Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Maple Sugaring: Harbin Field Notes, Nuclear, Bonobo Play, Re-Learning Play in Modernity?

Arrived at Harbin yesterday evening around 6 in the rain - Nuclear - Bonobo - Play

At the Gate, we joked about what fine cesium 134 and cesium 137 were in the rain - radioactive iodine, too - from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Reactors - '... Oh, very nice cesium 134 from Reactor No. 2, or is it from Reactor No. 5?' (Nuclear humor is sad).

(Radioactive fallout from Japan reached Berkeley -

There's always background radiation in the environment, and Denver, Colorado, for example, has more normal, background radiation than most places in the U.S. But it's never good to be exposed to any radiation.

The person at the gate mentioned a female News Anchor on CNN, who was sing-songing about how the radiation from Japan in southern California wasn't harmful, - seeming to miss the point. The Nuclear Industry and the mainstream Media have a long history together of representing nuclear fallout in the environment, often obfuscating the issues. And getting useful in-the-publics'-interest information hasn't been easy in the nuclear age. (This isn't the episode I think he was referring to, but it is illustrative - Revkin, Andrew C. 2011. [ Radiation + Cable Anchor + Science = ?]. March 25. New York, NY: The New York Times.)

It's sad to be living in Nuclear times, with the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan. Fukushima is also a very, very bad, ongoing, science experiment. Science should be able to anticipate and inform engineering and planning for such catastrophes, BEFORE they occur, - especially in the nuclear age.


Harbin's milieu is welcoming. ... So nice to be here ... Went up to the warm pool ... Saw Song, and Lov and Letty, - all in the dressing room. There were also some pretty, young women there, - perhaps new to Harbin, - all preparing to soak, in bathing suits.

In the warm pool, people seem inward when soaking, - and when cuddling naked, as well. Eye contact with people coming into the pools generally isn't made, although people occasionally greet each other warmly in the waters, too. And cuddle puddles can be friendly.

In general, people are either standing in the warm water, sitting on the 'bench' at the end or on the 1/4 circular stairs (a kind of 1/4, reactangularly-long, round, underwater pyramid), leading out and to the hot pool.

Before arriving at Harbin today, I saw another interesting Bonobo video on the internet in a TED Talk ( The researcher, Isabel, was suggesting that Bonobos 'play,' - as a way to explain their behavior, in general, including their flourishing sexuality. Her presentation, itself, is warm and outgoing, and in one video clip, which she showed for a long time, a juvenile female followed a juvenile male around in a circle holding his testicles from behind - around and around they went playfully having fun. Isabel, from Latin America, and who has studied at Oxford & Cambridge I think, delighted in the sexual subject of her presentation, and even in its potential for transformation through learning, with Bonobos as models for play, selected for by evolution. Her presentation was also in this spirit, and unusual academically. What can humans learn from such Bonobo and educational discourses? And how will ongoing learning about Bonobo and play - sex play, particularly - as discourse, transform some of the inhibitions and taboos of individuals and the societies in which we live?

At Harbin, I've never yet seen an adolescent woman follow an adolescent man holding his testicles from behind, plafully. Could Harbin learn? What has happened, for example, in HAI (Human Awareness Institute - Love, Intimacy, & Sexuality) workshops among adults?

And how might play flourishingly inform the exploration and cultivation of loving bliss, as well, - especially playfully?

MMmmm ...

My Harbin ethnography begins with 'Go play' ... (, and play is a theme in its chapters et al., here

Up to the pools on this beautiful wet rainy sunny morning ...

The pools are a place for co-envisioning - of shared vision - in the easing warmth of the waters, - and while naked. The Harbin pools, as I understand them, are kinds of dreams-within-dreams, - with real qualities, and a kind of bodymind co-creating happening, as a countercultural unfolding.

As I was leaving, I saw a friend and Harbin resident over the years who works outside sculpting growth.

'Hey Lief,' I said, 'was Harbin more Bonobos in the past? '

'Bonobo?,' he asked, not understanding what I meant.

'Bonobo chimpanzees,' I said, 'very sexual ... was Harbin pretty wild (in a hippy sense) sexually in the past, I asked.'

And Lief smiled, ' Yea, In the late '80s, it was, I've heard, but before my time, - and not any more.'

(Last week, a friend from Britain who came to Harbin in 1985, as a backpacker, said residents lived in Azelea and Walnut in the mid-80s).

'Not sexual any more?' I asked, ' or just less so?

Lief, who grew up in the Ukiah area, has some Scots' ancestry and long hair, said 'yea, just less so.'


MMmmm ... learning to play again as an 'antidote' to Modernity .... and at Harbin? :)

( - March 23, 2011)

No comments: