Sunday, March 15, 2009

Balancing my Tao with my Te

Interesting morning. I got a call from my big brother, Corwyn, about his Dao de Jing study group. He has been asking me to come for some time now, specifically to meet his friend Taras Balderdash, so I put on my favorite slinky qipao with black boots and joined him at Amatsu Shima.

Today was a larger crowd than is usual I suspect, since Corwyn and Suzanne had to put out extra cushions. Suzanne Logan runs the geisha house on Amatsu for which Corwyn acts as "hogosha" or bodyguard. I have met Suzanne before and am fairly sure she has a deep crush on Cor, just by the way she seems a bit suspicious of any woman with whom he hangs out. The irony here is that Cor really is my brother--in RL as much as in SL. Can't blame Suzanne for being jealous of my relationship with him. It is hard to explain. Even Draven was jealous at first (he saw my picture in Cor's profile and went ballistic once) until he got to know Corwyn and saw there was nothing sexual between us. Thing is, Corwyn like most men (Draven included!) is pretty oblivious to how attractive he is to women and how they see him. He treats Suzanne as the best of friends and ignores her overtures. She, being a tactful woman, doesn't press it.

So here I am at this Daoism discussion group. And Suzanne is putting her spin on the lesson. She has passed out three versions of the text in a notecard reader. She has also copied sections of notes from some other sources and is taking a very western and religious approach to the text. Corwyn's friend Taras is interpreting the text in the metaphysical approach, but with a Chinese religious sensibility. So I take the literal path. Not a good move I think. My first time there and I am arguing with both the established teachers, Taras and Suzanne. But that is me. Open mouth, insert foot, swallow. Then to top it off this was a day for typos. But what day in SL isn't. Hard to look like you might have a clue when you always get your numbers wrong and can't type fast worth a damn.

Thing is, in China, especially in ancient times, that threefold approach would make for a lively discussion. The thing scholars do is sit over tea and argue the multiple approaches to a text. But in China there would be no more than 4 people at the tea house table. Here there were 8 other people in the room, all struggling to get a word in edgewise. Even poor Corwyn had to repeat a comment 3 times before it was acknowledged. After a while I decided to just shut up, but by then the session was almost over.

Corwyn had made his bows and departed early as he had a poetry reading to attend. So, at the end, I made bows to all and made a point of especially thanking Suzanne and Taras, but I suspect by then they were just happy to see me leave. Ah well. I IMed Cor to thank him for inviting me, and he said: "You were great!" Which made me feel better. He after all is the one who is important to me here. And if the others are grateful that his pushy sinologist friend had finally left, well, then I can make them even happier by not returning.

I told Cor I will have him and Taras over for tea some day soon and we can have a civilized discussion of Chinese philosophy. If Taras comes over, I will make an effort not to, as Draven says I do, "keep my foot on the gas." I would actually like to get to know him since anyone who chooses a name like Taras Balderdash clearly has a good sense of humor.

Just one parting question: Does the irony of having a serious discussion of Daoism (or Taoism as popular spelling was today) by Westerners in medieval Japan in a virtual world (wearing a mix of clothing from formal Heian to child Neko to Southern Belle to blue skin to my own sing-song girl mini-skirt) strike anyone else as pretty damn amusing?

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