Monday, February 11, 2008


**A little addendum on Oscar Night. This song won an Oscar.

On Saturday night, Coranna and I had a girls' night at her friend, Abigail's, house. Cathy, Abigail's mom, had seen the film Once and decided to invite people over to sing, to bring creativity and music into her community. Cathy and her friend played guitars and I followed along in the song book, and while the little girls played dress up and BINGO in Abigail's room, we sang songs and then watched the film Once. It was a nice night. Singing folk songs in a circle of new and old friends is relaxing, creative, and satisfying in a deep, down primal way. We don't do things like that enough in our culture--or at least, I don't. When I lived in other countries, communities gathered around making and sharing music, in England, Nepal, and Turkey. After the video here of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova singing the signature song from the film, Glen Hansard talks of how music eeks from Ireland's dark soil, falls from her rains, and howls in her windstorms--music is Ireland and Ireland is music.

We lost that. America is a fast-music nation, laying on his back like Shiva listening to an i-pod while the world Kali-dances over him. This year I organized the small stage and assembly performances for the Culture Fair/Diversity Day at our school. ESL students came forward with their music, their expressions of culture: Cambodian, African, Mexican, Peruvian, Chinese, Irish and Japanese. In the rest of the world, the making of music and culture are interchangeable. I wish America could get that back.

In Tibet and Nepal--music and music making is like breathing. I tried to show this in the novel, by threading Cheng's signature rock song with the lama's love for Madonna, Punchok's constant declarations that it is time to dance and sing, and the folk songs reverberating from every stopping place. As Cheng moves closer to Tibetan culture, he also moves closer to the folk music, so that by the last scene he is no prone Shiva, but a powerful Kali dancing and singing with the village.

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