LET’S TALK ABOUT learning. How we discover, find, and make new connections. Ideas, shapes of thinking and the input that comes from places that might not be the ‘usual’ ones.
No more boring meetings: What are the containers that make great conversations *happen*?
Conversations that lead to better collaboration and better work? Those are important. Let’s not waste time. Let’s make things better, together.
Better and more enjoyable: that’s the key.
How do we design the S P A C E that lets fresh thinking flow?
Let’s consider. Let’s discuss.
Min 2. Max 10.
WHAT YOU’LL GET. DK will share very short introductions to design and lateral thinking methods, including:
Grice’s ‘Maxims of Conversation’
Six Thinking Hats, a method of opening dialogue.
The Open Space Technologies how-to.
This mini-conversation will be hosted by DK’s Dipika Kohli. She has delivered seminars at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill on the topic of Design Thinking, a series caled SELF as a 9-week experiential program at Stanford University, and for an architects circle in Seattle DK was invited to present, ‘Just Be You.’
First four guests to register will get a printed copy of one of the zines from our S P A C E collection.
Be a part of it
DK has hosted parties like S P A C E in Phnom Penh before, bringing a magic moment into shape.
There was also ‘Math & Jazz’ at Raffles’ Elephant Bar, plus a series of eight ‘Rooftop Philosophy in Phnom Penh’ events along with the first-ever ‘N’, our ‘theater of now’ big blind date party that you can read more about here. Don’t miss this chance ot catch DK on a short hop through Cambodia en route to Penang, Kuala Lumpur, and maybe further afield.
JOIN DK and friends in HANOI for this unique conversation salon on the state of publishing.
LAST SEEN IN DURHAM, NC, when DK and bloggers, editors, photographers, and writers had gathered at Mercury Studio for a short, packed, nonlinear and very frank conversation about the state of publishing. Some of the outtakes informed how DK evolved into the zinemaking atelier that we are today. It’s remarkable to note that we still have the honest, real, and relevant conversation notes: they still hold, today. I’ve been going through this right now, as we look at our archives and get rid of most things that are no longer part of what we are doing here at this studio, but wow. The conversation salon, ‘The State of Publishing,’ was, by far, one of my favorites.
Maybe because I worked in newspapers before DK.
Or because I love community publishing.
Lately, reading and learning about how to design for the aesthetic moment. More ahead, if you are part of this online conversation that we are getting going now, in small circles, in our eZine and its attendant forums, S P A C E. More here.
Inspired by the things that are popping up now as we review our past works in salon making and the outcomes that came from those, I’m interested in convening more people gain for a conversation about publishing today. This time it’s 2019. This time it’s not Durham NC but Phnom Penh. I’m looking for people to co-host this with. Are you curious? Get in touch. This is the beginning. Let’s converse. Let’s play. I’ll personally be there to host this event. Ask me anything about vector art and image trace: I’m lately getting super into these things. Design. Zines. DIY-style publishing.
Who else finds this intriguing? Let’s find out.
S P A C E M A K I N G
It’s become clearer to me that my job is to continue to do this: to make space (ie S P A C E) for a conversation that stretched across the different disciplines, and even connected some people who never had met but who had lived in Raleigh, Durham, or Chapel Hill for decades, was great. I want to thank some of the people who were there, that night: Laura Ritchie, a curator, who was one of the most supportive of DK’s projects in Raleigh-Durham NC; Michael Faber, a designer who also came out to many of our meet ups to see what we were doing and share what he was up as well; Clarion Content’s editor Aaron Mandel, who gave us shout-outs sometimes when we least expected them, theIndependent Weekly‘s then editor Lisa Sorg for showing and and lending the voice of that paper; and Paul Deblinger for telling me to go and read R. Pirsig’s ZAMM (and insisting, and that, in the end, led to the things that came from there: journeying, the road, adventures, the rest).
Disparate voices convening in the forerunner of what’s now S P A C E: that was the point of it. That was the goal. Getting together to learn from one another. Be inspired. Share. The actual learnings, in real life, where it’s not packaged into things that go out as blips into social media feeds. Instead, it’s a conversation. Lately, reading and learning about how to design for the aesthetic moment. More ahead, if you are part of this online conversation that we are getting going now, in small circles, in our eZine and its attendant forums, S P A C E. More here.
