words written in the week of
December 31st to January 6th
in previous years.
This was 1 year, 4 months, 1 day ago

Nearly ten years ago, a friend articulated to me the distinction between a costume and an outfit. We were living in a warehouse, renovating it ourselves, dust masks and goggles a part of our daily outfit.

"An outfit is something you wear because it emerges from you", he said (or so I remember), standing on a ladder, scraping concrete off from a ceiling. "A costume is something you have to 'put on', something external that becomes a layer between you and the world."

in actuality, I'm sure his words were different, that he said none of these things exactly, 9 years ago, but he did articulate the difference from a ladder. Since then, these are the words that I've since gradually spun up, replacement words I've gently placed in his mouth.


is social media an outfit or a costume? there's a fine line here, but what's clear is that the only person who gets to decide is the wearer themselves. Some people slide into something spectacular and it's their outfit; others put on a tshirt and jeans like a costume. The needle that draws this line is hair-thin but rock solid, guided by the unconscious intuition of the heart, a faint murmur sometimes barely detectable but immovable.

A costume certainly isn't a person; neither is an outfit. This account isn't me either, these posts aren't me exactly, but this post is an attempt to wear this Social Media Identity as an outfit, not a costume, if I must wear it at all, if you or I or any other tenant has any stake here in this online condominium of a platform. I'd like to wear it like the outfit I'd want it to be, rather than the covert costume show it can act as: a presentation of selves, a world on display. (Is this you, or me, or your outfit, and mine, or is this the costumed space where our Personal Brands pretending not to be brands meet, good talking to you, your people will talk to my people?)

I get it, too. An account can be a job uniform, pajamas or loungewear, a set of armor, a status or social symbol, and so on. Sometimes it needs to be. Such is the way of clothing. We are out in public here, or at least a kind of publics, like plazas in a company town, somehow always borrowed. It makes do. Usually.

These days, there are conversations I've been having more often with friends that I want to keep central: the psychodrama of our lives, of who we are and have been, and how those came to be; what constellations do you hold inside of you, and how do they make particular shapes to propel you into being, and operate in certain ways to bloom out into the daylight as work, love, play, art, faith, and everything else. The whole ecology of internal and external family systems in concert. And if in concert, where are these concerts held? Not at a hotel, or an Airbnb, or the internet versions of those, but at some place more sacred and special, that's for sure. Maybe that site, some sites, you have to hike to; some sites, there aren't any trails; some sites, you just have to be looking for it.

I can tell I'm starting to mix metaphors, now, adding dry ingredients to the wet, things are getting out of hand. So I don this outfit to say, here's a trail:



During the thick of Covid, when I used to live right across the street from Prospect Park with some dear friends, I got into the occasional habit of bringing a camping stove and making a cup of tea in the park by myself. I thought this was both silly and deeply satisfying, which was perfect in those uncertain days, an outing as a treat.

Sometimes I would try to go in the mornings before 9am to a part where dogs could be let off-leash. A hundred dogs and at least a hundred owners would arrive, leashes would get unclipped, and then the field would explode into galaxies of social dynamics of all sorts, hierarchies and curiosities and anxieties and eagernesses and drama and stress and confusions and happinesses. In this dog world there was dog, dog chasing dog, small dog wanting to be big dog, excited at everything dog, anxiously looking back at owner dog, Top Player at the Chasing Game dog, shy dog, sniffing the butts dog, curious about that butterfly dog, here to eat things I shouldn't dog. This dog, that dog. Many exuberant dog.

One morning I was drinking tea on the hill over this wondrous chaos when a dog peeled away from the whole scene and approached me. The dog was large, dark brown, shortish hair, with defined facial features. Quiet clarity in his demeanor. He walked unhurriedly near me in a manner that was clear that he was a) curious about me and wasn't hiding it, and b) taking his time, in no rush.

He drifted nearby, got closer. walked away, walked back. stood near me for a few moments. looked at the dogs. looked back at me, as if deciding. Smelling me out. I looked at him, looked at dog world, looked at him. He waited. I waited.

When he decided to sit next to me, he didn't face me, but faced the dogs, as I was doing too, so that our bodies were parallel. I checked his collar, tried to give "Cooper" a pat and scratches, but he didn't really care; he stood unresponsive to typical human-to-dog gestures in a way that became surprisingly clear that he wasn't here for that. with infinite possibility that a hazy memory allows, he looks at me mid-pet and gives me a little Look, simply and neatly saying, hello, nice to meet you, now please, I'm here to sit together and look, too.

So, I stop and turn back towards the dogs. We sit together, just watch them, galaxies and swirls of emotion and joyous chaos and complexity, you come here you what's that you oh hello you how's it going you what's that smell hey oh wow hey you oh can I join oh you haha can't chase me oh wait huh.

This was July 2020 or so. remember what it was like? vaccines were just a sci-fi rumor, life strangely urgent and on pause at the same time. the dog owners were distant, masked and reserved, carefully isolated, but the dogs were dogs, doggedly dogging dogs dogs dogs, a whole rambunctious society on display, inevitable and ineffable. We watched it all in silence, Cooper and I, momentary companions on a beautiful summer morning, when it still seemed like anyone of us could all just die at any moment, at a rare time when parts of life seemed to become laid bare, exposed, the ribcage of the world showing for a moment underneath its fur, the texture of a life, its skeleton, and the stuff that really constitutes us coming into contrast for a moment.

