words written in the week of
September 11th to September 17th
in previous years.
This was 6 months, 25 days ago

nearly every day these days is spent by the water, feeling.

--

I can feel that when I am a flat piece of cardboard, that when my edges are smooth, that when am struck that the sound I make is like a dampened bell, a beautiful resonant object that someone is grasping, clutching, tightly, a series of thunks, that I am not here, not feeling the things that I am feeling.

for a moment I have known what it is to be truly be present and open, to be co-present and here with others, to open my heart ot the world, to myself, to other people in relation, and to have it be opened back. openess is magical. I feel like I was hurt recently in my openness. the anger towards me suturing my openess closed, and I fear that I have been hurt, painted, disappointed, hurt.

I realize i am angry. I am angry and disappointed and hurt.

I think I owe, I deserve more than this.

sigh.


there are the days and then there are deeper days, I feel like, somehow, the possibility of opening deeper days.

a whisper: it's always in you; it's always been in you; you can just let yourself be who you are. the magic of it is that we're always here.

so what does it mean to be here?

I am hurt. I am not willing to accept this reality. I am fearing. I can't accept it. what if someone said, "dan, it will be like this for the next year?" I would hold resignation, acceptance. my stance would change. I would no longer try fervently. I would leave the door open, send an invitation, and go about my business.

maybe we are where we are. maybe I can just accept where we are. my unwilling to accept this outcome is the generator of images that strike me, that hold me to where we are, that keep me beholden. and what is at stake when I keep this? when I hodl onto these stories of hurt? by holding onto stories of hurt, I am also holding onto stories of joy and meaning. not wanting to lose those.

the passage of time being what it is, it dissipates both joy and sadness. it washes those away. to separate and cleave our lives apart is to be truly sad, and hurt about this whole endeavor.

sigh.

what was I holding? holding onto these stories. not wanting to let them go. not wanting the past to be in the past. holding it, bringing it towards the present.

==

it is how it is it has been how it has been I am who I am you are who you are they are who they are

the present reailty of things is as present as they could be. they are ever persent. and they are what they are. and they will continue. the images and fictions I create are the cleaving of reality into another, the the model, the fiction, the fantasy, the form.

but we are also here, as we are. we are just here, present. look, and see. the stuff that is around us, is around us. open your eyes and accept the present, and aceptance looks like... leeting it down to rest, to sitting it down to be, to coming to terms. look at our lives in the film of history. the narrative arc of our lives.

==

something about this writing feels like it is surfing on the thoughts. it is thought itself as it is. can I step back? do I want to?

==

what does it mean to be present? I ask myself this a great deal recently, and know that I ask it in irony, because the moments that I am present I cease to be asking this question, the moments that I am not, the question comes to mind. it is a disappearing act, an indicator, a perfect representation.

presentness, however. sometimes I find myself wanting to snap my fingers, stomp my feet, look a friend in the eye. are we here? are you here? are we meeting in the plaza of our places? am I present, not thinking about the past or future, but just here; my mind's eye just synchronizing and being wherever I happen to be?

the moments in which I've found presentness feel incredibly sharp, vivid, open. a few weeks ago I wrote: "I feel like I can taste the sky in my mouth". I think that's still true, can still be true, is always true. when are we just here? when am I just, just, here?

the older I get I see how my self is created out of these patterns, and fears, and desires, and images. unsaid and unacknowledged fears flinging me into orbit, the strength of a rubber band that wishes to return to a place, a coiled spring holding energy. what happens when we take the spring out of its place, and let it be? it finds its shape. we are the shape we are?

what is satisfying and comforting about this is that I can see, and tell, that I am following in the footsteps of many people have been developing this practice. this is a well-tread road, in many ways, a road that might exist but that each person has to navigate, regardless, like falling in love, or breaking up, what having children must be. zippering into the experiences of humanity, for the first time, for the millionth time. presentness.

well. here we are. we are here, just doing what we are doing. it's all going to happen the way it does. this is not a call for nihilism, nor it is a request for anxiety-driven forcefulness that will bend the future to our utmost will. it is a simple articulation of how things are, pouring water on a table. it does what it does. we are who we are. when I am in the world I am interacting with a series of conclusions that I might foresee but I might not. we encounter them as we see fit. we are always improvising, improvising, improvising, improvising.

