Reality and trust

TWO PEOPLE will know what the title of this post is about. Two. Just two. I met them yesterday. A and T. The question I posed to elicit these answers is a private one, something I won’t share outside of my innermost circles. (That’s just a handful of people, around the world, with whom I connect deeply and talk about ideas with regularly, over time. For progression and depth. More about that in a second. But together, we call this journey, a foray into S P A C E). For now, I need to say thanks. To A and T.

Thank you both for being there, on the rootftop, for sharing with me and admiring as we, who are tenderhearted and questing, the view of the half-moon beneath the clouded, darkened, past-dusk, and past-nine polluted skies and the redness of that lunar orb: vague and yet, alluring.

For the last few years, I’ve been focusing so much on how to ‘design’ for these kinds of moments. So much, that I forgot how to just let the universe lead me straight into them. Which, of course, is how I first started. Running into this: the magic. The art. Oi, but it’s getting big. Already. That’s okay. That’s where the good stuff is.

Acquaintanceship

INTRIGUE. There was the mystery of it that drew me to that exact spot, to contemplate it for a bit. But also: stopping. Standing still, for a moment. Atop the world, there, or, at least, atop Phnom Penh. I’m not much of a going-out type of person, but I’ve made a pact with myself to ‘try new things’ more often, especially in the town that’s been where I’ve been lucky enough to stop for a while and take stock of the things that, for me, have been sieved out to be the clear, wide understandings that say, together, ‘This counts.’

Like I said, there was another moment, in another bar, on another roof, in the same town, on the same topic that you and I, A and T, together, explored. Because I’m a sort of nerd about relational art, I have to bring it up: I have to think about how that thing that was rests next to this thing that is. (Is this reality?) More about that another day, maybe when we all get better acquainted.

 

 

 

Progression, complexity: depth

Rooftop Philosophy, Phnom Penh 2016-7

 

S P A C E | Rovaniemi, ‘Arctic Circle’ is set to publish this winter

Then as now, Rooftop Philosophy in Phnom Penh, as I fondly call the series of conversations on rooftops in bars around here, sometimes, not often, sometimes, well, then, as now, there are occasional gleanings of deep, beautiful resonating gems of something that reminds us, ‘We are here. Together. Now. This is real. This is now. I can trust you, completely.’ We just met, but the feeling is there.

Or, we met again, and the feeling returned. As was the case, when the previous RTP, the most memorable of the lot, seemed to reconfigure itself on another rooftop in another part of the world. That time, the setting was completely new but the people there were the same: can you imagine? Replant the collection of people and just change the roof (a tower of wooden structure, not too tall, but atop a giant overlook) and the view (fields and forests, in the northern part of Finland). I talk about this a lot because this is the stuff of an upcoming story, ‘Arctic Circle.’ I’ve been writing it for the last few weeks, since returning to Cambodia from Malaysia and before that, Finland. A lot, I know. Movement, though, is one of my great needs. I’m a Pisces. This is how it is.

 

S P A C E quests S P A C E, like two Pisces might, should they discover the stream is flowing in both directions. (What?)

 

Simply talking. Simply being. Simply thinking together, out loud. Asking ourselves how to deal with the global pictures and their consequences that leave ripples in the ponds that become big circumferences and change the fluid dynamics of all that we, here, locally, will be experiencing. You told me, T, that you have seen the changes here in Phnom Penh over the years. Me, too. I’ve seen them and not known what to make of them. I, too, feel a sense of shift that is moving Cambodia away from its core identity: that happens, that is the same thing that has gutted the core of most of the cities that I used to love, on my travels in younger years, in Europe. Is it getting older that makes us more jaded? Or is the fact that you go to NY in 2012 after being there in the late 1990s and see copycat haircuts, shoes, glasses, striped shirts, and the same same same of the so-called ‘brand name’ shops, which really, are the same copycat bags, luggages, watches, blouses, trousers, shoes, shoes shoes that you see all over the world in all the big cities. A woman driving me and two others, C and SJ, to a lake so we could glimpse the lunar eclipse (this summer, in the village about two hours south of Oulu where I was staying to make zines and get people talking together in real life about stuff that maters, um, yeah, that was my project), well, she looked at me saying this very thing, in the rear-view mirror. Me riding int he back of her car, spewing on and on about why I chose this part of Finland, when she’d asked, ‘What made you come here?’, of all places, right!, and I said the same. Namely, to avoid:

The ever-present, overwhelming, indistinguishable catapulting everywhere towards some weird. conformity: some sense of ‘belonging,’ that is dictated by outside companies, ideologies, evangelists… and not internally woven. Not internally grown. Not internally contemplated, reflected upon, or, as they used to say in Ireland, ‘sussed.’

Suss it, lads.

Suss.

Perceptions and shifts

Aquarius Hotel Rooftop Bar, where I like to host ‘Arts & Letters Society’ the salon, from time to time.

GO AND SEE. Experience and do. Be there. As you both had said, ‘You have to go there. You have to see it. Smell it. Experience it. Be there.’ Yes, yes. Yes. Exactly what I had been talking about earlier in the evening, on a call with J. Who is probably like, ‘Why are you mentioning me on the blog?!?’ But doesn’t know, or maybe does, that talking with him, at length, in great deals of volume and paragraphs that could be written, I believe, in an array of chords and in the rhymed stacks of meters, one day, if I was that way inclined, but I”m not musical, but I love music, especially jazz, but no what I heard last night. Save for the guitarist from St. Petersburg (‘I used tog be in a bebop band,’ and ‘You should go to St. Petersburg! Great jazz there’) well, save for him, I had zero interest in the musical lineup. Except, wait. I’m being unfair. That ‘Happy Birthday’ song had a nice lead-in intro. That was nice. Not really worth staying for three hours for, hell, but I think that when I just gave up and said, ‘F it. I’ll just circle the roof one more time, because when the heck am I ever coming here again? Unlikely,’ and went out there, getting a smile of compassion from the staff who looked at me before and asked me, ‘What are you looking so sour about,’ more or less, because I’m a bit acid sometimes, opinionated. ‘Phnom Penh? Where isa he jazz, man?? Where IS it? And I’m not talking about this French gypsy jazz nonsense, pardon me, Django!, but no! I wanna hear the stuff of being in the moment, in the zone, in the small clubs that I love, where people just hang out and listen, and jam with the music, they’re not there to drink and shove one another into selfie shots. In Ireland, I remember, the Cork Jazz Festival, sounded as loud, and I was mad then, too. ‘Listen to the music, lads!’ Maybe they were European tourists. Had to be or they were Irish but just didn’t get into jazz… I understand. They like the craic and stuff, but maybe not this kind of craic. I know the musicians play int ehe bus and everyone goes quiet with respect. CMat DeBarra’s, that was great, and also, JS and also, F! of Interference, great stuff, grand stuff, this stuff, but always my heart goes to Fran Hayes who sang a song for me at my going-away, Lakes of Pontchartrain,  and who has the best voice in Ireland, like. Wow, I’m getting misty-eyed, ladies and gentlemen. But yeah, at the Cork Jazz Fest, no one was listening.

That was, what they call over there, ‘a piss up.’

Fair enough.

And so were my two little forays to Open Mic sessions, which should really have been called ‘piss ups’, here in Phnom Penh in recent days… All of them… were really… well. Be nice, DK. Okay, okay. (Granted, I have a pretty high bar. Someone the other night introduced me as ‘a jazz snob.’ Cool. Well, guess I am. Then again, I’m lucky: I’ve been able to see live concerts in some of the wacky, small joints that you have to know about because you get invited to them, because they’re about the music and not the sales of drinks, which is fine, I guess, I mean I know business matters and yeah they’re providing space and everything, but does it have to be so blatantly one-sided? I mean, does it have to be that the music is just a lure…. Baited. Can’t it be the other way? Can conversation and music and art be the main event with the drinks just accenting that, instead? Thinking of the Gatsby parties I read in Great Gatsby… lights, twinkly, conversations, people… jazzy… Jazz. Drinking… drinks… make people, I don’t know… get into this strange behavior that, you could just be honest about being yourself… and you don’t need this lubricant of…

Well, I did have that wine last night.

And that Cambodia draft, the other day.

And another little half-glass of something or other, the time before that. Where? Oh, oh. That place. That too-French Frenchy place. (But ! Thank you, M. If you find this blog, know that I appreciated the chat, and wish you a safe return to Bali. I’m glad you liked ‘Here Comes the Dance.’)

Problem isn’t that people gather for music. Problem is that the scene and the playing ‘at’ the people is what grates. I don’t wan tot hear amateur musicians playing as if they’re in a band, and act like I’m at a show. If it’s a jam session, make it a jam session. Limit the people, keep it cozy. Probably this should happen at someone’s house. I guess that person should be me. I should organize it. C had said it: ‘You should have jazz parties.’ Well, I’m not that organized. I’m having a hard enough time keeping my notebooks in order. I’m not the person to make big parties, or connect people, or whatever. I do like the mini-party, though: I do like public space. Making the third spaces part of what… we can… go into, every so often, but more often than just a couple of times. year. I mean, like weekly. We need that. We need space. S P A C E for progression to happen. Things to go places. Not just stop. Not just end. Of course endings are important, too. We need to let go of the maintenance work so we can make room for exploring and learning new things and in new spokes of veiny discovery and co-discovery. This matters. I know that. I’ve always had a hard time letting go of old acquaintances and sometime-friends, but the time to make cuts is looming, ahead. I see it. Clear and steady: like the brightening that happened when the dark of night took over and the bright of the city below, all its glittery, that you see when you take off from Phnom Penh in the evening, but from a new vantage, here, well, yeah. The dark shows us the light. The light, the dark. It’s like that. It works.

 

Found and lost

This book, picked up in Kampot, is part of DK’s ‘Book of Blue’. Pieces go out into the world now, lost and found, found and lost, in a story that makes itself. The sharing of conversation is the art, though: not the words, nor their arrangements, in this form. The experience: that’s where DK finds the beauty.

WHAT ALL THIS SEEMS to be pointing towards is, ‘It’s time for a new journey.’ Of course it is. It always is, for me, if I’m staying still for more than seven weeks in one spot. In fact, I’ve got a ticket booked. I’m going to KL next week. Then Singapore. Then back here, in Cambodia, for a moment. Why? A movie role… don’t even… ask…

Getting challenged by new people has been an experience for sure. Of course I’m going to go on my rants about social media getting all int eh way of people just being real, being themselves. Facades! But not everyone is constantly glued to their phones. A few talked to me. Not many, but a few. Okay. And here’s what happened.

Social norms, blah blah. Gender roles, argh. you play the part, the part is played. Then, if you can, as soon as you can, you junk the part. And go into S P A C E.

Why not?

I do this.

A lot.

And: the people asked me questions like, ‘You’re tired of people? Tired? Why?’ and ‘You don’t like that guy? Why??’ and ‘French people, like, too many of them in this place and you’re gonna bolt? Whyyy!?’ Well, all of that is fair to ask. Of course it is. But: I’m just… Uh. Opinionated. I guess that’s a problem. No, no. It is a problem. Of course you can’t generalize. You can’t. Someone might come along any day and shoot down all the assumptions you have about that whole group because, why, because they’re a counterexample and a paradox. So yeah. At one of the Rooftop Philosphy mini parties I met one, for example. O. She was French. Is, still, I guess. I don’t know where or how I’ll ever see her again, but we had one smashing good conversation that evening at RTPPP. I swear, it’s a cool thing, when the internet helps me discover exactly the kind of people I want to find. People who are seekers. Seeking something more. Ready to go out into the new. Not always, of course. No one can be that way al the time. And sure, you’re gonna run into duds: people, occasions. Get bored, get jaded, get mad. Whatever. You will. But! The rooftop happened.

I’ve veered quite a bit from where this started. But suffice to say: the night before one of the rooftop philosophy events I had written a massive ‘artist statement’ for my personal website. It’s since been rewritten a million times, but it wast he first go at it, the time that you felt like, ‘Yeah. I’m on to something.’ Writing can do that. Writing your way towards the center of your feelings. The pit of your core, the heart of your beliefs. Yes, we have to trash our beliefs sometimes because if we cling to them without remaining open to other people’s views, we can stay stuck. Without even knowing….