Inspired by the things that are popping up now as we review our past works in salon making and the outcomes that came from those, I’m interested in convening more people gain for a conversation about publishing today. This time it’s 2019. This time it’s not Durham NC but Phnom Penh. I’m looking for people to co-host this with. Are you curious? Get in touch. This is the beginning. Let’s converse. Let’s play.
DK’s Dipika Kohli will host this event. ‘Ask me anything about vector art and image trace: I’m lately getting super into these things. Design. Zines. DIY-style publishing. Is this of interest? Let’s find out.’
IT IS EVENING. I’m supposed to be finished. Packing. The things to come are already starting, and I can feel the pull of the magnet that is calling. Towards the next. Whatever it is. I remember this feeling: five years ago, I was writing about getting new passport pictures, for Charlotte, NC editor Samir Shukla‘s Saathee Magazine. This would have been in North Carolina, and this was the kind of Indian diaspora magazine that, really, never usually crossed my mind to write for, but I had queried about writing a piece and it had been an easy thing to pitch: ‘I’m going traveling: taking to the road. No idea what’s gonna happen. A story?’ I had a hunch my father would read it, if I got it sent in there. I figured, too, later, with the column that started there and then and went on for a year, then two, that I had a way, in this mode, to keep in touch with my dad.
Art and the story
That’s how it starts, doesn’t it? You have a person you want to write towards. That time, it was my father. The story, ‘Passport Pictures’, ran as the first of a series of a column that we called ‘Just Being Honest.’ I never expected the kinds of twists and turns that this series would take, or that I would expand into other stories and other features, writing another column, over at Assung Ng‘s Seattle-based community paper, Northwest Asian Weekly (a newspaper that DK rebranded on their 25th anniversary). That was called ‘The Village Report.’ In 2016, everything that seemed interesting to me from these conversations got somehow turned into the eBook, Breakfast in Cambodia (Kismuth Books // 2016).
Today I was thinking I should put it online, so people could read it. Download it. Not for $$$, but you know, for free. Because it’s not a bad story, I don’t think, and it sums up a lot of the feelings that someone who is on the road indefinitely for you-don’t–know-how-long, on their way from ‘not quite’ to ‘somewhere else’ but not sure what that looks like would have. I remember the feeling: people were like, ‘You’re going where? You don’t know? And you’re gonna do what? With no plan? OMG WTF you’re crazy.’ Despite the pull towards the status quo, in those days, I felt that there was something far more compelling in the ‘out there, wherever it is.’ I don’t know why. Was it because I had studied abroad in Kyoto, and in Ghana? Or taken my first solo trips to India and the United Kingdom in my early twenties all alone without predictable plans or a reason or something ‘to be done’ in those places? Or lived in Ireland for three years? If people could have gotten inside my head, maybe they would have seen that I was interested in ‘other people, other places, and other ways of thinking.’ I remember this. I remember that look: ‘but… why? And how will you make any money?’ Um. Right.
Next stop: wherever it is
Fast forward five years. I just got new passport pictures. My passport is back from the Embassy, a place I had avoided for the whole time I’ve been in Cambodia (four years). This time, I got my passport pictures done in Johor Bahru. I had no qualms whatsoever about the fact that I had been up until 3AM the night before on a very intriguing call across the world, or that my clothes were rumpled, or that I wasn’t gonna be wearing something that I picked out carefully because, hell, this was your passport. No. I just saw this place, went in. It was hot. It was air-conditioned inside. No big deal: got the pictures. Sized for the passport for the United States of America.
Today I got the first visa for the new passport. I’m gonna try to get longer visas this time so the book doesn’t fill up before it’s expired. It’s really amazing: the fresh feeling. I was reminded of ‘Passport Pictures’ and I compared my old self and my current one. Staring into the lens, this time, there is different person altogether. Not worried about ‘not knowing.’ And not caring one iota about who thinks what about it, besides. Because the going is the point of it; the transition happens there. I’m writing and talking with people I really admire, now, with the internet circle in S P A C E and the very close set of friends and collaborators who, along with me, have been on this wide quest. Towards quality: not just making something that works or turns around dollars, but something that opens the heart. I mean, it sounds crazy. But art. Is now. Actually. Needed.
