FOR A WHILE, I used to work in newsrooms. A weekly alternative paper in Europe from 2002-2004, then a Seattle daily from 2004-2005. I remember walking away from them for many reasons, but there was definitely a feeling that I had way back then that is resonant in something I found today online. This, from Yahoo News:
The BBC has issued an apology after Stacey Dooley[ (who has been criticised in the past for her perceived lack of knowledge or understanding while presenting various documentaries*)] referred to a Muslim prayer gesture as an “Isis salute” in a documentary broadcast last night (Monday 5 August)… The offending scene, which showed Dooley using the term “Isis salute” to describe women raising their fingers in the air, was cut from the programme after being used in the documentary..
..However, the raised index finger is a symbol of Tawhid, meaning “the unity and uniqueness of God as creator and sustainer of the Universe”. The gesture is a common part of Islamic prayer, and has been used by a number of Muslim football players during goal celebrations.
TellMamaUK, a social media watchdog for anti-Muslim incidents, condemned the moment and tweeted: “To reduce such a fundamental and important concept to a mere ‘Isis salute’ is grossly wrong, ignorant and damaging.”
Award-winning BBC journalist Anisa Subedar tweeted: “Does Stacey Dooley know us Muslims raise it every time we pray (that’s five times a day) to remind us of the oneness of God?
“This is what happens when you pass over real journalists to cover these kinds of stories — those that require cultural sensitivity and compassion.
“What happened here is insulting and offensive to Muslims and journalists.”
Journalist Oz Katerji tweeted the BBC’s response after he submitted a complaint, and linked the mistake to a lack of diversity in newsrooms.
“While I am disappointed Stacey herself has not apologised, I am satisfied with the BBC response and will draw a line under this here,” he said.
“I have no doubt that this retraction was prompted not by me, but by dozens of female Muslim BBC journalists that were also offended and expressed their feelings about it. I can’t stress this enough, newsrooms need to be diverse, and if you hire more diverse staff, this won’t happen.
We all inhabit interior landscapes & these are mediated to us through language. It might be said that we are the thoughts we are thinking. What engages the writer/ poet is the individual’s response to the “situation”—what she or he makes of it. That is the essence of the human drama, & why imaginative literature is so much deeper, more intense, & more memorable than objective history with its impersonal perspective. —Joyce Carol Oates, as quoted at this site which interviews people about their creative process.
Logic in all its infinite potential is the most dangerous of vices. For one can always find some form of logic to justify his [or her] action and rest comfortably in the assurance that what he [or she] did abides by reasoning. That is why, for us brittle beings, intention is the only true weapon of peace.
—Ilyas Kassam, author of Reminiscence of the Present
Listening itself is a complete act; the very act of listening brings its own freedom. But are you really concerned with listening, or with altering the turmoil within? If you would listen, sir, in the sense of being aware of your conflicts and contradictions without forcing them into any particular pattern of thought, perhaps they might altogether cease. You see, we are constantly trying to be this or that, to achieve a particular state, to capture one kind of experience and avoid another, so the mind is everlastingly occupied with something; it is never still to listen to the noise of its own struggles and pains. Be simple … and don’t try to become something or to capture some experience.
‘We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late.
‘Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood—it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.” There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam is right: “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on.”
‘We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.
‘Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message—of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise, we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.’
‘No! I don’t like that company ! The way they treat people and–‘
‘Listen. Amazon’s not going to change and people are still going to use it, whether or not you have qualms with the way they treat people. So why not just use it? Why not make money on the side while you’re doing these other things?’
‘Nobody buys my books ! Hardly.’
‘Well somebody does, right? Somewhere, sometime.’
‘Usually if I meet them, then yeah, it’s so… interesting… it’s like this one-click thing and…’
‘Well, yeah. And why not let yourself benefit from that, instead of just keeping everything on some obscure website in a hard-to-use way, because you disagree on principle with Amazon?’
‘The man’ vs the individualist
‘I see your point.’
‘Yeah, yeah. Selling isn’t bad. But I just don’t wanna use Amazon. I don’t like how they put me next to the other titles and I totally don’t want to be in those pigeonholed categories. So I’ll just make S P A C E. Every week, and see what happens and get to know more about it and see, you know? See.’
‘But, what you really need to be doing is writing another book.’
‘I feel like just making more zines though.’
‘A book is a commitment. And no one reads my books.’
‘You don’t know that.’
‘That’s, um. That’s true.’
‘So what are you going to do?’
‘Write. And let it happen. Whatever it is, it is.’
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LOOKING BACK, it must have been at the conversation salon ‘The State of Publishing’ that I got the first inkling of what the thing is that today I call S P A C E. In which new and different others gather for a unique, once-off, real-life moment for remarkable connexion.
This is me, at that event:
SO MUCH happened there. So many old ties, crisscrossing with new ones. There had been a decade interval since the time I was in the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, NC, for those who are not familiar). I had been there for university and my first jobs, including freelance work in photography and illustration, back in the 90s. So I of course had to invite some of the editors I knew from those days, including the people behind what was then the cool creative nonfiction-style not-a-magazine, and not-a-newspaper that was called the Urban Hiker. UH had run my first-ever first-person story, ‘Midmorning Lakeshimmer,’ which had been about sitting lakeside in Udaipur, Rajasthan, enjoying, guess what, a conversation. With a fellow passerby. The content of that conversation, and the publication in which it ran, set in motion, I think, to me, the notion that we can tell our first-person true stories, in the ways we like, if we just make a space to publish them. It was with great admiration that I continued to follow UH, until I read somewhere from the other side of the country, or perhaps when I was abroad in Ireland, prior to that, that it folded. Well, then. But the spirit of writing, conversing, connecting, and sharing: that was glittery. And that’s what I think I am carrying forward, here, in my own way, with the zines and salons in S P A C E programmes near, far, and online.
More to say about these ideas, about a hat tip to the past salons and of course, to the people who came, who shared, and who, in the end, made the magic moments happen. It’s all about showing up; showing up is Art, to me, and making the space for new and different others to convene in remarkable ways is what I’m up to here, at DK. Come a long way since freelancing for the then Spectator in Raleigh, I’d say. But then again, I remember walking into that office, asking what’s up, and getting a commission, on the spot. Not bad. Same thing happened over the years, repeating, telling me and confirming for me that yes, people want to hear about others, read about places, discover through the simple act of sharing what it is to go beyond the edges, and see what gems one might discover there. Thinking about these things, considering the tracks since I was back in NC, one of my many homes.
Another pic from State of Publishing:
OF COURSE IT IS IMPERATIVE that we have a strong sense of self before we can really engage in the kind of peaceful dialogue that will help all of us quell the ills of the world, what with its many division-making tendencies. Too this or too that, you’re relegated to too ‘out.’ You stay in the margins long enough and you discover other people are there, too. That’s how it happened, really. That’s how DK got going. We were wacky. We were curious. We were open. We were not buying into the program. We wanted new things, but didn’t know where to find them, or how they would change us, or why we felt compelled to go further into the ‘out there.’ The unknown. The not-yet-knowable. The uncertain, the different, the new. In the end, it’s because of the chance encounter with that one guest at SoP that led to the thought that it was no longer interesting for me to be in North Carolina, that I had things to do, somewhere else, wherever ‘somewhere else’ might be. I knew, after I put it down, and spent 9 hours writing a blog post that got circulated a little (and accidentally deleted when, well, it’s a long story, has to do with not making backups, something that people who aren’t as organized as they wish they could be have a tendency to fail to do), and yea, it was that time, and the people I met, and the things we said, and the books that got recommended, and the reading of those books, that led to new things.
Philosophy, I read recently, is the work to examine questions that will allow us to live more pleasurably. As I write from my very last night on the long, twelve-week stretch of being still for the ‘slow moment’ in northern Finland, I’m thinking about that. I’m thiningabout the chance encounters and the conversations and the people and what we made together. I’m curious about what will come of this, in my own thinking, and the style that will become what it will, as ar result of all the influences of being here. I remember a 17 year-old girl walking, at sunset, letting me stop and say hello, letting me say, ‘Thank you for participating in that workshop we did, the other day. It was nice to meet you.’ Letting me talk a little more about my feelings about being here, in a rural place, and sharing her own ideas, too. Then meeting her mother. Meeting a woman whose poise and patience were both of the highest level I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a lot of leaders in my life, and I saw that she was of that kind of upper crust calibre, and I saw that she did that work of mothering with the kind of gentle hand that we need to see in leadership today, in every walk of life. Because the mothers of the world know how to be tender. How to listen, with love, how to give of our affection. We aren’t expecting anything, when we’re mothering at our best. We just do. We just be. That’s the lesson I’ve learned, too, from being here, in Finland.
To the journeys, then. The new, the near, the now, and the next.
JUST FOUND this by happening to be in the right bus, at the right hour, in the right place, to happen to hear it. This is the very stuff of S P A C E. Chance encounters, serendipity: veer. You go where you don’t know what might happen, and you happen to run into something magical. I call this the ‘magic moment,’ when it happens. I was on the bus. There was a young woman in the row in front of me. The bus was pulling in, but this song. This song! What was it? It was in Finnish, but having been here for three months now, I could pick out the words that stunned me. The refrain (catchy, poppy) sounded exactly like the title of our new zine. How does that happen? It just… does. You go to a place and you look for the art, the things that people are trying to express, or that you feel they are sharing with you, and you make a piece. In the case of DK, a zine. That spells out our explorations into what people shared with us about ‘summer,’ and ‘love,’ and the ‘love story.’ In the case of Mariska, it was a song. ‘It’s like a love story.’
Hers is Itserakkausjuttu—[Update: A Self-Love Story] It’s like a Love Story. (Listen to it on our ‘Exit Vantaa’ playlist at Spotify, here.)
There it is.
The chance encounter with… someone else feeling and expressing similar things to us. So even though it was a song over the radio, that didn’t mean it wasn’t important or connecting. It mattered. Mattering. There’s more to say about that, but not here, not yet. Saving it for the book, Kesärakkausjuttu. Editing this week. Almost done. Friday is my deadline. Whew. Almost there. But meantime, pausing to appreciate that another artist in the same country, in the same summer, also hit on this exact idea—our media of expression are different, but conceptually and aesthetically, our pieces are exactly aligned. Isn’t that what we call ‘good chemistry?’ It’s amazing when it happens—rare, beautiful, impossible to believe, at times, and almost always, the kind of sharp and pungent hit of dopamine that might be exactly what you need, in a particular place, time, and space. When you get the sharp high, everything moves from ‘this,’ to ‘adventure.’ And it’s adventure where DK loves to explore at the edge; that’s the ever-emerging shape of S P A C E.
ROAD TO ROVANIEMI. I heard it on the bus, yeah. I was in Rovaniemi, or just-about-to-be. It was kinda cold out, me and JŽ‘d gotten rained on, and I was like, ‘Let’s just get back and get warm and eat something.’ But then, um. The song. It struck a chord with me in a way that hasn’t in a very long time. Um. This! Wow. This? This. Yes. It was going to mean staying on the bus a bit longer. All the way to the train station. But I had to. To find out. Who was it by? How was I going to find out? Well. There is a young woman in the row in front. Let me just… ask her. Then there were phones, typing, googling, youtube, and the name of the artist… Mariska. ‘The title is Itserakkausjuttu,’ she said, almost as delighted as me for having helped me find out something that seemed important to me. I showed her this page of our website, and we were talking. Talking, talking, talking… all the way to the train station. Lengthenting the trip for J, but um. The song. I now had it. Which was exactly the nut I needed, in order to secure an important kind of bolt. Let me elaborate, to try to clarify what I mean. Hm, how shall I put it. Okay, here it goes…
All summer I’d been wondering what to write to take away from Finland, what to post, what to blog, what to publish, what to eZine, what to put into the whole set of printed pieces that will be sent by post this weekend. And then, with the song, something important happened. The pieces were there, the collection was ready, the channel of the bolt was carved, the bolt had been placed. Everything was loosely there, but the last bit was missing. The nut. The nut that tightened it all; the song was that nut. The aesthetics of this book and this song were importantly aligned. (That was my gut feeling; and as you know, if you read this blog, you know it’s from the gut that I move.)
A collection begins
THE BOOK, the summer, the story, the collection S P A C E || Finland. With this new little piece of a happened-upon sound clip, the aesthetics of Kesärakkausjuttu and accompanying pieces were now set.
A Summer Love Story is the name of our piece.
Hers is called Itserakkausjuttu, which translates by my bus companion in front who helped me find it as ‘A kind of love story.’
The nature. The calming.
These things: all of these things were swimming about in the brain, and then we wrote some stories with Alexis Jokela, and then we printed a few of those and shared them in Oulu and here in Kärsämäki at a short series of conversation parties called Hei Kesä. Testing things. Why not talk about summer and happy things, we were challenged, instead of melancholic depressing ones?
TALKING TOGETHER, working out the story, sharing in small snippets, testing, translating some of these, sharing those, limited editions, hidden chapters, Rated R things, stuff like that. All of it is part of the summer of Atelier S P A C E, writing, deigning, exploring, conversing, connecting, and discovery. It’s always that, but this was the first time we had expanded it to three full months, and not interwoven Atelier S P A C E with any other DK project. So that meant, focus. And concentration. And hopefully, a work of…. Art.
CUTUP. Those who know DK know that a big part of the zines made here are from the cutting-up of magazines, especially womens’ magazines. Why? I hate that these magazines try to tell us a story about what women ought to be into or how we ought to look. So when I google translated the song that I’m talking about and found a few lines about exactly that, I knew for sure I had hit on the right piece to listen to while editing the whole collection these next few days before leaving Finland. These are the lines, and the full Finnish lyrics are below. Thanks, Mariska!
Let’s see the women’s magazines again How bad and bad I am Although not true at all I wondered, “what’s wrong …” … I like my life I enjoy my skin…
Olen vihdoinkin käsittänyt sen Mä oon fiksu ja kivannäköinen Kaiken hyvän todellakin ansaitsen Mitä tielleni sattuu Helppo muista on kyllä välittää Mut itteänikin mun täytyy silittää Lupaan täst edes aina yrittää Itserakkausjuttuu Itserakkausjuttuu Itserakkausjuttuu
Voi heittaajat sanoo mitä tahansa Ei se mua liikuta, pitäkööt vihansa Mut se mist aiheutuu vahinkoo on Jos mä en itelleni frendi oo Jo kiistatta oon paras minä Ja muihin mä en vertaa mua enää ikinä, hä! Tää on luultavasti sullekin tuttuu Sitä itserakkausjuttuu Itserakkausjuttuu Itserakkausjuttuu
Naistenlehdistä lukea taas saan Miten väärin ja huono olenkaan Vaikkei totta se ole ollenkaan Mietin vaan “mitä vittuu…” Mikä mussa on muka nurinpäin Vaikka pärjäilen hyvin juuri näin? Suosittelen sinullekin ystäväin Itserakkausjuttuu Itserakkausjuttuu Itserakkausjuttuu
Tykkään itestäni Viihdyn mun nahois Mä väsyn jumittamaan Fiiliksis pahois En dissaa vaan kehun ja kiitän Kyl kelpaan jos tälleen mä riitän Oon kritisoinut mua jo aivan tarpeeks Teen sovinnon ja annan itelleni anteeks Onni alkaa siit mihin ankaruus loppuu Kaikki tarvii itserakkausjuttuu Itserakkausjuttuu Itserakkausjuttuu…
Update: This is a repost from 2018, when we were first getting started in S P A C E. The continuations we allude to have come in the form of a six-set pack of our newer zines, in a series called ‘Uncertainty.’ When science fiction crosses with near-future scenarios imagined as we are also investigating big questions (metaphilosophy, metaphysics), another world can open. Many worlds, in fact. This is our launch point for a new query. Together, with our community of friends and subscribers, in S P A C E.
‘What? You always kind of start from left field, I feel, with no grounding, scene setting, stage, or the like.’
‘That’s… just clutter.’
‘No. It’s context.’
‘Not many people would be this patient, you know. Writing has to grab you, hook you in..’
‘You sound like a coach! And from the nineties, at that. I met someone just the other day who is stuck in the past, so it feels familiar. The disinterest in new forms.’
‘Putting it into plain words is hard.’
‘Well, OK. There are these really interesting people everywhere doing interesting things, like the fake grass on the tuk tuk, that is so cool, and those garden-y vibes with the plants poking up the sides, I love that! It’s so modern! I love it!’
‘Then, you get the researchers coming in somehow mucking about with opinions and so called objective data, I’m being influenced, okay, by the books we are reading in book club here in S P A C E, but yeah. Those people aren’t interested in intrinsic beauty, or the emergent. They can’t see it. They’re stuck with old rulers measuring things that no longer count. It’s obsolete. It’s a waste of time…. Of resources. I want to tell them… Look at it. What’s there. Really look.’
‘OLD IDEAS get in the way. The cutting edge is the not yet obvious. The inner circles want familiarity, something trustworthy, something they can say, This has been socially validated. “Therefore, it must be Good.” Trouble is, what’s Good is changing, changes all the time, based on what is there, what’s potentially there, and like I said, what’s emergent. This is systems stuff. Systems thinking. And no, I’m not co-opting a term from engineering because it’s fashionable if I wanted to do that I would expound for four paragraphs on holography, illusion, projections, mind and consciousness, wholeness and the implicate order, not-real things that sound like sci fi, and you know, well, yeah, believing in the existence of atoms. And that hoax.’
‘Oh. I should talk about that some more. Maybe I will. Maybe in The Mirror, week 14 or something, after the last week? After Week 12’s New Geometries. I should, really. It’s so damn hilarious what those people did, what with these bollix academic writings and getting them published in a so called intellectual thing!’
‘Hoity toity journal of nothing really at all, because the words are bulky and the ideas are convoluted. Tell it clearly! Say it simply! Don’t cover it up with your pretentiousness and cumbersome vocabulary! How do you do that? Know your subject! Know what it is about it that turns you on! If I can’t see the you in what you are saying, even if it’s fact-y fact-y, then I don’t care! A lot of thinkers and philosophers and politicians got where they did because they didn’t put up a bunch of jargon nothingness, they just said it! What it was! Why it mattered! The best artists i know aren’t afraid to answer the question, “What are you into, mate?” Cause!… Cause yeah. If you can’t explain it to a five year old, you don’t know what you are saying.’
‘Did you? Explain this to a five year old?’
‘What did she say?’
‘”There is no point climbing over walls when a door would do, nicely.”‘
‘Mmm. You sure you’re not just mad though?’
‘No! I just steer way clear, usually. Of the misoneists.’
Excerpted from the S P A C E edition of DK’s eBook Nostalgia Ca Phe (April 2018). This post is part of a series, 100 conversations, underwritten by members of S P A C E.
’I should! But I don’t like to do things just because of shoulda. You know that.’
’I do. But I also know you like short films.’
’I do! I remember getting on a train from Chiba just to go into the city to watch the Tokyo International Film Festival. The short films, those were really… weird and interesting! Sometimes art school films are really bad, though. I know that. It’s a risk. You can’t have it all. But those kids cartoons the other day, those were fantastic. I really loved ‘Cube’ and ‘Tokri,’ those were… really good. I really cried and everything on some of these things. I did. It’s fine to get emotional watching film. Film can move us. I guess all art can, if it resonates. Now who am I talking to, here. I wonder about that, sometimes. But art making: its purpose, its definition, its boundaries… these are questions that go out the window when you just experience something… something that makes you feel something. Something noteworthy, you could say. But of course it’s subjective, based on the experiences we each have. And now I sound like a sound byte, or someone’s really bad Medium tirade, that they want to sound philosophical and beautiful and poignant, but which reads like, you know, bad copy. Bad art, and bad copy… those are there. But you can’t let the prospect of bad art get in the way of going and trying to find your way towards the unexpected. Right? I mean, right?’
’But it’s so hot out. And I’m so tired of the noises, and I just want to be alone, you know?’
’Being in the theatre, that’s how you used to be alone. Remember?’
’Wait. how do you know? Who are you, anyway?’
’Are you telling me that I should just go ahead and make myself walk over to Sorya Mall, and go see this thing?’
’Do what you want. But don’t make excuses, like it’s too hot. Hotness is part of life in Asia.’
’Yeah, that’s true.’
’How was it!’
’OMG. I’ve never seen… Well, let me just find it for you. On YouTube. Oh, here it is… Watch this.’
PRETTY REMARKABLE SERIES of conversations in Kuala Lumpur. The goal was to make ourselves go in search of the unknown, see what we could discover in chance encounters. Getting on a train with someone with a map. Sitting up straight listening to O.’s frank reportage of her life as an escort. Making smalltalk in broken Hindi, finding the language irrelevant to the quality of the exchange. Meeting a line of new queries, breaking through unseen surfaces. And sharing the jazzy back and forth style of conversation-connection that we love, with a seasoned pianist. A lot of missed connections, too, with the ones who didn’t realize our invitations expire. (How else to press the point, this is a celebrating of real life, this magic moment of being here, now. In real life. Together.) On Tuesday we will post to our S P A C E community the fresh new zine, S P A C E || Kuala Lumpur. The story is called Kaunter Tiket.