Into the green, towards the nothing…

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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.’

Basic writings

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.)

Access notebooks- and essays-in-progress when you become a patron of DK. Read more >

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…

Add your details on the form on the page you land on when you click the box to enter S P A C E >

Meet me in Vientiane: ‘N’ is NEXT

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 >


Metaphilosophy and metaphysics, with clouds


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.

Rooftop Philosophy in Phnom Penh
Rooftop Philosophy #1 – #4 happened here.

A new plateau

LEGACIES ARE MADE AND BUILT based on the learnings we can articulate clearly, and share. Dialogue makes us gather our ideas and respond to those of others, too. Perspectives can shift and whole rooms of internal awareness can open, if we allow ourselves room to reflect. It’s why I am always taking pictures like this, I think. I like to make the space for zooming into quiet. Processing ‘N’, which just happened on Wednesday here in London. No pictures. No social media. Just quiet space, to feel what it was, and reflect. Quietly, alone.

There are a few things coming together for 2017 for members of our online community, S. P. A. C. E. A different kind of thing than me posting blog entries, much more interactive: both real-life spacemaking events in cities like San Francisco and Bangkok, and conversation forums in online ‘rooms.’ The big idea is much like the 16N experience: connecting us to new and different others, making space for us to reflect and better tune in to our own selves, our own hoped-for legacy, whether we’re conscious of what it is or just open to ambling our way towards something bigger than simply existing day-to-day. I came to London a year ago to see George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman. In which similar questions of existence and purpose and meaning popped up. I can tell you where all this is going, but only if you are interest in hearing more. Are you? If yes, leave me a note.




‘What do you think makes a thing noteworthy?’

‘Makes a thing noteworthy? Is that what you asked?’


‘Something that is an experience.’

‘Good answer! Right. So what are you doing at 6PM? Because we’re going to have a conversation salon, on noteworthiness. Yes! And someone just cancelled their spot. I mean, these tickets were booked months in advance, some of them, and some of them just yesterday, but it’s all part of the design of it, you see, chance, and serendipity, and the connection that happens when, poof!, you meet, in real life. But briefly, and once.’

‘I’m interested, but not today… is it a regular thing?’

‘Good sir, briefly and once is the thing about ‘N.’ Because you can never set foot in the same river twice, et cetera.’


‘Think about it. I like your answer, and you seem nice.’

‘Yes, well, I have a client meeting at 7…’

‘Move it! ‘N’ just happens once! And ‘N’ is an experience.’

‘I, um. How can I get in touch with you?’

‘The website. There’s a form.’