‘Whatever. I can’t just, well, I don’t want to just spell it out.’

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‘TELL PEOPLE, in a relatable way, why they should care and why it will make their lives better. Your offering. Whichever one.’

‘What??’

‘Dude. You just have to think about it. The benefits. Not features.’

‘But, but! This is about… self-actualization. This isn’t the kind of thing you go around plastering up and about like it’s some kind of cheap detergent or a Pop Art thingy or something like… I mean… it’s about… Argh. I just can’t do this. I can’t go into description.’

‘But that’s what you have to do. You have to tell people in a relatable way—’

‘Yeah yeah. Why it’s important and why they should care.’

‘Yeah. And how it will make their life better.’

‘So which thing? I mean, there’s the thing about the conversations in real life, which aren’t really something that I need to tell people about en masse, you know, like I kinda actually like it that they are small and incognito, it’s like some kind of… I don’t know… thing. It feels great when it just pops up and magically happens, without too much noise and discomfort and fanfare and people-managing. I mean, sorry, that’s not cool to say, is it? People managing? But I mean. That’s what happens when it gets to be too… many. The value is diluted.’

‘Ooh. The value is diluted. Okay, so you’re creating intimate spaces for conversation? Is that it?’

‘I mean, it’s not just conversation. It’s really about making space for people to meet those whose paths they would’t have otherwise have crossed. This is very, very important!’

‘Um. I’m not really sure I get it.’

‘You don’ know how many people say that!’

‘Well, you might want to think about your messaging. And your target audience.’

*winces* ‘My audience is people who want to be better.’

‘Mmm…  um.’

‘No, wait. Hear me out. The thing is this. MOST PEOPLE are pretty content to do what they’re doing, the way things have always “been done,” and never question how they can personally evolve. I mean, you don’t have to do it in some kind of massive revolt-y way. Even when people have the means to do things the way that makes them actually grow, they often don’t. Why is this? Because did you know only 8% of the population in the United States is into ‘actualizing?’ I read that in a book or something and wrote it into a journal and re-read it today. Today, like. I mean, wow. Most people are achieving, or surviving, or other things, but there are very few who actually want to actualize. It’s at the top of the pyramid, you know? That Maslow thingy?’

‘Yeah, yeah. But what is the benefit? How will it make my life better? Say, if I were an actualizer, that is.’

‘You don’t believe me?!?!?’

‘Uh.’

‘I guess at this point usually I would just throw up my hands and say, FINE. You don’t get it. And walk away. Because I’ve… I’ve been too impatient. Yeah, that would be true.’ *pauses* ‘I guess for the last 20 years, um, I’ve—we’ve?—been lucky enough that there were subsets of that 8% of the population that happened to be in my world at the times that they were, and trusted me, uh, us, and commissioned DK, and you know what I mean, it doesn’t just happen the people go, Oh, sure, let me just hand you this massive project that means a lot to me and that I’ve been waiting for the right person to do for my whole professional career and… and… I just have a good gut feeling about you.’

‘So that’s it? That’s why they should care? And how it makes their life better?’

‘They should care because… because they care about themselves. They want to have time and space to actually do some really good work looking inward. And not in a dumb way, like some pay-me-for-listening-to-you kind of setup, I have this play I could show you that is all about that, and it’s weird how society likes to think that you can justify your angst if you can bottle it up and release it in slow dribs at these programmed sessions, you know, like weird, man, and they do it anyway, and I guess since I come from a whole line of this lot of people who prescribe drugs for medicating away basic stuff like ANGST and ENNUI and… wait. What was the question?’

‘Tell people, in a relatable way, why they should care and why it will make their lives better.’

‘What, the eCourse, you mean? The eWorkshop?’

‘Yeah. Sure. And the salons.’

‘The salons are just… I mean. They’re kinda for fun. So I should really talk about the online courses and workshops, huh. I mean, I should tell people what everyone says that these things give them, but that would be weird, because it’s so personal and confidential and I don’t want to parade people around like they’re, you know, sales tools. I hate that kind of thing. I also don’t want a LOT of people, like I said, the conversation spaces usually work best when they’re small. I love small groups. I can really be part of them when I’m able to see everyone at close quarters.’

‘Then why are you… hiding?’

‘Huh?’

‘People want to see the real you. So they know they can trust you.’

‘Dude. People who know me trust me.’

‘So you’re fine with it? Where you are?’

‘Not 100%, but pretty much. Yeah. I like the people who find me. I like finding people, too, for the other thing, the ‘N’ project, but it’s… different. It’s more of a playful thing. It’s less of a… work thing. But… maybe work and play are… kind of overlapping sometimes. And what I do is let it be fun for people to discover who they really are…’

‘… And you’re on to it, almost, I think! Keep going! That’s good…’

‘…’

‘…’

‘Well, it’s not a party, but it feels like one. It’s more of a jam session, but everyone’s serious, not just frivolous time wasting because nothing else was going on that was more interesting. Well, we all make time for this because it’s important to us, and we commit and don’t go all weird and maybeish about it because it’s a, you know, a commitment. And I want to show up and be solid and make a space that’s good working space, not just fluff, not just woo-woo shite, but you know, like… insight-making. And it works, when it happens. When it does, it really does. I know I should brag about all the stuff I’ve done and put the big logos of all the stuff that has featured everything on the site and whatever but I just don’t want to do it like everyone else. I want to let people find me because they really want to do something interesting, not just standard fare. It’s not ‘self-help’ and I’m not a coach. It’s more… it’s more about… growth. Who wants to grow? Who wants to be better? How do you do that, when it’s not like you can easily discover others who want to do that? I’m talking about that slim segment of the 8% of the population in the US, and even less elsewhere because I have this US style and it’s not like it works everywhere. you know?’

‘Yeah, dude. I know.’

‘Good. ‘Cause lately, I’ve been feeling pretty darn misunderstood.’

‘It’s just esoteric and inaccessible, that’s all.’

‘I know. That’s why for a while, I was doing the comics.’—JP

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‘You need a net, though’

‘YOU MEAN THE GUY WHO CAME OVER, and slept on the bed, in the extra room?’

‘Yeah.’

‘That room, really? The one with all the mosquitoes? And NO NET?’

‘Yeah, yeah. When we used to live there.’

‘I can’t believe… That room had no net, dude.’

‘I know. But it was him. I had to like go over there and talk to him and ask him, it was you, wasn’t it? You’ve been to my house? And then, he was like, “Hai.”‘

‘Japanese people. Shy.’

‘…’

‘TOO shy.’

‘…’

‘What’s all that shyness gonna get you?’

‘…’

‘Say.’

‘No.’

‘Anyway, he seemed nice. I hope he comes to game night.’

S P A C E || Washing yarn and drawing mangoes

‘HEY.’

‘Hey.’

‘How did it go…?’

‘Really, really well. I am so… Inspired. To keep doing this sort of thing. You know, I keep on wondering if anyone’s reading or listening or anything and then, wham! It hits, like a juggernaut, heh, I just wanted to say “juggernaut.”‘

*smiles all around*

‘But you know? There was this moment of suddenly waking up, like as if, as if the whole thing about collecting scraps of Camus and Poincare’s stuff and bits and pieces over time, how many years now?–‘

‘Twenty.’

‘–yeah, twenty!, jeez, anyway, I think it has been worth it. Taking it on this journey. Around the world, and all that. I have the handful of books, the books that when I hold them give me a feeling—that’s what I was talking about with—‘

‘Hey. I uh, Um… Can you, um?’

‘Oh, oh. Yeah, sorry. What time is it? Lunch in a few? And you have to get across town for that meeting, okay okay. But the point is, the point is!, that you know what? There isn’t really a point, but the thing I learned is that there is definitely room for this kind of thing. Space making and stuff. Getting it up and organized, the dialogue rooms, even if they’re borrowed spaces, that’s actually part of it, I think the charm of the special focus and thematic arrangement, as if a composition is coming together. I’m not musical, but I like it, and no, I love it, when there’s something fusing in a way that feels right. Feels good. Quality is what you like, remember? Remember that big ol’ book that had that in it? Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? That you wanted me to read in the 1990s? And I was like, duh, no way, that’s a book about some dude and a road trip, and you know, later, way later, it was way more than that…  It was about seeking things that are more interesting and intriguing and feel good.’

‘…’

‘So yeah. I’m gonna keep going.’

‘You’re gonna keep making conversation salons? But I thought you were done with real life ones. That you were going to do the online things, like the magazine and the workshops?’

‘Oh, well, yeah. I have had such a great time with the conversations in S. P. A. C. E., and so, I got distracted. I stopped really doing anything with people in person anymore. And I guess not since Denmark, not since showing up and running about to see what might happen have I made any efforts in that dimension because, because, well, I think Phnom Penh is a bit slow on this sort of thing. I mean, not Phnom Penh… The expat scene here… The people I’m talking to, or I think I’m talking to. I think they’re a little bit too by-the-book, you know? Like, no scruffiness, no out of the box, nothing out of the extraordinary. So in form are they with the status quo that something that purports to buck the status quo—as simple and quiet as a salon is, in raising questions about how we are existing and the beliefs we buy wholesale without critique–well, I think it’s just… Sort of… Um. Odd to them.’

‘Uh-huh.’

‘I mean, the whole thing is just too esoteric, or at least, that’s what I thought. But I’m reading a lot online and going through all these bits and notes like I said and yeah, I’m seeing the commonalities. The big thinkers in physics and psychology and even the motivated business leadership they talk about doing the thing you’re the Best in the World at, and I think… I think.. It’s starting to be clear, after two DECADES, that there is… There HAS to be a way to enjoy the engagements that come together in offline, non-agenda, common space in semi-public rooms where people converge from very disparate backgrounds and origins in order to discuss that which touches our core, as humans. As human beings, you know? Not cogs in wheels in some system that’s been designed by people who just want us to Work so Hard that we are constantly Busy (with what? For who? To what end? And how is it adding to our own long-term value-making, by the way?) for some reason. It’s gig to gig with people here, contract to contract. They’re not even trying, some of ’em. The quality—the competency—is dodgy, mate. It really is. It’s disappointing that people who aren’t interested in aspiring to be more, but just complacent with the paycheck and the pretense of being busy with something (though they can’t succinctly tell you what that something is), I mean… It’s… Gobsmacking.’

‘Uh….’

‘Don’t worry. I won’t write it up or anything. I won’t make a big noise about how disappointed I am when people aren’t, uh, very good… at seeing there’s way the hell more out there to do and be and seeking is part of it and it’s a choice…Whew, sounds harsh, but I think my people know already that there’s the rest, out there, way closer than anyone lets on… I need to gather them into these salons, so they can relax and engage and talk—I think that’s my Thing, you know? What I have to do, what DK is about… What Making Space can be for people is pretty… What’s the word… I guess you just have to experience it… Plus it could evolve, you know? It could… Be something. I can see myself taking this to Seattle and Portland—I think they’d remember DK from the past, perhaps? It’s not like there’s SUCH a big populace there and heck, why not just reconnect with a few… And…

‘…’

‘Well, hey. I just promise I won’t complain. I’ll just…’

‘What?’

‘Keep going with the salons. Or whatever comes up next. Maybe they’ll catch on, in time, when there are enough people embittered with a system that takes and takes and doesn’t give them anything in return that makes their lives feel good. Feeling good, right? I mean, quality, right? I mean, yeah! I’m gonna do it.’

‘Do it. I’ve gotta—‘

‘Yeah, okay. Say hi to C.’

‘But dude, what’s that thing about yarn and mangoes?’

‘Oh, right. Remember when you said when we were younger that if you want to start knitting, and you were in Japan, and you were serious, you don’t just start with a set of needles, right, you have to kinda start from the very VERY beginning. Washing yarn.’

*laughing* ‘I didn’t say that. Did I? Someone else must’ve.’

‘No. You did.’

‘And?’

‘And when it comes to drawing, like those ones from The Cloud place the other day that I made, when I followed some people over there? Yeah, that time. I mean, live drawing isn’t something you just go in cold and start, the same way you don’t just go in and start knitting without knowing the yarn through and through, right? So I said, I said to people there, if you want to draw the human figure, I recommend starting with something else. And they said, “What?” And I said, maybe cause it’s the season, I said, “Draw mangoes.”‘ –JP

 

Designing more and better space

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I STARTED A CONVERSATION with the [DELETED].

We’re thinking of creating custom writing prompts for the people who are interested in making space and time for serious, quality self-reflection.

It’s not for everyone, of course. Most people, I’m learning, really hate the idea of starting this kind of thing. Even though they know it’s good for them.

Like vitamins and yoga, journaling is this ‘extra’ thing that no one really seems to prioritize. Even though people at the forefront of business, technology and artistic pursuits know that you need to focus. Focus, focus, focus. When you do, you can move with clarity on the path that moves you to the mountain instead of distracts you from your own inner desires—even when you don’t name them explicitly, something in you knows that you are supposed to be doing something else with your life.

How will you use your gift of human life? asks Kathleen Singh, a writer I’d corresponded with back in the day when we were designing the first prompts for this project.

PRESENTLY DK now works, for the most part, P2P. Not B2B. Relationships! Relationships are everything. They matter. Big time.

Yet the fabric that is getting made as we knit a new network, one in which creative people everywhere are part of an ambient, ongoing weekly conversation, I don’t know yet what it will look like, exactly. I just know that it’s important to keep sharing about it, because sharing is the village.

So that’s part of why. The change. To this magazine, from a design commission sort of arrangement for our clients.

Instead of businesses and owners, I now work with individuals. 1:1.

Now, more than ever, I am enjoying P2P conversations.

That, I think, is where I can see myself being useful to you. Content sharing. The prompts are good ones and the short-form eWorkshop, which I’d sent the link to, is a streamlined 8-week sequence.

I’ve hosted THE MIRROR now twice. Really it works. And the people who like it tend to be interested in actually doing the big work. Actually writing. 🙂

Next up is a world in which we can design our own roles in conversation that’s hosted, guided and N:N. International. Creative people connecting, around the world, one designful moment at a time. Who wants to do this with me? —DK

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Trust the creative process, find the art and magic

[Update: AS OF SEPTEMBER 2017, DK is making Atelier S P A C E. But before we began roving the world gathering people in real life for conversations about the creative process (and hands-on programmes designed to get us doing instead of just thinking about doing), we used to have these conversations in virtual spaces. The Q&A series that we made for our online magazine, S P A C E, continues to be a place where we return for inspiration. A past life in journalism led to the style of asking questions and diving deeper to explore what it is a person cares about most, what she wants to say about her work and how we can contextualize it to make what we learn relevant to a broader audience. Everything we do in S P A C E has to do with the connections between people, with interstitial spaces. That is why we are starting to share more openly some of the early Q&A’s that were originally exclusives for our online community, S P A C E, which subscribes each week to our ongoing conversations, learnings, resources, links, and musings about how we make, who makes, where we are, and why we do this work. For more information about S P A C E, go here.]

 

A CONVERSATION TODAY with North Carolina ceramics artist and a personal friend, Ronan Kyle Peterson.

Here is what he had to say about our theme this month, IMAGINE. We are discovering some shared interests in, amongst a few other things: work, cycles, and practice.

DK: I’ve seen your work evolve quite a bit in the last decade. What is it you are up to?

RKP: Essentially, I am dealing with effects of agents of growth and decay and how these agents shape and embellish the surfaces of stones and the skins of trees. Employing an earthy background palette stretched across textured but quieter surfaces, I wanted to upset that quiet earthiness with intense splashes of vibrant color, patterns, and glossy surfaces not commonly associated with tree bark or the rough surfaces of rocks amidst fallen leaves.

DK: Tell us your thoughts on ‘work’—what is it, who is it for, and why does it matter?

RKP: ‘Work’ noun-wise, would be the pots that I make to sell. Which references my ‘job’ or the verb ‘work’ that I do to make a living. The work for me is learning about color, how colors work together, how color and pattern changes perception of form, and how color pattern and texture can affect a person’s mood or perception of a pot.

The work that interests me, or the energizing part, is figuring out forms for functional purposes—cups and mugs for drinking, bowls for eating or serving from—and decorations or surface treatments that complement and complete the form.

DK: Why do you do what you do?

RKP: I make… because it makes me happy, fulfills a need, keeps me searching. I’m just infinitely blessed that others, customers, want to buy my pots and are interested for the most part in what, the work, that I am doing. It doesn’t matter in a larger context, but it does matter to me, because in the doing I am happy.

DK: Is that where the magic is? In the doing?

RKP: For me, the magic is in the making or the doing. Talking, wishing, and hoping do not get the job done. The magic is in the doing.

DK: A lot of people say they wish they had more time be an artist, make music, travel, write a book, and so on. What you would say to them?

RKP: I guess I would say, you just have to make it happen. And it will not just happen. A lot of times there has to be a sacrifice of something else: sleep, long meals, vegging out, tv, income, family time, socializing… Making time or sacrificing something else to make time seems to be hard for some people, because they are energized and content through socializing, etc. For me, working, making new work, exploring new forms, colors, combinations, that is what energizes me.

DK: What does rhythm mean to you?

RKP: Rhythm recently is not contained in one working cycle. Work is started, but not finished until later, spilling into the next cycle, and the next. It used to be frustrating, but I have found that through continued experimentation with form, color, and pattern, that ideas tend to belong aside one another: they are a continuation of thoughts I build on. I guess this speaks to an overall rhythm? I’m making a healthy offering of cups and mugs each cycle, but I have more larger pieces waiting to be finished. Now it is kind of nice to think more about the larger pieces, figure out different decorations and surface approaches that fit better, better than my original plan. I’ve started reglazing older pieces, [and] making different lids for jars. Revisiting sometimes resolves some deficiencies of the pieces. I have a general set of forms, but I’m trying out new things, mostly decoration-wise, every cycle.

Testing
PROTOTYPING. RKP’s instagram feed (and this image, in particular) caught DK’s eye for our sequence RHYTHM. ‘The image is from a kiln loading with a friend,’ he tells us. ‘Just showing how potters test glazes, not actual product or work, more process to figure out what glazes to use and how they will look in the firing.’

DK: Imagine two young people, maybe teens, who are thinking about artistic pursuits having a conversation, perhaps at a museum somewhere, and they know virtually nothing of the real experiences of people like you who have reached some sort of acceptance, it appears, in the methods you are using to make and do and share. What would you tell them?

RKP: I would say be patient. It takes a lot of time, and failing and observing, to figure things out. One thing that I try to keep in the forefront of my mind is how much help and support I have: I’ve worked for many potters with different styles and aesthetics, I have in-laws who let me use some of their space for a studio, I have galleries who work with me and for the most part allow me to bring them work that I choose to make. Growing that network, that support system, I think, is pretty crucial. And being patient, humble, and open to comment, advice and opportunities.

Discover more about RKP at his website.

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Salon & Exhibition: New line and collage artwork by DK

‘ENDINGS CAN BE GOOD: Nostalgia is a cripple.’

NOSTALGIA CA PHE

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Time and space for quality self-reflection

MAKE SPACE for self-reflection. This 12-step virtual workshop is a tried-and-tested way.

Programmes online from DK are, as of July 2018, by invitation only. To request an invitation and details of our online workshop-salons, tell us. If you’d like to be notified of SELF January 2019’s invitation-only opening, please add your name through the form on this page.

Thank you for your attention and interest in SELF—we’re excited to bring you the best of highlights of 10 years of conversations on how to find the ‘concept of you.’ To be continued! —DK

 

Guest post: ‘Skipping the awkward get-to-know-you-phase’

GUEST POST from a guest of ’16N,’ our international conversation series of salons: ‘When we met, it was like we didn’t have a long awkward get-to-know-you phase, it was easy to chat and talk about less usual things.’

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A guest post today from Sarah Rhodes. Sarah had joined us at ‘N’ Phnom Penh, and reflects on that experience. 

WHEN I FIRST moved to Siem Reap, I was attending a lot of different events to meet different people and try and find my place and friends in a new city.

It was at one of these events where I met [DK], who was hosting ‘N’, an event that sounded a bit interesting, and although we didn’t get to talk directly, it was a few days later that we ended up having a great chat watching the sunset on a rooftop in Siem Reap town.

Whether it was the first meeting or the sunset chat there was no doubt that the connection had been made, so when I was visiting Phnom Penh in April last year and it coincided with the ‘N’ event, I considered myself very fortunate.

Sunset

It was during this visit that I realised the other attendees of the event had also had similar encounters with [DK], so it was no surprise that when we all arrived for this event we found that we automatically connected, as we had one main thing in common. The way the event was organised was well thought through; from the personal invitation, individually crafted official invitations, creative activities which with facilitated conversation beyond the usual ‘who are you?’ and ‘what do you do?’.

WHEN WE MET, it was like we didn’t have a long awkward get-to-know-you phase, it was easy to chat and talk about less usual things. I met many interesting people that night. I now have friendships with people in Phnom Penh from ‘N’, after all a friendship is formed by first talking with someone, and then talking with them again. —Sarah E. Rhodes (@saraherhodes)

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Guest Post: ‘Sharing Stories’

GUEST POST FROM SANDRO GISLER. ‘I TREASURE the shouts, blurbs, dinner table fragments just as much. And likewise, the glimpses into the souls and lives of those I’m connected with through social media. Whom I would not see at a campfire or a dinner table any time soon.’

TODAY, A GUEST POST from Sandro Gisler. DK got to know Sandro through a collaborative writing project of Kismuth Books, which culminated in the publication of a small anthology. More than a year on, as we reopen THE MIRROR, we asked Sandro if he felt like sharing his thoughts on being part of that journey, and where he is now. And, this.

Sharing stories

“THIS,” he says, “is precisely what campfires are for. The sharing of stories. There’s a spiritual connection between flame and narrative.” —V. M. Straka

CAMPFIRES. It has been a while. But the other day, I had once again the privilege to be a storyteller: My kids’ school hosted a Reading Night, and I volunteered to read a story. Equipped with a flash light, I sat in the dark in an old-school class room, a flock of five-year olds sitting cross-legged in a small circle, hanging on my lips as I told local folk tales.

Reading the Straka quote about the campfire made me reflect about Sharing Stories, and I soon realized: ‘Sharing Stories’ may be the most profound human experience. I have long held that language is at the core of what it means to be human.

Language can range from a simple tool for exchanging information all the way to provide comfort, to share value, to remember history and to form bonds. But in between, there is a wide spectrum of nods, of Hey-did-you-hear-about’s, of quick blurbs and fragmented reports. Standing at the water cooler, waiting at the bus stop, over dinner with loved ones.

Let me introduce at this point the Share button. Have you clicked one today? Several times? Was it a Share button that brought you here, to this post? Or did someone mention it at the camp fire last night?

What is the Share button’s value? Does it cut us off from others by driving us into Social Media isolation? Does it create that same social bond that the flames of a campfires or the shine of a flash light create?

Well, as much as I am a romantic sucker for camp fires and late night storytelling, I am also a pragmatist, and value a simple hug over a grand red carpet welcome. A quick coffee over an elaborate tea ceremony. That’s where the Share button comes in. The Share button is the global water cooler, the café at the corner of the universe, the pub of Earth’s town square.

Glimpses

THERE ARE FEW THINGS in the world I like better than sitting at a campfire. But let’s face it; had I only shared stories and formed bonds while sitting at a campfire, it would’ve been a lonely life.

I treasure the shouts, blurbs, dinner table fragments just as much. And likewise, the glimpses into the souls and lives of those I’m connected with through social media. Whom I would not see at a campfire or a dinner table any time soon. I want to know how they feel. About the bus ride that morning, about the election, about the refugees, about the lack of snow, about what will come next.

There is a value in every human interaction, no matter how mundane or how electronic. What matters is the connection. —Sandro Gisler (@sandrogisler)

 

Where great physics intersects with great literature: Outbreaks

NEILS BOHR: ‘There is no quantum world. There’s only an abstract quantum physical description. It is wrong to think the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics is what we can say about nature.’

A surprising overlap in thinking: What Neils Bohr and Henry Miller both say about the creative process

SERENDIPITY LANDED IT ON MY LAP.

In a dusty, sun-caked patio of a lending library in Phnom Penh, the worn volume tossed towards me by a longtime friend, with the abrupt grunt, and a halfhearted recommendation. ‘This one, maybe. You might like it, A.’

Henry Miller. The Colossus of Maroussi.

I did.

Too much.

I still haven’t returned it. One day, eventually, but it is too nice to read and reread the dense packets of prose that answer life’s big questions: what is our purpose, how can we reconcile our callings towards the esoteric (live artfully, miraculously) when the world is ravaging itself in global warming, apathy, fragmentation, and war. I lately read classics more and more. They seem to have some of these things organized and carefully, beautifully, and quite convincingly spelled out.

What we are, how we are meant to live, and what we might yet become are super giant metaphysical questions. When I talk about metaphysics, people get kind of all distant and a little weirded out. Science is hard, I get the rebuttal. I spent a lot of time in a part of America with the highest concentration of PhDs (this would be Raleigh-Durham), and often, more often than I care to admit, ran up against the celebration of logic over all.

Logic is a mess. Logic is killing us. And logic isn’t working. When we have the world upping in temperature inch by inch, the empire of Disney comes along and tries to put it out of our mind with a pretty little distracting animation about a world of cold and ice. A movie glorifying war comes out at just exactly the time as, guess what? Real war’s on. This is weird, but this is the world we are in. I was in this bungalow in a hippie outlay in a rural part of Cambodia one day, just hanging out on a hammock, and this older guy gets it that I’m getting him, and just tells me point blank, it’s all over. ‘The truth will be buried in a sea of irrelevance. You should read Aldous Huxley.’ ‘Tell me more.’

CAN’T SAY THAT I AM A BIG READER. I like talking, though. Correspondence in the written form is cool, too. What matters is the quality of exchange. The dialogue. Value is the awareness of something new, an input that is beginning to plant somewhere, and inform the old learnings. I am reading for the sake of curating a magazine. I don’t have much else to read, except what will engage the people I care about. The ones who ask questions.

Miller, describing his thoughts at being taken to an astronomical observatory in Athens along with his friend Lawrence Durrell:

The image I shall always retain is that of Chartres, an effulgent rose window shattered by a hand grenade. I mean it in a double or triple sense—of awesome, indestructible beauty, of cosmic violation, of world ruin suspended in the sky like a fatal omen, of the eternality of beauty even when blasted and desecrated. ‘As above, so below,’ runs the famous saying of Hermes Trismegistus. To see the Pleiades through a powerful telescope is to sense the sublime and awesome truth of these words. In his highest flights,musical and architectural above all, for they are one, man gives the illusion of rivaling the order, the majesty and the splendor of the heavens; in his fits of destruction the evil and the desolation which he spreads seems incomparable until we reflect on the greate stellar shake-ups brought on by the mental aberations of the unknown Wizard. Our hosts seemed impervious to such reflections; they spoke knowingly of weights, distances, substances, etc. They were removed from the normal activities of their fellow-men in quite a different way from ourselves. For them beauty was incidental, for us everything. For them the phsyicomathematical world palped, calibred, weighted and transmitted by their instruments was reality itself, the stars and planets mere proof of their exeellent and infallible reasong. For Durell and myself reality lay wholly beyond the reach of their puny instruments which in themselves were nothing more than clumsy reflections of their circumsribed imagination locked forever inthe hypothetical prison of logic.

Their astronomical figures and calculations, intended to impress and overawe us, only caused us to smiole indulgently or to very impolitely laugh outright at them. Speaking for myself, facts and figures have always left me unimpressed.’ —Henry Miller, The Colossus of Maroussi, published in New Directions Books: New York, 1941

Neils Bohr takes it further

THE WEIRD PART IS this. Henry Miller’s ideas about precision and logic and the people who profess that this is the prime tier of thinking itself is right in line with the physicist who gave us the model of the atom, Neils Bohr.

Now, I have been writing quite a bit here lately about my rambles in DENMARK. And the Neils Bohr Institute visit in particular, for example, features in a strong, central way in the new book I am writing (more on that some other time). Mainly, I wanted to get back to Phnom Penh and find a different library, one that has textbooks and not just novels, so I foudn the ___ university on the second floor above a moto parking lot and went on in, and got to the physics section, which I already knew about because of some old research on Bohm and qualia, and discovered, quite happily, a biography of Neils Bohr.

The man who became so well-loved in Copenhagen that taxi drivers taking physicists invited to study there took no money for their clients when they heard the destination was the Neils Bohr Institute has given us, as Miller, a lot of meaty and comprehensive thought on our collective work in life to be the best humans we can. Like Miller, he gets easily irritated with people who profess to know things, absolutely. What I learned from being in Denmark, as the biographer also comments, is that one must suspend his conditioning that directs us to speak and act as though we are ‘correct.’

There is no quantum world. There’s only an abstract quantum physical description. It is wrong to think the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics is what we can say about nature.

–AS

The Book of Songs #5: ‘Open Heart’

‘STARTING TO START?’

‘Yes, how?’

ANTHOLOGY. The Mirror, 2014
ANTHOLOGY. The Mirror, 2014

THIS is the cover. The cover always is the last part, in the book-making process here at DK.

The reason is you just don’t know until the very end what might become, what is going to become and how it becomes is the work of the creative process. You have to start somewhere, for sure, but where and how to begin the compositions… that is the question for physics experiment designers as well as those standing and looking, at the canvas, whole.

There comes a time when you write and you collage and you find out that something exists that isn’t even in the words or the image. It is the intention. And when that intention came out in such a way that it was 10 people’s shared work, the work of looking deeply, within, well, wow, we had magic. Even though I’ve never met some of the contributors to The Mirror 2014, there are the connections that were built from correspondence and more than that, attention. Because attention is the highest currency now, isn’t it?

Readying to open THE MIRROR 2016A new volume is poised to be co-created.

I don’t have any idea, right now from this vantage, what the new collection will look like. Who’ll be part of it, what stories will be loosed? What will be the cover, what will be that new collection’s title, look & feel, and list of contributors and their stories’ names? It is a mystery, this. But the invitation is the first part. Setting the stage comes next. These things I learned from a different kind of artist—the musicians.

Playing pen, playing line, playing words, or playing notes. The compositions flourish most brilliantly, don’t they?, when they start from… what…?

‘Starting to start?’

‘Yes, how?’

‘Simple: it’s this. An open heart.’

‘Trust the process?’

‘Trust the process. Of… becoming.’

More like this

READ posts on DK’s new collection, Book of Songs >

The book of songs #3: ‘Back to the heart’

THEY DON’T HAVE to go around posting things on Medium. They just know.

THERE IS SOME WEIRD CHRISTMAS JAZZ going on lately in my internet radio streams. This is irritating.

I’m into internet radio; a long time ago it used to be TODAY FM from out of Ireland, because, well, I like that station. Nowadays it’s jazz stuff from Denmark, since I was just there sussing things out. Tokyo in the 1990s. Other places, in the middle, for similar musical investigations, though I couldn’t have called them such, it was just hanging out back then, but most clearly the one I recall for its energy was Small’s. In New York. Cycling ‘cross the Brooklyn Bridge late late late after a show there or elsewhere, maybe not a show, maybe it was the nightclub scene. (Limelight. Yeah. Yeah.)

We never really change

ANYWAY, way back then and suddenly very recently once more, I’m on a new search. Open ears, conscious of the importance of sensing as you go, and going, and looking, listening and learning. (The work at DK in the last few years has been all about making space for people to also get lost in the uncertainty, which is of course rather esoteric but many people like to talk about Heidegger and the Nothing and I think that they are the kinds of folks who, perhaps, might be inclined to want to hear a little more. So it goes, that you find your 0.02% of the world population, if you’re lucky, that ‘get’ you and you ‘get’ them. More about that in a second, when you hit the moment of intrigue.)

Listening and learning

PEOPLE I CONNECT WITH and I share this: we’ve been looking for some new inputs.

To come back to the world of music, I’m going to many places, and lots of clubs small and smaller to see what I can hear. Many times it’s a whiff, that’s just how it is, but every so often you discover something really incredible or run into true intrigue. It happens when it happens and there’s nothing you can really say or do to create the moments of, ‘Hey, wow. This is cool.’ I used to call it ‘the a-ha,’ because that’s what designers like to talk about.

‘Yeah.’
Yeah! That! Thatthatthatthatthat!’

It’s like this could be their whole conversation.

‘Yeah.’
‘You know?’
‘The moment.’
‘Exactly.’

Boxes and edges

YOU GET INTO a box, which is in and of itself a huge amount of fussing and overcoming of inertia of the variety that you can ask me to pontificate about, if you meet me in some whiskey bar sometime. (Or if you read S. P. A. C. E.)

You see the edges a little but then you get to working out more of the details of the dimensions and the textures and you see the limitations. Yet we all have to have frameworks to make sense of things, or to let go of the pressing urgency to ‘make sense of things,’ altogether.

Play space, in the box, leads to opening of dimensions that are sentient and close, and these are the ones that make us human. Yes, human. It used to be unfashionable to talk about our humanness, but now, with the obvious limitations on what turning ourselves into machines (workworkwork) can do to our health or distract us from looking closely within to hear our own hearts, the songs there!, and discover a purpose, well. We all know how that story is going.

Realness

REAL ARTISTS are doing stuff. They don’t have to go around posting things on Medium. They just know. And so, with the heart open and the eyes wide, I looked in the corners and upon the stages to find the songs that felt right, that made me feel good. It’s a collection. And it’s gonna be called, uh…. what should it be called? Oh, right. It’s the Book of Songs. ‘Cause it’s here at the edges where things mix and come into color that the magic of the moment comes alive. Isn’t art about connection? Conversation? Discovery and making it up as we go, tripping and learning and then, a-ha!? I am writing. I am going to write the best bits into the Book of Songs. —AS