words written in the week of
August 18th to August 24th
in previous years.
This was 8 months, 17 days ago

i wake up in a tent. this is near the end of this journey; a journey that existed in canyons, rivers, oceans, mountains, deserts; in solitude and with friends and family.

were there any defining moments? many. but what I found, and what I sought to find without realizing it, has been a slow and steady feeling, seeping up through the pores of the earth, like small streams of snowmelt suddenly emerging from the earth, clear trickling water running fast and proud, messengers of change.

the question I keep on repeating is: “what’s at stake?” The answer that continues to emerge is: “a life”. And after these questions are “how”, or “what does it taste like”. which turns do you take? How do you navigate? how do you decide how to move?

In this trip I have left up most of it to neither intellect nor emotion, but something like a spirit, or a soul. what direction calls me? when I look at a point on the map, and some part of me whispers, “what if we went there?”, I get interested. When another part of me sighs and starts coming up with logical reasons why we shouldn’t go there, it’s usually a sign that the soul or the intellect, maybe sometimes the ego and the psyche are in conflict. on this trip, I have let the psyche drive. and it has been pretty magical.

the emotions have been helpful in understanding my capacity. what am I okay with? how do I feel about this? what I realize is that the emotions cannot tell me where to go, but how I am resourced to go, channeling the wisdom of the self into a felt sense that warns or empowers me onwards.

the intellect has been helpful in understanding strategy. what should I be prepared with? Which route should I take? The intellect, too, can’t tell me where to go, but can advise me on what I need, what gear I might take, road conditions, weather conditions. Listening to the intellect too much makes me spin in fascinating circles around possibility and limitation, opportunity and scarcity. “We could”, it says endlessly. Listening to the intellect too little makes me rush a little foolhardly into situations. But by and by.. it’s time to take the intellect’s megaphone away and replace it with a small lapel mic.

Listening to the emotions too little makes me overextend myself. I become a distended balloon, temporarily inflated, and will later make wheezing or wailing sounds when I deflate, the emotions I haven’t felt into manifesting all over, time-delayed by hours, days, even weeks and months. One relationship I started mourning a year later. So it goes. And listening to the emotions too much; well, there’s a distinction between listening and following. It’s important to listen fully, to notice fully the emotions that are present; that way, they are accounted for, available, understood, recognized, loved. But to follow them too much is to be swept up by the logic of the storm; the storm is when hot air current meets cold air current, and suddenly emerges, torrent and gale, so very present, and will also die out and dissipate into nothing, later. The emotion will pass, if given due recognition, but to follow it closely is to live a life like a torrent; unpredictable, chaotic, dangerous, but of course, vivid, beautiful, special. This too is part of nature, and so is change, injury, loss, death, grief. And in so far as we are part of nature, it’s also in our nature to resist, or to avoid, and to find safety as much as possible. To follow an emotion is to become a force of nature; beautiful and unsafe. Ultimately, the nature swallows you up. You are in the throes of the storm. To become powerful nature is a terrible curse. To be human is to live a humble, beautiful life. And fortunately, humans have been living with storms, both real and emotional, for millennia. There are ways to live that we can learn if we learn from each other; follow some paths that others have gone.

And listening to the spirit? The soul? Well; to listen is to be alive.

On this journey I have met with experiences. In the stillness of nature, in the stillness of wilderness, I encounter the earth, and myself. I cry for the earth, and it allows me to cry for the earth inside of me. I ask it; “how could you live?” and it responds with love, and a compassion that confounds me at first, so utterly generous; “they, too, wanted to live; they were traumatized; having been conquered, having lived life in a way where they conquered each other, and even themselves, they knew only conquest; did not know how to share, how to coexist. what can you do, children?” A grandparent grieving over two fighting grandchildren. I see for a moment, the vastness of earth, the wisdom of time; this thing I am part of, that I live inside of, that I will die inside of.

I want to die well. This is a life of dying, of gradually growing old, of changing and transforming in the process, and eventually a death. I’m going to die, one day, hopefully at a ripe old age. If you walked into a casino with play money, wouldn’t we have more perspective? With suffering, but more joy, more perspective, knowing that the vissicitudes of life bring us all towards the same ocean, whichever forking stream we take? Or is this the simplistic musings of someone currently without spouse or kids, whose parents and sibling are alive and well, still? I think the truths here are clear; I foresee them transforming when I again begin to love someone equally more than I love myself, when my heart exists in others, when I’d trade my death for another’s life, when my love would try to knowingly deny the world’s truth, futile and inevitable yearning towards timelessness. right now I am present, and grateful.