The poets will help us get through this weird time of change and transition. Suffering: there are volumes written on coping, and dealing with the feeling of not knowing how to cope when things are abstract and far. There are egos. There is therapy. There are people who work on themselves, and get to a point where they are strong enough to share with close fiends how to grow. I remember thinking ‘grow’ was a funny word. I remember my cousin saying that Atlanta ‘really helped me grow.’ And I wrote four or five pages in my diary about that, about that whole idea. At that time, I had thought that growing was just about gathering more of something. More is more philosophy. But now, I think, growing is finding your way towards the things that really matter: to you. It’s subjective, of course. Looking inward, noticing deeply, attuning to what people around you feel and think and don’t-say, but which, if you’re awake enough, you can sort of read with a sixth sense… that’s important. That’s big work. I’m seriously writing this, now, on my blog?, I’m a little nervous about making this one public-facing. But yesterday and today I had one of those conversations that was like, ‘Whoa.’ Big thanks to my friends in Phnom Penh, who might not want to be called out publicly here, because… well, the kinds of conversations we have… are not the kinds that you want everyone to know about. But one day, when I’m ready, I will find a way to share back with them my gratitude and the layers and layers of learning that have come of our shared explorations. I hope we’re all growing and changing, all the time, as we all move through this thing: a kind of real time play, an improvisation that always moves, it’s an act but it’s the real thing, and like they say, there are no rehearsals.
Life. Is here. Is real. Is now. Where am I going?
I don’t know. I just know that tomorrow, my visa for Cambodia expires. That I have some vague outlines of things to do, elsewhere. That there will be people, I’m convinced now, along the way who will open me up more. I’m ready for that kind of trip. It’s a fissure: I’m no longer looking back (the ‘where I’m from’ question ceases to be relevant), nor up, into the infinite. I’m being here, right here. Now.
DK ARE QUIETLY in the conversations that always happen at the start of our ‘N’ salons: online, indefinitely and tentatively, and with a whole lot of gumption. If we manage to get 16 strangers to convene in a city, around a topic that starts with an ‘N’, what might happen? What magic could we make? It might look like this. But what about redesigning? After ‘N’ Helsinki: NEUROSIS, the program which we are currently writing a short story about for the zine S P A C E | Helsinki, ‘Coat Check,’ there’s a lot of scope for making it… simpler.
Hard, the original design. Which involve this… Writing to the internet blindly and seeing if people will respond to the query, ‘Do you want to meet new people? In your city which has an ‘N’ in it, right? At a venue that starts with an ‘N’? It costs, by the way, and we’ll choose a date together amongst only those who’ve registered.’ It’s a miracle we managed to do this 4 times.
Whose job is it to create quality public spaces, or active the ones that are there but being used in boring ways like people doing digital nomad stuff that really means they’re staring at their laptops and not actively connecting with the ambient wisdom of the right-around-me-right-here-right-now? Okay, I’m editorializing, but I think you know what I mean. We all know what it feels like when the conversation moves, is great, and people are smiling and enjoying themselves and even learning something at the same time. Had a few small glimmers into the future, while beginning the hard slog of querying total strangers about doing the next one, the next ‘N’, with DK. In S P A C E. A work in progress. As all great pieces truly are.
Special thanks to Khiang Hei yesterday for co-hosting with DK the small salon-party, ‘S P A C E | Phnom Penh.’ Was really good to reconnect after several years and talk shop, talk art, talk art circles, talk failing art circles and exodus of the people who make things, talk about the opportunities and critique and politics and documentary photography and his upcoming show at Rutger’s University, and what it means to be an artist, and the work of work (well, that didn’t get totally discussed at that space but we did bring that party on into the late late evening with F. at, um, a bar. I try to stay away from these places on Friday nights, but you know. Sometimes you gotta see what else is happening in the world besides your own little forays into internet composition and discovery and all that jazzy jazz. Speaking of jazz: this is a topic I love to write about, but, like ‘N’ and things at DK, in general, am finding it’s a very select group that actually also loves free and bebop jazzification of musics. Erm.)
F., if you see this, this is what I was talking about…
[Renownked comic artist] Hal Foster warned in the mid-1990s, ‘the institution may overshadow the work that it otherwise highlights: it becomes the spectacle, it collects the cultural capital, and the director-curator becomes the star.’ More about relational art.
LET’S TALK ABOUT work. How we discover, find, and make new connections for meaningful work. Let’s cover all of the ways ‘value’ is exchanged. Be it through the mutual interest that leads to the sharing of new, fresh ideas, or unexpected input that develops the shape of thinking that comes from places that might not be the ‘usual’ ones, or something else.
