Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   tantric weekend begins
Friday, November 12 1999
Kim discovered today that not only did Sophie steal a chocolate lady bug yesterday but two whole sesame bagels as well. Kim determined this from the fact that the bagels were missing from the provisions for our trip to Los Angeles and from the sesame seeds present in Sophie's poops. No wonder she was acting so guilty yesterday!

Scenes from my foggy commute
this morning along the San Diego River.

I feel a little sorry for the so-called "E-commerce Team." Their revenue-generating product is an awkward confederation of remote sites connected by an ingenious glue of web frames, but it's a clunky interface that produces considerably more frustration than revenue. The end-of-the-year goal of the E-commerce team is several millions of dollars in revenue, but as usual the team is far below this figure and the prospect of reaching it is dim at best. In an effort to ramp-up customer interest in the E-commerce shopping area, the E-commerce team has been coming up with a mad and ill-considered flurry of ideas ranging from new content sections to glitzy contests featuring lavish prizes. Since all these new sections demand frequent changes and considerable administration, they all require management tools, a decidedly weak development skill in the company, with the exception of me. Consequently, I've been the one picked to build all the new sections of the floundering online shopping site. The bonus pay hasn't been great, the deadlines have been even less realistic than usual for the company, and everyone in the E-commerce team seems to think the only work I have on my plate is theirs. It's been terrible aggravation for me. Today when the engineering powers that be (without consulting anyone outside of engineering) randomly decided to completely rebuild the development system, I found I couldn't work on any of the E-commerce team's projects. Their deadline was today, of course, but there was nothing that could be done to put development back on track, not even the throwing around of weight by the Director of E-commerce, employee number three. I've been so pestered and tortured by the E-commerce team that it was somewhat refreshing to see them unable for once to get their way. That said, I had to feel sorry for the E-commerce foot soldiers, all of whom suddenly looked like they'd learned they had cancer.
My escape from this madness came in the form of an excursion up the 163 with the likes of QA Mary, web developer Jonathan Iba-Jiba, Karin the over-involved Queen of Member Support, and Layloni, a fairly new employee specializing in the placement of advertising. Our destination was a Japanese restaurant called Niban. In appreciation for some work I did developing the company intranet, Mary was paying. I even ordered a thing of sake, and she helped me drink it. She looks like such a Chinese goody-two-shoes on the outside, but there she was drinking alcohol on her lunch break!
One of the conversations we had as we ate our sushi and chicken concerned electronic gadgets. Sherms had a cell phone he'd just bought and I had my battered little digital camera (which is over year and a half old!). Layloni told us about the bulky Palm Pilot she'd bought back in 1996 or 1997 (when they first came out) and how embarrassed she was when she saw how clunky it looked beside the sleek little Palm Vs carried by all the high-power VPs back at the office.

A thoughtful Jonathan Iba-Jiba.

Karin the over-involved queen of
member support at Niban,
the Japanese restaurant.

Me at Niban, as taken by
Karin the over-involved queen
of member support.

I slipped out of work at 2:00pm (despite the gauntlet of E-commerce people) and caught the trolley downtown. At the Victoria Rose, I picked up Kim and together we set off in her Volvo for our tantric weekend in Los Angeles. Sophie stayed behind at the fun doggie resort in North Park.
The ride up to Los Angeles was various forms of gridlock nearly all the way, including parts of the 5 in San Diego. The trip took us well over three and a half hours. Good thing we had marijuana and conversation to keep things interesting. "That's what guitarists do!" I remember thinking as I listened to the various riffs the guitarist for Creed was playing in "Can You Take Me Higher?", that song that's popular on rock radio these days. Creed is an abomination of non-originality and bad lyrics, but their guitarist does a few things I find interesting enough not to want to change the station.
The tantric seminar was being held in a large mansion in the hills overlooking Universal City, just over the hill to the north from Hollywood. The house belonged to a guy named Ca$h, a wild-looking guy with a mop of long grey hair and a deeply-furrowed face. He was perhaps 50 years of age, but he had little of the ossification of an adult; indeed, his behaviour had many of the qualities of early adolescence. I had no idea what Ca$h did in his life, but judging from his digs it must have been lucrative.
Since Kim and I had arranged to be videotaped for portions of the seminar, the instructor, Mare, had arranged with Ca$h to let us stay at his house (as opposed to in a hotel). We ended up with an exceptionally nice room upstairs. It was, as Kim and I might say, something of a "scorewinkle."
The others who had come to the seminar were a mix of people in their 30s and 40s. Most of them were single men, though there was also a single woman. The tantric seminar was a decidedly heterosexual affair, and Mare had seen to it that the gender balance was equal; she'd invited several of her tantric lady friends as well as several "goddesses" (members of a different - but related - mystical-sensual movement).
While they waited for Mare to set up a room for the lecture, the participants milled around in Ca$h's teevee room watching an extremely graphic "tantric" videotape. It featured a matter-of-fact talking head describing various tantric techniques spliced in with X-rated footage of a fucking, sucking, masturbating couple. This videotape had the effect of putting a decidedly hardcore sexual spin on the evening, to the point that Kim and I imagined we'd be taped doing full-on intercourse. This was a little more than we initially expected, but we were prepared to do anything in the name of tantra.
Inside Ca$h's place was a rambling, eclectic collection of hippie paraphernalia (thanks Jerry!), life-sized wooden Buddahs, and various works of art, including several original Alex Grey paintings. Alex Grey is, we were to learn, a personal friend of Ca$h's. No wonder; Ca$h had seen his first Grey painting while tripping on LSD.
Finally it was time for tantra lesson one. We were all gathered into the painstakingly-prepared room to learn about this tantra thing. It was all purely lecture at first, that male orgasm didn't necessarily have anything to do with ejaculation and that orgasms could last for over an hour in some cases. (I've heard that sort of thing before and I remained skeptical.) We also learned, not by definition but by context in an immersive setting, the various terms of tantra (many of which are familiar to anyone casually involved in bodywork and Eastern teachings):