Before I lose this thread, this feeling: I am in a tent in point reyes, California, august 21, 2023, listening to the sound of the waves in the distance. In a moment I might walk out to dip my feet, do a meditation, pack up, and return to meet a new friend. but in this moment I am present, still listening to this fading feeling. Here I am; here I am; here is this life; this is a life, your whole life, my whole life; that’s what’s at stake, a whole being, a whole way of living, carved out of time like soft sandstone, like the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde, all ways to live. What’s at stake is a way to live, and an alignment with it allows the world to burn bright, the windvane to spin excitedly and freely, turning to angle into the wind, into the wind, into the wind, into the wind.

This was 1 year, 8 months, 22 days ago

something happens when you encounter a crowd, drift slowly around it. the pace is still. the rhythm (do you hear it?) is consistent. our body moves, smoothly, as if through water. circling a crowd, do you remember, of sitting and noticing, standing, settled, looking. do you remember it?


a slow circumnavigation. settledness. a confrontation. almost a dare, I might say, a kind of soft aggression, an invitation: meet me here, I wanted to say, come at me, or come be present, we are here. can you feel it? you're here too; we're all just pretending not to be, but can you feel it? an energetic invitation amidst this all, like a glacier, slow and heavy. not so much a come-at-me but a come-with-me. or perhaps it was a do-you-dare-to, do you dare? do you dare to be here? (do I?)

the answer is a slow yes, an actually, yes, a fucking yes, I fucking dare, fucking dare me, me fucking daring me, (a kind of ---- letting its way slip out that I might misinterpret as anger but perhaps is some kind of self-power), a kind of why-the-fuck-not, a kind of what-do-we-have-to-lose, the royal we, the conglomerate of us, the kingdom of our objects, the family of our internal systems, why not, why the fuck not, why the FUCK not

underneath it all, I have said, underneath it all, underneath it all, under the stones the beach, under this perhaps the sense of raw being, of life, the texture of it, life, london, this moment of june, or august, of the rawness of the thing we get to feel at a moment, here we are, this is it, both diaphanous and massive at the same time, warm to the touch (heated during the daytime) and paper-thin that you can sometimes miss that we're seeing through this, this presence, here it is, the materiality of it. does it get thicker over the years? more opaque, so that at some point we have cataracts, neither seeing the world but seeing the layer itself? do we know how to focus, take care? can I hold it between thumb and forefinger, hold it up to the sky as if examining a moon, a thinly cut slice of radish, examining translucency and transparency? is it possible?

am I free? I think the question goes, am I free? the answer is yes, yes, yes, I will forget this, but it's yes. the answers are usual I think. nothing to do but to be present. nothing to fix but to feel the things I'm stopping myself from feeling. this is a day for being here and noting what's available, the journey into the self, the journey into the world, all of it. if I want to ask 'are you here?' then it's probably some of me that wants to ask this of myself. am I here, taeyoung? am I here?

is this what it feels like? what did I want? a drumbeat in the distance? a distant siren? something cataclysmic? something emphatic? something to clarify that I'm Doing It? every turn looks like a curve at some resolution, I present in 2016, to a crowd that seems to not understand what I am trying to say.

I want softly to walk around at night with them, is what my heart says. I want to be free from this all. (you are already, a voice whispers.) I want to jettison, to learn how to now, truly, let the connections I cared about settle, to let them fall away. I want to live a life, something with soul, and meaning, I want, I want, I want, I say, and of course the answer is always in the present, that this exists, to notice the energies that are present, that are already here, that I don't need to go anywhere else to find what's already present, and thus I can go anywhere with where I already am, lessons that will return over and over again, ebb and flow, in well-worn words and cliches because the lesson sometimes lies not in knowing the path but by climbing it, well-worn metaphors to describe common questions.

