On First Looking into Keats’s Sonnets

I want to talk today about Keats’s sonnets. I’ve always liked Keats—it’s hard to imagine not liking Keats—but I’ve mostly read his odes. Is it possible to graduate from an English-language high school without reading “Ode to a Grecian Urn?” I certainly hope not. But I honestly can’t recall ever reading any of his sonnets except for “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer.” I didn’t know what I was missing. Continue reading

The Pornographic Gaze, Smartphones, and Virtual Experience

[UPDATE 8/10/2017] This post has drawn a great deal of attention. It seems that recording things with our cellphones is not only something we all do but also something we all feel ambivalent about at times. I almost didn’t upload this post because I was afraid it would be read in black and white. I was concerned that I hadn’t succeeded in presenting a sufficiently nuanced view. Reading the responses I received–even though they were all positive–I felt sure I had failed 🙂. Continue reading

Visiting Dege (1)

p1010658This post is only a little more than a year late in coming. I’m not exactly certain why I have been so remiss about writing this: possibly because it was a wonderful experience that both demands and defies a good discussion. In the course of the trip and in the months since it, I have come to feel a special connection to this place and the people that live there. It’s hard to capture that in a blog post, but I guess it’s still worth trying. Continue reading

Wenshu Temple

IMG_1688Wenshu Temple (Wenshu yuan 文殊院)–named for the bodhisattva of wisdom Mañjuśri–is the premier Buddhist institution in Chengdu. I’ve been a fan ever since my first visit in 1996. The vegetarian restaurant there (more on that later) became a favorite place for celebrations. In those days, the actual Buddhist practice there seemed a little … lax … but there was a vibrant cultural scene of people singing and doing qigong healing and everything else in the park surrounding the temple, not to mention the genial chaos of the teahouse. It was a great place! The temple and its associated monastery have really thrived over the last two decades, and devotion is more evident than ever before. We decided to go for a visit one of the first warm Sundays this spring. Continue reading