My favorite things Java

1. Novel: Pramoedya Toer, The Buru Quartet.  I like this better than say Mahfouz or Rushdie.  It focuses on the key question of what a life may be said to consist of, and each of the four volumes makes the others richer.  Another famous Indonesian novel is Andrea Hirata, The Rainbow Troops, it is good not great.

2. Gamelan music CD: Java: Court Gamelan.  Dreamy and beautiful, this is one of my favorite world music CDs.

3. Popular music: The Smithsonian has a very good 17-CD set of Indonesian popular music.

4. Classical pianist: Eduardus Halim.

5. Movie: Raid: The Redemption.  Martial arts reign, after the police storm an apartment fortress.  If you like the genre at all, this one is special.  Note that The Act of Killing is set mainly in Sumatra and thus does not count.

6. Movie, set in: The Year of Living Dangerously is the obvious choice.  I believe the old “Krakatoa, East of Java” is set…east of Java.

7. Painter: I can’t say I love Affandi, so I must be missing someone.

Xaviera Hollander deserves mention, although in what category should she be my favorite?  Old Javanese Gold is excellent, plus there is puppetry.  The best textiles are from Sumatra, or from the smaller islands.

Overall I have long felt a kinship to this culture, and I am excited to be visiting Java for the first time.


"Overall I have long felt a kinship to this culture, and I am excited to be visiting Java for the first time."

Tyler Cowen

"I welcome the experience."

Timothy Leary on discovering that he was dying of cancer

I'm inclined to believe Timothy Leary. He really knew the meaning of 'experience'. I don't believe Tyler Cowen knows the meaning of 'kinship' in culture; I'm inclined to exclaim 'pull the other one mate'. Perhaps when he's finished the Buru books he may understand …

Krakatoa is west of Java ... the movie was wrong :)

You seem to have forgotten what your favorite IDE is?

The Raid Redemption? Ebert gave it one star and it deserved it.

I just returned from Java and while there was introduced to glass painting where the artist paints on the reverse side of the glass. Evidently much of this is now low quality but the gallery I visited had a high opinion of Rastika. Although I know nothing about the artist or the tradition he works in, I quite liked his paintings.

"My favorite things Java": no mention of coffee?

Rijsttafel, fusion cuisine avant la lettre, there are several good places in Jakarta.
Batik, textile art like there is no other.
Kantjil and Tiger, a fairy tale that antedates Kipling's Mowgli by centuries.

Here's my question: other than, say economics, in what field do people trust Tyler's taste the most? He seems to like good music but also bad music. He likes good and bad novels. If he emphasizes something it is probably a good thing, but I don't know how to take these lists. When it comes to food, well, if he came to my town and asked for a recommendation I wouldn't know what to recommend cause I'd be afraid he'd hate my recommendation, if only because of all the hot women likely to show up. So in what category do people trust TC's taste the most?

Do you know anyone who only likes good music?

All the music I like is good, that's why I like it. Others disagree, strangely. I guess that was your point.

I agree with Dirk. In fact, even in economics, I'm not sure I /understand/ what Tyler is saying, let alone trust it.

Perhaps more people trust Tyler's tastes compared to the people who trust mine and yours?

"I have felt a kinship"

Please, you're a tourist. You come to gorge yourself into an even fatter body while gluttonously consuming exactly what was prepared for you to consume as a classless tourist. This is like Julia Roberts getting all spiritual in India in one of her movies.

Also The Raid is a hilariously dumb, high concept movie.

Interestingly enough, Julia Roberts also gets her spirituality on in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Wow Tyler, happy to welcome you here in Indonesia. You'll have a lot of numbers of favorite things to be put in the next post :)

An excellent read on Indonesia is Simon Winchester's "Krakatoa".

"3. Popular music: The Smithsonian has a very good 17-CD set of Indonesian popular music."

Would love to sample all of it. Turns out it is a 20 CD set, more info here:

That CD series from the Smithsonian is really really great, but it is NOT specifically a series of popular music in the sense that people might get from the cover of volume that is linked to here.

Rather it's a series of recordings of some of the kinds of music from Indonesia that is not well documented in the West. Most of the CDs are of music from lesser-known areas of the archipelago, many, but not all, of which are related to various gamelan styles.

The Smithsonian CD series is excellent, but it's not a series of 20 discs of rock-influenced popular music, which the cover of the disc that comes up clicking the link that Tyler provides might evoke in readers who primarily listen to American and European pop music.

The series documents a wide range of musics, mostly traditional musical forms from parts of the archipelago that Westerners don't travel to as much as the big cities. Some, but not all, of the music is related to various styles of gamelan.

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