Thursday, February 24, 2011

Anthomastiscascade: Place significantly informs Harbin, as a kind of human technology vis-a-vis the warm pool and in contrast possibly to modernity

Harbin ethnography:

... While it may have sheltered lots of folks who didn’t want to work for long (? some) periods of time, this may not have been sustainable (i.e. worked out culturally), but it (Harbin) still may shelter some, defined partly by which residents have been on the land the longest” (MacLeod, Harbin Field Notes 2007-2008, April 13, 2008).

While this interpretation of the Harbin pools as place in contrast to 'Modernities' may seem irrelevant, or even trivial (Boellstorff 2008:91), how place significantly informs Harbin, as a kind of human technology vis-a-vis the warm pool and in contrast possibly to modernity – as a kind of technology as discourse? :) - vis-a-vis hippies, counterculture and the 1960s offers very fruitful ways to understand Harbin Hot Springs, on-the-ground and in-the-waters, I here suggest. Reg's focus on coming to Harbin to learn Watsu as kind of goal in life - but not as a Harbin resident – gives voice to one personal expression of the importance of Harbin as place for an individual, vis-a-vis modernities; Reg lived in, and experienced, both the Netherlands and California as expressions of, or milieus of, modernity before coming to Harbin for Watsu. In this interpretation, Watsu (Dull, 2008 – Watsu was created by Harold Dull, with the Water Family - see their book “Watsu: Freeing the Body in Water and with Tantsu on Land,” for example), too, is a kind of communication technology, for coming into connection with oneself and the other. And Reg came to Harbin expressly to learn Watsu, and eventually to make a living from these skills. The form of Watsu itself, as practice, healing art and dance, often done nude at Harbin, although in bathing suits in some of the rest of the places where it is practiced around the world (e.g. Italy, Goa, Switzerland, etc.), is emblematic also of a significant water and place based practice (see Waters of Life video –, for example. Reg's negative reaction to modernity is perhaps emblematic of his interest in what I would call dropping out into Watsu. In many ways, the physical place of the Harbin valley gave rise to new expressions of creativity and freedom, such as Watsu, as well as to Harbin identity and practices.

'Place,' in this ethnography, is actual Harbin's valley, its Mainside area, its pools and the pool area, and everything else on the the roughly 1700 acres of land which make up the Harbin valley and surroundings. ...

( - February 24, 2011)

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