After some time, Cooper got up in a steady, unhurried motion, and walked away without much ceremony. His walking seemed to hold a silent acknowledgment, a "nice sitting with you", a "see you around". Since then I've spun up an memory that I said, out loud, "nice sitting with you, too". It was time for Cooper to leave, and so Cooper left, and that was that.

This meandering story is a hike, not a tour of where I've been and what I've been up to, but the hike I share, the outfit I choose to wear here. The outfit is of a story of momentary friendship, of what it means to sit, and just look together. The outfit is about what it might mean to appreciate the teeming galaxies and complexities of our lives and how they intersect and crash and chase and sniff after each other, and amidst everything, the outfit is about how the sun felt on the skin that morning, how the park smelled, how dewy the grass after a night can be.

I write this in a California desert, lying awake in my sleeping bag under a full moon, just a few days into 2023. In moments like these, things seem to become clear, a sober moment directly explaining what a life is made of, like slicing a radish thinly and holding it up to the light to see its internal structure. Last year was the hardest year of my life, for reasons I've gradually gotten to understand, and there were times I thought I wouldn't make it, not ever literally, but worried that I might become dessicated, dried out, raisin-like, in an attempt at self-preservation against misunderstanding. But in the desert here, I feel so full, so plump, neither lacking not overflowing but simply enough with moisture and water, from special friends and family and loved ones, and I will not tag anyone here, I refuse to play the Instagram Game for something like this, but will say that if you've heard my story and we've spent real time together in the past year, then I love you, friend, thank you, let's sit together more often, I miss you, and I hope to see you soon.

And if you haven't heard my story, or think you have, but haven't heard it directly from me, well: come join me in a park sometime! It's a good, deep, sad, complicated, hurtful, surprising, outrageous, ultimately beautiful yarn of a story.


About six months after that first encounter with Cooper, I was in the park again. Winter had passed, vaccines and hopes were on the rise, so it was spring 2021. I hadn't been to that part of the park since; I had moved south of the park, which meant that going to the dog hill was a bit more of a trek, more an intentional choice than a regular ritual.

I get there in the morning, greet my little hill, set up my stove again, settle in to brew the tea and watch the dogs. And then --- guess who trots up to me, but Cooper!

He says hello. I'm so happy to see him, and I can tell he is too, because this time he accepts a pet and scratch or two, maybe puts his face closer to mine for a (brief) moment. And then he settles back, finds a seat, sits with me to look over the dogs, as if we've done this not once but many times before.

We sit together, looking out at the whirling landscape of emotions and drama on display, quiet in momentary companionship. Both of our heads occasionally swiveling to track an especially fast sprinter, looking over sheer life, until the sun gets a little higher, the grass is noticeably less dewy, 9 aye em arrives and dog world ends, and Cooper takes his leave.

I haven't been back to that hill during the dog hours since. I've wondered why. As I write this I am realizing I've always known, just embarrassed to admit it to myself. On one level, I'm fearful that he won't show up. I could go again, a year and a half since the last time I was there, and I'll watch the dogs, and even if I pretend I'm not, will secretly be waiting in the back of my head for Cooper to show up -- but he won't. A year and a half is enough time for things to change and lives to shift, after all. Cooper's owner(s) could have left New York, or Park Slope, or might not use the same dog walkers, or any sorts of other possibilities.

Maybe even more embarrassing has been the fear that I'm making too much of this. I realize I have a fear that I will go, and he will be there, but won't remember me, or notice, or care. It's embarrassing because, I say to myself, he's "only" a dog, an animal, ("you're an animal too", I quietly retort back) and you only spent like, what, twenty or thirty minutes sitting together total? Why do you care so much?

But I know, actually, in a simple and intuitive way, that if Cooper was there he'd recognize me. My thoughts are skeptical, they beg to differ, but the delicate needle of my intuition is firm and sure, immovable, and it says: the look of recognition you can find in another's eyes is unmistakable. That look, when you both find a familiar look in the other person's eyes, and you See each other, meet in a moment, gazes touching, maybe even sit for a bit together, looking out at the world? That's real, it says, as real as anything else we have in this life, and I have faith in it.

My past year was intensely difficult, but I'm finding that it's also been occasionally beautiful, otherworldly. I chalk it up to these deeply precious looks and sits I've shared, usually with friends, sometimes with total strangers.

Maybe when the weather warms up, I'll head back out to Prospect Park, and see if my friend is still there. And if they're not, then I'll sit and bask in a nice memory. Sometimes, I know now, friends come and go, go and come. Lives change, or rather, seem to simply follow the wiggle they already will. And right now, this dark morning in the desert at five thirty-one, shivering lightly in my sleeping bag, I am full, simply enough, a full belly with memories and the continual present and the open future, and simply so grateful to have had the connections and friendships and families I have had, have, and will continue to have, in whatever shapes and constellations they might decide to continue to take.

In other words: Happy New Years!

(written on january 6, 2023, 5:31 am, edited)

This was 1 year, 4 months, 1 day ago

found it, didn’t need to find it, it was always there, it’s always already there, more who I am than who I think I am, the inevitability of being who we are already, yes, including all of those parts too, already a humming sun at the center of my heart guiding me forwards, me-us.

(this point, a marker in the sand saying “0 miles loop that way; you’re right here”, not the hike but a guide to a hike I’ve already taken, so when I (or you) read this in a future time, let the trust of this present self tell you about a hike you can take / are taking already)


you know, don't you, don't you, you know, with bursting heart and exploding galaxies inside, of the setting moon and the rising sun, of what we did and what we found, where we went and where we always were?

yes, yes I do, I do, yes, I do, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

___, I do, I really do, remakrkably so, I really do, I do I do I do I do I do!


-jan 21, 2023.

This was 1 year, 4 months, 3 days ago

what's necessary is present.

this, too, is a performance, I'd like to say, the real me has no name, the real me is present, these are just words, but the truth is that I am me here, sitting in a hotel room in pasadena, california, holding myself here, in my body, present. a name ties it all together, a pattern just still enough to be recognized, a coherent image, a title, so we can believe in certainty for a moment, the certainty that we, you, or maybe it's just me, that I believe will stop me from dying, that will stop the ones I love from dying, the certainty that feels like deathlessness, a preservative, nostalgia, of stopping time, the certainty that is all that lies between me and indeterminable, endless grief, that the people I love will die before I can tell them that I love them, before that they will really understand what I am trying to say, before I find ways to say it out loud, before, before, before. certainty is trying to stop the film projector because I don't want to see what's coming next. certainty is not wanting to feel the great loss I already know is in my body, that it's been preparing for, all my life, a body meant to grieve. certainty is papering over the whole and pretending it didn't happen, that it won't happen. certainty is a fear so strong that it stops me from dying, and stops me from living.

certainty means that I, like all of us, am afraid of this thing I don't know how to name, am terrified, am lonely, am lost, grasping onto something that I believe will save me from something I can never be saved from, clutching at the grab bars at the top of the waterslide, wanting not to fall, not knowing that the whole careening ride exists in the first place because of entropy, the slide is either a path towards death, or it is a wild experience, and I could clutch the sides of the slide wanting not to fall, slowly developing friction burns until I plop, sore and burning and despondent, into the water below, or I could, you know, let go and follow what's bringing me where;

the answer is easy, you say, well, fuck you, I say; most of my life it was figuring out the answer that was the hard part. what am I supposed to do with a test where the questions are clear, and the answers are given, but I'm terrified to listen? clearly this isn't a test, too, because a test is certain. what is this, then? I ask, I complain, I wail, where the answers are clear but the fear is the fear? and then the courage, the courage, the courage, the courage...

can I see? I wonder, can I see this, can I commune with those who see? can you see me? can we see? this thing that I am trying to speak about? to gesticulate? something akin to the fabric of what's present, insistently showing us, showing me, what it might be?

isn't the answer yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes?

aren't I already here, here, here, here, here, here, here?

isn't what's happening already present? am I not doing the thing already? isn't it all going to just fall together? can I not simply reach out, as C's friend B says, and pick up what's in front of me?

am I not doing that already?


This was 5 years, 4 months, 3 days ago

I want to say something like:
"part of being is accepting how you have been created and to work within and from that. I am produced and producing, but I have been produced, yet I am also me."

a taste of deserts and trees, of cabins, of driving, of going elsewhere. was this created? is this part of whiteness? I think so, yes. of sun and sunshine and trees and a sense of calm. I think this is part of whiteness, of upper-middle class whiteness perfectly poised to be unware of itself, to not know what it is, to be blind to these things. to enjoy these things in america is like this loop-de-loop of a process:

- enjoy: oh joyful! these things are great.
- don't enjoy: no, it's all mythical, this notion of nature
- enjoy: of course, but why doesn't that mean we can enjoy it still
- don't enjoy: this notion of nature just amplifies whatever whiteness that exists.. for someone who is white, encountering another white person in the woods or in nature is not neutral
- enjoy: yes, you are right, yet to get white supremacy get in the way of enjoyment of nature would be horrid

and there's like five or six or ten more loops that my brain whizzes around before it fizzles out.

sometimes I remember to myself that I need to bounce between cultures, that too much time spend in one culture or language will sink my brain into concrete, and I think about one gorgeous time spend wandering in japan or in korea, a sense of calm, of nature.

I am lucky to have experienced a country where I was told that I belong, and not only do I belong, that I was needed, that we all needed to help each other, that a sense of nationalistic cameraderie was not poised towards a sense of jingoistic militaristic patriotism but rather as a struggle for independence and agency. I am grateful for that.


it is a new year. 2019. the freshness of the new year slowly peels away. ringing in the new year. what happens this year? what happens.

a checklist for myself, to care for myself.

