“Mono no aware”, the pathos, empathy, or sensitivity toward thin/gs and ephemera”, is a Japanese term for the awareness of the impermanence of things, and a gentle sadness at their passing.
Welcome to a same-height party. Where the playing field of absurdity is levelled, and everybody can look equally ridiculous.
Soon to be an same-IQ party as well, by the look of the beverages being consumed.
Personally, I think I would prefer to remain self-conscious and short, than be self-conscious and short on style.
Juvenile most of the time, reviled some of the time, but never banal, the Urban Dictionary provides an alternative take on the everyday, and the night-time in-between.
It is dressed downwards of mature sometimes, maybe most of the time, but that is why it is the “urban” dictionary—just like a city, you do not visit this place with your mother:
You do know what LOL means right? OMG!!1! Lol, Mum pls stop using teh internets!1!!
Clearly, the Urban Dictionary is by and for the “Google Generation,” the generation which, to quote from the horse’s acne spotted mouth, was:
brought up by doing their homework using Google, as in ’damn, all these kids in the google generation get A’s’.
You’ll note that being educated by a search engine has not necessarily been a step forward for grammar. Likewise, in this dictionary, proof-reading and spelling are out of step, lagging far behind.
Did somebody say spelling? On this topic, the juvenile consensus of the Urban Dictionary is remarkably mature:
A lost art.
What people are incapable of doing on the Internet.
Absent from the internet.Spelling, O Spelling, where art thou? Along with grammar, punctuation…?
The internet may still be predominantly American, but in matters of pronunciation, the Urban Dictionary is at times refreshingly international, waving the global flag for the Queen’s English as the rest of the world, with stiff upper lip or otherwise, correctly enunciates it:
How the entire world (except the Americans) say aluminium. Why? Because that’s how it’s spelled.
Brit: Aluminium is the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust. American: You mean Aluminum? Brit: No, I mean Aluminium. Moron.
Everything is not as it seems in the Urban Dictionary. Words do not just mean what they mean, or even what they have evolved to mean, for on these mean, new, lexicographical streets, words are melded into new and wonderful shapes, twisted, turned and bent in a manner that would give Samuel Johnson, author of the first dictionary, a meltdown. You could say that in the Urban Dictionary, words become like plastic:
A materialistic, fake man or woman. In particular, someone who is attractive yet lacks any sort of depth whatsoever.
Everyone in this club is plastic.
It is perhaps not surprising that there is no entry in the Urban Dictionary for the author of 1755 A Dictionary of the English Language, for his child, now generations removed, has been herein defined to door-stopping, fly-swatting irrelevancy:
A very large book full of information about how words are spelled, pronounced, used in a sentence etc. Although originally intended for reading, the dictionary serves many functions: it can be used as…
etc. etc. etc.
Likewise books are deemed no longer relevant by the precocious Urban Dictionary, and without search field and ability to instantaneously edit or copy and paste, depressingly one dimensional and linear. Which to paraphrase your English teacher is a shame, because despite their page turning, stitched and bound irrelevancy, books will never cease to have hidden dimensions of imagination and mind, dimensions not always apparent in their noisier, brasher successor:
an object used as a coaster, increase the hight of small children, or increase the stability of poorly built furniture.
where do you want me to put your drink? oh, just leave it on top of that book.
But every rule and just coined and spun at home homily admits an exception—who would have thought of the just consigned to paperweight and wastebasket book becoming a synonym for “cool”?
In the T9 predictive text on cell phones, the numbers 2665 spell both “book” and “cool,” but “book” is the first word to display. To save time, it is left and understood to mean “cool.”
be there in 20 book. see ya then.
Every generation adopts and adapts words to make a language all their own; if you didn’t grow up watching nursery rhymes on DVD, the Urban Dictionary is your looking glass to a wonderland of language you have probably never heard:
One of the best words ever.. can be multi-purposeful… basically it’s a cat noise.. and implies confusion/question…
Billy: OMG I went and got a trichi today… Sally: Meew?
