The nothing, the whole
THERE IS CONSTRUCTION GOING ON, next door; I’m at my favorite hideaway, a poolside restaurant, here in Phnom Penh. Getting ready for Ubud. Thinking, feeling. These Americans visiting from Arizona and two other places I didn’t catch had a chat with me just now about what’s going on on the States. A crazy time. Things are nuts. Me, wondering how to talk to them, wondering how to share the angst that’s crept up, inappropriate?, the things that are bubbling up from reading online about shootings and hate culture and gay marriage and rights, yet all of this in the context of humidity and saturated air; it’s weird. I tell them. They listen. We move on. Angst. Worry about the nothing. This idea that something terrible is going to happen, any time, and when you try to define the ‘it’ that ‘one’ is worried about, then the answer is, truthfully, ‘Nothing.’ In sitting today with my xeroxes of Martin Heidegger‘s Basic Writings (Harper & Kim, New York, NY: 1817), I’m also gathering interpretations on what Heidegger meant, when he put his thoughts down, about ‘holding oneself out into the nothing.’
THE SUN IS GOING IN just as the pool is ready, or, I should say, as I am ready for it. Almost. Nearly. I always have anxiety around things like this. Starts. New ones. Urgh, let me just get on with the story, though, shall I? Been a strange breeze, these last few moments. The air thick but not so overwhelming as hot season. It’s okay. It’s going to be a coolness, shortly. The reflected buildings, buildings-in-progress, I should say, dancing and rippling on the surface of this place. I’ve been here countless times, now. I’ve gotten the same order, pretty much each one. I don’t know why but there is a movement, a rippling, but it’s not the water I’m talking about, now. It’s me. It’s terribly unsettling, this sensation of not-knowing. And yet, and yet, I know. Making space for uncertainty. That’s always been the whole work of it, hasn’t it? This journey that started before it officially did, maybe before my birth, yes, probably, if I want to get metaphilosophical. Did you know I will do this, if let to? I will. Friends let me go there. Sometimes and oft repeating phrasings, trying them out again over geographies and a decade, or two, or three. ‘You, um. You said that before.’ I let them let me, and we go together into the tepid areas. I think about this sort of thing as the water is too cold for my toe, my ankle, my calves. It’s okay. I’m going to do it. I push off the ledge, and then, I’m in.
I used to hang out at this poolside north of BKK1 but south of Riverside, so in the middle of Phnom Penh. I would bring along this notebook full of papers that had xeroxes for a class I never got to teach, long story, but the topic was metaphysics. That. Yeah. I guess you could say that not everyone is ready to go tehre with me, to ‘N+1’ it, as we say here now, it makes it easier to go ahead and do the thing you don’t really know what you’re doing but you do it because of what will happen after you do. The next. The next! That is the them for ‘N’ Vientiane. NEXT. But ‘N’ is another vector.
Today, thinking of Ubud. The next spot for S P A C E. I have left a lot of times. Left ‘home,’ then the adopted-home, then the places where I felt I had kinships (but didn’t, not really), to places where I was more useful creatively and later, insipirationally, and then, even after that, places where I pretty much talked to no one. And so it happens, that it becomes time to move, again. Time to move ‘on,’ wherever, but not with a clear path. This is also N+1 work, for us at DK. To be okay with uncertainty. To push the edge. To egg each other on when we start getting complacent, to push ourselves to keep moving, keep changing. To grow.
A base, of a place, for a time, to make conversation salons of the sort that meander and wander (much like this post) but with an aim. It’s not like wandering is aimless, if you really think abou tit. Soemtimes you need space to explore the edges, to push them out a bit, to poke a hole int hat paper wall that is abstract and possibly arbitrary (like time itself, yes?) A construct to hep us cope with our regular day to day, and not get lost in ennui or the enormity of ‘what it all is,’ or means, or does, or doesn’t do. Existentialism. Transcendentalism. All of them, all of those and more, and way less, too, but for now, the clippings that I am revisiting are these. Basics of metaphilosophy. ‘What is metaphysics?’ Thinking about it with David Bohm, Jiddu Krishnamurthi, Neils Bohr, and Martin Heidegger. (Who my favorite East Asian philospher says he feels sorry for. Mrrmmm.)
Out of routines, into nothing
FROM ‘What is Metaphysics?’:
‘PROFOUND BOREDOM,’ Heidegger writes, ‘drifting here and there in the abysses of our existence like a muffling fog, removes all things and men and oneself along with it into a remarkable indifference. This boredom reveals beings as a whole.’ Just before this section he says: ‘No matter how fragmented our everyday existence may appear to be… it always deals with beings in a unity of the “whole,” if only in a shadowy way. This boredom,’ reveals beings as a whole.’
QUESTIONS come up. What does it mean to ‘hold oneself out into the nothing?’ Is this feeling normal? Is it a Western thing? Howcome so many of us born in rich countries worry about what isn’t happening, and fret about what might happen, and sort of get into this rut of anxiety and angst? More importantly, how does knowing about this overwhelming shadowy whole, the belonging stuff, how does that get applied in everyday practice to fix everyday boredom? I mean, how does Heidegger help us cope? Is that too big a question? Your thoughts?
So when we’re not really busy this ‘as a whole’ overwhelms us in, for example, real boredom. I think what he means is when we’re going about our lives we have this idea that there’s a bigger group that we belong to, and so, when we’re not preoccupied with watching YouTube or fussing over a report to our boss, when we actually have to sit down and be quietly with ourselves—alone—it hits us. The big everything, the big empty quiet thing.
Making S P A C E in Ubud…
S P A C E. Gathering very small groups of people together to talk about this sort of stuff. Click the date that’s highlighted to see what’s planned…
WOULD YOU LIKE TO hear more about what’s ahead, and what this S P A C E project is about? If yes, there is a way to get a four-email sequence that will orient you to the who, what, where, and why of this conversation spacemaking thing. Just click this box to go to a page where you can add your details. This is what to click, the white box…
Thank you for your interest.
DK are offering short e-Courses for 2017.
Registration is now closed for the February application window.
16N gathers 16 strangers in real life. To talk about a thing that starts with an ‘N’…
‘N’ Vientiane: NEXT
LET’S MEET IN REAL LIFE. Just 16 people. To talk together about the idea of ‘NEXT.’ This is the idea of 16N: to gather people whose paths might not have otherwise have crossed. Briefly. Once. For a conversation of the kind you’ve never experienced before: it’s not a workshop, it’s not a party. It’s nothing like you’d expect. That’s what people have told us, at ‘N’ events in Phnom Penh, Bangkok, and London. ‘N’ Vientiane is NEXT.
More information, including details of how to request an invite, is at this page >
MEET ME IN THE SKY?
Get together with a very small group of people to talk about things that feel more interesting than the usual drone of:
- ‘How long have you been in Phnom Penh?’ (yawn)
- ‘What do you do here?’ (Why? Are you job hunting?)
- ‘Where are you from?’ (How about ask me where I’m local?)
The idea. After a series of four really amazing ‘Rooftop Philosophy in Phnom Penh’ salons, limited to just a few people and small and informal in style, we bring back Rooftop Philosophy in Phnom Penh, this time the #5 edition, by invitation only. Share your availability with DK by email and we’ll choose a date and time that works for most. Max 6.
Agenda. Guided, prompt-led conversation. No experience or expertise necessary. Proficiency in English is best, but all are welcome. Light, relaxed, nice view. How to design space for great dialogue? Conversations that, I promise, will veer far from the vein of the above. That is the work of DK.
Fee. USD $15 per person to participate. Free for patrons of DK. (Want to become a patron? Here’s how.)
RSVP through the form below. Details to follow.
Yesterday, a watch stopped. Hers.