- to meditate five minutes a day.
- to operate in positing, rather than in negation
- to remember what it's like to wriggle in a tub naked, like the day I was born, and say "oh boy, oh boy", over again in elated excitement towards the future, like a sharp bright arrow being shot into the air without any destination, with a kind of 'hey lets see what happens' grin on one's face. to jump forward and forwrd.
- to have more situations where I am sweaty and happy, panting to catch my breath in elation
- to watch as many sunsets a week as I can.
- to change my environment often
- to recognize when I fall into thought loops, and realize that sometimes the nicest way to change my thoughts is to stop thinking, or to move orthogonally, through the body, or the environment
- to go deeper towards places where I can be deeply disappointed and deeply fulfilled alike
- let's have more rituals!
- to name it, articulate it

- to spend more time with myself

here's to 2019.

This was 10 years, 4 months, 2 days ago

on the plane, 8 hours in


hovered fingers over keys a few times now to speak about what this has been, this time, and each time somehow hesitated to write anything conclusive.


somehow this time around things have been transformative, manifesting differences in a startling way. I know not how exactly, but the panoply of experiences this time makes me feel like I'm leaving a life that I lived behind and moving back to an older one, or a different one, that is somehow less urgent and more vivid, like old prints of film photographs, sharper color contrast, those rich reds popping out, beautiful bokeh, all framed by critical/emotional/sentimental distance of not-there-anymore. and for a few days, or maybe just a few hours, this feeling will persist, and everything will fade in importance. what is important? like when J died this summer, and after I came back from the funeral dressed in snappy blacks and grays having just had a painfully gorgeous day with friends in a kind of tribute. certain things are more important, less important. why read those blogs? why read those new york times articles? why keep up with the machine-gun-rapidity of the world?

this has less to do with an anti-technological withdrawal of the world and more to do with a respite, pause, scope. I remember vividly being on a trip to europe sometime ten years ago, and going to a food place where we sat down and ate fried fish and a salad. the memory is sharp and vivid not because of the food, which I recall as tasting as expected, but because everything outside the food (extra-culinary?) was different, down to the shape of the packaging, the font of the logo, the size of the tray, the cartoon mascot, etc, the difference of infrastructure and culture really oozing out at one of the primary sites of cultural production, casual-food-franchises (I mean this with utter sincerity), and I remember really eating that difference in, really drinking in and enjoying that feeling of 'elsewhere'. how altered you are. that moment of displacement like running fast enough to create sonic booms, a function of sound of speed itself being expressed through the medium that you move through, or standing in front of a mirror and trying to blink fast enough to see yourself with your eyes closed.

and there are so many of these moments to drink in; so many places to go to and to feel here, not other, but here as in I-am-not-there-where-I-used-to-be. that is why I like going to Japan, sometimes, because it is recognizable yet different; it is like Korea but with a reset; to some degree I understand these things, these processes, but I can't read anything, so it is like some temporarily created pause from the world where I am rendered into an infant, or a sage, or something, in which I can drift around and just observe certain things like the quality of sunlight dancing off buildings, or the rhythm with which the city lives its life, or the patterns of the aesthetics fried-fish restaurants, so to speak.


but we were talking about korea. korea korea. this time around something is different, perhaps more vivid, more sharply rendered. or: more autonomous.

I think it is because I am starting to encounter korea on its own terms, on my own terms; not as a loss from which I am continually recovering from, but as a new entity to be regarded and to be re-encountered. there is much there. living, breathing.

this visit, in which:

1) korea is deep, and holds a lot, and grows. it is not a place that I have left behind or even a landscape that has changed but a society of active, changing beings. and perhaps this time around I am feeling this viscerally for the first time.

2) in which: I learn a little bit more about where I come from, and the forces that have shaped me, and I further trace back the trajectories that have been formative to understand a little bit more about my present stance in the world and about things.

3) in which: I open the first page of my mother's dissertation, like as if in a novel, and read the first page, and somehow realize the fullness of my parents' being, again, in the way that one day a few months after finishing college, I was at T's parents' home taking a piss in the bathroom and looking at a photo of his kindergarten class, and realizing suddenly that the kindergarten teachers were my age, my peers, just decades ago; that what was once impossibly old was the present, and recognizing this sensation of overlaying would continue to lap up onto the shore

4) in which: I meet old friends and see how much we have changed, and how much we have not, and how different our trajectories have been, and how similar they have been shaped, with similar privileges and burdens. and I understand a little bit more the function of food and alcohol really, as charms, incantations to ward off the night and the sense of deep isolation. or is it just the island-like isolation of a new city? either way, this groupedness that is so much the default in korea, and the friendly drunken gesture of 'let's hang out' from a stranger, these things I now read as desires on behalf of civilization, against the absence of such, the creation of family, society, support structures, against the absence of these things. and as I fly back to NYC as we speak, I realize to an extent that I am in the midst of plunging back into that realm, of clenched teeth and a certain kind of solo embarkation (what? the thirteenth year now, is it?) and wonder a tiny tiny bit for the first time, ever, why I was in such a hurry to fly that coop at the tender excited age of fourteen.