No more boring meetings: What are the ways we can define and realize our own best ‘work?’ How can we find a way towards better collaboration, design, and meaningful contribution-making? These are important. Let’s not waste time. Let’s make things better, together. Better and more enjoyable: that’s the key.
How do we design the S P A C E that lets fresh thinking flow?
Let’s consider. Let’s discuss.
Our first conversation salon on this topic in Phnom Penh will take place on one afternoon, only.
WHAT YOU’LL GET. DK will share:
Grice’s ‘Maxims of Conversation’, as introduced to us by Eric Chuk, who studied narrative ontology
Quick intro to ‘Six Thinking Hats’, a method of opening dialogue.
Distributed and autonomous organization, or TEAL/Holacracy organization
No application required.
This salon will be hosted by DK’s Akira Morita. He has delivered design thinking and leadership seminars in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Manila, and Hanoi, and prior to that co-founded the brand design boutique Design Kompany in Seattle. He brings a decade plus worth of experience talking passionately about the meaning of work—and relationships as the key—as a participant and a host of fringe salons alongside coworking conferences in: Austin, Bali, Raleigh, and Portland, Ore.
Update: S P A C E members are invited to weigh in at this page.
TWO PEOPLE will know what the title of this post is about. Two. Just two. I met them yesterday. A and T. The question I posed to elicit these answers is a private one, something I won’t share outside of my innermost circles. (That’s just a handful of people, around the world, with whom I connect deeply and talk about ideas with regularly, over time. For progression and depth. More about that in a second. But together, we call this journey, a foray into S P A C E). For now, I need to say thanks. To A and T.
Thank you both for being there, on the rootftop, for sharing with me and admiring as we, who are tenderhearted and questing, the view of the half-moon beneath the clouded, darkened, past-dusk, and past-nine polluted skies and the redness of that lunar orb: vague and yet, alluring.
For the last few years, I’ve been focusing so much on how to ‘design’ for these kinds of moments. So much, that I forgot how to just let the universe lead me straight into them. Which, of course, is how I first started. Running into this: the magic. The art. Oi, but it’s getting big. Already. That’s okay. That’s where the good stuff is.
INTRIGUE. There was the mystery of it that drew me to that exact spot, to contemplate it for a bit. But also: stopping. Standing still, for a moment. Atop the world, there, or, at least, atop Phnom Penh. I’m not much of a going-out type of person, but I’ve made a pact with myself to ‘try new things’ more often, especially in the town that’s been where I’ve been lucky enough to stop for a while and take stock of the things that, for me, have been sieved out to be the clear, wide understandings that say, together, ‘This counts.’
Like I said, there was another moment, in another bar, on another roof, in the same town, on the same topic that you and I, A and T, together, explored. Because I’m a sort of nerd about relational art, I have to bring it up: I have to think about how that thing that was rests next to this thing that is. (Is this reality?) More about that another day, maybe when we all get better acquainted. Continue reading “Reality and trust”→
Discovering, sourcing, planning, sharing, connecting, interconnecting and framing. That’s what it is. To start.
Getting the team together. Organizing the pages without overthinking or over designing.
Leaving room for stuff to develop, other stuff to emerge. Being okay with things taking time. Being cool with letting go of what doesn’t fit, in the collection. Bricolage and collage being my ‘thing,’ along with relational art and the aesthetics around that, which academics write about (thank y0u) but which I, personally, design moments in which me, and hopefully others who also enjoy these things, can experience the ‘magic moment.’
AHEAD. New things, ahead. Grateful for the learning, and the reconsiderations of old things. For the replies to the notes I’ve been sending here and there around the world, and calls that I’m getting to make and enjoy relaxing into, too. For the responses to the poetry, for the notes and the critiques to the Winter 2018-9 collection’s editorial calendar. For the trust. For showing up. For the new rekindlings, deepening of some of what had begun, on my last trips here, and also, for the continued happening-upon new and different others that lands me here, time and time again, in S P A C E. Today was cool. It’s not over yet, but it’s been really neat. Booked tickets. Firmed up plans for the next stops. [To the wonderful urban planner, C, whom I just met today–hey! That was one hell of a conversation and very much needed. My questions again: how do we design and architect social spaces that ‘feel great’, but also, help people discover ways to think crticically and make choices that let them live better? What does a full city contain that an underdeveloped one doesn’t? What should be doing, as people who design spaces, and whose responsible for us ‘being happy’ and ‘living such as to become our best selves?’ Used to nerd about about these topics at walkable communities conferences Stateside and the time in Seattle interviewing loads and loads of engineers, city officials, and yeah, urban planners. The podcast I mentioned, is here. So yeah. Looks like Tuesdays are turning into S P A C E-y ones. Shall I make another thing? I can. I’m thinking maybe just two or three people now. It’s tiring, sometimes, to keep at it. But yeah. Sometimes you fall into the moment and it catches you by surprise. If you wanna talk about art, design, architecture, the shape of space, poetics, cities, and what gives the fabric of meaning to them, hey. I’m all in. Just hit me up.) To A and K: safe journeys. To A and R: SYS. And yeah. For anyone wondering what’s going on behind the scenes, here is where to join the conversation.]
