Friday, March 25, 2011

Wishing Your Way out of Deadsville: Yoga, SXSW and that Geldof Thing


(null8's photostream, flickr)
W e must be pretty high up there, stratospheric... I thought. The air looked vaporous and thin, and there were strange droplets of cloud slipping onto my wool jacket from inside the oval window of the jet plane. On the advice of one of the flight attendants, I had switched seats with a minor who was too young fly alongside the drippy emergency exit. And I couldn't help but wonder if Air Canada itself was melting, drop by drop, out of the perpetual sky like some Dali-esque portent, as the conversation that foreshadowed my week at SXSW in Austin wafted in and out from two seats behind me.

 -"This is the 13th time I've gone to Sxsw. Man, it's not anything like it used to be. It's grown to the point where it's just madness. I would really rather not go anymore. There's too much to see. I'm actually planning to go watch the game on Friday afternoon instead and skip the music."
- "Yeah, I might do the same."

What causes apathy, burnout or disinterest in a community?
And what does this really have to do with yoga? 

(Salvador Dali, NYC, 1951)
The SXSW music festival and conference is a longstanding tradition in Austin, Texas. It happens yearly. I'm sure it was started and continues to be run by folks that really struggled to give music a voice in the community. And, it's a festival that I've always loved attending. This year was no exception. But this year, I also saw something something different; something of a surreal premonition, or at the very least, like a millisecond flash, a blinking vision of what might happen to yoga in thirty years if we take the same train as other cultural industries.

And because I figure you can learn a lot about many things by examining a single thing, I'll tell you how this last week, many of us saw how one action creates a rippled reaction... how you can hear the ocean in a seashell, see three worlds in Krishna's infant mouth, and samasthitih in every single pose. So take it as you will, as cautionary tale or as a chance to plant new wishes; this is an examination of yoga through the lens of this year's SXSW music festival.

(Nele Azevedo, Melting Man, Berlin: Installation of 1,000 melting men done in collaboration with the WWF to highlight global warming)

(Bob Geldof, Keynote Address SXSW 2011)