Welcome to Connection, welcome to S P A C E

REPORTING TODAY from a secret location in Malaysia. For a bit of space, to reflect and connect, with some whose paths I’ve crossed very recently, and with those who are still engaged with DK through our mailings in [S P A C E 2018].

Allora.

‘New starts’, part LXII

I love starting over. I really do. It’s like when you open a new sketchbook and you’re just like, ‘Wow. Here we go. Where, though? Let’s go find out.’ I told some people in recent days I was in art school for like 10 minutes. It was way too early to be there, or really, it was way too wrong, for me, even then, even then I had a gut feeling about it… that style of making is just like production-oriented other schooling (commercial arts), and while I’ve no problem whatsoever with artmaking for a client (heck, that’s how I’ve lived these last 10+ years), I don’t think we should mess around with the ‘art of art.’ I will love to talk more about that in S P A C E when I get to interview someone whom I am sure you will adore meeting. I certainly have.

Anyway! This kind of quick-and-dirty art-for-the-sake-of-fame is just… not what I feel like real art is about. Real art is about experience, to me. About life, and about connexion-making. Not just you know, the usual kinds (love, work, blah blah), but about unusual and remarkable connexion. People whose paths might not have crossed, intersecting in fascinating new ways.

You know what most people say when I talk about this? ‘But, why, DK? Whatever is the point?’ These are the people who will never believe that I haven’t held a day job since 2005. The beginning half of the conversation with this set of people tires me. I stopped. I only talk now in S P A C E and with people I think would get into S P A C E aesthetically. It’s really weird. But anyway. Really, I should answer.

Why? Because quality. A pursuit of beauty that means we are noticing each other, for real. Not just superficially, gosh. Really? Come on, like how many of your ‘friends’ are going to show up for you when you ask them to come around to your show, or meet for a beer because someone just died, or something? Come on, be real about it. Ask yourself. Is all that stuff where you want to be spending your time? Not me.

Someone asked me for my facebook yesterday. I said I don’t have one. I don’t think he believed me. Then he asked for my number. I don’t have one of those, either.

‘How do people get in touch with you, then, DK?’

Mailing list!

Just being honest about it… about how I really… don’t collect people. I share, and interconnect, I hope, when it’s working that’s what happens, when we are all showing up for that kind of thing. It’s not arbitrary and it’s certainly not for everyone. The reason you have to get tickets for stuff we are hosting is because I want to filter out the people who are just bored and looking for something to fill their time. I want people to show up who want to show up for this kind of jam. New. New and different. New and different others, seeking meaning in a distracted world. Shall I add, an indifferent world? Because certainly this work we are up to at S P A C E and DK in general is morphing away, and very quickly, from simply being bored with boring (which is how it started, as a design studio), and catapulting headlong towards being intentional about noticing people who are not like you. Does this make it political? Possibly. I don’t know how this happens; wherever I go, I get involved somehow in things related to ideologies that move towards human connexion that builds, together, something interesting. Self-governance or maybe just art.

I’m not sure. Is it the same? Does one necessarily fertilize the other? What precludes these things? Is where we are going as a global society something to talk about, more? I wonder. (I’m just riffing here. Let’s talk, if you want to: there’s a form at this page.)

Day in KL

(Side story: ‘I studied the philosophy of art. A guy named __.’ ‘Oh yeah! What did he say??’ ‘It was a long time ago. I can’t remember.’ ‘…’ ‘…’ ‘…’ ‘Are you bored?’ ‘YES.’ <—- This is why I don’t go out, often, to the ‘normal’ places where it’s socially encouraged to mingle. And the exact reason I made S P A C E.)

I’m bored, of course, (of course? Is it a given, really?) with the status quo. Always have been. Always will be. The status quo is where stuff gets sucked into the pockets of mediocirty, the whole ‘We’ve already run that kind of a story,’ thinking or, ‘This is just how it has always been, DK, can we just go back to the way we’ve always done it?’ Me: Please, no. Please, let’s try something new. Can we? No? You don’t want to? Well, okay. Goodbye. How many times have I been stuck? 61. I counted. And now, let’s move forwards. Let’s go to Malaysia. Let’s go see who’s around, and what we can experience, together. Ready, set.