chakra - an "energy center" located somewhere along the core of the human body. The first chakra is at the base of the spine and the last is at the top of the head, and there are others at the stomach, heart, genitals, throat and between the eyes.

lingum - the penis. A handy term for a somewhat sensitive subject.

Shakti - a woman. From the Hindu Goddess by the same name, creator of the Universe.

Shiva - a man. From the Hindu God by the same name.

yoni - the vagina. Another handy term for an uncomfortable subject.

Mare ordered us to walk around in circles and make loud moaning noises. It was an effort to get us to let down our guard and break the ice. This would have been an easy exercise had I been drunk, but I was stone cold sober. As we milled around the room groaning our meaningless noises there was a strange facelessness to our humanity, sort of like an creepy idea I have about souls awaiting enfleshment. It doesn't correspond with any belief systems that I know about, but in a sadly joyous, darkly lit theology I can picture a smoky incense-scented world where human souls mingle and wait, maybe it's actually Fugazi's "Waiting Room," sad but happy, in pain and in pleasure, all simultaneously. Some of these souls are old and bear great wisdom, others are young and reserved, but all of them reveal their state with nothing more articulate than existential moans and groans as they mill about with nothing much to do except to avoid running into one another.
Next came an actual tantric exercise. It was an intrinsically heterosexual ritual; we gathered in two circles, men on the outside and women on the inside, facing each other. What we did next derived its power from the inherent tension of women and men with one another. Each man was confronted with each woman, one after the other. We were told to look deeply into each others' eyes and then do other things which escalated further into the exercise. I later learned that this ritual was called a "puja."
I've never been through anything so thoroughly confusing to my intimacy reflexes. There's a natural inclination to feel a deep connection with someone when you gaze for any length of time into his or her eyes, but in this exercise I'd develop such a subconscious bond only to have it replaced with another a few minutes later. It left me with an existential feeling about humankind, or more particularly, womankind; all women seemed to have merged into one, a multi-dimensional Shakti who could manifest as a woman of any age, size or shape and come stare into my eyes with equal intensity. Some of these women were hardcore tantra experts too, voicing loud sensual moans with every deep breath. It was intimidating but somehow inspiring as well.
Mare had given Kim and me a discount on our seminar fees in exchange for being allowed to film us for a videotape she'll be making. She'd made a similar offer to a nervous-looking blond girl as well, but somewhere during the puja, when Mare ordered the men to place their right hands on their partner's heart chakra, the blond girl freaked out and dashed off, never to return.

After the day's activities were over, we milled around and chatted with our various new intimates. The one Indian guy there (from India, that is) told Kim and me all about how tantra is regarded in India. In India, he said, tantra is viewed much the way Satanism is here, that is, not very highly. He told about an article he read in a magazine about a reporter who went off to the forest to interview a tantric master. According to the reporter, one of the things the tantric master particularly enjoyed doing was fishing dead bodies out of the Ganges and having sex with them. It all sounded a little far fetched to me.
The Indian guy said he'd come to this seminar to find out about tantra in America. He explained that he had a fairly extensive yoga background from back in India.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next