so many words to express something along the lines of doubt? concern? questions. watching the trajectory of my life unfold. thinking about desire, ambition, stability, flexibility, freedom, all of these things. these words are hard, because really they are these tendrils stretching out; each word is like the utterance of the word, "tree," spoken by someone who grew up with a strong elm, all her life, grew up swinging on it, climbing through it, hiding underneath it, playing in raked leaves, and one day came home to a thunderstorm that had struck it dead, and as an adult made the call to have it hauled away by a crew who knew nothing about this tree, and there, standing in front of the yard watching it being felled, catches themselves mouthing the word silently in appreciation and gratitude of a layered past, all shel silverstein-like, but really, it was true, about that tree, or maybe it was a house, or an apartment, or a bicycle with a name, or a worn book, or a pen, or a warm sweater, or something or anything, distilled into 'tree', as if I would ever understand, especially since I wouldn't not understand either. 'tree'. and it goes the same. 'desire'. 'flexibility'. behind these words lie too many layers of soil and sediment to even begin to explain.


happy new years

This was 12 years, 4 months, 5 days ago

korea is especially strange this year. the taste in my mouth is of a strange distance, this rhythm. something about this place has changed, flickered, flipped, grown on its own; either that, or my old relentless anger against a country has fully faded away into a dull distance, and it's through this absence of attachment that I'm finding some something glowing here. it's like, there are lives here, I think, there are these people here, and their lives, and their self-contained worlds, and their drives, and the things that they do. like little engines, almost, self-contained, interested, going, running, and it's poignant, the way that each return back to korea encompasses another change on my part and korea's part. and every time I come back, there are taller buildings, different fashions, better technology, different tv talents, and something is always different.

and this time in the midst of this I find a stronger community, a space, a coagulation, making artwork and music and writing, going forth and making the things they wish to see. creating, living, stretching forth, working on projects. projects. these interested engines. and I can feel myself want to say something like: "keep on keeping on, please, it's a joy to see".

I think that if anything really important happened in 2011 it was that I found the thing that I think I should be seeking, and at least right now that thing is not a thing but a way of looking. looking for looking. positing.

isn't it funny how these things happen? very funny. isn't it funny? these small events, they're like cataclysmic, catastrophic; terrence malick's tree of life is a truthful solipsism; how solid these boundaries are; how everything is always lossy, everything always lost in translation, everything constituted of losing in translation, forever fated to misfire, mislead, miscommunicate.

but see: it's more like an optimism. listen: everything's constituted within the 'mis' of 'mis-communication', every form of life, both biological and social, constituted out of the mistranscriptions that occur. biological DNA's mistake in communication is the origin of genetic mutation and thus evolution; and maybe: social misconnection, miscommunication is inevitably variation, change, difference, and thus interaction, emotion, attachment, longing, yen.

this is a note to my future self who will take a plane and be back in NYC soon:
remember what it's like to walk in korea, to wander among these crowds, to be ajar, gently askew, to step into the cold cold cold air where your breath immediately wisps into clouds, to hear the familiar ding of PA announcements in the subway, and to understand again that consistent change, itself, is the familiar aspect of things, to pass the 포장마차 selling 떡볶이 and 순대, to be absent in the present, to look at things from afar, to take a bus seeing the sequential lights of 한강 slide by, to hold a moment and hear it move, to be this silent watcher, to be watching korea change, and know that distance, and that calm, and that resolve, and that presence, and remember what it was like to return, remember what it is like for every plane trip to terminate in the dance of public transportation, remember the thing you were always designing in your mind after you got back from your trains, and carry that within, because new york now inevitably seems all-encompassing and neutral, I know it does, because it's the texture of life you're already inhabiting, but if you can manage to tease out some kind of distance without New-York-izing new york, then you'll be more than okay, you'll have this airspace, this breathing room, this calm, this presence, the space of heart to have things change. so: go bike around at night a little. go run yourself into a breathlessness.

and so.

it's 2012, a new year. here's what I'll say, raising my glass: there will always be this struggle against the self; there will always be not enough sleep, I will always be too busy, I will always not get enough done, things will always be a little bit harder. there will always be the desire for the self, the overwhelming waves of emotion, the sensation of achievement, the dull absence of a home, the hard choices, the what-ifs. things will always busy.

and see, there's a joyousness in this all; what this all means is this:
there will never be a better time to do things, that no better time to try. try it, go for it, do it. the other day I leaned against a glass window in 인사동 on the third floor of a building and looked across a gorgeous terrain of rooftops and had a small epiphanic thought: but wait: how can I ever negotiate for my future self? I don't even know who he will be, or what he will want! I might as well go with what I am trying to know, which is what the present self desires, and I know that so clearly. or at least: 'I know clearly that I can't exactly explain what I'm looking for, but I know what it is'. and so here's to finding, looking, moving, here's to wanting, in 2012, here's to wanting what I desire, here's to being excited to want and really wanting, from myself, for myself, to myself.

This was 14 years, 4 months, 4 days ago

a whirlwind of steam whistles and bikes and strangers-turned-friends, a castle in central park with fireworks and an impromptu dance party. champagne poured and popped, a small group of bikes I lead downtown, stumbleful subway rides home, bonfires made and watched at, wheelchairs sat in and talked with, and finally sleep while the sky started lightening up.

all in all, a precious night at every step.