And… hello.

‘Kaunter Tiket’ the zine launches on 1 May. Hosting a few events with friends to kick things off. // Photos by DK and, immediately above, photo by: Araujojoan96

 

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‘Briefly in Sheffield’

S P A C E || Sheffield

Order here.

Set in England, November 1998 and May 2016. Creative nonfiction based on real life encounters, S P A C E tells stories in third-person narrative. ‘Briefly in Sheffield’ is part of the larger series, S P A C E, a set of interwoven stories spanning the past, present and near future.

‘Briefly’ is one of DK’s first zine releases, and to help us all understand more about it, I recently interviewed the author, Karin Malhotra.

AS: You’ve been working on this a while, right?

KM: Twenty years. Jeez. That is a long time.

AS: And you’re finished? Why now?

KM: Timing. Chance. Discovering the thread in a moment that felt just right, and that tied up the loose ends into a work that is cohesive, to me, aesthetically. Also it was finished over Khmer New Year, and I was in Phnom Penh, pretty much not able to do anything else but write, since not a lot was open, people were away, and the atmosphere was quiet enough to focus and work. Not on the thing I imagined I would write (an assignment) with the time I had, but this just sort of flowed. I am glad about it. It has been meaning to be written, but I just… couldn’t… figure out the form… and other stories got made in the meantime, based on recency, interviewing people, wrapping quickly.

AS: Any examples?

KM: Sure. We collaborated to make S P A C E || Penang, which leads with ‘4/4 Measure,’ or S P A C E || Cameron, ‘Highlands.’ Fast is Design Kompany’s usual style; one of our team was at a daily, in 2004-5, so the tempo is real fast. Got used to quick wraps, now with the early zine prototyping at DK in 2016, practicing for this series. Ironic that ‘Briefly’ took two decades.

AS: Did you not just participate in Atelier S P A C E in Phnom Penh?

KM: Well…  yes. But we couldn’t get inspired, not yet, to make a zine for Phnom Penh. I guess it is too soon. We did get the cover shot, though. A window, a wall.

AS: So we will see it in 2038?

KM: *laughs* Um.

Sheffield. ‘Everyone always asks… Why?’
Peak District side tour

AS: So what about Sheffield?

KM: I went there in 2016.

AS: Because of Z.

KM: Inspired by. Not because of. Different. I remember writing a version of the first scene of this in like, 1999. But it was too soon. Plus I knew I really needed to get there, to Sheffield, I mean, if I wanted to get the story right. With proper details. I’ve always really wanted to write about my favorite people and places… Z. is based on someone I had met very briefly, but who challenged me to articulate ideas I couldn’t find words for, not yet, not then. It took ages years to get there, both the city and the necklace of the storyline, but when I did, I could finally respond to some of the big questions we had tussled with.

AS: Such as?

KM: Usual ones, for kids like us.

About life, work, and duty.

About culture, family, and social responsibility.

AS: ‘Kids like us?’ What do you mean?

KM: Oh. Being second-generation. Non-white, in countries like America and England.

Mugen Tea House, Sheffield
City Centre

AS: I know that this is an important subject for you, and I would like to hear more about it. Can you elaborate?

KM: Honestly, I’d rather not intellectualize this. If you want to really understand the feelings, the feelings are written into the story. I think art’s job is to get us to see things for ourselves, right? Too many times, I feel, authors and publicity people want to put words into nice, tight paragraphs that sound good, and goad you into buying stuff. That’s just not what matters to me. What matters to me is telling the story, telling it well, and showing the personality of Z., whom this is about, really. The earnest, soft, kind youth of a world apart from mine; our parents lineages’ clash, you see, India, Pakistan… that about sums it, right? But yeah. Second-generation. He was so different from me, and yet… awake and curious to learning the how and why of a new angle on life, and philosophy, even at that young age that we both were, at the time. Long story but I’ve put it down in a short form… Zines are handy, that way.