A, last night, you said a lot. I can’t remember everything. That wine. Was stiff! But, I remember, you pointed out, that we just want to be able to feel connection. As humans. It’s a need. And that technology, while it itself isn’t at fault, it has made it harder for us to be human. Be. Human. And you also said, people don’t know what they don’t know… And that struck me… and os many other things. That is why I wanted to leave you with some small token of appreciation. I hope you like the small collection.

For me, paper is a way.

To make a memento. Of a moment shared.

That’s all, for now. I am glad we met. I’m glad we shared. I’m glad I showed up.

As far as hitting up the people I had come to see, well, hell. I’d only met them the day before. Easy come, easy go, no? Except… no. That’s not right, either. Interestedness. Has to be there. ‘Mutual interest,’ after all, is the next on the list after ‘Bounded Box,’ for my 7-point checklist that I call ‘The Quality of Space.’ Design nerd, that I am, I have to have a blueprint. We hit it all, though, yesterday, didn’t we? A high quality, highly intriguing, bounded-box mutual-interest, and the other things on my checklist, which I’ll tell you about, should we find the communications continuing, somehow, through this two-way beautiful thing that the internet has given us a chance to do: connect. Meaningfully, not trivially. Well, well. Here we are. To the journeys, then. To the new, the near, the now and the next.

Comments are open, for a bit.

 

 

 

 

 

The things to come

Phnom Penh // DK 2018

First editorial meeting today, for S P A C E | Phnom Penh, ‘Angle of Incidence.’

Discovering, sourcing, planning, sharing, connecting, interconnecting and framing. That’s what it is. To start.

Getting the team together. Organizing the pages without overthinking or over designing.

Leaving room for stuff to develop, other stuff to emerge. Being okay with things taking time. Being cool with letting go of what doesn’t fit, in the collection. Bricolage and collage being my ‘thing,’ along with relational art and the aesthetics around that, which academics write about (thank y0u) but which I, personally, design moments in which me, and hopefully others who also enjoy these things, can experience the ‘magic moment.’

AHEAD. New things, ahead. Grateful for the learning, and the reconsiderations of old things. For the replies to the notes I’ve been sending here and there around the world, and calls that I’m getting to make and enjoy relaxing into, too. For the responses to the poetry, for the notes and the critiques to the Winter 2018-9 collection’s editorial calendar. For the trust. For showing up. For the new rekindlings, deepening of some of what had begun, on my last trips here, and also, for the continued happening-upon new and different others that lands me here, time and time again, in S P A C E. Today was cool. It’s not over yet, but it’s been really neat. Booked tickets. Firmed up plans for the next stops. [To the wonderful urban planner, C, whom I just met today–hey! That was one hell of a conversation and very much needed. My questions again: how do we design and architect social spaces that ‘feel great’, but also, help people discover ways to think crticically and make choices that let them live better? What does a full city contain that an underdeveloped one doesn’t? What should be doing, as people who design spaces, and whose responsible for us ‘being happy’ and ‘living such as to become our best selves?’ Used to nerd about about these topics at walkable communities conferences Stateside and the time in Seattle interviewing loads and loads of engineers, city officials, and yeah, urban planners. The podcast I mentioned, is here. So yeah. Looks like Tuesdays are turning into S P A C E-y ones. Shall I make another thing? I can. I’m thinking maybe just two or three people now. It’s tiring, sometimes, to keep at it. But yeah. Sometimes you fall into the moment and it catches you by surprise. If you wanna talk about art, design, architecture, the shape of space, poetics, cities, and what gives the fabric of meaning to them, hey. I’m all in. Just hit me up.) To A and K: safe journeys. To A and R: SYS. And yeah. For anyone wondering what’s going on behind the scenes, here is where to join the conversation.]

26-28 October | Publish with DK

SHORT STOP IN Phnom Penh for unexpected popping-up gigs. Still curious about this place. Still asking questions. Still engaged with all the things that got me excited about Cambodia when I first arrived in Phnom Penh in March 2014. Stayed, mostly writing through the end of 2017, at which time I hatched Atelier S P A C E and tested it out in Battambang. So good was that one, that I decided, ‘Why not?,’ and took Atelier S P A C E to Singapore, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, and Oulu. (Wait, what? No, really. Finland, yeah. I just really, really like that part of the world.)

It’s been a weird, curious and exciting moment of transition and change, for me personally, but I wanted to spring up another popup, Atelier S P A C E | Phnom Penh, before I hit the road again. Atelier S P A C E is a 2-year project, which had begun last P’chum Ben, and will continue for just another year. Before it sunsets, I want to be sure to get to places that most intrigue: the Eastern European countries, for example. And maybe circle back to the Pacific Northwest in the United States, which was where, for six years DK did its biggest and most important work: building a small network of people who are interested in ‘trusting the process’ and designing space for us to play. Recent conversations with JB in Seattle, RS in the Bay Area, and PC and OB (both of whom were guests at ‘N’ Phnom Penh, and that was in 2014, wasn’t tit?, and that was the whole start of all the new thinking… *too much thinking*. I got sorted out, though. In Finland. Quiet. Space. People. Sky.

And yeah. They are here. Still with me, till reading, still caring a little bit I think about this journey of ‘how to get people talking together in safe space that are well-facilitated.’ Do I want to go back to the States and have some kind of dialogue sessions so they can see what’s wrong with silo thinking? Or get them to really see each other, so that we don’t have all the division that we are seeing that’s, hey, always been there, but right now it’s more obvious? A lot of questions. I don’t know, are the answers to most of them. Is the US where I want to go? It depends. It depends on who is curious about having us there. I like to go where I know that things are gonna happen, not just go and see, though there are moments when that’s important, too. But when I want to just go and see, it has to be to a place that’s new. Because then: I’m doing my own process on mysel. Trusting that something will pop out from ‘the soup of not-knowing,’ but showing up for it anyway, and seeing what’s there. The spirit of travel, kind of, sure. But it’s also the way to find breakthroughs: in all sectors of work, in all sectors of personal life, in all dimensions, all 10 or whatever. I could get nerdy. I will save it for those interested in new portals, and only for those people. Selectivity and reduction of the number of channels of engaging with people has been a huge step, for me, in developing these things. These programmes, these salons, and these ideas. The depth of them is becoming more obvious to me when I clarify and check back with some of my oldest confidants. HT AM, who is probably my oldest friend now that I’ve lost touch with the rest. Again: choosing. It’s important. Drift happens. Let’s let it.