This was 15 years, 4 months, 7 days ago

If anything happens it's in the liminal space, the small space between yes and no, the interims. Motivation and introspection and action takes place right here, in this epsilon, not as large and monumental events but the space between each keystroke and the points between each letter. It's all here. There are no grand sweeping gestures to make except for the little jabs at plastic tabs called typing.

Any thought that takes the form of "I wish I could dot dot dot (...)" is really this, shrouded in language that hints otherwise. The question is of granularity, resolution. The minimum unit of a resolution of action is a finger twitch, a minuscule quantum of resolve. Climbing up constructed from a series of muscle movements.

This was 15 years, 4 months, 8 days ago


performers: unknown, jo young min, unknown, sato yukie.

twenty people huddle in an underground room smelling faintly of gas-heater air to listen to a performance by a myriad of people. the main organizer/performer dashes into a back room mid-speech to bring out bottles of makgeolli for people to drink. how did you find this place? friends of friends, blogs of blogs, and so on. everyone here has sought out this deliberately one way or another; in the land of k-pop and massive music entertainment industries these performances are deliberate choices. there's an accompanying earnestness and enthusiasm on the part of everybody; did you come to this thing? how did you find us? I'm glad you came! vitality, youthfulness, youngness, incipient hope, germination inducing a strong push against earth.

sincerity, enthusiasm, earnestness. it's immensely refreshing and inspiring. there's an earthy comfort, a sort of quiet strength that pulsates. in the wood-paneled cafes and bars lies a desire turned inwards, (hopefully inwards), for the self, for my sake, internally motivated.

This was 16 years, 4 months, 2 days ago

I'm currently laying out an issue of Tablet, and I'm setting it in Bodoni and Futura: Bodoni for readable text, Futura for titles and other stuff. The simplicity of the fixed stroke width of Futura, and the sharp contrast of width in Bodoni's vertical and horizontal strokes compliment each other nicely. It occurred to me that they look incredibly similar in their geometric qualities, so I overlaid one over the other:

The tracking had to be set to +20 or so, but they align perfectly! Incredible, considering their serif/sans-serif, German/Italian, late 18th century/early 20th century differences --- but I do suppose Bodoni is a Modern typeface. (see Bringhurst)

Mmm, type.

This was 16 years, 4 months, 3 days ago

I have so much more to say.

ideas: korea is turning into a westward vector pointing away, away, away. 50 years of japanese occupation and subsequent cultural obliteration created a distinct stratification of identities in terms of time: old korea, new korea.

'old korea' is a strong identity, clearly codified by a consistent 'schema': rustic patterns, earthy color scheme, red-yellow-blue symbol, specific historical objects, typography modeled after the 훈민정음. subject matter on pre-japanese-occupation country, farming, values of integrity, naivete, purity, simplicity.

the inverse of 'old korea' is cosmopolitan, sensual, dark, alluring. having no referent in contemporary korean culture (this dimension being yet nonexistent, post-occupation), cultural inspiration comes from the west, but changes from 'inspiration' to 'importation'. 'old korea', as nostalgia, fights to preserve itself, stay alive. such western/sensual/layered/complicated ideas are hence assigned to not-old-korea: new korea.

(the real dichotomy here between OK and NK is simplicity versus complication, which might explain why so much of art that adheres to old korea seems to favor a visually simple, two-dimensionally near-abstract, raw brushstroke-revealing style: see, Lee Jung Seob)

anyways: so the idea of art becomes part of new korea, having been imported from the western world.

and: cosmopolitanism/urbane/intelligence/wealth become linked, legitimization of status, or achievement of cosmopolitanism gained through purchasing western art. see: all the galleries in 청담동/seoul selling damien hirst, liechtenstein, and even yue minjun (mind, an eastern artist picked by western art?) pieces..

so? hurry, hurry. 'contemporary korean culture', 'korean art' is starting to become a syntactic contradiction. bboying/breakdancing is now seen as an element of contemporary korean culture, as seen in a korean tourism ad. there is little interest towards korean art that does not fit in with the vocabulary of 'old korea', because legitimacy and standards lie with contemporary western art. korea's bestsellers are nearly all translated books. ads on television have two approaches: rustic/country/korea/parental+confucian values, or sexy/suave/quaint/elegant/western. hurry, before it's too late.

this syntactic contradiction means that there is no self-recognition of its own (read: not imported) contemporary culture. (again, this is hard: korea's markers of national growth is based on exportation: recently, celebrations went on cheering Korea's $700billion value status in terms of exportation.) idea: as a result, an aphasia of a sorts that occurs..

this is the schizophrenia of korea, triggered by fifty years of cultural amnesia.

update: more on this later.
This was 16 years, 4 months, 3 days ago

what to say, really? it's january 4th, 2008.

At times like this I am glad that I have this archive of words; looking through the past four years of resolutions makes me feel that 4 years is simultaneously a long and short time; a substantial amount of passage, yet not quite with the status of 'formative' -- just under a demi-decade..

Do I have any resolutions? Here they are:

1. Whatever it is, if I unconsciously resist it, then do it.
2. Attempt fulfillment and completeness today, not tomorrow.