AS: A zine. What is that?

KM: A zine is a short, DIY-published piece, usually photocopied in limited edition and distributed by hand. But in this case, it’s a soft copy. An eZine.

AS: Okay. Let me understand this. It took you 20 years to write this. And it’s a work of creative nonfiction. The story, ‘Briefly in Sheffield,’ is set in England in 1998 and 2016. Why publish it now? Why Sheffield? 

KM: Fair questions. Okay, so, the zine, S P A C E || Sheffield, is part of a larger collection, S P A C E, that interweaves people and place, and hits square on underasked questions about: origin, cultural identity, and self. Isn’t now a good time to bring up these topics, given the world situation? I thought so. That’s why.

AS: Where can I get it?

KM: Scroll down.

AS: But okay. Twenty years??

KM: Working out the ideas and getting to a stance on things… that took a while! But I’m glad I waited. I’m glad I let things percolate, so that when I wrote the last chapter of this, it would mean something. It would have come from a place of substantial rumination, of query and argument, discussion, revisiting, reboots and regenerations. So much is packed in this.

AS: What happened when you finally got to Sheffield?

KM: You’ll have to read the story!… Many thanks to Golden Harvest and Mugen Tea House in Sheffield for the excellent conversations. And ZM, for whom this zine is written. *Chuffed*

 

How to order ‘Briefly in Sheffield’…

Order here.

 

 

S P A C E || Computing

‘THEY JUST…’

‘Yeah, well.’

‘Well, you know I can’t really judge. I’ve been doing the same thing all day.’

‘Computing?’

‘Yeah.’

‘I mean, if it was ten years ago, and MA and I were hanging out having our meetups on Tuesdays like we used to, all those many lovely weeks, I think… we would have turned it into something similar. Co-worky and everything. I’m sure of it, actually, now that I think about it. But we didn’t because we didn’t have that technology. Instead we talked. A lot, really. And those were memories I treasure from those days.’

‘You guys did that regularly. Every..’

‘Tuesday at ten. At Vicky T’s. I really got to know her over those chats. Something about showing up, regularly, over time. All those weeks, those doodling sessions, conversations, just letting things come up as they wanted to. Not forcing it.. .making the time for one another. Just us, that was nice. It’s actually the only thing I miss about Seattle. And JB, of course. JB, for sure.”

‘…’

‘And yeah, now that I think about it… it IS weird. Co-worky office-y over dinner with laptops, phones, and wine, and food, and phones, and phones and laptops and texts…’

‘…’

‘Sometimes I’m just glad I was born when I was. But then again, like I said, I did do the whole computing thing all day. So I can’t judge.’

‘And yeah. I’m about to go do that, now.’

‘You could just stay here, and do it.’

‘I could. Stay here. Yeah. I will do that.’

‘See you, then. After everything.’

‘Ciao, ciao.’

*

*emails* ‘That was fun, hanging out!’

*emails* ‘See you in a few hours!’

This is 6/100 in the series 100 conversations.

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.

S P A C E || Loaded

‘DON’T EXPECT ANYTHING. When you come back! It’s not like people are going to come flocking around just to see you!’

‘I know.’

‘It’s not like they care!’

‘I, um. I know.’

‘I don’t want you to get it in your head that someone or something is going to come into shape according to your head’s picture of it just because your head has a picture of it! I want you to know that there are high likelihoods that nothing at all will happen, at all! I want you to understand that!’

‘I understand. I have no expectations. Promise.’

‘That includes talking so much! To me! I’m so needing not to talk so much. We go around Intellectualizing everything and it is such a drag, and it gets in the way of actually communicating with actual people who aren’t US. Do you understand? I want you to understand this. I so, so do.’

‘Kay. I do.’

‘You promise?’

‘Yeah. I already promised once.’

”Well, what are you going to do do then? When you come back?’

‘To Phnom Penh?’

‘Yeah, yeah. Unless you want to go somewhere else?’

‘No, no. Where am I going to go? I have nothing planned until June.’

‘So?’

‘So yeah. They give you a month visa, right? Then I’ll just not extend it. I’ll find somewhere else to move to and I’ll go to that other place, after.’

‘After what? You said you didn’t have expectations!’

‘I don’t! But I do…’

‘What?’

‘Think it’s nice to have a bit of…’

‘What?’

‘Comfort. Familiarity. A sense of place. Home.’

‘Cambodia? Is home?’

‘Bangkok sure ain’t! And yeah. Phnom Penh. Is… One of them. Homes.’

‘Hm.’

‘So it’s not that I want to go and make a bunch of projects or try to round people up for esoteric conversations. That was hard to do even in Seattle! In Copenhagen! In London! I mean, really! If people in the big city whose native languages or closely studied second languages are like mine and people in other places I’ve lived whose culture is like mine, whatever that is, well, if THEY don’t get it, f**ing hell, damn if I can show up in PP and try to conjure something out of thin air!’

‘…’

”Then again…’

‘What?’

‘That’s the magic of it. For me. For us. We have some kind of special privilege because we’re not local. And that means lots of scope to just write and draw and make zines or whatever. Four years of this. That’s a long time. Cambodia! Yeah. You can just go there and be responsible and not exploits or pushy about your religious views and don’t upset anyone or ruffle stuff or become a pain or generally be like a lot of people are you know what I mean… Just. No cultural imperialism stuff you know… and you can stay a while and out of the dusty streets and ornamented rigidity, out of the beautiful haute fashion hatwear that no one realizes is so damn intriguing, and the small kindnesses that show up when you find the people who are going to be your real friends, or just one friend, I guess, for each of us, right?, well that’s pretty good! A lifetime of living and I’ve only got two friends, really. One of them I haven’t seen since 2013! F. Is this the world we are in now? This lonely, lonely world?’

‘Yeah.’

‘Well, damnit.’

‘What.’

‘I wanna be free. I wanna have a good time. I wanna do what I wanna do…’

‘You sound like that Primal Scream Song. Loaded. I wanna get loaded…

‘Yeah! It IS like that long! Oooh! I’m gonna have a party.’

‘So you ARE going to do something. Just…’

‘”Don’t expect anything!”‘

3/100. This is part of a series of 100 conversations. Written in S P A C E. Ooh, yeah.  HT RKP I still have your tape.✨

The way it’s going

I JUST HAD ONE OF THOSE moments, where you go, ‘Waitaminute. This is way, way out of scope.’ It’s like the time I was in Kyoto, this would be study abroad, and I was trying to study Japanese. Made a whole two semesters of college pretty much just about looking at old architecture in Kyoto and studying the language. The characters really got me excited, back then. I didn’t know how very different (simplified) they are from Chinese characters, of course, back then it was all (to me, that’s the important bit to qualify) to me, they were teensy picture-word things, that told you a bunch more info in the same kind of space than these kinds, words in English, they take up so much room. I like how Japanese is different. There’s so much space in the not-spoken… That’s where all the real conversation happens. At least, that’s what I think I understand. No definitive statements allowed, and that’s a good thing. I’ve gotten so tired of having to defend my way of doing things: leaving tons of room, space, for uncertainty and the chance encounter. To just… Happen into this path. And see. Today, I gave something to someone that really, I honestly, about four months ago, would never have given away. She was a girl in college on a trip with her bunches and bunches of friends. (M., if you are reading, this post is for you…) She had a nice quality about her, I can’t quite name it, you know, if I was still in the non-Asia version of myself, I would start to outline this, and put bullet points together, for a Post, so that it would make a Statement, something that you would Read and Be Interested or Informed by. But that is all nonsense. We all know now that there are no such things as Truly Objective Comments. All of us have the biases, the lenses, that of our whole past upbringing (and the things we cling to as truths). Until we can let the awareness sink in that maybe, just maybe, one way isn’t the only right way, then yeah. We can start a cool other thing. One of my favorite people to read about is NEILS Bohr (autocapitalized, just now. That’s interesting. I wonder why?). Who said, ‘How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress.’ And: ‘No, no, no. You’re not thinking. You’re just being logical.’ And: ‘The opposite of a profound truth may be another profound truth.’ All of this I learned on this weird, random and improvised trip to Copenhagen in late 2015. I have no idea why I wanted so much to be far and cold, but it was autumn. They say ‘autumn’ there not ‘fall,’ like in the United States. The extra syllable made me happy, in a way. Like in the East, it was as if to tell me, ‘You don’t have to make it all sound perfect over here. Just go ahead and be. Just, yeah. Be.’ And that was it. The opening. (Of course I know that if I’d grown up in Asia or N. Europe I’d have a completely different attitude about these places, but the juxtapositions are nice.)

I’m gonna talk about ‘The Moment,’ but not out loud, not here in public. I’ll share quietly, in the behind-the-scenes conversations, where one step at a time, we’re developing. The Mirror. It’s happening. One group is all returning. One is all newcomers. I’m grateful and amazed, and humbled, and the way it’s going is pointing to a different door from the ones I’d been examining. That’s what ‘The Moment’ just showed me. I can’t tell you, not out loud, not publicly here, because… I’m writing more and more about things that count behind the scenes, with trusted circles, only.

On the eve of something new

TOMORROW WE START. A new chapter for The Mirror, an online conversation that doubles as a workshop. This year is The Mirror‘s fourth.

In creating our invite list, I’ve been reconnecting with people around the world, these last few days, rekindling old ties and fostering a few new ones. Not everyone, of course. But a few. A few is good. A few is all you need.

We started it in 2014 as an experiment: if we could write with people we didn’t know, could that open space to a new kind of learning? What would happen? In the short compilation that came forth from that year, this was how we descibed the trepidation: ‘… 2014, a small group of people agreed to give me a shot at helping them make space to write more this year. It was unconventional and experimental, exactly what you have to be a little bit of a chance-taker to try, because I was making it all up from scratch. Thanks to their trust in us to create and hold space for writing, and especially for writing together, we were able to connect through words.’ Four years later, I’ve been musing on the changes, shifts. I love the beginning of a thing: a book, a new friendship, a fresh place. But now, I’m learning to appreciate the early-middle. Things brew. Become a little familiar. This is nice, very nice, too. We just finished our registration. Half our guests for The Mirror are returning participants. I am so excited! And I feel lucky, and bewildered, and delighted, as if the party of my life is about to start… In a way it is like a party, my favorite people from real life conversing in virtual rooms, over the coming weeks. The goal is interlink them, meaningfully, not trivially, with this more formed, but not fully formed (and thank goodness for that), version of The Mirror.

Like a four year-old, The Mirror now has grown up a little, and has a will of its own. Inquires, questions, accepts new input, want to discover, test the boundaries, and most of all, play. DK is all about that, if you know us personally or if you worked with us in the past. Let’s look at this in a new way? Let’s consider another perspective? Let’s not pin this down too soon, because we are still learning, still trying things, still letting it be what it wants to become. Along the way in any period of development, though, you see the heart of the thing that is emerging. With a child, their personality comes through clearer and stronger at four, right? They assert a little later, but they kind of have the general sketch and outline of the personality. We are there, with The Mirror, too. Wonderful things to look forward to, but also, extremely cool this evening as we are setting up for tomorrow, to notice the elegant part, that when you do pin down a creative idea it’s time to focus on giving it the kind of attention it needs to really flourish. At this stage, a wide mix of voices and stories, a gathering of people in virtual space, people from around the world who opt to apply and try something new, is what The Mirror is overjoyed about. I like the Englishism, ‘mates,’ as in, ‘I was with me mates.’ That’s the feeling. The Mirror can’t wait to play.

It’s almost time.

A new, more sophisticated, but also fun, what would it be without fun?, version is about to start. And guiding that, without knowing for sure how it will play out, but needing to trust and learning to trust that it will, is our work, here. Spacemaking. For new and different others to find remarkable connexion. We took a chance, we planted a seed. That thing germinated, it began to grow. It would have been so easy to not try, not even bother planting it. To make an excuse, to busy ourselves with ourselves. But the light and the water and the air, the things you used to cultivate that seed, were the beginning, as it flourished, the little buds weren’t just things to mind, but rather, they were part of a new section of yourself. They, slowly you realized it, they grew you.

Let’s go discover. Let’s go see.

Welcome to The Mirror.

Let’s play?

S P A C E || ‘Good Night, Day!’

Writing in S P A C E

THE WRITING IS GOING ALL RIGHT. Here, behind the scenes, we are turning yearslong collected writings and bits into things that are actually in some way processed, thought through, organized, and well-presented. I think this is called publishing. And that’s why we are working on it with Kismuth Books. Lots of room and space, to reflect, to look at the arc of where the stories that left the warmest impressions were, and how they got there. Not that there is a thing to ‘figure out,’ per se. It’s quite nice to just let the things be what they are slowly, in an ukiyo-e way, bubbling up and surfacing to be. Does it make sense?

DISCOVER THE MIRROR. IN 2014, I got this weird idea to write with other people. Some of them friends, some of them acquaintances, and many of them people I didn’t know. Internet friends? I guess. It became interesting very recently, as we have been iterating quite a lot since then. Now, THE MIRROR is a robust tool and we are sharing it out again starting 8 January, with a handful of people who are the right fit. I continue to do this because I love cojournaling; it gives us the opportunity to build a global tribe of people who are also asking questions, and curious about life. A few brave cojournalers who signed up for our very first experiment (January 2014) had NO idea what to expect. It was definitely an exercise in trust. And design, of course. We’ve tweaked it, tested it, added things, deleted things, and tried the whole thing out. It’s less clunky now, 4 years into it.

We use email. But it’s not just mail. It’s someone’s trust in you, and me, and us. It’s sharing. It’s this thing I kept going on about last year, “the village.” It’s about connecting, in a way that’s meaningful and deep and not someone paying for a therapist’s time or someone reading a book once and forgetting about it after that. It’s not a workshop off in the mountains, though those are fantastic, or a class that is going to help you set up everything to write a bestseller. It’s not any of those things. It’s just, simply, space. And it’s working. I can’t believe how the people who’ve just newly met are sharing their very personal thoughts, even in these early days. People are telling me they’re so happy to have time to just “free write,” without much of an agenda, and that they appreciate someone is listening (that would be the groups, and also me), holding them accountable to keep a practice to themselves: Write. Write weekly.

 

Weekly conversations

You don’t have to be a writer, you don’t have to be an artist. You can just be YOU. That’s the thing. We often don’t have space or time to spend just discovering who we are, within. I promise I’ve seen this over and over again at Design Kompany. In a modern world where we are so achievement-driven, we forget to make space and time to look within. Frankly, it’s discouraged. It’s “artsy-fartsy,” and it’s “woo-woo.” But by gosh, it’s so darn important. You can’t ever know why you’re doing what you’re doing if you don’t know who you are. So this has been fantastic, and that’s why we’re kicking off this year officially NEXT WEEK. On 8/1/18, we are going to start THE MIRROR 2018. It is for those who are interested in making space to reflect, take stock. With others also responding to the same prompts, in forums, each week. What I learned from DK that I apply to THE MIRROR is one thing: the conversation is the most important part of any creative process.

‘What’s in it for me?’ Fair question. This is about creating intentional space for you to write, in a dedicated way, with other people doing the same thing in other parts of your city or the world. I will be here to hold you accountable, giving you a quarterly update with feedback. This is not for a grade or any kind of validation, but I will guide you to committing time to flex your creative writing (outside of work, your local writing club, or academia). Sharing in a nonjudgmental way with others is a huge part of this, and learning to be a little vulnerable along the way makes space for a different kind of writing which may be new for you, too.

Why this is different. This isn’t school, or work, and yet, even recess has a set time for little kids. Space to play. To discover. To look, ask, and try. Think of it like you might imagine kindergarten—anything is possible—except now you have experience to draw from too. Without a chance to make what’s in our hearts known (first to ourselves, and then to others), it doesn’t get heard. Sometimes our stories are painful—grief, loss, or hurt—but sometimes, behind those things, there is an enormous well of something we didn’t know was there. The subconscience speaks through journaling, telling us each about our deepers elves as we get better at practicing how to let it speak.

I’m a believer in flat, open circles, and am creating this space so as to invite lots of real stories from the heart to come onto the (digital) page, if that’s what happens, or at least illuminate for their authors exactly what it is that’s inside. There are far too many times when you can look into the mirror and wonder, “What if things had turned out differently? What if I had applied myself a little more?” It’s not easy in our modern, achievement-oriented culture to give ourselves this kind of permission. Space. To play, to look inward, to do the hard work that can unleash a world of new insight if we let it.

 

How it works

WHO. No more than 4 people per circle. International, mixed. Groups are assigned based on what people share in their applications: ie, ‘what do I want to get out of this.’ Sequenced prompts are designed based on those common interests, for each circle.

WHAT. A co-journaling weekly prompt arrives each Monday. On Sunday, we’ll craft the next week’s prompt, based on whatever responses come in on that day, or before. It’s this simple. It emerges, and it grows meaningful based on the things that tie together the overarching common themes. Very fun, very intriguing, and a kind of juxtaposition-meets-relational aesthetics weird and cool vibe pops up.

WHEN. Starts 8 January, 2018. Are you wondering how much time this will take? Don’t feel pressured to commit to yet another thing to do: this is meant to be a complement and fertilizer for whatever writing you have already planned to do.

FLOW. It’s okay not to have a clear idea up front about what it is you’ll write about, the creative process always begins with a fuzzy open slate. Then, through the work, through the practice, something becomes interesting to you. This something is the gem that all the work up until that moment of discovering it will have been for. Once you have this piece, the golden nugget, we will work together to write a piece that is all about that which the nugget has inspired in you. Write what you know, they say, but we can’t know what we know until we dig a little to discover this little thing that is so very important in the big work of writing our real stories, in our true, authentic voice. Everyone knows the difference between pieces that are written from the heart, and those that are just written. Editors like to say, ‘The writer works so the reader doesn’t have to.’ Over time, we may begin to see connections happen across the virtual space between guests. This happens. In really cool ways, people began to ask one another questions to go a little deeper on the ideas that are coming up. Making a space for it to bubble up and *happen*, that’s the framing for THE MIRROR. The whole thing: that’s it.

HOW TO JOIN. It starts with an application. Apply through this page: http://designkompany.com/apply. Selected candidates will be invited to register, and an orientation note will be shared from there. Warmly welcoming a few new voices today, and sending virtual hi-fives to returning guests, too.

 

S P A C E: The Art of Not Knowing

Converse. Connect. Discover. New people, new thinking, and new perspectives. Sharing in real life with people you have no idea just how much you might have in common with. It’s a new year, coming up, and this is a chance to take stock on where you’ve been so far, and chart a course for where you’re going. How do you do this when you don’t have everything ‘figured out?’ A prompt-led dialogue that will feature breakout sessions, small group work, and introspective reflection, all in one short afternoon, could very well be just the nudge you need to motivate yourself to follow your heart, and dream big. As seen in Hanoi (May-June 2017), ‘The Art of Not Knowing’ is a light and fun conversation salon that will make time and room for you to explore these exciting and deeply personal questions, but not in an intrusive way, and with a lot of lightheartedness along the way. See for yourself. See what making space can reveal to you about… you. Hashtag? #dada #surrealist #exploration #selfconcept

Just 6 spots. RSVP to confirm your attendance. RSVP through this form:

Being here now

I STAYED UP far too late last night reading a short story about loneliness. Some part of me was totally depressed reading how the main character was so lonely he paid someone to watch him on the video stream on his laptop. But then, going around this gleaming city each day, watching people with their own portable screens and streaming on the go, I got less sad. This is the reality we are in. We can’t talk to each other, face to face; that’s too weird. It has to be vetted, now, first. There has to be a real reason to know you have something to say to me, personally and I can’t do that if you are approaching me, in 3D, out of nowhere, and now ‘nowhere’ is the real world. Then, it happened. I met someone. Late, late, late. In the lobby of the hotel. Shared space. Common rooms. Where I found the book. The *oddest* things took place, things I can’t talk about on this blog because this blog is public space in the modern, new, updated, revised way, it’s public like ‘I can see what you write and think and feel,’ and not public like ‘I’m in this room with you, right now.’ A younger version of myself would have wanted to construct a blog post today that would outline for you the weirdness, in discrete segments of particularities, (because we all know it’s the details that make a story good), of what happened next, after our awkward greeting. (But I am saving that for next Tuesday’s S P A C E. Subscribe? http://gum.co/space). The shape of space of the evening was total alienation; bizarre and disjointed. It was, however, a theatrical rendition of the modern mindscape. We are bedazzled by spectacles, but we can’t see the presence of the thing that is the true miracle, which is this moment of a shared here and now.

ART. What is there to do but to continue to make S P A C E, for real life, the framing of the magic of chance connections, and the ongoing awakening that can happen, if we let it, when people who notice the detail of now and the slowing of a full moment in which no other pictures or sounds or other people’s annotated commentaries on That Which They Deem Interesting can eclipse this here… Who cares about what a friend, colleague, boss, or lover thinks or shares at a distance, far from me? I care about here. Now. If you walk into this stage, for even a second, there it will begin, the play.

A nomadic existence

Design Kompany is hosting an online forum in which people who don’t know one another—from around the world—are connecting and conversing, every week.

LIFE ON THE ROAD.

Digital nomad, or modern gypsy? If you found yourself, as we did, somehow on the road indefinitely and working off the internet in that magical and curious way that it has to link us with people whose paths we might not have otherwise crossed, then this is the one for you. Conversations are already underway in these protected pages on related topics, since 2014. (Ref: The Cojournal Project, The Mirror, The Forum, A New Kind of Journey, The Village).

Be a part of it.

Here’s how to apply.

Apply

Use this form:

 

Happy first birthday, Breakfast in Cambodia

Chapters of this book include ‘Talking Type in Phnom Penh’ and ‘Unbound from Ennui, Maybe’.

***

 

GREETINGS. Breakfast in Cambodia (Kismuth Books // 2016), written and illustrated by DK’s own Dipika Kohli, is one years old today. Continue reading “Happy first birthday, Breakfast in Cambodia”

Up II

‘MADE IT.’

‘What?’

‘The accountability thing.’

‘What thing?’

‘You know. Getting you to write down what you want to do this week. And then asking you if you did it.’

‘…’

‘You said you wanted that, right?’

‘That was like, half a year ago!’

‘Yeah, sorry. But. I’ve gotten some other things going that reminded me of how it’s important to check in and stuff. And so I got back into it, not because, you know, it was highly urgent or anything, it’s just that, I know how to do it, at least. I have a hunch. A minimum viable thingy. But yeah. I think this will work. Mechanically. You know. Automating, but not getting all carried away with figuring out code. I’m not a code guy, you know that.’

‘…’

‘I think sometimes people like to overdesign the tools. The tools aren’t important, though.’

‘What is?’

‘The doing.’