While much in the Urban Dictionary can be classed as new and unfamiliar, one can not always assume all that is from beyond the horizon of right now is even a twisted path to making sense—clicking on the dictionary’s random button serves up words and phrases so nonsensical that a team of untrained monkeys could not have typed their way to a place of less sense:
rapper from the Nasti Nati
it’s a new craze going into a new phase merk out and do the down da way -tocka
In the Urban Dictionary, sense and meaning is often found in a popular culture context. The respective 1970s and 1980s martial arts and ninja crazes give the following contemporary stereotype its brick-breaking cultural pin-point:
A person, usually male aged 13-35, who practices inferior self-taught fighting, killing, or stealth techniques in the basement of his/her parents’ home or in a basement apartment. Typical hobbies include collection of decorative ‘ninja’ weapons for the purposes of practice and display. Typical behaviours include exhibition of martial arts proficiency, provision of stealth tips, and demonstration of human pressure points.
Anybody who carries nunchucks to a 7-11 is a basement ninja.
Are you spending too much time online to avoid doing work offline? You’re a procrastinator, and the Urban Dictionary has got you coined:
One who will do anything, including spending an entire day looking up random words on urban dictionary, to get out of doing work. This habit often has a terrible effect on that person’s relationships, work, or grades.
I am a procrastinator
Yes, this internet age dictionary is broad and multi-participational—anyone can submit a definition or word, anyone else can vote it up or down—but no matter which dictionary you use, the rest of the world just does not understand Canada:
Canadian Heritage Moments
Commercials made by the Historica association of Canada, outlining Canada’s “achievements” in 60-second shorts. Considered by Canadians to be hilarious, people of any other nationality just don’t get them.
Serious and overbearing from a distance, Germans are a people also often misunderstood, but not by the all-embracing, always glib Urban Dictionary:
A country that is ambitious and misunderstood.
Everyone wants to be like Germany but do we really have the pure strength of will?
The country Hitler wasn’t born in.
Guy 1: Hey, do you know where Hitler was born? Guy 2: Not Germany. Guy 1: k.
Oh the youth of the today, they are so shallow, so infatuated with the temporal and passing, can we find any wisdom in any of what they say? Of course we can, but first we must understand the contemporary parlance within, the internet age idiom of cynicism and heavy sarcasm. Translated so, the following are as cutting and subversive as the polemic of any time:
Anyone who is Mexican and anyone who is mowing your lawn. Anyone who runs across the U.S. border with Mexico
Mommy, look at that guy mowing the lawn. Look away, George. He’s Mexican and he’s an illegal immigrant, and he’ll steal your ice cream if you keep looking at him.
The early 21st century drug of choice. A shared illusion, making its addicts think they have friends, a life, access to good information, and the critical thinking skills to form valid opinions. Fatal in large doses.
Paul spent the day eating Cheetos and watching Television, then had a light heart attack in the evening.
A place where people eat alot, get fat, and then sue to get money.
I ate at McDonalds everyday for 7 years and now I weigh 500 pounds, so I’m gonna sue them to make some cash.
No matter the culture, no matter the time or clime, the feeling and spirit of the human heart will always beat and breathe to the one timeless tune. Once upon a time and century distant, love-lorn haiku poets wrote of these same sentiments, under the very same half-clouded moon that shines today:
If you miss someone a lot and are away from them, you can both listen to the same song at the same time, and you will feel a deep connection to the other person, you will imagine what they are doing and feeling. It is different than talking on the phone. Both people get a strange feeling of bittersweetness and connection while the song is playing.
