Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hot Pools in Snow: The warm, Harbin, heart-shaped pool, ethnographically

Harbin ethnography:

... 'Place,' here, is the geothermally heated waters which flow into the Harbin warm pool and the aqueous milieu they create. Place's significance relates to what emerges in this milieu.

The warm, Harbin, heart-shaped pool is shaped like the heart symbol (Fig., slightly cooler in temperature than the Harbin warm pool, and kids can play in it, in contrast to the warm pool which is too deep for children. In some ways, it emerges from the idea of the nearby Harbin warm pool, perhaps symbolically in the form of a heart, signifying, in my reading, connection between people, intimately, in warm water, out of attraction – so, heart - and as a place-expression of Harbin's vision. The Heart-Shaped Pool's name, itself, as well as the idea, shares a word in Heart Consciousness Church's name (which owns and operates Harbin Hot Springs). Unlike the Harbin warm pool, which was built as early as the 1870s (Klages 1991:97), and since 1972 has only changed significantly with the removal of tiles, the Harbin heart-shaped pool was built by Harbin residents, around 1985. I think, too, that the amount of geothermally-heated water emerging out of the ground can only fill and warm this heart-shaped pool, besides the hot pool and the warm pool. Here's an early haiku-ish (a poetic form, informed by haiku) which I wrote about the Harbin heart pool, as a new form of ethnographic representation.

Snow covers the pools' ridge line
Steam rises from the heart pool
Pool's warmth lingers in my body

(MacLeod, Harbin Field Notes 2007-2008, January 28, 2008).

And here's another note about the heart-shaped pool, an actual history of this place, with Ishvara in the heart pool.

“It’s alligator day (warm pool cleaning day, which can make expectant visitors feel like alligators, when they can't go in the pool), so the warm pool’s water is getting drained, and I sat there with water more than half-gone exploring the relaxation response, and then going to the Heart-Shaped pool, where Ish was. We just nodded hello. I went into padmasana (lotus pose) again with my eye’s shut. After a while Ishvara got out, and picked the mulberries from the earth under the tree, and then went back into the heart-shaped pool. I was doing yoga-twists in lotus pose in the heart pool, and after went to the sauna, where I found someone chanting. This was o.k. with me, and I said to her, I'm happy to join you chanting … ” (MacLeod, Harbin Field Notes 2007-2008, June 3, 2008).

Ethnography as poetry vis-a-vis the Harbin Heart-Shaped Pool is a kind of representation which can highlight the beauty of that which is being represented. It thus focuses the idea of place in a word, and representation, form, which is an expression of the heart-idea, - here in the form of the heart-shaped pool.

Place, and the idea of place, as distinct from the actual world ...

( - September 8, 2010)

No comments: