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bali_fruithead.jpgI’m glad that Bali is not a violent place. Yes, there are occasional bombs, but those are more like random car accidents than a pervasive social menace. Bali retains a cohesive, family oriented social structure. Even the social outcasts and the lowest moral classes would lose dignity with violence in the service of greed. There don’t seem to be a lot of guns here – the violent crimes I hear of are done with knives – so an escaping criminal risks more than just jail; any violent crime is immediately punished by mob execution if the offender can be caught. The police will not prosecute a mob for killing a violent thief. This is at once the pro and the con of a of a tight society – people are kept in line. There is less freedom to be immoral or to grow past restricting mores. In the villages, for example, a woman can be excommincated from her essentially important church and community if she gets pregnant out of wedlock. Up to 40% of all economic activity of the Hindus on the island is spent towards ceremonies and offerings, so a great part social interaction is enmeshed in rigid social expectations. The family and community remains very strong – strong enough to keep most individuals from growing a strong ego. Which is not a good thing, as a strong ego is pre-requisite for daring curiosity and for following inspired passions. We must deconstruct our way out of what we know as we discover what we don’t, and being a respectful church going momma’s boy doing as he is told is not conducive to daring thought. But it keeps the violence down, the libidos tamed, social interaction predicatable.

… The people of Bali also have a subdued character. Time glides past uneventfully.

It’s not like the Phillipines or Thailand, where the fire in the belly is a shared spice of life. Those are more lawless and crazy and loud and sometimes ugly places, while Bali is smooth and easy and beautiful and well tended. But Bali is not a passionate place. The girls tend to be either outright prostitutes, or tending to their virginity; there is little understanding of harnessing passion for purposes other than family or money. You won’t see a street carnival with wiggling hips here, and the wiggling hips in the disco aim to seduce a foreign man’s wallet. They don’t have an honest relationship to libido in Bali. The Philippines is much more open and free, the Catholicism seeming to make no real impact of peoples appreciation for the fullness of a body based life. And Thailand manages libido by giving full expression to it while keeping it hush hush and wink wink, or secluded to low profile places. Indonesia hasn’t really figured out what to do with life force, other than gardens and art and beautiful buildings and family and careful social codes. Bali is small island of relatively sexual Hindus surrounted by strictly repressed and oppressive Muslims, but even here the modern age of dating and condoms is a new puzzle to the changing community. They make their way like unguided teenagers, some clinging to marriage as the only solution, some to sex for money as the only solution, to the question of what to do with the possibilities of libidinous communions. Unlike a country like Brazil, or France, in which a young person coming of age comes into a culture with art and poetry and movies rich with appreciations for all things sumptuous and fertile, romantic and ecstatic, the Balinese live in a sterile vacuum that allows for anything – like a conservative town in Kansas where the teenagers are free to experiment, but where all lessons must be learned through
experience.

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