Laurie Anderson

Amagansett, 2017

In German there’s a word, Waldeinsamkeit, which means “forest loneliness”. This doesn’t mean the trees are getting lonely. It means “the joy you feel when you’re in the woods all by yourself”.

I’ve heard that there’s a Korean word for “the things that come looking for you”. But my research comes up only with the phrase 당신을 찾는 것들, which is close but not exact. In German there’s Dich aufsuchende Dinge, meaning “things seeking you out”.

I’m listening right now to a piece of music that my husband Lou Reed made for his tai chi practice. He was a martial artist and he practiced every day for two hours. On the weekends, he practiced for six hours. It’s called Hudson River Wind Meditations – music made of wind from the Hudson, processed through lots of filters.

Lou was writing a book about tai chi called “The Art of the Straight Line”. But he got sick and he just ran out of time. When he died, I asked three people to help me put the book together. It’s his writing, with lots of interviews and pictures.

I also inherited about a hundred weapons – swords and spears and
daggers. At first, I couldn’t even pick them up. And now I’m learning a lot
of forms. And I’ve picked up the gauntlet like you say, learning how to kill
people – ritually, of course.

When you watch people doing tai chi in the park, it’s so elegant and
restrained that it’s easy to forget it’s a fighting form with an application.
This move for example, which looks so gliding, so smooth and elegant.
What is this? This is decapitation. So tai chi is like fighting with an absent
partner or like dancing with a ghost. It’s a conversation, a duet, it’s love
and it can also be war. Like the great Willie Nelson said, “Almost
everyone ends up with the wrong person and that’s what makes the
jukebox spin.”

Lou had a big library of tai chi books and one of the books was a fighting
manual from the 16th century by military strategist Qi Jiguang, a very
tough general in the Ming Dynasty.

Here’s one of my favorite verses from the book:

Verse 7
Suspend a leg as empty bait
and lightly advance to the opponent.
Having used both legs as bait,
stop being light on your feet.

Laurie Anderson