Also, one of my resolutions from last year:

3. "resolution: to be more like the kid I was when I was sixteen. angrier, happier, emotional, idealistic, more motivated, more hard-working, endlessly voracious about knowledge, carefully opinionated, and above all excited, anxious to face the quote-world-unquote, to find some mystical underlying virtue in this all, convinced and moving. Perhaps -- to be more straight, more true, more properly fletched."

Here's part what I wrote last year, leaving Korea on New Year's Day.

As a rumination on what these past few days were like, a rumination of what Seoul is to me, what Korea is to me: what meaning it holds, the place it is, where it was.

Having done this oscillation as much as I have, spread thin over two areas like the ghosted-out-doubled prongs of a vibrating tuning fork, it still surprises me to realize that every return back is as... meaningful as ever, if anything. Meaningful is a good word, meaning-full, full of whatever there is that might be determined by endless ruminations on buses, walking invariably dynamic streets, underground subways seen with eyes growing more foreign then native...

I suppose I'll say a million things before I find the core of what I really want to exhale, but this is part of it: that people change, countries change, I've changed and no longer feel at home at a place I used to claim as mine. To articulate the sad and perhaps obliquely spectacular fact that homes slip out of designation, mentalities and identities slide from place to place -- and that whenever that happens, it should be worthwhile to mourn the passing and celebrate the new formation of a self, simultaneously, a cherishing-and-grieving-of-movement, without regret but with endless heaps and amounts of retrospection, globules-of-tears-like in their overflowing nature.

This is me, myself, with the knowledge that I have changed, Korea has changed, we're no longer fit for each other anymore, or rather, we're no longer with each anymore. But the result isn't a kind of warm-hearted eyes-looking-back-over-shoulder-turning-neck gesture saying 'oh, that was good, those days', a soft and fuzzy reminiscence cuddly in its passing -- it's not incidental-hearted, but a deliberate and spontaneous laughter at time, for Time, an oh look how we got here, look what got us here. Are we all not, us all, moving, changing, hopelessly small against Uncle Change, usually unable to comprehend the degree with which we change, move, slide from time to time, grow and wither? And that all too sadly it's only when we come out of it, leave the state we were, that only when time solidifies after separation and shows itself post facto can we realize how blind we were to this changing and passing, and how we will continue to be, so unfailingly...

This was 16 years, 4 months, 8 days ago

Reply to D's comment:

Comparing media always becomes problematic, and even more so when you compare media across large leaps of time. So how exactly are we supposed to work at a piece of writing the way an amateur musician once did? I think you've mistaken active involvement with social, vocal, or corporeal involvement, because more than ever is the notion of interactivity prevalent: we can 'respond' to youtube videos with our own videos or have the Wii register even our clumsiest of motions.

Hains and Villegle's solution during the 60s was decollage in which they celebrated (and framed/sold) publicly lacerated posters of advertisements, but if you think about it, ends up as some capitalistic autophagic hypocrisy, so maybe that's not the best example. Decollage was also about active but silent rebeliion, the aggregation of chance moments of aggression, not so much about skill.

What Smith is referring to is the increased value of the work with the increased skill of the audience. Shouting at a Stravinsky concert is not very different from a youtube response because it does not make the piece any more fulfilling or worth more. Every Christmas a chorus of amateurs, the Oratorio Society of New York, congregate to practice and perform Handel's Messiah--this is what she is talking about. So how do we apply this to text? Perhaps what she is suggesting is to not read for plot or "the good bits" (because few musicians will jump to their favorite sections or play enough to simply get a rough idea of the piece) but to struggle with all of it, internalize it, ponder the multiplicity of the words, to have it become a part of your own discourse and dialog with existence, and the more we do so, the greater the pleasure and the value.

Thanks for the Hains and Villegle reference - I hadn't heard of them. I also completely agree with you about Zadie Smith, and what she says..

What I mean in terms of involvement in a medium is the navigatability of the medium -- the action I do to "play" the piece. The (physical, mental) action I take to play an artist's film is to sit back and watch, but the action I do to 'play' a sculptor's labyrinth is to physically walk through the piece, looking for an exit. I feel as if the difference between the action I take to involve myself with a book (versus a videotape, or a concert) is more of an active one, like Smith says. Not only is there a relationship between skill and value, there's also a sense of progress that is created by the self: the words won't create sentences unless you read through them, and the pages won't turn unless you turn them. A book is a series of static words/sentences, separated by spaces, in which the adventurer has to go forth and climb, jump across these textual and mental gaps in order to traverse it.

And in that sense, you're right on about the Wii (but less about the youtube videos -- the involvement of a video response is a contextual one, and not within the media). The intoxication of the videogame comes partially from the sense of power and influence created, as a direct result of action done onto the controller expressed in a reaction on the screen.

The Oratorio Society is a great example, but when they perform they become the performs of that medium, which was something different than what I was thinking. When we read books, we read them for ourselves, so the effect of interacting with the medium is that I struggle with it and internalize it, as you said. The Oratorio Society puts on a performance for others to enjoy. If they were all about singing for themselves in an enclosed room, with the motivation of truly enjoying the sheet music, that would be more akin to Smith's example, but by performing, they become creators as well.

