The Book

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To be honest when Martin first contacted him, the Author didn’t read the Emails that carefully.  As evidence, he hadn’t even noticed the fateful ‘host’ word. He was completely immersed in graphing and describing infotons. In the midst of this mathematical obsession, he could barely talk, much less think, about any other topic. He considered that everything else was a distraction from his beloved science – deemed the Mathematics of the Moment or Behavioral Dynamics.

In the Author’s mental abstraction of the Emails, Martin had read his book on Southeast Asia, was impressed with it, and wanted to meet him. Another more accurate version had it that Martin had read the Southeast Asia book and wanted to give the Author a direct experience of Java.

The Khmer Empire of Angkor in Cambodia had dominated the original book, The Rise and Fall of Southeast Asia’s Empires. In fact, the Author’s direct experience of Angkor and then the port town of Malacca on the Malay Peninsula had inspired his writings. His writing was merely a technique to understand what he had personally witnessed.

However, he had gleaned most of the information concerning Java and the islands from casual reference books. The Author was acutely aware that his understanding of Southeast Asia’s island empires was weak. He knew that he had to visit Borobudur before he could truly finish the work. The Author had even imagined and hoped that someone might invite him to Southeast Asia in order to round out his knowledge of the area. Evidently this form of sympathetic magic worked.

Back to the book. Martin’s Emails make no mention of any book. He had probably read a smattering of articles off the Author’s website regarding Southeast Asia, American politics and China. In fact, it is rare when anyone reads an entire book off a website. Further, Martin could probably see that the articles on the temple ruins of Java were cursory at best. Because of his personal interest in the history of the area, he wanted a more thorough treatment of the culture of his people. His generosity led him to take matters into own hands and make it happen. He accurately assessed that common interests would yield a good traveling partner and so extended the invitation.

The Author was rightfully proud of the invitation regardless of the motivations behind it. However, he went a little overboard when bragging to his friends under the influence of Gentleman Jack. “A Chinese fellow read my Southeast Asia book off my website – was evidently impressed because he offered to host me if I visit Java. We took him up on his offer. Laurie and I are traveling to Indonesia in the fall.”

“Does he want you to give a talk?”

“No. We will probably just travel together. Visit some ruins.”

“Are you going to give him a copy of your book?”

“Er … No. He can read it all on the website.”

 “You must give him a hard copy. It is much more impressive than a web address.”

 His argument was irrefutable. A physical book is just so tangible – so real. Pick it up. Thumb through the pages. Check out the pictures and cover at a glance.

But the Book wasn’t finished. It was in rough form. Although the Author had written most of the articles, they had not been edited. More importantly, some articles only consisted of a chapter heading, nothing more. Further, there were not too many illustrations in a book that emphasized art and gorgeous architectural ruins. In other words, to turn his articles into the book he had imagined and even bragged about, the Author had to do a lot of work.

The task was certainly doable. However at the time the suggestion was made, the Author still considered himself a mathematical scientist, first and foremost. He felt that this was his primary calling. The last time he had even looked at his Southeast Asia book was over 5 years ago in the Winter of 2008. He couldn’t even remember what he had written. His creative momentum was in an entirely different direction.

Further, the Author hadn’t even read his work on Southeast in the 2008 session. He was only putting it up on his website. In fact, organizing the articles for the site made him aware that he had written 3 books. He knew that he had written a lot regarding Southeast Asian history, but the articles were part of his travelogues and not books in their own right. The organization crystallized his subconscious intent.

Indeed, the last time the Author had written extensively about Southeast Asia was in the Summer and Fall of 2004, after he had visited Malacca and Singapore. He had investigated questions regarding Malacca’s rise and fall as an international port. His findings led him to what he felt was an original perspective regarding Southeast Asia. Namely, the geographic region is not the merely the cultural suburbs of India and China (Indochina), but has unique characteristics and an inspiring culture that separates it from its more well known neighbors. His muse impelled him to write his insights down.

He tagged these writings on the end of his first ‘travelogue’ regarding a family vacation to Thailand and Cambodia in the Spring of 2001. Through unusual, perhaps divine, circumstances, the Universe inspired the Author to go to the magnificent temple ruins – Angkor Wat. This led him to investigate what factors led to the rise and fall of the Khmer Empire. He eventually included his findings as part of his account of his family trip. The entire obsession consumed 6 months of the Author’s time.

Unfortunately, he had not backed up his 100 page + account of Southeast Asia. Fortunately, a friend had asked to read his account. So he had printed out a hard copy for her to read. Unfortunately in April of 2002, his computer crashed and he lost all the contents of his hard drive. Fortunately, he had backed up most of his other writings and at least had a hard copy of his travelogue to Thailand and Angkor. Unfortunately, he had to scan and edit each page individually to return it to an electronic form. Fortunately, the hard copy and technology existed to reconstitute his work; else it would have been lost forever.

Evidently, the Universe wanted the Author to write about Southeast Asia. Of course, Martin’s invitation is another indication of Providence in action. There is yet another Sign of the Universal Intent.

Burned out after his 7 month Southeast Asia obsession of 2004, he never completed his second travelogue. The section he called ‘Celestial Singing’, an exceptional early morning experience in Bangkok, kept bouncing around his mind, begging to get out. However, the Author was involved in a new obsession, Ma Belle, his restaurant trilogy based upon his experience as a waiter at Citronelle.

More importantly, he had convinced himself that this work was his ticket to freedom – a guaranteed best seller that would allow him to leave the restaurant business. Due to this idea, the Author ignored his Muse as he attempted to stay on track – editing and reediting this massive manuscript (over 800 pages) that would release him from bondage. Despite indications to the contrary, including a growing desperation and lack of vitality, the Author forced himself to ignore all inner urges to ‘perfect’ this book that would ‘set him free’, earn him national acclaim, and draw attention to his other writings.

Finally, everything came to a head. His restaurant job at the Wine Cask(et) had required him to lift more wine boxes than his aging body could take. His desire to get out of this untenable situation, led him to take an unreasonable course of action. This included pushing himself to write about topics that didn’t inspire him and more importantly to pursue Website astrology as a potential avenue for escaping a position that was draining his vitality. After a particularly busy season combined with lots of lifting, the Author had a psychic and physical breakdown.

It was not what most consider to be a traditional breakdown –perhaps hospitalization, counseling, and inactivity. Instead the Author could only follow the biddings of his Muse, nothing more. He couldn’t go into work as a waiter – too stressed out physically and emotionally. Eventually he took the entire Winter season off. More importantly, he could not work on any project of his own volition – no psychic energy. In essence, his Muse forced him to do her bidding, providing him no energy for what he felt he should do, only energy for what she wanted him to do.

The first thing she wanted him to do was complete ‘Celestial Singing’, the section of his 2nd Southeast Asia Travelogue that had been bouncing his mind for 4 years –begging to get out. Shortly after, she bade him to put his entire work on Southeast Asia up on his website, the first of his extended works to achieve this status. As he organized and reorganized the work for website addresses and such, he realized that he had written 3 books – the Travelogue, the early history of Southeast Asia, the history of Southeast Asia after the Europeans arrived. A combination of these articles inspired Martin to invite the Author to Southeast Asia. Without the Breakdown, the Muse would not have been able to reassert control and the Author would not have been invited to Java and Bali. At least, that is the story/drama he tells himself.

Now in the Summer of 2013, his friend has provided him with what he considered a divine directive. Provide a copy of the book, that hasn’t been finished to Martin. But the Author still considered himself a scientist. Yet in honor of the invitation and the trip, he started to read what he had written.

The first chapter of the book that he thought Martin had read, but probably hadn’t, starts out with Southeast Asia and the Universe having a conversation about the Author’s Dharma path. Southeast Asia wants someone to write her story. She likens her dream author to Vyasa, the mythical writer of the Mahabharata. The Universe promises her that he will guide the Author to write her story by manipulating external circumstances to provide the appropriate Signs.

I, the current Author, am stunned. Chills issue up my spine. The Kundalini Serpent is awake. I realize that Martin’s generous offer is another of these manipulations that the Universe arranges to get me on my Dharma path. Blown away, it is evident that I must edit and turn my essays into a finished book.

In the process, I must write a chapter on China’s contribution to Southeast during the 14th century – Zheng He’s voyages and such. This article had also been bouncing around my mind for years waiting patiently for an opportunity to escape. Needless to say, releasing this pentup information was a psychic relief.

More importantly due to the introductory chapter, I must write about the Mahabharata, one of the Hindu novels that transformed SOutheast Asian culture. The profound content leads to a mini-spiritual awakening. Further I engage Laurie and King, a good friend, as editors. Working, working, accelerating, I leave the science behind, just a fading memory, and become immersed in the Southeast Asia book. I produce a finished copy with Martin's picture for a cover just before the deadline.

Talk about the Call. The refreshment of my knowledge of the area charged the trip with special meaning and allowed me to have relevant conversations with Martin. Bless the Universe for providing me with guidance and gratitude for my role.

 

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