April 23, 2003

Washing the Ego Away with Karaoke

Category: Humor — Biella @ 1:33 pm

There are times when you know that your “work” is done. As most know, I came
to do fieldwork in San Francisco on free software and as part of the
fieldwork gig, I interned at the EFF for a year.

The EFF folks there are fine, fine people: freedom loving folks that work
hard on many different fronts to ensure the cyber-rights we all love to
have and have to love.

But all along, I knew that something was missing from their lives. I mean
how could you love and work so hard for freedom when you have never tasted
the sweet liberation that is karaoke?

Finally, my mission here in SF has been accomplished. The proverbial “They”
say that an anthropologist always changes the people/society/culture that
she studies and this has formed some substantial and .”right on” critiques
as well as understanding of the fallacy of true objectivity. And indeed sometimes
an anthropologist and the knowledge produced by academic studies can change things for
the worse, but other times, she can clearly changes things for the better.
Like I did last night. I can now leave SF in peace.

For nearly a year I have been telling the EFF crew to get out there, come to
the finest karaoke in San Francisco and finally, they came to their

And let me tell you, I, a seasoned karaoke-goer, was impressed. The finesse,
the heart, the soul, the rhthms were just sinister. But sinister in that
good, deep, spiritually revealing sort of way. And I know they were hooked.
Some spoke of “a next time.” Yes, a next time because as
always, karaoke hooks, draws you in, no matter your age, background,
culture, emotional temperament, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs.
Why the strong pull, the gravitational allure of a seemingly benign form of entertainment?

It was an EFF employee, John, who summed up the power, the true transformative power of
this art form: “karaoke is “laundry for the ego.”

Yes, you have to toss theego away to get up there in front of peers, friends, strangers, and other karaoke-goers and sing songs by Journey, Vanilla Ice, and the Clash. The Ego
just has to vanish as you pound on the floor, play air guitar, and belt out
horrible cheesy tunes. You realize that everything you thought about yourself (that you are really an eduring you), melts like sweet butter on warm toast as you take the persona in play of someone else. The relativity of self,the source of emptimess, the reality of change and process comes to life
as you stare at the screen and become one with the microphone.

I am sure if karaoke had been around the time of Shakyamuni Buddha, the
Buddha would have used the “method of karaoke” as a technique to overcome our
ego attachment. He would have ‘roaked under the Indian night sky and stars,
next to bodhi tree and then would have integrated karaoke sining, in public
of course, as part of ones monkly duties to release the self from the cycle of
rebirth and to alleviate the suffering of all humankind.

It is at once a practice of wisdom (of realization of non ego) and
compassion (as it is a gift to others, the gift of making a fool of
yourself, or letting go of our pride in public). Yes, Karaoke is the
inseparability of the wisdom that is compassion.

1 Comment »

  1. [...] Yes, this is the one! How to kill off your ego and become powerfully attractive [...]

    Pingback by E for Ego « Lazy Blogger — December 14, 2009 @ 12:29 pm

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