteria and fish by Watanabe Shotei
Tina Chang: Do you think that absence has a presence, too?
Li-Young Lee: I love that question. I’ve been thinking about something for a long time, and I keep noticing that most human speech—if not all human speech—is made with the outgoing breath. This is the strange thing about presence and absence. When we breath in, our bodies are filled with nutrients and nourishment. Our blood is filled with oxygen, our skin gets flush; our bones get harder—they get compacted. Our muscles get toned and we feel very present when we’re breathing in. The problem is, that when we’re breathing in, we can’t speak. So presence and silence have something to do with each other.
The minute we start breathing out, we can talk; speech is made with the outgoing, exhaled breath. The problem that is poses, though, is that as we exhale, nutrients are leaving our bodies; our bones get softer, our muscles get flaccid, our skin starts to loosen. You could think of that as the dying breath. So as we breath out, we have less and less presence.
When we make verbal meaning, we use the dying breath. In fact, the more I say, the more my meaning is disclosed. Meaning grows in opposite ratio to presence or vitality. That’s a weird thing. I don’t know why God made us that way.
It’s a kind of paradigm for life, right? As we die, the meaning of our life gets disclosed. Maybe the paradigm for living is encoded or embedded in speech itself, and every time we speak we’re enacting on a small-scale, microcosmic level the bigger scale of our lives. So that the less vitality we have, the more the meaning of our lives get disclosed.
(thank you to ahuntersheart)
I found a treasure trove of beautiful pictures of Pakistan from the 80s and 90s and I’m feeling so nostalgic and proud. All picture were taken by Peshawar native Noor Khan, the man in blue in the last picture.
- Sunset from my window Hashtnagri, Peshawar City 1988
Before I had my own house I lived in a roof top apartment in Mohallah Gari Saidan, in Hashtnagri, in the house of Bibi Ji and family.
- Mohammad Khan, Bachano Killi, NWFP
An old tobacco farmer
- Buffalo, Brick Cart and Dog, Peshawar City, Pakistan 1982
- Bus near Abbottabad, Pakistan 1982
- Badshahi Mosque, Lahore 1988
Taken from the top of the minar, faxcing the front gate and Shahi (lal) Qilla
- Nan Bhai, Gilgit, Pakistan 1982
By Tomoyuki Kambe
‘While focusing on the small living things in the natural world, I will try to draw the surrounded big world.
As for the element which forms this world, it has the led to the element which forms our societies.
Whenever I focus the small individual of the nature world, I notice the affinity of our societies. Through the observation of the small things around us, I believe that we find the form of the big world’
- Tomoyuki Kambe
After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.
Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?
The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.
She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,
Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.
She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.
Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.
Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.
She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.
And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.
And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,
With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.
Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.
They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.
Not everything is lost.