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Behold, She Lives!

Just surfacing for a tiny breath of air, to let you know I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. I am currently ten pages deep into one of those papers that make me ask, every few lines, "how do I get myself into these situations?" In this case, I'm trying to squeeze out a grad-school length paper on the different forms of Christian music in Java (which is Muslim), despite the fact that there's almost nothing written about it. The major scholarly work, the one key to understanding the role of Vatican II in the development of Christian shadow puppetry in Indonesia, is a dissertation-in-progress.

And here I thought that cranking out a paper last year about the musical habits of the Cochin Jews, a community that basically doesn't exist anymore, was out there. At least with the Cochin paper, there were resources, videos, and even a CD. I have it on good authority that no one has yet recorded a Catholic shadow puppet play. Fun fun fun till Daddy takes the T-Bird away.

In other news, the Registrar fails again, and I have an irreconcilable course conflict that I must reconcile by next week. What am I going to do about this? Two things. I am going to go singing in Terre Haute on Saturday, and then I will dance in Wilmette on Sunday.

Take that, universe!


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 19th, 2007 04:36 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm working on turning the paper into a grand success. I'm amazed that I've gotten this far, and some of my sources have turned up with timely saves. I just might manage to pull this off!

After all of this, I deserve to sing in Terre Haute and dance in Wilmette!
Mar. 19th, 2007 01:04 pm (UTC)
How do you get yourself into these situations? ;-)

I was wondering how you were getting on. Alive is good anyway. Focus on that...
Mar. 19th, 2007 04:37 pm (UTC)
How do you get yourself into these situations? ;-)

Oh, trust me, I ask myself that no more than about twice a week, or twice a day during paper-writing time. I'll let you know if I ever figure out the answer.
Mar. 19th, 2007 04:30 pm (UTC)
The Cochinis are still around in Israel though. A friend of mine married one. I went to meet him at his mother's house (in Israel) and it was weird to be served chicken curry by a Jewish woman who cooked that way because that's what they did in the old country.
Mar. 19th, 2007 04:39 pm (UTC)
They are still in Israel, but they are rapidly losing one of their great musical traditions, the women's song repertoire. This is because the songs are in their old native language of Malayalam, which the girls don't learn from birth any more. Some mothers still try to teach their daughters Malayalam in order to pass on the old songs, but with the inevitable result that the daughters will never be quite as comfortable with the language as the mothers. Fortunately, there is a recording of the women's songs, so they won't be totally forgotten.
Mar. 20th, 2007 12:45 am (UTC)
Good to hear from you! Your current project sounds ... scary. But then, I didn't even know that most of those things existed before reading this post.

Good luck with everything and have fun singing and dancing! :)
Mar. 20th, 2007 01:09 am (UTC)
To the surprise of all, I actually managed to finish the paper today. It came to thirteen pages of text, and two pages of pictures, which makes it multimedia, in the very technical sense of the word. Frankly, I didn't know that Christian forms of wayang existed before I started on this paper, either. The things you learn in grad school. Three weeks ago, I didn't know wayang wahyu existed. Now I can tell you all about it.
Mar. 20th, 2007 02:00 am (UTC)
Here's your chance, if you'd like, 'cause I have no idea what wayang wahyu is. Only that it has a hella cool name.

(Though I certainly understand, since you've been immersed in it, if you don't particularly want to take your first evening of freedom explaining wayang wahyu to some random Internet geek!)
Mar. 20th, 2007 02:10 am (UTC)
Sure, I'll tell you a little.

First of all, wayang refers to Indonesian theater in general, though it's usually applied to theatrical forms in Western Indonesia -- Java, Bali, Lombok, Sumatra, Sulawesi, those sorts of places. There's two major divisions of wayang. Wayang kulit is shadow-puppet theater, and there are lots and lots of different kinds of that. Wayang wong is dance drama -- the name means pretty much "theater of humans."