(there's nowhere else to go, you're already in love, T, those doors are NO, Normally Open, all you need to do is nothing.)

the rest of my lifetime, asking: really? but really? but really? but really? but really?


what did you find there, what have we wrought, where could we go, what do you know already that you want to jump into, what portends, what beckons, what is around the bend, what paths are unexpected, what does a wrinkle consist of, what is a knot, where did it go when you untangled it, where did it come from, who wants to ask these questions, who wants to answer them, won't they always be here, what will I eat in the meantime, dear, what will we eat?

keep on going, it wants to come out, wants to emerge, let it spin out, spool out of my fingers onto this presence, a moment on the stage, an event to coalesce, keep it churning and going, what might be existent, let's talk about it, a moment to talk, a moment to head into the wake, to confront it, to actually pin it down and look at each other in seriousness, to invite us all inwards, inwards, into the present, into the chamber, the container, we could be here if we wanted to, to stomp my feet to feel the action-reaction of the earth pressing upwards against my foot bone spine to let myself know that I'm here, you know, the solidity of the self, the reality of the present, the groundedness of realness moved not by easy opinion or weightless words but by the solidity of my body and the limits of the self, what's real, what's present, what's truthful, what's honest: to dig into it together. because: why not? what do we have to lose? why not?

This was 9 years, 8 months, 21 days ago

for a moment it's like: smiles, lapels, patterns, a dim room with a guitar, people piled in, listening with hushed tones. where is this? philadelphia, portland, san francisco. a good-bye to a house, this thing, it feels so otherly, also something very familiar and body-worn, something that makes sense yet is not part of where I am, to a certain extent, and so as I drift through this scenario saying hello to good friends who I haven't seen in a while, I wonder a little bit about where I am, if this is still new york, if these people think the same way I do, if tonight's bike ride home with blinking lights and helmets will be the same for you as it will for me, which is to say, passing by a series of group-chatter dissolving themselves away on the sidewalk, saturday eve, brooklyn, parties dissipating into the air, the sobering effect of night air, summer cool, bicycles that are startlingly faster than you remember them to be.

the question I have is of age, kind of, and tenderness, and the other side of ambition, or not, or a public face, or being in a phase in which how one is perceived alters how one is perceived. the language that you use affects the language used for you. I am afraid of finding keynes' beauty contests everywhere, discursive notions of beauty being more powerful than self-directed desires, cliches being stronger than sentimentality, etc.

in the end it comes down to being interested, and being motivated, and being swept away by the cumulative and multiplicative sum of your sensations, and balancing your material nature with the intellectual/cognitive question of altering the world, to what degree, in what way.

This was 12 years, 8 months, 20 days ago

another thing:

being here doesn't give me any better of a perspective, it just gives me more of a specific kind of a perspective. there is no singular essence that I am accessing by being here. my experience of being present does not have some sort of primordial essence that usurps all other arguments. cue the dreadful anecdote: "but once my brother's friend who is from where-and-where told me that such-and-such happened to him, so this is like that." when the personal becomes projected onto the worldly, that's when you know that you've lost your sense of scale.

I keep on thinking of these issues in terms of scale, and in terms of emergent properties. there is person-level, people-level, and government-level, and every action or encounter has its own way of being evaluated within each context; emergence dictates that these things aren't reducible to singular laws. a single action operates at the level of a person, a people, and a government.

for example: rachel corrie. the second tragedy of the incident is that, fundamentally, this happened between two people, mediated by a piece of machinery -- and that this all becomes read at the level of people and a government, as if this singular event can epitomize the incident.

and so analyzed in this way, as if this is somehow exemplary. what is the lesson here? israel kills innocent people? naive americans legitimize terrorism? a person made a mistake? someone tripped?

it seems that the only solid questions left to ask are: was she seen? was it an accident, or was it deliberate? how dark is the bulletproof glass of the bulldozer? how loud is the engine? as if somewhere in the physical reality of the incident, some sort of deeper truth will be found that changes things at a people-level or a government-level.

and I come here and while it may sound snobbish I am glad that I have traveled before and that I have come here now; I feel like without any other context this place would be impermeable. at some point I would like to say: the streets are not dirty here. the traffic is not crazy here. of course there are misspelled english signs; of course there are imitation western brand stores; of course there are mcdonalds, or kfcs, or not, of course people wear jeans, of course the music videos on the television will be risque as all hell, of course there will be western cars in the street.

