I’m in a cafe with old men greeting each other and sitting together having their usuals, it looks like, and I’m in the back, as far from the outside smoke as I can be while still managing to catch the wifi signal. In my zone, kind of an old schoolhouse-looking thing that reminds me of rural North Carolina and the elementary school I had had to go to there, with its attendant brokenness and dirt and crusts of old stories that may or may not speak of pain, all that, I am having a mango smoothie. It’s not a smoothie like you think it is if you are used to ‘smoothie’ and its saccharine, overpackaged, too much neon, brand-picture in the United States.
It’s a sinh tố xoài. Damn good, this.
Simple, everyday things.
Today I shared a few pictures of foodstuffs with my newly reconnected with acquaintances Stateside wondering what the hell I am doing in Vietnam. It has been a year. I guess it’s been a year for everyone, but yeah.
A year of silence amidst a global pandemic that seems to have no end in the near future… ?
It’s been a year of solitude, like seriously, for me. I’m cut from the place and people who know me in the way that you know people when you have a history with them. For better or worse, this is my situation. In many ways I am relearning, re-assessing and coming to terms with the fact that I don’t really need to integrate into the models that have been imposed by, say, colonialism, or racism, or misogyny, the patriarchy, social hierarchies, different cultural norms, immigrant thinking, ‘nationalism,’ religious beliefs, et al. In short, all the lines that get in the way of just being… who we really are.
Who am I? [deleted]
The work of art is to show man who he really is, I heard, spoken on the stage of a giant theater in London, maybe around 2015. I forgot the year now. The year is blurry. I just remember the line. I remember it, and I remember thinking, That’s right. Still feels right. No popping over to the UK to speak English these days. Just laying low, studying the language here, passing through digital archives of my old travels to publish new things, with our programs, in S P A C E, Papers, and the Cojournal. My hangouts, on the web.
A year of solitude, though, and I also know something new. There is such a thing as art for the sake of art, art for an audience of… One.
Is a good moment.
Photo: Van Tran