Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Your story is like a mountain of . . .

According to folk-lore, in Japan's distant past poor families would take their elderly, who had become a burden in providing for the new generation, and leave them in the wilderness of mountains. The custom is called ubasute and there is a mountain in Nagano, Japan that the locals refer to as Ubasute-Yama.  Nowadays robots are being built to take care of the growing elderly population.  So are you ready for a piggy back ride along the mountainous terrain of my imagination?  Enma Dai-Ō is the Japanese name for the Buddhist god of death.  It’s been transliterated from Yemma which is a form of the Sanskrit Yama.  As a type of homophone, yama is the Romanized spelling of the Japanese word for mountain(s).  The literal translation of Yamaha is "The Mountain."   YAMAHA is one of the largest robotic companies in the world. "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" has nothing to do with the production of this blog.

The stories of the elderly being taken away to die have been embedded in Japanese folklore, and may have never actually been a widespread practice.  In researching to create my new folk-lore I came across a Buddhist allegory of a son carrying his mother on his back, and while they are going up the mountain she reaches out to break branches so he can find his way back home.  Wikipedia (reliable as folk-lore) presents this un-authored poem that commemorates this story:

In the depths of the mountains,

Who was it for the aged mother snapped

One twig after another?

Heedless of herself

She did so

For the sake of her son

The Child Ballads that are the center of the upcoming show at G-Spot in Baltimore contain some of the oldest stories of folklore for Western Europe that we in United States know well.  Out of the wilderness and forested mountains come King Arthur and a rather large collection of songs about Robin Hood.  While hardly mountainous, Sherwood Forest contains an ancient meeting spot called Thynghowe.  Howe is derived from the Old Norse word Haugr which means mound.  When used in place names haugr many times indicates a burial mound. Traipsing around the forest Robin Hood stole from the rich and religiously greedy to give to the poor; the antithesis to a modern Japanese helper robot which takes care of those rich enough to afford its care and avoid the mound of poor and uncared for.  Jeez, it’s not my fault people. . . it’s been rainy and dark all day.  Unlike King Arthur, Robin Hood's only chance at immortality is in song and story.  Lesson: no matter how much you try you will never have the same rights as those with more money and power.  Even if you take it from them, your psychology will forever be in with the have-nots.  Hey, at least we have a real life that hasn't been airbrushed for consumption.  At least we have the Child Ballads.  I'm sure on a sunnier day, or a sultry night I would have chosen to connect mountains to the act of copulation, to the Freudian defeat of the mother by the wife.  I could have talked about the mound or mountain as synonymous to a rising male interpretation of mounting female pleasure . . . to the French term "La petite mort" and the allegory of Sisyphus in relation to the working class of the Appalachian mountains. I may even have suggested the shock theory that the burial mound as a meeting place to be influenced by dead ancestors is like the essential gangbang of ancestral DNA upon the female mound during copulation. But its gloomy out and all of that would just be a tease.  There is nothing like some warm green tea to bring you out of a funk. See you next time.


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