Friday, October 26, 2012

Heart. Lungs. Walnut.

The wooden Buddha sits on my computer desk along with a small figure of Spiderman and a cheap clock bearing the image of Chairman Mao in his famous flat cap and comrade jacket. His arm is actually the second hand and as it ticks, he waves the little red book.

The Buddha, who believes all life is suffering, is mesmerized by the jerky motion of Mao’s arm. Spiderman stares sternly ahead, arms folded, watching for evil to spring up. It cannot be an easy life for a superhero if your motto is “With great power comes great responsibility.” Captain Buzz-kill.

Chairman Mao reminisces of the good old days, of purging intellectuals and saving the country from capitalism. The Buddha occasionally reminds him to leave the damn Dali Lama alone, to let him chill, but Mao, even as a piece of junky-Chinese-tourist-claptrap will not listen. Time softens all things save the ersatz Mao.

In China today there is a one child policy to control the population. In a culture that devalues girls, many families abort girl babies and try again until they get a boy. This used to upset me, thinking how awful it was that the Chinese as a culture do not value women until I learned of politicians from Missouri and Indiana who remind me that we don’t really value women here either.

Telling raped women it is impossible to get pregnant from the rape, or telling them God meant for them to get pregnant indicates that these men don’t understand biology. They don’t understand how sex works. I suppose if they actually had sex once in a while it might help them understand how a woman’s moving parts work.

And that might lead them toward understanding, what it might be like to carry a baby, what it means to have one, and what it means to be raped. That we have states which give the rapist father’s rights only further indicates that we still don’t have a clue as to what mothering is, as to what fathering is. We only pretend to understand what family is, making up story-book configurations of people and calling that a “family.”

So yeah, it’s tough in China to be a woman. But it’s tough all over if you don’t have a penis. If a penis gives men the power, it surprises me that no man has ever considered getting an additional penis sewn on, or grown from some stem cell experiment. If one penis allows a guy to make 25 cents more on the dollar than half the population, consider what have one or two or even three penises would do for the bottom line! Maybe I could sell second hand penises on Ebay to supplement my income, which I will need, when they lay me off from my teaching job because I am making too much money in the first place.

And maybe if Mao had sex more often, or the Buddha, things might have been different.

I cannot speak for the Spiderman doll on my desk though since he is only a plastic torso, and has no anatomical parts. Besides, how intimidating must it be for a woman to have sex with a superhero, one who spins webs no less, one who looks better in spandex than she does.

But all this reminds me of how things are connected. How things look like other things. How the thin line of everything is there if we choose to follow it. How a walnut, turned sideways, looks like a heart and lungs. How a human brain from above does too. How the Buddha seeks enlightenment in the emptiness, while Mao craves the emptiness of a MacDonalds in a country of billions and billions served.

MacDonalds in China serves fish. And noodles. They tailor the experience to the culture so the experience seems natural which of course, it can never be if you have ever eaten at Macdonalds. The experience is like everywhere which makes it like nowhere.

The Chinese like noodles. And fries. But they dislike the Japanese and for pretty good reason, given then Japanese Imperial history of invading China. But the Japanese hate radioactivity and had to create their own god-myth-action hero in the lizard-god of Godzilla which represents the United States, the only country to ever use a nuclear weapon, twice. On Japan.

Which is really misleading because during the Iraq war, tanks shot shells of dense depleted uranium. These dense shells penetrated tank walls and had low levels of radioactivity, so that even Iraquis who survived, would die years later from cancer. So really, nuclear weapons have been used over and over and over again.

Spiderman didn’t ask to get bitten by a radioactive spider. But it is a far cooler creation myth to say I was bitten by an eight legged dirty bomb, than to say I was a tank commander in the Republican guard in the first Desert Storm.

Sometimes I lean back in my chair and I squint my eyes at my three figures on my computer desk. The Buddha meditates and sees reality for what it is. The Spiderman eyes him nervously. Buddha, a strict adherent of ahimsa, would never dream of swatting a spider, even a radioactive one. While Chairman Mao, under the force of the clock’s windup springs, flails the little red book over and over at both the Buddha and Spiderman, knowing all the while that Kentucky Fried Chicken has taken over his country – this country that gave us the SARS scare. Mao knows there is nothing to be done but dream of an aging capitalism, dying of natural causes, praying he never bumps into Ayn Rand in the afterlife.

On that point, all three agreed.


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