a perceived cultural identity -- that is, the belief in one's own cultural identity -- is not oppositional, it's not defined in opposition to another, but rather defined in opposition to the not-identity; like saying "what's the difference between malaysia and laos?" as if you were to pick and choose, or don't lament the entrance into mcdonalds into a country, or or OR OR OR

it is like a latent anger, this, I think. I think it is a frustration. things are not weird here, nor are they strange, nor are they surreal; any sort of learning will only happen when the self is denied momentarily for a sort of transparency, permeability. an opening-up. and has that happened? am I here? yes.

but only partially. I dislike analogies more and more, metaphors maybe but analogies not; no analogies to new york, to the us, to india, to south africa, to germany, to wherever. analogies are a way of grasping at straws, to condense information into an immediately graspable current that cuts off your ability to step over there, instead brings the there into here. dare I say: colonizes meaning? everything becomes related to something that you've brought here.

before I came here I looked at an arabic-lesson book purporting to teach you arabic. inside were all of these transliterated words and sentences: 'marhaba." "hawas". "kief halek." no arabic to be found anywhere. and I thought of the poor learner who would read and memorize this fully. armed with a collection of one-time-use phrases, they would pull them out at a moment's notice like playing cards from one's back pocket, only able to say phrases such as "where is the bathroom?" or "how much is this?" input => output.

the paradox of travel is that, having been here, I am the opposite of an expert on palestine, I regress more, I lose information and perspective. do you understand? I change. anecdotes become my world. palestine becomes a series of hills, towns, places, breezes on my cheek, laundry flapping in the air. squinting underneath the sun. palestine becomes this couch I am sitting on, the adhan ringing and ringing and ringing over the valley, the smell of cigar smoke in that cafe, the overenthusiastic boy who hands me some knafeh, the hellos on the street, eager throngs of kids who ask me, what's your name? and so on. I lose sight of the government-palestine, and the people-palestine, and I am looking at these persons.

This was 13 years, 8 months, 17 days ago

lightheaded, I stumble, and there's something in the air and this brooklyn sky is so dark after twenty three minutes of gordon matta-clark that's strangely moving, I smell the gasoline exhaust from a chainsaw, dust motes drizzling up and down in the sunlight.

I can't believe that I forgot this, but two years ago my friend J and I, walking around at 3am in the morning, stumble across this guy at the car-less intersection of 102nd and West End, standing in the middle of the street. He's in his late fifties, early sixties, with a stick in his right hand and a large bucket on the ground, and he has the air of someone so determined that he has tunnel vision, absentmindedly focused, directed. As we approach he swings his arm in a graceful swoop, something shimmers in the cool fall night air and instantly the three of us lift our heads to look up at a soap bubble that appears, all of a sudden, larger than anything I had seen, the size of a car, a bus, floating in mid-air, hovering and lit red and green by the color of traffic lights everywhere. And then it is gone.

He explains to us that he is practicing his bubble-blowing technique so that he could regain his Guinness record, that among the world he had many rivals, and while he had recently held the record he had lost it to a guy in Australia. One day this guy gets a VHS tape in the mail, nothing else, pops it in his player, and without an introduction, an image abruptly pops up on the TV of an enormous soap bubble, house-sized, building-sized, hovering still in the blue sky above a crisp green field. And below it: a gaggle of kids, running underneath it and chasing each other in delight, falling over each other. Meanwhile this bubble's calm, flexing, hovering, rotating slowly, shimmering gently, undulating silently.

I bite my lip. strains of mazzy star.

This was 13 years, 8 months, 19 days ago

Myoung Ho Lee, Tree # 10, Archival Ink-jet print on paper, 25x20cm, 2006

I've got about a dozen half-written posts about eating things, about desire as a muscle, about internalized literary logic, but all I have right now is nothing but a ocean-wave-like drone in my ears and the soft buzz of a glass of wine (or two). and I am sitting here, letting the autopilot of my hands take over, feeling the vertigo of words that come out that I may not control, mind retching stomach hurling tongue flaying in an altogether grotesque vomiting action. here it is. (points.) look at it. it is an allover painting.

there are a lot of people at home and while I do want to be friendly I miss the comfort of comfort, of me hugging myself on the train, I miss the lullaby of train tracks and the self-propelled desire and the arbitrary-ness of footsteps that I control.