The next things

AHEAD ARE WHOLE NEW chapters, for me, and for DK, and for the members of our online communities which have been quietly been in the highest-priority spot for me in the last 12 months. Some people who have been there some of the time are aware, I think, of what it can do and be for them, and I appreciate that. Those who’ve been here longer, I think, are starting to develop more thinking around more things that have more importance to them. Knowing what’s important to you is a huge, huge thing. I think I got on a stage and talked about it for eighteen minutes in front of 500 people. No one knows thatI was pretty much ad-libbing the last 5. Ha ha. An improvisation. On a stage. A play. In real life. That’s it, though, for me. All of these sessions are the same. Just that the stages are smaller, and the invited guests are as much a part of the scripts as the ‘audience’. I dot like passive audiences; I like the engagement that comes from eye contact and back-and-forth and, sure, making it up, partly, as we go. And jazz is like that. And that’s why I like that. So many people I’ve met in the years who’ve shown me how to make jazz more jazzy. Free jazzy. I know, I know. It’s not everyone thing. But so? It’s fun. To me. Oh, yeah: and improv. Also making it up as you go, right? And that’s why I’m into that, too. Probably the whole reason I became friends with BB in a simple way, long time ago. Because: play. Let’s converse. Let’s play?

This weekend

SHALL WE DO THIS? Have another go at Atelier S P A C E in PP? I think so. Let’s see, anyway. Let’s try this. Let’s begin with salon, about I N T E R N E T. Let’s go with that, see where it leads us, talk together, write and play a kind of conversational music. And then, co-create. This is my thing, where I come in. Make something out of what we learn. Put it into a zine. Share it with you. It’s not that hard, for DK, to do this. We have all the stuff you need if you are a boutique publisher. And now we’re an experiential publisher. So let’s do this? Let’s see. Here’s the details…

Salon: Rooftop Philosophy in Phnom Penh

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?)

USD 10. Max 6.

To reserve a spot, register here.

Questions? Connect through this form:

Zinemaking workshop: Atelier S P A C E || Phnom Penh

Meet new people. Make a zine. Share the journey of the creative process over this unique, once-off weekend conversation salon cum real life workshop. We’ll meet three times over the 3-day weekend workshop. Date, time, and place to be shared with those who are selected to take part. We’ll add the final works to our S P A C E || Cambodia collection, which has featured at the Singapore Writers Festival and the Georgetown Readers and Writers Festival, in 2017. Discover more when you apply. Apply here.

‘Actually I do have friends’

RAINING IN PHNOM PENH, as I write this. Wondering where the next few days and weeks will go. A few more days, a few more moments. Conversations in the real life salons, conversations in the online ones, too. There are things to say, so many of them, and I’m lucky to be able to have a chance to bounce ideas around with people and mostly just generally get to play. In S P A C E. And also, here and there, bumping into stuff, much like The Missing Piece goes around looking for things, falling into holes, bumping into walls, and so on. (HT: Shel Silverstein.)

A few more moments.

Yes.

True.

I could get poignant and philosophical here–

Akira Morita (left) and Chhunny Noem were with me for the popup art installation, ‘Distracte’. The three of us together also worked out some major ideas together, about infinity and repeating infinities, at the ‘Book of Time’ salon in this same city. A fascinating conversation set. // DK, Phnom Penh 2016

 

I could talk about how all the moments are one quick moment, as we had discovered in our salon here in Phnom Penh some years ago, The Book of Time, which I  co-hosted with Anakot Asia’s Chhunny NoemWhat a powerful moment. Maybe it was the sum of all the moments, smashed together into one infinity, here and now, oh, no, here I go, getting esoteric and rambly, and well, I ought to save those kinds of conversations for the intimate spaces of real life and conversations with just. those people who are actually interested, not foist them onto the blog and the internet and hope that people will say, ‘Yeah. I want to know more about this. Where can I meet other people who want to talk about meaning, existence, philosophize about things without quoting dead white guys, or just, generally, be How can I find more meaning in my own day to day just by simply talking to other people about the big questions hat are popping up in my own world, where I am? What is the point?’ And more. I’m partly inspired writing this by last night’s conversation with CM, who is really asking these questions, I think, the more I talked with her and the later it got and the louder the roomful of people, and the drunker, and the more frequent the occurrence of breaking ceramic mugs and glasses (?), well, the more the time went by, the more I realized, ‘You know, there are places where you can ask these questions and get to skip over all the smalltalk. It’s real. It can happen. We can design for it. I’m into that, that’s my thing that I’m into.’ (Easy to say, hard to prove. But the people who know, know. And for me, that’s enough. So we continue, charging into the world, with the goal of simply hosting and co-hosting more and better space for dialogues that have real feelings int them, real emotions. Not just… well… fodder for the bored, schedule-fillers for the lonely.)

‘I like to try to make myself uncomfortable sometimes,’ C had said, and I replied, ‘Because that’s how we grow.’ Growing used to be such a weird word to me, so touchy-feely and clinical and psychology bollix, but you know, it’s kind of all we have, really. To be able to improve ourselves? What else can we do? Add another do-goody NGO to a country that doesn’t want you here? If you’ve just arrived in Cambodia for something and you think you’re going to ‘make a contribution,’ be aware that this is a lot of nonsense and perhaps more about your own ego than anything else. I don’t want to even get started on the mansplaining that I saw and ranted about, when I saw it! [deleted]. Think about that.

Once more, upon returning to this country, where I have lived for three-and-a-half-years without having meant to, I found myself miraculously thinking, ‘Huh. I can see how this could be an interesting dialogue. And it reminds me of one, from before… also in this city. Quite unexpected, a small collection of us, new and different others, did we have 5? That was a crowd, then, for our salons, which are usually me and maybe 2 or so people… but always, always, always, I love the conversations that unfold. I’ve never been regretful about going and seeing and trying these, because you just never know. Maybe you’ll meet someone who’ll wander in from out of the internet and change your life forever. Gosh.