There is something soothing, reassuring about such moments of zen-like connectedness occurring in the most nontraditional of situations, and it is a reassurance that no matter how far we as human beings run, with iPod on and iPhone charged, from our cultural and social roots, we will never be able to SMS or Wikipedia ourselves away from the basic human condition:
Form is emptiness, emptiness is form
Q: Does a cow have Buddha Nature? A: Moo
The final word on the Urban Dictionary to a seer-poet and library vast of his work, Sri Chinmoy Library, in haiku form:
E-mail is man-connection, And not God-communication— No, never! —Sri Chinmoy
“Go to the French cafe by the departure gate. It’s got really good coffee, and sandwiches too.”
Dressed like a character from a Jack Kerouac novel, a connoisseur of places subterranean, my friend knows his coffee, and the city he lives in does too. Forget paired and halved slices of bread, I have been in Melbourne three days, Australia’s second city and first city of art, culture and coffee—soon to be largest city by upwards trend of statistical metric—and sandwiched in an airport coffee lounge queue, post check-in and pre board-on, I am going to steam it, pour it, drink it one last time, order it extra strength in a double sized cup.
I should have known better when I saw the queue. I should have called it quits then, turned around and walked away. I should have seen past hope and expectation for reality’s cold, half empty glass.
Not the size of the queue but the position, the opposite side of the food cabinet, the opposite side of common sense. Till and people queuing to the right; food, barista and people waiting for coffee to the left—this café expected people to queue, order and pay for food that they could not see, and such little touches nay blindly splayed brush strokes on the canvas of life suggest a business run without a clue. What hope then a decent brew?
“Hi, do you have any sandwiches that are vegetarian?”
At the head of the queue, face to face with girl taking my order, I had to ask for a recital of the food cabinet contents that could not be sighted.
I had left the carry-on bag to briefcase packed queue to inspect the uninspiring, un-kosher selection of ham and cheese condiments earlier, losing my place in doing so to a pair of airline pilots, accustomed on ground as in air to being in front of everybody else, but hope against hope, thought it worth asking if something, anything solid might be joining my liquid, caffeinated must.
In life hope is a welcome, cheerful friend, but disappointment a more consistent companion. Preferred company unavailable, the girl behind the counter answered my question with a lack of understanding bordering confusion, and with no small effort, shifted sideways to double check what comprehension could not. Unwillingness, written on face in letters larger than the blackboard behind, remained firmly in place.
“Um… no, they’ve all got meat in them.”
And then silence. No other suggestions forthcoming, even half-consideration a cup drained bare. She shifted back, impatience joined us for company.
“Then could I have a croissant?”
Although chalked in white and capitals on the menu one row below “obvious”, this request may have been confusing too, because the girl, furrowed brow, tangled thinking as apparent as gaudy lipstick, queried that which common sense and opening question had already answered.
“Did you want the ham croissant?”
Something other than the croissant in this cafe appeared to be served plain.
“No, plain, thank you.”
I am well used to this sort of treatment. I have been swimming vegetarian in a stream of meat-eaters for fifteen years, and am not the kind of person who paints the entire world white just because it is the colour I’ve chosen to wear. Callousness and deliberate unwillingness though are harder to swallow.
Perhaps the “croissant toasted with butter and jam” description of the menu was optional, perhaps for me only imaginary, for I was handed a “plain”, room-temperature croissant, sans condiments and toasting in a white paper bag. The only thing toasted about this croissant was my starting to burn at the edges temper.
“I’ll have a mocha too” I added in measured, deliberate tone as total was added, note proffered, change returned, no recognition of my request shown other than correct price charged.
Taking croissant in hand, taking bad with bad, I moved to the opposite side of queue and counter willingly, with relief, to the barista and coffee machine, where two shots of heart-palpitating happiness would be made. Things were looking up, my welcome, cheerful friend returned, hope a half full growing fuller coffee cup.
About eighteen, about eighteen years away from mastering his trade, the barista emptied coffee grind from the previous shot with a rushed, hasty jolt, then returned handle to head without cleaning it.
Live long enough, pay attention to memory and intuition close enough, practise meditation well enough, you get a foretaste, premonition of the outcome of every action before you act. I could taste the coffee being made as though already drinking it, and it tasted dirty, gritty, acidic, as though drinking from the bottom of a used, uncleaned mug.