Today it drizzled as I biked home, over the Brooklyn Bridge, stopped and walked my bike to let a parade of balloon-waving, chanting kids pass by, met someone I knew on the bridge, passed by. Yesterday on my way to work I bump into the scene of a music video, four guys in suits rocking out in front of a white screen, and it reminds me of the photographs of Myoung Ho Lee, strange displacement. Together this all makes me feel like I am in some sort of steadycam shot, where all so much action happens around the peripheries, the rich detail of everything-else so luscious and tastefully detailed, and in the midst of this all is just me, and my self, and my thoughts and feelings, and I navigate through this sequence, vignetted, very unaware.

Sometimes I look over drafts of various emails I haven't sent, for one reason or another, and I always like it when I fall asleep while writing them, because my face presses against the keyboard, and what ensues is a torrent of single letters which is my sleep, documented, sublimated into writing.

Here's an excerpt:

I am bursting with words but as soon as I open my mouth they dissipate into thin air as they were never there. dddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

This was 14 years, 8 months, 16 days ago

passing by ads for a movie it strikes me that the presence of food as something that conceivably rains from the sky means quite a bit, maybe. I say 'conceivably' as in that food is not like buildings or cars or tables, it's quite firmly in the realm of dogs/cats/frogs/money, things raining from the sky being already-made (not readymade) objects flying down, gold coins plopping on asphalt and wet mud alike. money is a good example of something inconceivable, inconceivable as being conceived, not-born but just-having-been-materialized. living organisms are born but the (nearly emotional) awareness of the concept of life is something that's neither gained in the knowledge of the birthing process nor in the biological processes (cell division, blastulation) that occur, the sort of emotional/perceptual distance between knowledge and awareness keeping itself afloat. perceptual distance is a good term maybe, sometimes called fetishization, spatially related to phenomenology maybe, the direct perception of space separate to the conceptual knowledge of the specific form of a space.

and if I know that (real) pork sausages come from ground pork stuffed into pork intestines, that even a relatively humane pork(ing?) process starts with birth and growth and a stunning/shooting/slaughtering and a washing of the blood away on a tiled floor for a good five minutes while someone in an apron and rubber boots waits with grim expertise for the convulsions to end -- and that then comes the butchering and the processing and maybe some washing/treating/marinating and then stuffing and then maybe some curing --- if I know of this process, without really having gone through it, I'm just only the tiniest bit closer to a knowledge of where this food comes from, and the rest is just magical appearances, might as well be growing on trees (but again life is another one of these things that holds this perceptual distance inside it, for us, for me), might as well be falling from the sky. this is the accidental luxury/event of my status as someone who lives in a country devoted to developing certain avenues of living that is devoted to this separation, this distance ('alienation of use-value').

more importantly the image I got instantly walking by this ad was of someone in a different economic/social context marveling at this movie, do they not know that meatballs don't fall from skies, or no rather yes I can guess that they don't literally think that meatballs don't fall from skies but is their relationship to food so precariously conceptual that it's possible to conceive of meatballs falling from skies, and maybe the closest analogy is for us having a movie that's about punches or kisses falling from the sky, not some magic love potion that _affects_ us but the direct object-related reifications of relationships floating down, a greasy translucent blob that sticks to you and makes you punch someone in the gut, in the face, judge I'm sorry but it fell from the sky,

and it's this perceptual distance that, on one hand, gathers up wonder and accumulates it until it precipitates into wonder and awe and excitement and the sense of travel amplified way beyond "eiffel tower" or "tower bridge" into an obsessive focusing-in onto the most miniscule of detail. the other day walking into a friend of a friend's apartment we all had this nugget (ha!) of a conversation with the doorman, enthusiastic numismatist maybe, speaking obsessively about two different companies specializing in numismatic certification. there's a certain refreshingness in obsession, the kind of fulfillment that takes an outline of a circle and fills it all the way to the center, having-thought-all-the-way-through, coming from this distance between understanding what a coin is what this guy feels about it --

and on the other hand this perceptual distance is the maker of capitalizations in the words Art, or Culture, and the corresponding repercussions are too dire to ignore, being confronted with this image to a degree that this distance is denied, truths held to be "self-evident"...

This was 15 years, 8 months, 14 days ago

what used to be a hiatus or an abeyance turned into a gap and a differentiation. to keep my eyes going and ways of looking going I've decided to take a photo each day, most probably on the iphone. goal; not to make but to generate.