this week i

dreamed a little dream of vietnam.

woke up in hanoi.

phoverdosed.

found peace.

defeated twelve-hour time difference jetlag instantly by a) staying up very late a few days before my flight, b) arriving in the morning, c) staying out in the sunshine the entire day of arrival.

learned the vietnamese words for 'chicken' and 'beef' before anything else.

couldn't get over the motorcycle-only mayhem.

played in-person frogger.
video

wish it were this simple back home.
video

bet that comrade ho chi minh would love to see cola wars on the awning of his home..

 ..comrade lenin equally thrilled by macbook air filling his park..

..while snow white impersonates sleeping beauty..

..and fake ben franklin burns in religious ritual.

adore these trees.

could use a hug.

see your silly bicentennial and raise you a millennial.

guess you gotta mop sometime.

realized that because the united states won the race to be rich, the indulgences that any civilization would've invented - fatty foods, gaudy entertainment, sugary drinks, comfortable transportation - will be thought of as culturally american monstrosities instead of (rightly) the stuff of milk and honey that our entire species desires.


stumbled upon vietnamese hacky-sack..
video

serious armrests

3d temple tigers

..and the tanks that triumphed over saigon.

noticed a great absence: plenty of merchants and touts, but only one beggar during the entire week.

advise you to go easy on the neon.  in the name of christ.

arrived in the mekong delta.

ate whatever they were cooking.

think cowboy hats look just as goofy.

learned vietnamese noodle production in three easy steps: make a crepe,

sun dry,

spaghettify.
 

walked every market.

hired a jungle boat.

dined via floating soup vendors.

admired architecture.  regular..

..and rowhouse.

revere grandmothers.

strongly dislike other tourists.

got lost.
 

wonder what it means in vietnamese.

found fruit immunized against a camera's focus.

forgot what they look like.

will arrogantly maintain, for the rest of my days, that this delta mango was more delicious than any mango you have ever tasted.

could do that again.




read the apotheosis of captain cook: european mythmaking in the pacific.  a very academic treatise on the gradual european self-delusion that native hawaiians worshiped captain james cook as a god..

the reception that cook received when he landed on kealakekua bay on sunday, 17 january 1779, has been interpreted by every biographer and historian of cook as one accorded to a god.

the upshot of my argument is that in the human sciences the scholarly interpretation of the myth can advance the development of the myth.

there is no way one could become an ethnographer of a past that barely exists today.

there is also a flat contradiction between the grandiose mythic image of divine europeans and the actual physical evidence of half-starved peoples whom the hawaiians thought had come from a land where food supplies had run out.

..the author devotes much of the book to debunking this apotheosis theory put forth by other academics who i'd never heard of.  i would've preferred a second example of european mythmaking (like cortes as quetzalcoatl) instead of solely focusing on cook.  still, plenty of great european-polynesian first contact history..

the most pathetic disjuncture is between the vision that hawaiians had of..the benign god of fertility and of cook.  during the second visit, the venereal infection from the first visit to kaua'i had spread among the hawaiians, and the ships' doctors..were besieged by those with inflamed genitalia.

polynesians wanted to go to 'brittanee,' not only to see king george but also to collect firearms to destroy their enemies.  practically all exchanges with western traders coming soon after cook were, everywhere in polynesia, geared to this single-minded purpose.

this process of projecting onto the savage their own fantasies must be seen in the context of their hatred of the spaniards.  the spaniards had their cortes who was deified by the aztecs; now the english had their cook, their own hero who also explored and opened up a new world.  cook is the avatar of cortes.

when kamehameha's brother died..the natives cut off their hair, and went about completely naked.  many of them, particularly the women, disfigured themselves by knocking out their front teeth, and branding their faces with red hot stones.

men plug the dikes of their most needed beliefs with whatever mud they can find.

12/23/10