My cup grew fuller quickly with a dark, brooding, dirty brew, hope drained quickly away, cup half empty, now gone.
On second thought, but thought too late, my well-meaning, well-discerning friend had said to go to the French cafe by the departure gate, and the only thing French about this café were the stale croissants, baked so long ago that they could have been shipped from Paris.
The clock struck boarding time, the airport announcer chimed, I made my way past duty free stores and just free, just arrived passengers to Gate 24. With a queue for coffee almost as long as passengers boarding the plane, the café I should have gone to was literally next door.
Japanese Prime Minister-elect Yukio Hatoyama did the impossible last week, a landslide victory won for his Democratic Party of Japan, an unprecedented reversal of election fortune over the incumbent Liberal Democratic Party, who have ruled Japan for all but 11 months since 1955.
Retired actress, author, lifestyle guru and wife of the Prime Minister, Miyuki Hatoyama, has also done the impossible, breaking through boundaries of reason and possibly sanity as well to go where no First Lady has gone before—completely out of this world.
“I have been abducted by aliens” says Japan’s first lady of involuntary space travel. But maybe not from the same planet as the rest of us.
In a book published a year ago, Very Strange Things I’ve Encountered, the interstellar Prime Minister’s wife confided that she was abducted by aliens while sleeping one night 20 years ago.
“While my body was asleep, I think my soul rode on a triangular-shaped UFO and went to Venus. It was a very beautiful place, and it was very green.”
Not content with watching reruns of The Last Samurai or Top Gun, the 62-year-old explorer of greener pastures also claims to have known Tom Cruise in a previous life, when she says he was also Japanese, and looks forward to sharing billing with him on a Hollywood blockbuster.
“I believe he’d get it if I said to him, ‘Long time no see’, when we meet,” she confided about the diminutive leading man in a recent interview.
An author of a book on cooking, Hatoyama recently revealed on daytime TV an unusual breakfast snack—“I also eat the sun” every morning. “Yum, yum, yum” she said as she closed her eyes and demonstrated the act of consuming tasty solar treats from the sky, adding, “I get energy from it. My husband also does this.”
Time passed writing about passing time in an airport coffee shop…
Travelling. Again. In Melbourne Airport, for four and half hours, but not my final destination, or even second to final in this marathon, budget airline leapfrog across the Pacific, Tasman and Indian Oceans. I am in an airport café sipping the oh so treasured caffeinated chocolate beverage I swore yet again to give up. And shall swear again, once the well of heart-quickened words dries, trails to a final period, final drop of coffee swallowed at the end of this page…
I am flying to Bali today, a Christmas holiday come a month late but not a moment too soon. A break from work and yet more work, a break of some considerable force to my cheerfully forgotten, paid just on time bottom line. Work to live or live to work? In truth I would prefer neither, but forced to choose I am working to be alive, and right now is the time for living.
It is not such a bad place to be stranded, this sun-burned, lucky land. I have always liked Australia—more so than anywhere else on Earth save the United Kingdom, it is just like home—albeit a sun-drenched, sun-worshiping version of such. Hotter of temperature and temperament than New Zealand, it is our louder, brasher “across the ditch” own.
I admire the self-confidence and assertiveness here, rare in my home of birds that do not fly and single lone predator—the Katipo spider, a pint-sized beast of passive-aggressive hostility at best, likely to bite only when pushed into corner or shoe. New Zealanders, more like the sheep who outnumber us twenty to one than killer spiders, tend to follow the herd, herd instinctively to the back of a pen. Like the damp, green pastures from mountains to sea, we are softer round surface and edge than Australians; we shrink from a person of loud, sure hand.