And given the right framing and the right collection of people… it can. And has. And will. Where are the artists? Everywhere. Much of this is amorophous and fuzzy, and that’s fine. Who cares about making sure everything fits some arbitrary logic-box? That what DK writes here and there as a collective is not refined, not finished, not concrete, not logical, mystical sounding, and open ended? How about this idea: a billion suns are in motion, right now. And N. Bohr, who said: ‘No, no, no. You’re not thinking. You’re just being logical.’ I’m looking at a philosophy of the moment: one that’s not based on old sciences that are Newtonian-only, out of touch and completely miffed by multiple and contradictory ‘truths’ co-existing. Frankly, philosophy is as obsolete as the fax machine.

And so on. And so forth. A blink–a moment. And infinity, too.

But, guess what? [Some of ] those [mainstream publishers and academics and philosophers] who consider things ‘good’ are the ones who are stuck in the old logic-boxes. They can’t conceptualize a new way of doing things because the old way is so engrained. SHR, a mathematician friend of DK’s, and I had met I a pub in London when I was that way, a very good and curious conversation in which I had asked him why things are devolving instead of progressing, society-wise. Wanted to say things about least common denominators and stuff but that is too fourth grade math and not that interesting to S, so I just threw out a thing about, oh, systems, and equilibriums, and turbulences, and he had said that people like the status quo. That’s why we’re not evolving up. They like the status quo. It’s hard to change it.

Me, thinking: Even if it’s stupid.

Not saying this, but it’s pretty easy to read me.

Him saying, without words, Yup. Even then.

Affinities


Part of the concept with Atelier S P A C E is not to get parked for too long in any one place. Houseless and offliceless, But, I’m finding out on this miniature return, not friendless. More in a second.

First, from Lao Tzu‘s Tao Te Ching:

Hold fast to the way of antiquity
In order to keep in control the real of today.
The ability to know the beginning of antiquity
Is called the thread running through the way.


Meeting the way

IT’S BEEN really cool catching up with some of you who might be reading here, in this city. Phnom Penh. Reminiscing about things past, or sharing about the things that had happened before, or recently, or on the road. The way and the road. Basho—need to go back to that author and explore more fully. Important. But, not now. It’s also important to just be here and notice the things going on right where we are. I’m going to have to share more in the e-mail circles (not doing facebook now, not really hanging out on instagram), about the invite-only conversation salons on the way here, in Phnom Penh, before heading off to Australia and India and possibly the Pacific Northwest in those United States—gaw, I can’t believe I’m even writing that. I had wanted to get out of there, so much, but it’s been four years since Palo Alto, so… Yeah. Let’s see how it all unfolds. Things take time, I get that, but it’s also nice to peg a few things here and there, sometimes, too. But it’s loose and light, now. Letting go of illusion of control. Big changes. Ask me why sometime, if our paths cross in real life or in our online conversations in S P A C E.

‘Breakfast in Cambodia’, book launch, at TINI // DK 2016

This weekend, I’ll host Atelier S P A C E | Phnom Penh and write, together with others, maybe some of my actual friends?, a new set of zines, set here, hyperlocal creative nonfiction. Next stops, Idontknowwhereyet, but onwards is the definitely for sure direction. Plus, visa. Visas expire. Keeps you moving, doesn’t it? On. These are long stories. Not for everyone. I’ll write them. I’ll put them in S P A C E. Maybe I’ll keep writing about Cambodia. I mean, a little bit. It’s definitely easier when you have four years of experience in a. place and ambiently know where the streets go, how things connect, what foods are going to taste like, what’s ‘not okay’ when it comes to cultural sensitivity or mansplaining OMG, how everything you think you know about something is completely hot air, and how, when you come here, the thing you learn is that you don’t know anything at all. Some of that I wrote into the first book about my experiences here, Breakfast in Cambodia (Kismuth // 2016), which look at that, has just celebrated a two-year anniversary. Exciting. I wonder if I should have another launch-y kind of moment for the new books, set in Finland? Could be nice. I hope to, but it’s also fine if it’s just an inner-circle thing. Maybe. launch at, say, my house. Easier, these days, than making a big rah-rah out of it and trying to get people to show up. This has gotten increasingly harder, I’ve found, in the last six years. I’m seeing the futility of it, in a way. I may not even… well. It’s a lot to write here. I’m always starting to write a little here and then hesitating because, who is reading this blog? I don’t know. Which is why I’d prefer to converse in S P A C E, or email. Email me, if you are there, know me, want to stay in touch in a more firm way that has nothing to do with reading and checking and checking and reading. I’m here. I’m listening. Say hi? So that I know it gets to me, what with all these weird filters and hackers and spammers and people breaking into emails and stuff, it’s so weird now, it would be cool if you could use the form on our contact page. Could you? Here it is. Kay. Cool. The thing to do now is just get started. And trust the process. Be okay with getting lost a little, in order to find center. All righty, then. Let me figure out where to go next. Let me find that set of darts.


‘Fresh and original input’

WHEN I WAS IN AARHUS in 2015, I met someone who said, after a whole long giant hour-long conversation marathon, in a thank-you note to follow up the next day, ‘Thanks for the fresh and original input.’ Same person who talked to me about Heisenberg and principle and got me to see the Danish view of things (‘Oh, really? MIT says that? Are you sure it’s all of the people at MIT who say that, and not just some of the people at MIT who say that, and yeah, there aren’t other people at MIT who completely disagree with those people at MIT? Think about that.’) This is going into the zine, S P A C E | Aarhus, by the way. Coming in December. But yeah. Input, of course software people love DK because we are a kind of arbitrary asteroid-quality sort of ‘input’ for them, and the innovative spirit feeds off of random encounters out of left field (and S P A C E). So yeah, back then, way, in 2015, as the autumn was settling in and I was getting set to return to Cambodia where it would be instantly warm again in not-so-many-days, I’d thought. That’s a new way to put it. And today, the phrase comes back, ‘Fresh and original input.’ Why? The conversations that we have in S P A C E-like rooms in real life as well as in our online forums are like that, to me, all he time. Expansive, curious, inviting, insight-making at their best, but also, just… fun. I’ve just found some new and fresh original input that I had talked about in the post about the music I found myself wandering into while in Helsinki on my last night, and today, I’d like to share a track from one of members, Esa Puolakka, of one of the bands (Maagine). I’m looking forward also to soon interviewing the lead singer, Matti Halonen, for our podcast. Watch this space. Meantime, I’ll leave you with this track from Esa… (For me, the two tracks on his soundcloud are so very much in the vein of ‘fresh and original input.’ So here we go, passing it forward, making it up, jazzy, as we go.) I’m looking forward to the new and the next. More soon, from S P A C E. Tuesdays at 7AM, in the e-box.

Bohr on the illusion of truth

Discover #philosophyofthemoment

NEW THINGS. Starting again. In S P A C E. In very small circles. Trusting the process and enjoying the adventure, creating the design for hosting and engaging some of us, some of us who are still curious, still open to the possibility of being changed by what we hear, and still ready to learn, from any chance encounter: as did the people I met at the N. Bohr Institute in Copenhagen when on a visit there, or in the corners of philosophy classes after the teachers left and texts were closed in my high school summer at Governor’s School East in Laurinburg NC, or in the empty moments just being on the edges of the world, for all the edges are at the edge, are they not?, in Nagarkot, Manali, Kyoto, Berlin, wistful piazzas in Bologna, the drone and hum and boisterousness of the throng of the West Village in 1990s New York, and more, and, other, and, more recently, in S P A C E. Here’s to the journeys, the new, the near, and the next. Ready for the 8 Oct thing. Ready, set.

The opposite of a profound truth may be another profound truth. —N. Bohr

Philosophy of the Moment

A DAY AGO, I sent an email invitation to a handful of people in: Seattle, Durham NC, and the place that I affectionally call ‘The Road.’

What kind of invitation? To join me for an online salon in October called ‘Philosophy of the Moment.’ I’ll tell you about that more in a second. But the feeling is this. So many people. So much time. So many places. And so many great conversations. What if I could find a way to wrap us all into one space, to talk together about ideas and things that have popped up, from these, that we would all find curious? Or maybe handfuls of us would? And if that could happen, what might we learn, together? What could we make, too, if things got really interesting? An anthology, perhaps? Like The Mirror, in 2014? Something in print? What about zines? What about, what about? And that’s how I got excited about it. The starting of the thing–an interactive forum-salon, in protected-page posts, that is S P A C E.

Update: Signup for more info about POTM…


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‘What I want, DK!…’


LET ME ELABORATE.

ANTHOLOGY. We put together a cojournaling project, then compiled the collection of opt-in contributions in the short eBook, The Mirror, 2014. Ask me for a free copy.

Those places I met the people I invited? They’re from certain bases, of my past life in different parts of the world. Presently I’ve been thinking hard about such ideas as bases, because… well… it’s al long story, and one that I’m not totally sure I want to put here in the public space, but one in which a few of us explored quite nicely, in a 2016 writing salon called, ‘Home & Away.’ That was the first-ever forum-space. Some people really dug it. Some people left. But you have to take chances on things if you want to see innovations. And I like risk taking, if you know me you know that, but some of the time, I take much smaller steps than I wish I could. Writingwise and art wise, though, it’s much easier for me to take big jaunts out into the unexplored territories because, unlike most stuff, with writing and art I feel like I’ve had a lot of time and space to really practice. To get past my own qualms about, ‘Is this good enough?’ F yeah, it is. So go for it. So I do. I make S P A C E into salons, I do that because I like to correspond. I write a lot. Maybe too much. Maybe too often, certainly, too long at a time. This one, this [post] is long. I’m writing the extra bits in, I’m seeing that pargraphslong texts can be daunting, but… that the people I connect with best read. They read, to the end. And you know what else? They check links. AM and CW were among our very first clients in Seattle. (Hi, guys!) I still remember when they came to the office, that was my first one that I had ever rented, committing cold, hard cash to a thing as nebulous as ‘rent,’ because of a promise of it leading to ‘possibilities,’ which you know of course, it did. Big ones. Manyfolded. And at our meeting, I had said, you know, my blog has lots of long, long posts, that people don’t read. AM had countered, ‘I read. I read everything.’ And you know what? Most of the people I really like in life, they read. They read everything. The whole checking links thing was part of a post that used to be on this blog, about the Seattle-based DIY indie fair, ‘Urban Craft Uprising.’ I went to that not knowing what the hell to expect but finding

Design Kompany’s first office in Seattle, shared space with one of our our clients, D+A Studio. Hanging in the window are the square-format photos by the talented Laura Totten, who was hip to the equal-sided image way before instagram. We collaborated to make a show, ‘Dazzle,’ to exhibit her works in our office space. A great party. A great memory. More things like this, to come. // Seattle, 2006

myself surrounded by a very specific type of person and writing a post called ‘Psychographics.’ In which I had quoted CJ, whom I’d met a the art gallery OKOK and run into again at UCU and he, there, upon hearing my comment, had said, ‘Yeah, yeah. These are very specific people all right. They’re the people that check links.’ Check links! Wow. Well, okay then. Let’s let that be a thing. ‘Kay, cool. Lessons learned: My favorite people, who are DK’s community and network and clientele and collaborators and friends, read til the end, read everything, and check links.

Noted.


From out of left field

 

***

Niels Bohr

I GOT QUOTED ONCE, on study abroad, in the back of the ‘yearbook’ for saying something that, my goodness, my hero N. Bohr might have enjoyed hearing me say. I said, ‘I don’t make statements. I just say things.’ See? Statements imply you know something. But Bohr, good man himself, said: ‘The opposite of a profound truth may be another profound truth.’ The friends that I had in those days didn’t give two shites about quantum theory, or possibilities, or new angles, or the potentiality of multiverses and suchmuch. They just wanted jobs. Jobs! My jobs almost always turned into departments of philosophy. I can tell you some stories, but I’ll spare you. Because: Ichiro.