In other words, I was thinking more about content that (traditionally) flows from creator -> appreciator: a creator creates the piece and gives it to the reader, who enjoys it. In some ways, music and film (and audiobooks!) are completed when they are given to the viewer, perhaps because of the dimension of time they contain. They flow and run, and the viewer's process of appreciating is partially about keeping up; the viewer is being engaged and (almost forcibly) progressed, and is the one being played. (An object, not an agent.) In contrast, books, sheet music, and video games are all played by the viewer; the creation comes semi-completed to the viewer, who takes part in the creation of literature, music, and interactivity by directly engaging and controlling the creation.

Having said this, I feel that interactivity -- content, experienced through co-creation -- has just been created very recently, in the last two decades or so. A while back, there was once a time when Smith's amateur musicians existed, before record players rendered them relatively obsolete. After that, there was a long in-between period in which economies of scale and yet-limited technology meant that content flowed one-way, from the creators to the audience. Smith talks about reading-as-amateur-musicianship, yet that sort of appreciation process is one that's sort of obsolete in a sense. It's akin to the idea of shouting at Shakespearean theatre, or the black church-going experience that many point to as the origin of call-and-response within jazz: a sort of community call-and-response with the creation. I don't mean to say that the former amateur-musician-era is necessarily a better method of appreciating media. What I really mean is that it's fitting that books are transmedialized into audiobooks: more than a technological conversion, it's almost a historical transition from the age of private chamber music to the age of professional recording.

The next step of interactivity applied to literature perhaps, is books as websites; with the equivalent of the promotional websites for movies. Maybe, an interconnected tangle of narratives without time, pointing to each other, mixed and uncomfortable and meant to be experienced simultaneously, like a piece of Trafalmadorian literature. Say, yeah, like Slaughterhouse Five, or Infinite Jest...

This was 17 years, 4 months, 3 days ago

As a rumination on what these past few days were like, a rumination of what Seoul is to me, what Korea is to me: what meaning it holds, the place it is, where it was.

Having done this oscillation as much as I have, spread thin over two areas like the ghosted-out-doubled prongs of a vibrating tuning fork, it still surprises me to realize that every return back is as... meaningful as ever, if anything. Meaningful is a good word, meaning-full, full of whatever there is that might be determined by endless ruminations on buses, walking invariably dynamic streets, underground subways seen with eyes growing more foreign then native...

I suppose I'll say a million things before I find the core of what I really want to exhale, but this is part of it: that people change, countries change, I've changed and no longer feel at home at a place I used to claim as mine. To articulate the sad and perhaps obliquely spectacular fact that homes slip out of designation, mentalities and identities slide from place to place -- and that whenever that happens, it should be worthwhile to mourn the passing and celebrate the new formation of a self, simultaneously, a cherishing-and-grieving-of-movement, without regret but with endless heaps and amounts of retrospection, globules-of-tears-like in their overflowing nature.

This is me, myself, with the knowledge that I have changed, Korea has changed, we're no longer fit for each other anymore, or rather, we're no longer with each anymore. But the result isn't a kind of warm-hearted eyes-looking-back-over-shoulder-turning-neck gesture saying 'oh, that was good, those days', a soft and fuzzy reminiscence cuddly in its passing -- it's not incidental-hearted but a deliberate and spontaneous laughter at time, for Time, an oh boy oh boy hyuk hyuk gosh gee look how we got here, look what got us here, are we all not, us all, moving, changing, hopelessly small against Uncle Change, usually unable to comprehend the degree with which we change, move, slide from time to time, grow and wither, and that all too sadly it's only when we come out of it, leave the state we were, that only when time solidifies after separation and shows itself post facto can we realize how blind we were to this changing, passing, and how we will be so unfailingly...

Here I am in a plane leaving Korea, nearing San Francisco, gentle turbulence tosses tousling my hair, looking out the window and seeing a far-off sunrise with the irregular, irrational, and altogether organic traces of cloud mass, a floating rocky skyline. A sunrise to the east traveling west, this jet shooting east, and a set of gradients growing in intensity, color breadth, dynamic range. As we start to converge I realize that I'm sweeping across dates, times, collecting in these outstretched wings a series of countless numbers piling up, ghostly images of LED numbers and analog arms layered like fish scales, gold coins, dry crumbs on a table, small leaves in the fall.

01/01/2007, 11 am Seoul time, 6am San Francisco time, 9am New York time.

This was 17 years, 4 months, 6 days ago

I spent the instant of new year's in the car heading home. The countdown started, and when the bell started ringing, the traffic light we were waiting at suddenly turned green. We cruised through intersections for the next ten minutes without stopping until we got home.

1. look forward.
2. look back.
3. look.
4. stay still.
5. move around.
6. try new things.
7. keep old things.
8. solidify and liquify.
9. orient myself firmly.
10. start running.

11. travel to a new place.
12. meet again.
13. > a book a week, for myself.
14. sleep more.
15. spend less, save at least half each month.
16. decide between the five I have in mind.
17. create: one complete set of words and one complete thematic set of photography.
18. share more, open up more. be more reckless.
19. (you know what.)
20. be good to important people.

21. stop this guilt, make mine mine.