Memoirs of a Superfan Vol. 10.1

Tibetan goats. Photo by Adam Schorsch/Flickr Creative Commons.
"I tend to think that the web pulls the wool over our eyes much of the time. We need real threads to tie us, not virtual ones."

Memoirs of a Superfan (MOSF) is back! That would be longtime film festival attendee and CAAM supporter Ravi Chandra. MOSF Volume 10.1 takes a look at the past year and what the year of the Goat/Ram/Sheep brings us.

Memoirs of a Superfan Vol. 10.1

An Old Goat Chews on a New Year

The Year of the Horse seemed prolonged. An extra-long year for a stallion that ran us all hard. I championed a willful, determined steed in my MOSF opener last year, invoking the lung ta, or Wind Horse, which carries prayers to heaven. We prayed, we marched, we demanded justice—and the streets ran red; they bled. There is still unfinished business, the work of dismantling overt and unconscious biases that are embedded in not just policing and legal systems, but in a loose thread that runs through the tapestry of our society, threatening to pull it apart. We cannot ignore this thread, this storyline that makes freedom, peace and justice a mere yarn.

We need new wool.  Enter the Sheep.

(But lest I forget, the exiting tail/tale of the Horse Year included one kind of horse I forgot in last year’s blog post, the show-horse. Let’s say it seemed a new arrival; it was Fresh Off The Boat. The Horse horsed around, for good measure, maybe telling us that a snort of good humor might gather the herd as surely as the angry stamp of the lead mare or stallion’s foot. The Trojan Horse might come stocked with jesters instead of soldiers, armed with actor’s gestures instead of policemen’s holsters. I certainly prefer volleying from a humorous canon, puns replacing guns.)

I think it’s very auspicious that the first alumni interview I did this year for college admissions was a young woman who was a champion dairy goat farmer on the side.

This animal year has an identity crisis, though. Is it Ram, Sheep or Goat?  The word “yang” in Chinese can refer to any of these ovine or caprine mammals. And once you start talking about Yang, you’re pretty much talking about everything.  As the Beijing Daily wrote, “The yang possesses a rich and complex meaning in the minds of Chinese people. It has permeated every corner of our lives. Some say that in a sense, Chinese culture is not the culture of the dragon or the tiger, but the culture of the yang.” Why, that’s not sheepish at all. Yang is the masculine counterpart to the feminine Yin, the two complementing each other in the yin and yang of the Tao. This gives weight to the Yang year belonging to the Ram. And since yang connotes sunlight, this lunar year must be the Year of Sun.  No kidding.

But what about the Ewe? Actually for Tibetans, this year is very specifically the Year of the Female Wood Sheep. Tibetan years cycle not just through the 12 zodiac animals, but the five elements (iron, water, wood, fire and earth) and the genders. Thus each animal appears only once in 60 years.

Would you care to know the history of the Wood Ewe?

The last Wood Ewe Year was 1955, the year the Vietnam War began, with U.S. “advisors” and battles between North and South. Before that, 1895, the year W.E.B. Du Bois became the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard. Before that, 1835, with Charles Darwin arriving at the Galapagos.  Before that, 1775, the beginning of the American Revolution.

Wisdom, War and Wood seem to go together, a yin-yang WWW mix of ewe years. Sophia, the goddess of Wisdom, meets Mars, the god of War, meets Silvanus, the god of wood and forests. The original SMS. The yang Ram it may be, but feminine Ewe (Eve?) also, and I personally hope for a strong feminine lead this year, the feminine being the principle of relatedness in Jungian psychology.

Interestingly, “ewe” autocorrects to “www” on my iPhone, the web perhaps being the most tangible example of modern relatedness. Perhaps the web’s threads come sheared from our ewe, and we’ll all find a way snuggle under the world wide wool blanket. Or maybe this can be the year of the Billy Goats Gruff, and we will finally knock those damn trolls off our world wide bridge, and make it to the top of our hill on the other side.

Does the web connect or disconnect? It seems like people are always disconnectedly staring at their phones on my street, the smartphone screen being their preferred partner, their preferred face, their preferred world, their ewe-tube. It always seems to be the Year of the RAM (Random Access Memory), in Silicon Valley. Maybe if my face were a screen….

I recently deactivated my Facebook account for good, after years of ambivalence (see my post “Goodbye Facebook, Hello World” on Psychology Today. I tend to think that the web pulls the wool over our eyes much of the time. We need real threads to tie us, not virtual ones. Love may come in 36 questions, but it must come face-to-face, not fleeced by the artifice of our 21st Century rendezvous with screens. We must choose ai over A.I.

This is, after all, the best year to say the words:

“I love ewe.  I’d like to get you on a slow goat to China.”

What can I say?  I’m a hammy Ram.  And I’m horny for CAAMFest.  See you soon.

Ravi Chandra, M.D. is a San Francisco psychiatrist and writer. He writes The Pacific Heart blog for Psychology Today. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and best of all, sign up for an occasional newsletter here, and find out about his upcoming book on the psychology of social networks through a Buddhist lens, Facebuddha: Transcendence in the Age of Social Networks, and his e-book on Asian American Anger. More CAAMFest MOSF blog posts can be found here and here.