Ichiro Suzuki

Instead of trying to ‘figure things out,’ or hit a homer for every single damn thing you try to do, the way that they tell you when you’re younger you need to, if you grow up in a country where I grew up, because success looks like a major league baseball game where all the lights are on full blast in midsummer and the crowds are loud. You go there and you watch and you see the big show. Casey at Bat notwithstanding, you go. You hit homers, if you’re good. That’s the thing. But me? I’m changing. I’m interested in other ways to do it, to show up for my own at-bat… Yeah. Show up like…

Ichiro.

Yeah. I’ll rev up like Ichiro, try to make a poetic thing happen by just stilling into the moment. Show up for the on-deck circle, then head up to the plate. Batter up. A single to right field works for me, these days: no need to get high and mighty, trying to be Cecil Fielder, or anything like that. Work is getting around the bases. Work is making your way to home plate.

 

Arriving at home

In 2014, S P A C E was a set of themed eBooks, six in all, on topics that felt like the right ones to dive into, with the circles of people we were in conversations with at those times.

Work is the work it takes to score the runs that earn the points for the team. Collaboratively. This. This is the new thing. Showing up, but also, being aware of the strengths of the rest of the team. And our team is pretty wide-ranging, now that I look at the whole picture. Some fascinating people have come through DK’s doors.

Things moved into cojournaling spaces, and now, we have the interactive magazine, S P A C E. And print zines, too. Lots, and lots, in other words: but the philosophy thread remains consistent. It’s where we are most intrigued. Exploring together the art of the conversation that gets us all thinking more critically and with an eye towards making our own lives more pleasurable. I read somewhere once that is the definition of philosophy. Then SY told me about Epicurus… And more to say, one day, about that. (But if you’re curious, read this fabulous poem that S had introduced me to, ‘Oriah’s invitation.’)

Clients, interns, part-time collaborators, commissioned artists, and more. I’m really lucky to have had that chance to make and share, and to work things out, in a way that’s evolved, these last, oh, I don’t know, what’s 2018-2005… okay… so, that’s what, 13 years. Thirteen years freelance studio-ing up at DK. I think we’ve learned where our strengths are: we have good pitchers, that’s pretty much the secret sauce around here. Pitchers who have a clear awareness of the simple but important fact that every at-bat is its own thing. That each batter up is her own ball of questions, struggles, philosophies, psychologies, temperaments, and triumphs. All of us are playing baseball, really. Just that, sometimes, it goes the way you think it would, like it’s a Cubs game from the 1990s, and you’re just watching them go through the motions. I can hear Harry Carey in my head saying it, ‘We’re just playing 1-2-3 baseball, here,’ and then, later, if things go his way, ‘Cubs win! Cubs win!‘ But the game is different, here. A wider field: the one that takes up the entire surface area of the globe. We’re going to play, now. A big game of giant rounding-around-the-bases. Batter up. And here’s the pitch…

 

Introducing ‘Philosophy of the Moment’

NOW THAT DK have been based in Asia, more or less, for the past four years, we’re using this angle on the way the world seems to have shifted to gather people in online forums and talk, together, about what to do to make stuff better. I know that sounds really heady, and lofty, but the truth is, that if we can make our own lives more clear to ourselves, and understand our own contributions to ‘the world,’ and I’m not talking about in a way that’s corny, cheesy, or ‘do-gooder-y,’ like toooooo many people [from abroad] come to Cambodia every single season (and last, if they’re lucky, three months to do… well, let’s see, what I’m really saying is… the stage is pretty giant, the stories myriad and numerous. Influenced by the new perspectives of having been, by sheer osmosis and inertia, in one place for so long (one year in motion in South and Southeast Asia, followed by four years at the time of this writing, in Phnom Penh, with the occasional excursions to Northern Europe–Sweden, Denmark, and [this summer in] Finland, and I’m not sure which spot is next but I’m going back, sometime, I can’t help it, the palette is what draws me, mostly, but more than that, the quiet spaces, but that’s a different story). And yeah. I’m ready. To share the conversations more widely: there are so many intriguing people whose paths have crossed with mine in these last five years, (the four here in Cambodia, and the one before that, on the road, in search of ‘uncertainty,’ or the practice thereof, long story, very esoteric, landed in no fashionable bullet-point list of outcomes, just lots and lots of e-correspondence in the time since with people all around the world whose ideas are still intriguing to me, people who have taught me very much, and people whom I’m really excited to interconnect, though S P A C E. More and more, lately. But in very small circles. Invite-only, kind of, since the end of the last registration period. That was for ‘Slow Moment.’ This time, it’s just a small circle of us probably who’ll join in to POTM. We’ll dive into philosophy. Of the moment. Ergo, ‘Phil. of the Moment.’ Like that?

Mm-hm. So okay. What is it? Philosophy of the Moment is a four-week side conversation online, nested in our ongoing interactive salons happening concurrently in our forum, S P A C E. We are going to spend some time over four weeks in

‘Book of Blue’ popup collage and live drawing at jazZ happens!, Bangkok// ‘N’ afterparty, 2015

October talking together specifically about ‘Philosophy of the Moment.’ It’s open format. Four rules of Open Space: the people who come are the right people, it starts when it starts, ends when it ends, and the things that happened are the only things that could have happened. In other words, give yourself a break when hosting an Open Space because it’s about framing the thing and letting the jam just happen. As jazZ happens in Bangkok put it on email to me before we made ‘The Book of Blue’ together there, ‘Let’s let it roll.’

The people who come will be the right people. We’ll explore creative writing tips from experts whose advice has gotten us places. Collectively, sharing what we know from individual experience. Just like in our real life salons, like, for example, this one. We’re going to make things, too. A short anthology. This project is for people whose paths DK has crossed in recent months, whose writing and ideas have inspired, and intrigued us. We want to make a ‘room’ in a virtual space (that would be a protected page on this blog, with comment threads, and a password to get in), so that we can send weekly prompts to get us talking together, to get us learning together, too. From each other. I said that already, didn’t I. Guess it matters a lot to me: listening to one another, hearing each other’s voices and perspectives, being open to the possibility of being changed by what you hear. And all in a flat hierarchy. In which every. Voice. Counts.


POTM will be hosted by DK’s Dipika Kohli.