SHORT STOP IN Phnom Penh for unexpected popping-up gigs. Still curious about this place. Still asking questions. Still engaged with all the things that got me excited about Cambodia when I first arrived in Phnom Penh in March 2014. Stayed, mostly writing through the end of 2017, at which time I hatched Atelier S P A C E and tested it out in Battambang. So good was that one, that I decided, ‘Why not?,’ and took Atelier S P A C E to Singapore, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, and Oulu. (Wait, what? No, really. Finland, yeah. I just really, really like that part of the world.)
It’s been a weird, curious and exciting moment of transition and change, for me personally, but I wanted to spring up another popup, Atelier S P A C E | Phnom Penh, before I hit the road again. Atelier S P A C E is a 2-year project, which had begun last P’chum Ben, and will continue for just another year. Before it sunsets, I want to be sure to get to places that most intrigue: the Eastern European countries, for example. And maybe circle back to the Pacific Northwest in the United States, which was where, for six years DK did its biggest and most important work: building a small network of people who are interested in ‘trusting the process’ and designing space for us to play. Recent conversations with JB in Seattle, RS in the Bay Area, and PC and OB (both of whom were guests at ‘N’ Phnom Penh, and that was in 2014, wasn’t tit?, and that was the whole start of all the new thinking… *too much thinking*. I got sorted out, though. In Finland. Quiet. Space. People. Sky.
And yeah. They are here. Still with me, till reading, still caring a little bit I think about this journey of ‘how to get people talking together in safe space that are well-facilitated.’ Do I want to go back to the States and have some kind of dialogue sessions so they can see what’s wrong with silo thinking? Or get them to really see each other, so that we don’t have all the division that we are seeing that’s, hey, always been there, but right now it’s more obvious? A lot of questions. I don’t know, are the answers to most of them. Is the US where I want to go? It depends. It depends on who is curious about having us there. I like to go where I know that things are gonna happen, not just go and see, though there are moments when that’s important, too. But when I want to just go and see, it has to be to a place that’s new. Because then: I’m doing my own process on mysel. Trusting that something will pop out from ‘the soup of not-knowing,’ but showing up for it anyway, and seeing what’s there. The spirit of travel, kind of, sure. But it’s also the way to find breakthroughs: in all sectors of work, in all sectors of personal life, in all dimensions, all 10 or whatever. I could get nerdy. I will save it for those interested in new portals, and only for those people. Selectivity and reduction of the number of channels of engaging with people has been a huge step, for me, in developing these things. These programmes, these salons, and these ideas. The depth of them is becoming more obvious to me when I clarify and check back with some of my oldest confidants. HT AM, who is probably my oldest friend now that I’ve lost touch with the rest. Again: choosing. It’s important. Drift happens. Let’s let it.
The next things
AHEAD ARE WHOLE NEW chapters, for me, and for DK, and for the members of our online communities which have been quietly been in the highest-priority spot for me in the last 12 months. Some people who have been there some of the time are aware, I think, of what it can do and be for them, and I appreciate that. Those who’ve been here longer, I think, are starting to develop more thinking around more things that have more importance to them. Knowing what’s important to you is a huge, huge thing. I think I got on a stage and talked about it for eighteen minutes in front of 500 people. No one knows thatI was pretty much ad-libbing the last 5. Ha ha. An improvisation. On a stage. A play. In real life. That’s it, though, for me. All of these sessions are the same. Just that the stages are smaller, and the invited guests are as much a part of the scripts as the ‘audience’. I dot like passive audiences; I like the engagement that comes from eye contact and back-and-forth and, sure, making it up, partly, as we go. And jazz is like that. And that’s why I like that. So many people I’ve met in the years who’ve shown me how to make jazz more jazzy. Free jazzy. I know, I know. It’s not everyone thing. But so? It’s fun. To me. Oh, yeah: and improv. Also making it up as you go, right? And that’s why I’m into that, too. Probably the whole reason I became friends with BB in a simple way, long time ago. Because: play. Let’s converse. Let’s play?