Australia has a vastness not just of its land, although perhaps learned of it; of wide open spaces and limitless, continental horizons—a vastness of heart and mind less sighted in smaller, skinnier isles. “Mateship,” the word for universal friendship between blokes really exists in Australia. The airport security officer who gave directions not with authority but airless amity; the student who made my coffee neither embarrassed to be serving me, or by way of compensation, haughty—such is far from common in less secure, narrow lands.
It took a while, several hours in fact, and all of the previous words, before untold Australian flags, t-shirts and hats of yellow and green led me to realise that today is January 26, Australia Day, the one day of three hundred and sixty-five that Australians take even more pride in being themselves than their unabashed norm. Serendipity has a way of following me around, especially when writing…
Salutation To The Soul Of Australia My aspiring heart is saluting you. My illumining soul is loving you. In you I see the perfect combination of the body’s service and the vital’s dynamism. Your soul is at once the embodiment of the ancient sun and revelation of tomorrow’s dawn. Your body’s consciousness is the expansion of vastness. Your heart’s delight is the perfection of illumination. Slowly and steadily your body walks. Pointedly and unerringly your mind runs. Devotedly and unconditionally your heart dives. Eternally and supremely your soul flies. Your life’s greatness-dream is humanity’s transcendental pride. Your life’s goodness-reality is humanity’s universal treasure. —Sri Chinmoy, My Heart’s Salutation To Australia, Part 1.
* * *
During my first year of university, a time now so long ago tales of such begin increasingly to sound like they belong in the history books I read there, one of the highlights of each week was the student newspaper, more read by the student community than any tiresome book or text. I would in maturity and time end up working for this newspaper—my first ever graphic design and typesetting role, and my first ever writing—but for now, unaware of greater horizons ahead, I admired those vaster in others. In the writing of the editor and staff of this newspaper there was an assuredness of thought and pen that I, just out of high school not yet out of teenage angst, desperately, instinctively craved—an assuredness of self I sought the words for but could not actually name. Meditation would eventually provide that name.
That year the editor wrote the same editorial twenty-six times, every week of publication drafted different versions of the same theme—how to get to the end and find the words to fill his long past due, inspiration long past gone editorial. It was an editorial on writing an editorial if you will, and was often surprisingly funny.
Some fifteen years later I am reminded of this editor’s confident, stream of consciousness notes about nothing, for it seems I too am writing a story about writing a story—a feat I literally thought myself incapable of once upon a distant time.
Like running a race I expect this story will have an ebb and flow, tired and energetic patches, and in time, one foot and word in front of the other, a second wind. Then, hopefully and finally, second cup of coffee consumed, an end.
* * *
Hours are passing slowly, words less easily in this airport coffee shop, sitting in a corner surrounded by no-one, monopolising a power outlet meant not for laptop but lamp. My coffee is finished, once confident pen not so loud or bold, its flight near grounded and my plane, hours yet to board, not yet departed.
They say the most common opening sentence in blogging is “Sorry I haven’t written for a long time…” Is this the internet era version of every English teacher’s most hated closure, “And then I woke up”? I certainly hope, as my pen leans into a drifting doze, that unlike newspaper reading students in a university lecture, my readers are still half awake…
It’s a funny thing, the waxing and waning of creativity, writing’s ebb and flow. When you ”want” words they often do not come, for writing is a horse that can be ridden but not controlled, a ship to be sailed rather than boat to be rowed. Like meditation, you don’t “do” it—it is a state that comes to you when you forget to ”do,” cease to strive and struggle, control and command.
Becoming a good writer is often described as a process of finding your “voice;” an analogy to the meditative discipline of listening to the still small voice within. Like true meditation, good writing comes from a place deep within, beyond the noisy, scattered and often directionless voice of the mind.