‘The secret is to just begin’ –As told to DK by A. at AOTZ

2016: Year of the Circle. Studies in relational aesthetics.

MAKING SOMETHING through art or writing is one goal, but learning together is the main objective. Experiential publishing, this.

This is our method pre-start, this month:

  • Invite guests to take part. Make sure they are from a wide range of backgrounds, geogrphic locations, past experiences, and philosophies on life.
  • Ask people if they want to commit time to this project. Make sure they do have the bandwidth to do so.
  • Be interested in other people, and check through the application process if the guestlist also is so inclined.
  • Know that we are all going through this as if on a journey, together. That the outcome will be less important than the process of learning as we go. Being open to the veering and changing is hugely important, and we must communicate that up front: this is a journey we’re going to largely improvise, as we go. Are you cool with that? Then let’s begin.
  • Begin. Gather people to register before 8 October. Start on that date. Continue through the end of October. See what material has come together and. where we could push the envelope and see what kind of meaningful story or narrative or poetry or art we could fold into a short book. The anthology could be a collected work that becomes a digital book (if material is sparse) or a printed one. We’re in conversations with a book designer in Singapore about this, and we are quite serious.
  • Sample questions to get started: Travelers and artists, romantics and poets all know about the difference between time that is spent and time that is well spent. Kairos and chronos time, the shifting edge from one to another. Can we focus and look at these questions: when is it good, what makes it great? How do you know when to change things up?

A zine. Made in Phnom Penh, in 2014. This kind of thing set the stage for what became in 2017 the roving international popup, Atelier S P A C E.
Adrienne Moore and Barry Wilson, close friends of mine, at the opening reception for my show ‘Today I Love You’ in Durham NC 2012 //  Photo by the lovely and highly recommended Durham-based OMNI Studiophotos

With everything I make, I want people to relax. To feel air, space and comfort. Philosophy: the pursuit of making life more pleasurable through considering it from various angles. Let’s try this. (More about POTM is at this page.)

Let’s converse? Let’s play. Curious? Ask me anything. Leave a review. Comments are open. Say hi?

I’m here, and I’m listening.

 

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‘What I want, DK!…’


Diary of Atelier S P A C E in pics

STARTING THIS WEEK, we are sharing the updates to the journey of Atelier S P A C E. through a new mailing list. I wanted to just acknowledge all the very many people I have met who have been a part of this, so far. Thank you, you know who you are.

It’s about us connecting in person, for a chat, a conversation, and a chance to write or photograph or draw. Together, on the spot. Part of the time I realize I was overthinking this. Overdesigning, too. It got out of hand, I fully admit that. What’s important to is to persist, and insist, as I do, that short form works are great for starting what is hard: starting. All if the creative process that comes out of the starting is going to be what it is, sure. But… Did we make a start at a thing? Atelier S P A C E asks you to take a chance, do a little jam, play a little tune, but instead of with music, with words.

We are still at it, still making zines. Next stop: Finland.

Not that we are ‘zinesters,’ but, it’s been fun to play with the photocopier and make these. A few from Sept.. 2017-March 2018. Sharing through tomorrow at our popup installation, Zinery & Finery, at DK World HQ in Phnom Penh.

 

17 March | Rooftop Philosophy in Phnom Penh #8

On Saturday I’ll be here hosting the #8 edition of ‘Rooftop Philosophy in Phnom Penh.’ Where time has literally stopped. Expect the unexpected, and come see. More info at our website, see ‘Upcomings’. This time I’ll kick things off with what the bright physicist HL told me, about holography, time and space being one thing, and the three levels of intelligence in civilizations. Wish she could join us but good thing I took notes. ✨🗒

Rooftop Philosophy, Phnom Penh 2016-7

S P A C E || Breakfasting

‘THAT WAS GREAT.’

‘It was.’

‘It’s good that we can still talk. A good conversation!’

‘It is. It was.’

‘About so many kinds of things! It keeps it new. I like that.’

‘I do, too.’

‘I think… I think that what’s really interesting is when you can have the old things and the new things, together.’

‘…’

‘I was talking about this the other day, when I was telling you I had such a great conversation jam? That was really fun, and you know, there are more things to talk about, all the time, as we go, because the talking towards some kind of discovery, even with the limitation of language as that is there, you know Niels Bohr said—‘

‘Who you love to quote.’

‘Who I love to quote! Who I love!, and yeah, he said, “We are suspended in words.”‘

‘…’

‘I think that S P A C E and writing like this is about suspension.’

‘…’

‘Everybody thinks they want stuff to be grounded, you know. Clear. Crazy clear and understandable, the bullet-point list. The one-pager. But… We also like to curiously float off sometimes, too. No one admits this out loud! I mean you can’t. It’s crazy talk.’

‘Yeah.’

‘But what you said, earlier, and last night, and everything. That was good. That was helpful. Informative.’

‘That was! Thanks.’

‘So we’re not fighting now.’

‘No.’

‘I like that we could skip over all the stuff we used to do, like sit around and process all the line-by-line stuff. I think I was just tired. And sick. I’ve been so sick. And all these papers, everywhere. And yeah. I’ve got to make a whole batch of zines, S P A C E || Malaysia has Ipoh, Cameron, Melaka, Penang, and Kuala Lumpur… And I’m only two-fifths done… And…’

‘Productivity isn’t the point.’

‘No.’

‘The journey is.’

‘Yes. But that is so… Philosophical and everything. But it is. The journey.’

‘…’

‘So, where’s next?’

Join us in S P A C E for more conversations. This month, we are giving away to new subscribers a PDF copy of Dipika Kohli’s book, Breakfast in Cambodia (Kismuth Books // 2016). It’s also available here.

The Prospect of Beauty

Join DK and jazzy guests at this conversation salon. Our theme is ‘The Prospect of Beauty’. Discover the parlor games ‘Art of Not Knowing’ and ‘Excerpts of Note,’ as shared in similar small scale salons in clubs in Tokyo, London, New York and Hanoi. RSVP requested. Tickets just $10p at the door, inclusive of materials, and exclusive of drinks. A concert follows, which is arranged separately by the venue. Advance bookings only. Book here.