SHALL WE DO THIS? Have another go at Atelier S P A C E in PP? I think so. Let’s see, anyway. Let’s try this. Let’s begin with salon, about I N T E R N E T. Let’s go with that, see where it leads us, talk together, write and play a kind of conversational music. And then, co-create. This is my thing, where I come in. Make something out of what we learn. Put it into a zine. Share it with you. It’s not that hard, for DK, to do this. We have all the stuff you need if you are a boutique publisher. And now we’re an experiential publisher. So let’s do this? Let’s see. Here’s the details…
Meet new people. Make a zine. Share the journey of the creative process over this unique, once-off weekend conversation salon cum real life workshop. We’ll meet three times over the 3-day weekend workshop. Date, time, and place to be shared with those who are selected to take part. We’ll add the final works to our S P A C E || Cambodia collection, which has featured at the Singapore Writers Festival and the Georgetown Readers and Writers Festival, in 2017. Discover more when you apply. Apply here.
RAINING IN PHNOM PENH, as I write this. Wondering where the next few days and weeks will go. A few more days, a few more moments. Conversations in the real life salons, conversations in the online ones, too. There are things to say, so many of them, and I’m lucky to be able to have a chance to bounce ideas around with people and mostly just generally get to play. In S P A C E. And also, here and there, bumping into stuff, much like The Missing Piece goes around looking for things, falling into holes, bumping into walls, and so on. (HT: Shel Silverstein.)
A few more moments.
I could get poignant and philosophical here–
I could talk about how all the moments are one quick moment, as we had discovered in our salon here in Phnom Penh some years ago, The Book of Time, which I co-hosted with Anakot Asia’s Chhunny Noem. What a powerful moment. Maybe it was the sum of all the moments, smashed together into one infinity, here and now, oh, no, here I go, getting esoteric and rambly, and well, I ought to save those kinds of conversations for the intimate spaces of real life and conversations with just. those people who are actually interested, not foist them onto the blog and the internet and hope that people will say, ‘Yeah. I want to know more about this. Where can I meet other people who want to talk about meaning, existence, philosophize about things without quoting dead white guys, or just, generally, be How can I find more meaning in my own day to day just by simply talking to other people about the big questions hat are popping up in my own world, where I am? What is the point?’ And more. I’m partly inspired writing this by last night’s conversation with CM, who is really asking these questions, I think, the more I talked with her and the later it got and the louder the roomful of people, and the drunker, and the more frequent the occurrence of breaking ceramic mugs and glasses (?), well, the more the time went by, the more I realized, ‘You know, there are places where you can ask these questions and get to skip over all the smalltalk. It’s real. It can happen. We can design for it. I’m into that, that’s my thing that I’m into.’ (Easy to say, hard to prove. But the people who know, know. And for me, that’s enough. So we continue, charging into the world, with the goal of simply hosting and co-hosting more and better space for dialogues that have real feelings int them, real emotions. Not just… well… fodder for the bored, schedule-fillers for the lonely.)
‘I like to try to make myself uncomfortable sometimes,’ C had said, and I replied, ‘Because that’s how we grow.’ Growing used to be such a weird word to me, so touchy-feely and clinical and psychology bollix, but you know, it’s kind of all we have, really. To be able to improve ourselves? What else can we do? Add another do-goody NGO to a country that doesn’t want you here? If you’ve just arrived in Cambodia for something and you think you’re going to ‘make a contribution,’ be aware that this is a lot of nonsense and perhaps more about your own ego than anything else. I don’t want to even get started on the mansplaining that I saw and ranted about, when I saw it! [deleted]. Think about that.
Once more, upon returning to this country, where I have lived for three-and-a-half-years without having meant to, I found myself miraculously thinking, ‘Huh. I can see how this could be an interesting dialogue. And it reminds me of one, from before… also in this city. Quite unexpected, a small collection of us, new and different others, did we have 5? That was a crowd, then, for our salons, which are usually me and maybe 2 or so people… but always, always, always, I love the conversations that unfold. I’ve never been regretful about going and seeing and trying these, because you just never know. Maybe you’ll meet someone who’ll wander in from out of the internet and change your life forever. Gosh.
And given the right framing and the right collection of people… it can. And has. And will. Where are the artists? Everywhere. Much of this is amorophous and fuzzy, and that’s fine. Who cares about making sure everything fits some arbitrary logic-box? That what DK writes here and there as a collective is not refined, not finished, not concrete, not logical, mystical sounding, and open ended? How about this idea: a billion suns are in motion, right now. And N. Bohr, who said: ‘No, no, no. You’re not thinking. You’re just being logical.’ I’m looking at a philosophy of the moment: one that’s not based on old sciences that are Newtonian-only, out of touch and completely miffed by multiple and contradictory ‘truths’ co-existing. Frankly, philosophy is as obsolete as the fax machine.
And so on. And so forth. A blink–a moment. And infinity, too.
But, guess what? [Some of ] those [mainstream publishers and academics and philosophers] who consider things ‘good’ are the ones who are stuck in the old logic-boxes. They can’t conceptualize a new way of doing things because the old way is so engrained. SHR, a mathematician friend of DK’s, and I had met I a pub in London when I was that way, a very good and curious conversation in which I had asked him why things are devolving instead of progressing, society-wise. Wanted to say things about least common denominators and stuff but that is too fourth grade math and not that interesting to S, so I just threw out a thing about, oh, systems, and equilibriums, and turbulences, and he had said that people like the status quo. That’s why we’re not evolving up. They like the status quo. It’s hard to change it.
Me, thinking: Even if it’s stupid.
Not saying this, but it’s pretty easy to read me.
Him saying, without words, Yup. Even then.
Part of the concept with Atelier S P A C E is not to get parked for too long in any one place. Houseless and offliceless, But, I’m finding out on this miniature return, not friendless. More in a second.
First, from Lao Tzu‘s Tao Te Ching:
Hold fast to the way of antiquity
In order to keep in control the real of today.
The ability to know the beginning of antiquity
Is called the thread running through the way.
Meeting the way
IT’S BEEN really cool catching up with some of you who might be reading here, in this city. Phnom Penh. Reminiscing about things past, or sharing about the things that had happened before, or recently, or on the road. The way and the road. Basho—need to go back to that author and explore more fully. Important. But, not now. It’s also important to just be here and notice the things going on right where we are. I’m going to have to share more in the e-mail circles (not doing facebook now, not really hanging out on instagram), about the invite-only conversation salons on the way here, in Phnom Penh, before heading off to Australia and India and possibly the Pacific Northwest in those United States—gaw, I can’t believe I’m even writing that. I had wanted to get out of there, so much, but it’s been four years since Palo Alto, so… Yeah. Let’s see how it all unfolds. Things take time, I get that, but it’s also nice to peg a few things here and there, sometimes, too. But it’s loose and light, now. Letting go of illusion of control. Big changes. Ask me why sometime, if our paths cross in real life or in our online conversations in S P A C E.
This weekend, I’ll host Atelier S P A C E | Phnom Penh and write, together with others, maybe some of my actual friends?, a new set of zines, set here, hyperlocal creative nonfiction. Next stops, Idontknowwhereyet, but onwards is the definitely for sure direction. Plus, visa. Visas expire. Keeps you moving, doesn’t it? On. These are long stories. Not for everyone. I’ll write them. I’ll put them in S P A C E. Maybe I’ll keep writing about Cambodia. I mean, a little bit. It’s definitely easier when you have four years of experience in a. place and ambiently know where the streets go, how things connect, what foods are going to taste like, what’s ‘not okay’ when it comes to cultural sensitivity or mansplaining OMG, how everything you think you know about something is completely hot air, and how, when you come here, the thing you learn is that you don’t know anything at all. Some of that I wrote into the first book about my experiences here, Breakfast in Cambodia (Kismuth // 2016), which look at that, has just celebrated a two-year anniversary. Exciting. I wonder if I should have another launch-y kind of moment for the new books, set in Finland? Could be nice. I hope to, but it’s also fine if it’s just an inner-circle thing. Maybe. launch at, say, my house. Easier, these days, than making a big rah-rah out of it and trying to get people to show up. This has gotten increasingly harder, I’ve found, in the last six years. I’m seeing the futility of it, in a way. I may not even… well. It’s a lot to write here. I’m always starting to write a little here and then hesitating because, who is reading this blog? I don’t know. Which is why I’d prefer to converse in S P A C E, or email. Email me, if you are there, know me, want to stay in touch in a more firm way that has nothing to do with reading and checking and checking and reading. I’m here. I’m listening. Say hi? So that I know it gets to me, what with all these weird filters and hackers and spammers and people breaking into emails and stuff, it’s so weird now, it would be cool if you could use the form on our contact page. Could you? Here it is. Kay. Cool. The thing to do now is just get started. And trust the process. Be okay with getting lost a little, in order to find center. All righty, then. Let me figure out where to go next. Let me find that set of darts.