So am I doing good writing? I hope so, but can a writer truly judge his own cover? Such is surely the prerogative of his readers, not pejorative of a caffeine-addled ego, and to know the answer to this question it surely would not hurt to listen longer to the writer’s voice within…
“We can listen to the dictates of the soul, or feel the presence of the inner voice, without being guided by a very deep meditation. Even in the hustle and bustle of life we can hear the inner voice, but if we meditate, then it becomes extremely easy to listen to the voice within. Without practising spirituality we may hear the inner voice, we may even see the soul, but we will doubt our experience. We will say, “This cannot be the soul; this voice is not coming from the soul.” But if we have a very good, deep meditation, we can hear the voice, we can see the soul with inner certainty.” —Sri Chinmoy, Sri Chinmoy Answers, Part 13.
January 26th, Australia Day, 2009.
Bob Munden is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest man with a gun who has ever lived, and we’re not talking about a 4×100 metre relay with gun in hand.
Of the eighteen world records you can hold in fast draw shooting—the sport of drawing and shooting a gun in the manner of wild west lore—Bob has held all eighteen since 1960, and he holds them still in his ultra steady hand. This fastest gunslinger than the rest has won 3,500 trophies and 800 major championships, and while his picture might be on the back of cereal boxes, his sheriff’s badge didn’t come out of one.
Is Bob the fastest man with a gun alive? Yes, but that’s barely grazing the surface of his intergalactic prowess. Friends, humans and countrymen, Bob Munden is the fastest human being alive. Fire away Bob, tell us just how fast you are…
“Fast draw is the fastest thing a human being does…”
Bob Munden is a straight shooter. Being interviewed, he drawls but never hesitates before taking aim, and if certainty was a target, he would hit the bulls-eye every time.
Being interviewed, Bob Munden doesn’t just tell the television reporter how fast he is—he verbally shoots his questioner directly between the eyes, for so fast is this dead-eye gunslinger, he can answer questions even before they are asked.
“Nobody does anything faster than what I do with guns…”
Which was a statement, not answer or explanation. Like Newton or Einstein, Sheriff Bob is laying down the law—of physics and of time.
Slightly slower than Bob Munden on the universal scale of speed, a barely perceptible flicker of doubt fires across the television interviewer’s mind. Suspicious, the reporter takes aim, queries: “Can you give it a comparison to something that would come close?”
“The speed of light…” drawls big shot Bob, laconically, and uncharacteristically slowly. “There is nothing next to it.”
Is this man fast with the truth as well? Is he on a supersonic flight of fancy that only reality can rein in?
Bob Munden may talk fast and loose, but his gun is quicker than even his tongue. Already believers, a crowd of Western movie extras gather, stand and applaud his every move at a shooting demonstration, stiffly. In less than two one hundredths of one second, Bob will blow all of their minds.
“It’s a number we’re not familiar with…”
Two hundredths of one second is the time it takes Bob to fire and hit a target; draw, cock, level, fire, shoot and hit almost at the speed of light. One day we may build space ships fast enough to go where only Bob has gone before. Bob Munden, star of shooting may go supernova one day, explode into empty space with the sound of his gun his only reminder, like speeding light from a long dead star.
Bob Munden lives in moments unexplored by humanity—he shoots his gun faster than you or I can think. Bob may just be consciousness itself—the acme of sense and thought, the sea upon which the human mind floats. Does Bob fire the gun, or is Bob the gun itself; trigger, bullet and mind at one?
“He shot two and it sounded like it was one shot,” the reporter exclaims upon viewing Bob burst two balloons mounted meters apart, faster than you or I could shoot one. Faster than you or I could shoot none would be a more mathematically correct description of the scene.
“Here’s one going into the gun.” Bob Munden may fire with bullets, but he talks with poetry.
At the shooing demonstration, but not entirely on the same planet, the reporter again declares that “two shots are going to sound like one.” Is this a moment of Zen, a moment of universal oneness, or a song by U2 from 1983?
Stuck with the rest of us in the everyday dimensions of time and space, the television reporter is clearly unable to comprehend the singularity of Bob Munden’s genius. What is the sound of one gun firing? Silence in the infinite forest of Bob Munden’s Buddha-mind.