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Lions Roar : March 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN MArcH 2009 36 the vaporetto wakes wash against the crumbling brickwork, knowing that ev- ery wave takes a few more grains of this remnant empire into the lagoon. This very frailty is its beauty. The tourists who leave their increasingly shiny and convenient lives to come here, humping their fat suitcases over cobbled bridges, ruining expensive shoes in the acqua alta, gasping at streets the width of door- ways, crooked and sunless in ways that would never be allowed at home—for these people venice is a kind of aesthetic boot camp. They come here to wallow in the very qualities they energetically iron from their everyday lives. There are of course perennial efforts to stop venice from sinking, but no one proposes restoration. The venetians themselves are reputedly paid by the gov- ernment, not only to be there, like some reality version of The Truman Show, but also to sustain their houses and palazzi in just this state, at just this crucial turning point of dereliction. This is a kind of Clint eastwood ap- proach to heritage: just enough facelifts to stay out of the swamp but not so many you actually lose the wrinkles. Those wrinkles are earned. They signify. Why throw them away? We CAnnOT KnOW whether time is in any sense real. All we can know is that it matters, to us. We are temporal beings; if there were no death, no aging, time might continue to flow, but we wouldn’t bother to measure it, abhor it, or write sonnets upon it. Modernism was founded on denying time, denying the necessity of death. This is what made it so synthetic, and so tacky. Milan Kundera famously defined kitsch as “the denial of shit” but, really, it’s deny- ing death that is the ultimate in bad taste. And wabi sabi, as a way of seeing, lets us back in, lets us reinhabit time, rediscover- ing the fearful beauty of our own mortal- ity. enough, it says, of trying to assassinate death. let us, rather than denying time, plant ourselves firmly in it, rooting our- selves in its past and branching ourselves into its future. ♦ PHOTOS COURTESY OF: (LEFT) © DEREK SHAPTON; (CENTER AND RIGHT) STEVEN DEWALL Zen Mountain Monastery PETER FORBES March 13-15, 2009 Inspired to Respond Finding Your Activist’s Voice Photographer, farmer and longtime conservationist Peter Forbes explores how strong human relationships with the land can help us engage right action and positive change for our world. ANNE WALDMAN April 17-1 9, 2009 Dakini Poetics Experiments of Attention Join this renowned poet, performer, teacher and activist in an exciting foray into the principles that serve as catalysts between mind and action, imagination and creativity. 845.688.2228 WWW.MRO.ORG/ZMM/RETREATS mountains and rivers order of zen buddhism