‘Fresh and original input’
WHEN I WAS IN AARHUS in 2015, I met someone who said, after a whole long giant hour-long conversation marathon, in a thank-you note to follow up the next day, ‘Thanks for the fresh and original input.’ Same person who talked to me about Heisenberg and principle and got me to see the Danish view of things (‘Oh, really? MIT says that? Are you sure it’s all of the people at MIT who say that, and not just some of the people at MIT who say that, and yeah, there aren’t other people at MIT who completely disagree with those people at MIT? Think about that.’) This is going into the zine, S P A C E | Aarhus, by the way. Coming in December. But yeah. Input, of course software people love DK because we are a kind of arbitrary asteroid-quality sort of ‘input’ for them, and the innovative spirit feeds off of random encounters out of left field (and S P A C E). So yeah, back then, way, in 2015, as the autumn was settling in and I was getting set to return to Cambodia where it would be instantly warm again in not-so-many-days, I’d thought. That’s a new way to put it. And today, the phrase comes back, ‘Fresh and original input.’ Why? The conversations that we have in S P A C E-like rooms in real life as well as in our online forums are like that, to me, all he time. Expansive, curious, inviting, insight-making at their best, but also, just… fun. I’ve just found some new and fresh original input that I had talked about in the post about the music I found myself wandering into while in Helsinki on my last night, and today, I’d like to share a track from one of members, Esa Puolakka, of one of the bands (Maagine). I’m looking forward also to soon interviewing the lead singer, Matti Halonen, for our podcast. Watch this space. Meantime, I’ll leave you with this track from Esa… (For me, the two tracks on his soundcloud are so very much in the vein of ‘fresh and original input.’ So here we go, passing it forward, making it up, jazzy, as we go.) I’m looking forward to the new and the next. More soon, from S P A C E. Tuesdays at 7AM, in the e-box.
NEW THINGS. Starting again. In S P A C E. In very small circles. Trusting the process and enjoying the adventure, creating the design for hosting and engaging some of us, some of us who are still curious, still open to the possibility of being changed by what we hear, and still ready to learn, from any chance encounter: as did the people I met at the N. Bohr Institute in Copenhagen when on a visit there, or in the corners of philosophy classes after the teachers left and texts were closed in my high school summer at Governor’s School East in Laurinburg NC, or in the empty moments just being on the edges of the world, for all the edges are at the edge, are they not?, in Nagarkot, Manali, Kyoto, Berlin, wistful piazzas in Bologna, the drone and hum and boisterousness of the throng of the West Village in 1990s New York, and more, and, other, and, more recently, in S P A C E. Here’s to the journeys, the new, the near, and the next. Ready for the 8 Oct thing. Ready, set.
The opposite of a profound truth may be another profound truth. —N. Bohr
STARTING THIS WEEK, we are sharing the updates to the journey of Atelier S P A C E. through a new mailing list. I wanted to just acknowledge all the very many people I have met who have been a part of this, so far. Thank you, you know who you are.
It’s about us connecting in person, for a chat, a conversation, and a chance to write or photograph or draw. Together, on the spot. Part of the time I realize I was overthinking this. Overdesigning, too. It got out of hand, I fully admit that. What’s important to is to persist, and insist, as I do, that short form works are great for starting what is hard: starting. All if the creative process that comes out of the starting is going to be what it is, sure. But… Did we make a start at a thing? Atelier S P A C E asks you to take a chance, do a little jam, play a little tune, but instead of with music, with words.
We are still at it, still making zines. Next stop: Finland.
Not that we are ‘zinesters,’ but, it’s been fun to play with the photocopier and make these. A few from Sept.. 2017-March 2018. Sharing through tomorrow at our popup installation, Zinery & Finery, at DK World HQ in Phnom Penh.