This was the second time this kind of thing had happened. That is, a watch stopping. That time, his.
Both times, in the middle of a superb conversation that, really, slowed into a moment. Conversations with people that I had just met. That day, or a few days prior. Really good sweeping topics that spanned the universe, life and death, birth, stillness, space, poetry, philosophy, conspiracy theories (me), art, skepticism of nonsense (them). And you could feel it, just there. The stopping. Then, it was literal. How does this kind of thing happen?
Let me try to feel my way towards the ‘how,’ even if I don’t get there. With words, of course. Words are a sort of paint for me, the paintings I’ve been looking at this week reminding me to play with them a bit, to see where the layers might take us.
Yes, the ‘something’ that happened, let us call it ‘!*’, whatever ‘!*’ was, well, I know it happened, it happened because I felt it, not just in the way that you feel when you are feeling a shift in the breeze, or that kind of thing, but because you are sensing something inwardly shifting, which is reflecting something larger, very large indeed, and you know that the quantum bits and pieces are at play, or that strings are vibrating, or that there are nine other dimensions (nine? More?) that are resonating in the same hum, or a different one, or a new color, and that, taken together, these things are beginning to make a new pattern. Of course the intricacies of the design are beyond our capacity to ‘note,’ and NOTEWORTHINESS being the theme this week-and-a-half here in London, of course I have to philosophize a bit about it, here and there, when I find the urgency of the moment in which that frequency will suggest, in a gentle but firm whisper, ‘Yes, now.’
The reflections begin
I HAVE BEEN QUITE LUCKY, this trip. I have met some of the most outstanding people I’ve ever encountered in my life. And all at once. At ‘N’. The most incredible thing happens when we assemble, just sit together, talk together. [Not like in the round, in the workshoppy-style that SN, remarking on DK’s style of making circles, had once called ‘circle time.’ Was it 2014? It’s stuck since then. Circle time. Yes, we love circle time here, of course we do, but you just can’t always go into the circle space because sometimes you are meeting in public spaces and it just would be weird.] I mean, you might get kicked out. In this instance, for ‘N’ London: NOTEWORTHINESS, we convened at the National Theatre. While on the one hand I had made the good acquaintanceship of some of the people working there, who noticed that I was greeting people who didn’t know one another and would be later pointing the latecomers towards our table, asking, ‘Are you here for the blind date?’, and letting them know where I was, yes, while they were on my team, you could say, in making it happen that people whose paths might never have crossed were, at ‘N’, designed to intersect in one moment, well, I don’t think they would’ve been cool with it if we did some circling up and talking about things like I like to do sometimes at these sorts of conversation installations. I don’t know. Maybe it would have been okay at the Royal Academy (pictured), whose purple velvety cushioning made me want to curl up and read a book, any book, by, say, J. Krishnamurti (thank you JB), all evening and through the night and the next day, but then again, circle time is special. I don’t know. I think you have to just feel like it, in that moment. Like so very many things, that are good. That are noteworthy, even. But then, ‘Royal’ doesn’t start with an ‘N’, so that’s it, it’s a no-go, right there. Plus, ‘Royal?’ Who wants to make it all hoity-toity? Not me.
THERE IS SO MUCH more to say about ‘N’ and the things that preceded it, the conversations that revolved around that strong central gravitational point, ‘What’s remarkable? Why do we think so?’ I’m going to be sharing more about it slowly, through the eZine, but also, with guests who took part in ‘N’ London this time. There’s stuff to report to past guests, of ‘N’ in Bangkok and Phnom Penh, and the one to happen next, in Copenhagen. I’m getting to it. All of it. But I need some time.
Writing, today. In pencil, on the keypad. In my head. Writing for the sake of writing. Writing for the self. This is the time that won’t come back. This is the time to sit, quietly, and make a poem or two, and let the flow come as it does, when and exactly and only when it’s ready. These are the moments, aren’t they?, when time stops.