Ninety-five percent of wayangs in Java and Bali tell Hindu stories, usually elaborations of small moments from the Mahabharata or the Ramayana, while accompanied by a gamelan. This is one of the big uses for gamelans in Indonesia. There are standardized casts of puppets for the puppet plays, and sets of rules and conventions like any theatrical form.

Recently, by which I mean that this art form got started unofficially sometime between 1930 and 1957, and officially in 1960, the Catholic Church in Java has developed its own form of wayang. It's called wayang wahyu -- wahyu means "divine revelation." Like the other forms, wayang wahyu has an expanding cast of puppets, who are Bible characters, and the dhalang, the puppeteer, uses them to tell Bible stories. The wahyu puppets look a little different than the traditional kind, more Europeanized.

Lately, since the 1970s, the Protestant missions have also started doing wayang. They call it wayang prajanjian, where prajanjian means "testament." The major difference between wayang prajanjian and wayang wahyu is that the puppets in wayang prajanjian look more traditionally Javanese than the ones in wayang wahyu.
Mar. 20th, 2007 02:52 am (UTC)
Very interesting, thank you! I've learned more about Indonesian music from you this year than I ever thought I'd know! :)
Mar. 20th, 2007 12:52 am (UTC)
Oh isn't graduate school grand! A dissertation in progress?! What a nightmare. And the class schedule just adds to the fun doesn't it. Do you ever wonder if the teachers sit down and say, "how can we make this schedule as impossible as possible for the students?" I think they do at my school.

Have fun at the singing and dance. You totally deserve it. Isn't this Spring Break for you?
Mar. 20th, 2007 01:12 am (UTC)
Well, one good thing about it being a dissertation in progress is that the author is still a grad student, like me. So, when I wrote to her asking to discuss her work, she understood, and we had a nice e-mail chat. That's one thing I've noticed about academics -- they're very friendly even to completely random students who e-mail them to ask about their work. I hope someone asks me about my work someday so that I can be friendly and discuss it with them.

Do you ever wonder if the teachers sit down and say, "how can we make this schedule as impossible as possible for the students?"

Possibly. Although, here, I think they sit down and say, "which course can we list incorrectly so as to screw up the most music students' schedules?" I haven't even been here a year, and this has already happened twice.
Mar. 20th, 2007 01:17 am (UTC)
Clearly you need to go to Indonesia to conduct original research :-)
Mar. 20th, 2007 02:32 am (UTC)
I am told that there is a very good reason that so much ethnomusicology and anthropology has been committed in Bali. The professor for this course said that Bali was one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Perhaps after my Hebrew gets good enough, I'll learn Bahasa Indonesia and take off.
Mar. 20th, 2007 01:50 am (UTC)
Oh, ambitious Pony!

Singing and dancing are always good. Have fun!
Mar. 20th, 2007 02:34 am (UTC)
Oh, ambitious Pony!

Yes, well, it's easy to be ambitious when you walk into projects without a clear picture of just how big they really are. Usually I don't figure that out until I'm in too far to back out, so I have to keep on going. But if it looks like ambition to the outside world, I'm cool with that.
Mar. 24th, 2007 08:45 pm (UTC)
LOved that icon!
And now I can safely say that you have a steady tendency toward getting into impossible papers, so wathc out what you take for next course!

I so hope you enjoyed your deserved break and dancedn and sang to your heart's content!
Mar. 25th, 2007 01:48 am (UTC)
And now I can safely say that you have a steady tendency toward getting into impossible papers

To wriiiiiiite. . . the impossible paper. . .

so wathc out what you take for next course!

The quarter starts on Monday. Head for the hills.

LOved that icon!

I have only recently come to peace with the fact that I'm one of those people who would really enjoy Romeo and Juliet if one could somehow cut the parts of Romeo and Juliet, since they are a plonker and a hormonal thirteen-year-old girl and generally screw up what could have been a rather nice comedy. I've always been a big Mercutio fan, which I'm sure surprises you not at all.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )