I’m in Ho Chi Minh City (‘HCMC’ is this city, if you’re not familiar with that acronym).
We’re in social distancing, currently, and have been, since the beginning of June.
So many emails. So many zooms. I’ve had time.
Been writing the updates, but felt like starting a brand new slate for sharing online with those whose paths I haven’t crossed in some giant stretch of time. (Could you resubscribe to the mailing list if you want to keep in touch?) Cool.
I just added this to the store. It’s part of the download bundle for the issue we made about Solitude. I’m really happy with that one. It’s probably one of the best ones we’ve made for the Atelier S P A C E } Spring 2021 collection. I’ll also be sharing it in real life today at 3-4.30PM at our first popup show for this year. I’m excited! See you in the spaces and talk to you in the cloud if that’s where we meet. Happy day, after a big rain, not as hot and I think we’re past the heat wave.
Sound. Art. Collage. Thoughtful writings. Most of this work is by Akshay Harake, who answered the question on Quora, ‘I always push people away?’ I edited parts of it and made it into this shortened auto version; but the full text is in our zine, along with other DK-esque curated snippets. The text for this audio is also of course in its original and unedited form, on Quora. Cool. Checkit.
I was taken on a journey that transported me out of Vietnam, but also, outside of all the usual boxes that you can find even when you leave the nation-border box. (HT Jiddu Krishnamurthi) For example, the strict thinking that keeps us from trying new things. All the feelings that I have been having here in Vietnam on my own, for a year, unable to articulate because of English I got to completely open up and share. That was amazing, and I got to hear, moreover, something in exchange. These exchanges are what I enjoy most about making S P A C E. They—the exchanges—are, after all, the whole point of it. And fun. ‘If it’s not fun’, as Boss says, ‘then there’s no point doing it.’ Thanks to conversations with MB this year, though I am coming out of the cave. It’s nice outside. Sunny.
Those of you who are in conversations with me on LinkedIn about this, check out this page. Modeled after the 2006-2009 series in Seattle, Designers Korner, this next circle in Papers is focused on…. design. Naturally. That’s our thing, after all.
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.
It’s been one hell of a year, ladies and gentlemen.
Hasn’t it? For goodness’ sakes. I know we cleared the mental books on the end of 31 December 2020, or some of us did, and I wrote with those several few about, including but not limited to, topics such as renewal, acceptance, positivity, connexion, true connexion, discovery, design, spacemaking, edits, releases, psychopathy and sociopathy and the Japanese word ‘powa hara’ with respect to someone I met who does this and is insane, yes–wait, but yeah.
It’s the New Year again, here, where I am. Lunar New Year. Tet, in Vietnam. It’s happening. A chance, to re-press that pause button. This time, the streets are empty of traffic, and there is no everyday noise. So it does feel like, finally, a kind of quieting. A different mood for pause.
I must say that the Book of Feelings Project (Autumn 2020 and Winter 2020-2021), which came out of Atelier S P A C E // HCMC and was a collaborative effort with people who know me quite well by now, perhaps better than even my old roommates from high school and college because we are talking, and often, and deeply, about feelings!, well. Yes. Because of this project, I feel different. I feel… new.
A good thing.
(Hi, those of you who are angry that I’m enjoying my life. You didn’t do it. You didn’t manage to mess up my thinking or make me sad. In fact, you’ve been let go.)
Outer S P A C E is the next program, now, for S P A C E | Spring 2021. Because I’m bringing things back to the internet now. I can’t [deleted] and all those short ends of the sticks made me realize something. My value and contributions will be better appreciated elsewhere. The internet, of course. Another home.
After all, the internet is where I developed relationships that led to new connexions, new contacts, and even work. They made it possible for me to live in Asia for almost 10 years. DK is [deleted] and therefore balks at anything that has anything to do with weirdness, like ‘selling out’ or doing things that you don’t want to do because ‘it pays the bills.’ Somehow we pay our bills. Somehow we find a way. Maybe it’s because we don’t like to compromise on that which is the underpinning thing that has never changed for me, for DK. Fun. It has to be fun. Fun is the point.Why do it if it’s not fun? Even Boss agrees.
Anyway. To make a big display of that would be to lose the fun-ness of it, so I don’t usually talk about how much fun we’re having when we go about making things in S P A C E and its preceding, related journeys.
Like the Year of Uncertainty project in 2013, with Orangutan Swing was pretty cool–we went in a small team of three to India, for six months, but also to Vietnam, Thailand, and Nepal. Then Cambodia. That was 2014 by the time we found Phnom Penh. And stayed. And stayed some more. And I just got off a call with the team; they’re still there. I’m in Vietnam; the borders had closed, when I was wrapping up some writing projects in Dalat, and… well. It’s been a hell of a year. Which means, of course. Time to write a book.
Writing Reality & Trust
A year in Vietnam? How are you doing? And other questions abound. I’m gong to talk about that more, the lessons and things like that, the practical and not-so-practical, the awarenesses and the losses and the feelings of pain and also love. The beginnings of some things, closings of others. And starts—you know I love starts—but also: middles. This is the ultimate. Staying. When it’s boring or tough or grueling or unexciting. Staying. Because staying also teaches you things.
Maybe you can’t go anywhere because there was a third was outbreak of the virus.As we are experiencing currently, here in Ho Chi Minh City. Mmm-hmmm. And you just. Have. To. Not go.Reality & Trust. HT ‘Book of Feelings’ teammates. You know who you each are. Talk soon. DK
This week, in ‘Papers‘, I’ve shared a prompt. It’s about crossroads. It’s about choices.
It’s inspired by loads of things that have led to this very instance of writing this, typing it now, before the people who come are about to come and that means I have to leave my desk. I like leaving my desk don’t get my wrong, but when I want to articulate a thought and that thought is at the edge of the end of a dream I didn’t quite finish, and stuff, then it becomes, like, a kind of mood thing that makes me want to type a blog post.
You might be saying, ‘What is the value of a blog post, DK?’ or ‘What is this?’ or ‘I don’t understand,’ or ‘What exactly is the objective of your writing, DK?’ or ‘But how do you make money from this, DK’ and if you are that kind of person who asks that kind of question then, obviously, I am not writing for you.
The things you learn
I have learned this the hard way, um.
I have tried to ‘contort this to fit a box of constraints that they want you to fit it,’ as my old friend EC used to say, when we talked about applying for grants. (We did not apply for grants because, me being me, I do not compromise, and that means, well, that means a lot of things but largely it means that you wind up on the edge of the edge, looking out and in at ‘it all’ and being… mostly alone.)
Alone is fine.
Alone is good.
Alone is also… difficult.
Alone, for an indefinite period of time where I am waiting for things to re-open so I can be re-united with the people who know me well and care about me deeply is a little tricky, though.
There is good news and better news, and I’ll save both items for ‘Of two roads,’ which I am going to compose when the folks I’m going to meet will come over, and I leave with them, and we shall talk together about the ideas and feelings that the prompt I sent on Monday…
The Cojournal Project is where I send these from Yeah. I’m happy with the small set of people who are writing with me; over time. It takes time. Sometimes we get together, but it’s gotten rarer and rarer and now the virus is in Vietnam again, so. We. Shall. See. I do really like creating and curating and dancing creatively and intellectually with circles of real-life S P A C E. Which is Atelier S P A C E, and Cojournaling, and various other small projects. Which are coming into their own, albeit much differently in shape than what I had pictured.
Is this what growing up is? [deleted]
Life is good. Letting it be.
Thank you, VT, for being there for me, and Boss, and also AM, MD, and NDS. I am so, so lucky to know you all. Ergo, S P A C E—and the reward that comes from showing up, one designful moment, at a time. Over time. Thank you again.