This was 3 years, 6 months, 25 days ago

wouldn't you know? it's everywhere, seeping into your pores and your friends' pores. sometimes I step back and take a look and wonder about white america, wonder about an america that's tried so hard to make sure that it doesn't have to think about whiteness, wonder about whiteness that is noticed as a conceptual aspect, wonder about white people who are for people of color but conceptually, "politically", in the politics of the voting booth, the politics of distance, the politics of articles, the politics of thought, the politics of non-action.

whiteness whiteness whiteness. the impossibility of articulating that the things most disturbing about whiteness are precisely those things that are the least visibility to people who are white, people who grew up in agreed-upon contexts that the best thing to do was to not acknowledge that you were white, or to not notice that you were white. most of my friends who are white suffer from whiteness. some do not.

friends who are white, when you talk about whiteness, seem to be crushed under the own weight of guilt, like implode in slow motion, and feel like these delicate giants, little do they know this ecology we live in. I remember the first time I came to the US and found that people wore shoes inside and thought that it could not be more brute-like - the sheer illogic and confusion of it all being so representative about white americans, shoes on your bed, shoes in the carpet that you'd then put your face on. how is this possible? why would this be desirable? somehow whiteness feels like this, a practice that seems incomprehensible and illogical, yet somehow that marches on dumbly regardless because it's how things are done.

this is new, this fresh anger or realization. it's anger towards myself, and my white adjacency. it's anger towards whiteness, not necessarily white people, and white supremacy.

it's also anger towards white people, mostly because it feels impossible to talk about race to white people, like it never goes well, people are defensive or angry or confused or silent, like touching a balloon with a pin, just so full of delicate potential energy that could, in a better world, be slowly loosened and relieved and sighed out and processed with care -- but in our present is held in the rubber casing of denial, gentle equilibrium coddled in its form to not be altered, disturbed. and what I see are pins or sharp points or surfaces everywhere. to follow the white balloon is to make sure you stick to the paths that are smooth and easy.

will I ever talk to someone who is white about the whiteness that I see? the whiteness that I see is like a dark cone emanating from the back of a head, the angle of the cone around 135 degrees, wide and flat and extending into the distance. it's as if: anything behind the head in the not-visible zone is framed in darkness. and as the head swivels, this cone swings rapidly across the space, impossibly fast, casting some other part into shadow -- while the precise opposite is fully visible.

with this black cone, to see is to assume that the rest of the world is cast in shadow. of course, the person doesn't understand that it is their seeing that casts the shadow in the first place.

==

take care of yourself.

This was 6 years, 7 months ago

[from a letter:]

someone says: this place is like a dream, a lucid dream, and the more you talk about it, the more it will fade from vivid memory into spoken language. be careful and aware of how much you choose to do so.

--

in no particular order:

climbing on a giant set of table and chairs
watching a giant (50' tall) metal woman breathe
climbing on a giant metal geodesic dome 
watching a person be strapped into a rebar sphere and being rolled around
flying above black rock city in a tiny four-seater plane (pilot: "flying in a small plane like this is like ice skating; we'll skid around")
talking to chico, a native american from the southwest, about a ritual around a mountain lion that visited him on his property, which he believed to be the spirit of burning man
days later, doing an aztec dance hosted by chico, which culminated in running and jumping around in a large group with fifty other people, holding hands, dancing around hooting and laughing
riding bikes on the playa for the first wild evening and feeling the technicolor sensation of lights and sounds envelop me 
giggling with a dear friend after a short and sweet hit of laughing gas
sleeping in a giant cuddle puddle with dozens of people for a few hours
waking up and pedaling out towards the deep desert in time for the sunset
in the middle of the desert, standing in line, freezing for soup, and having a stranger gift me a blanket
stumbling upon a yoga session at sunrise, and doing yoga with dozens of strangers while twenty skydivers parachuted into and past the rising sun, to the sound of a piercing violin
doing a super intimate and personal dance with a complete stranger - locking eyes with them for minutes and dancing around to the rising sun
exchanging notes and wishes for their future self, to be opened after burning man is over
dropping what I was doing to push a stalled car for strangers until it started
sleeping in a hammock camp for a few hours
giving a silent hug to a sobbing man in the temple
sitting in a barbershop chair in the deep playa, listening to soothing friendly voices coming out of a speaker
flying kites in the deep playa
handing a kite to a mother and her son while walking the path of a labyrinth and seeing them become happily joyful ("life is good", she said)
stopping for hot dogs, and getting an unexpected rune reading 
bumping into a friend at center camp out of the blue
doing contact improv for the first time, to moonlight, on the 12-hour wait into black rock city
doing contact improv for the second time, in the middle of center camp, on a relaxing morning
biking through white-outs (sandstorms) where you could hardly see ten feet in front of you
watching a seven-year-old girl who was gifted a violin try to make her first sounds; seeing strangers get together to try to teach her how to play
high-fiving people biking by on the street
dancing and dancing and dancing
crawling into a sculpture and finding a tiny hidden room inside of it
talking to art-car makers about the intricacies of their practice
jumping on a giant typewriter with strangers in order to spell phrases
lying underneath a giant technicolor net listening to classical music
lying in a geodesic dome on top of other strangers watching a wild, psychedelic film
sitting and meditating with a wind-turbine, drones, and gongs
climbing a twenty-foot tall structure to jump on a trampoline twenty feet in the air
building and raising part of a geodesic dome pvc structure together with strangers/new friends
pedaling on a bicycle+snow cone machine to create snowcones
helping camp neighbors build their tent and gifting them all the things they needed
walking to the Man the first thing after we set up camp 
getting my feet washed, then washing others' feet; having meaningful conversations about architecture and circus work
a cooler art car, an anglerfish art car, a shark art car -- all of the art cars
going to a japanese rope bondage workshop
going to a series of science talks about holographic black holes and high-level abstract mathematics
watching a hydrogen blimp fight, in which the losing blimp gets lit on fire, hindenburg-esque
watching fire dancers and spinners twirl flaming chunks of kerosene past their bodies
eating pickles and dancing to soul and funk at 5am, having run into a friend
playing on a drum kit in which the shouts of children was the sound of the drum
a fire breathing dragon
ringing a gong made out of bicycle wheels
being accosted by the tutu police on tutu tuesday for not wearing a tutu / wearing too many clothes
the gentle hilarity of a a scrubby bubbles art car
an icebox/cooler art car
a desert island art car, complete with palm trees
a soup can and cracker box in the deep playa
a sign saying "private sign - do not read"
wandering into someone's camp and falling asleep there
watching lamplighters ceremoniously light a path from the Man to the Temple
writing a note on the Temple for a friend who passed away in 2014, to be burned with the eulogies and desires of many others
watching people dance over and around the coals and ashes of the Man
watching a mechanical arm-tank grab a bicycle parked in the middle of the street and crush/demolish it to pieces
a fire-breathing octopus art car
a golden toilet in deep playa surrounded by fluttering black straps
playing with poi
sharing snacks with everyone
talking to the woman whose college daughter didn't want to come and whose passion is music
talking to phi whose passion is coaching and education and who found it in sales
sleeping in fc, the poly camp
helping people put up hexayurts 
giving cash to israelis for coffee; having them gift extra coffee to others
deep oxytocin hugs in the sunrise
biking with home sitting on th cross bar
talking about architecture with bo while running around on the playa
watching a giant pendulum trace fire trails in the ground
talking to a pink-haired girl about the joys of fire and creation 
talking in a diner in reno about our expectations and desires
huddling in a group about desires for our burn, exchanging thanks for spending it with each other
talking to the angels of the playa and witnessing a surprise blessing to adrienne
finding bo sleeping at hushville; running into mikki and waking bo up, then sitting to talk and chat and catch up
chatting up an absolutely gorgeous cute woman at the blimp fight
a cat art car with hundreds of floating balloon lights as its tail
people on stilts, walking by here and there
capoieira backflips on a sunrise playa, shane right
chatting with an asian american politician - e. m. about land use and land trusts post aztec dance 
dressing up
baby wipe / wet towel showers
dust everywhere
like, everywhere
watching the temple burn, in silence, and hearing collective gasps

etc.

--

The taste in my mouth I am trying to describe is the sensation of the playa, at some ungodly hour, where everyone is either dancing wildly or searching in a hovering, dazed state for some place to crawl up and sleep into. the night is chilly, and half-active. It's as if each party full of dancing bodies creates these spheres of activity or presence in which, for those within its power, time pauses, stretches out, holds still. when you're inside the sphere, energy is infinite, the nightscape and the moon and the bright stars withdraw away, and nothing remains but the music and your body and the bodies of others, in one collective celebratory mass.

at this night, however, these spheres remain but are just shrunken in size, withdrawn, dotting the landscape of the playa like little isolated worlds of activity. I know that, if I chose to do so at any moment, I could bike out there and plunge into another world, or another, all wholly different from each other.

tonight, however, these spheres are tiny and distant, and it feels like the night bears itself down with full force. those spheres like small warm living rooms on a winter night, but between them is just myself and my thoughts, laid bare with nothing but the impossibly burningly bright moon and stars to hold witness.

so I wander a little bit. the playa feels rushed a little, like everyone's hurrying towards shelter and sleep, maslow's hierarchy of needs finally coming into play. nearby, at a camp called pink heart, I wander into a main tent of a cuddle pile, full of twenty or thirty other people in various states of sleep. I find a corner, settle in for the night. the sensation I'm feeling is of the 'provisional', or 'temporary', or 'necessary', a kind of soft urgency without danger, maybe more of a plodding magnetism, like the kind that calls you towards your bed in the evenings at the end of a long, long, day.

In a few hours, I wake up half-cuddled next to someone else, my face buried in his/her white fluffy coat. I stumble out, bleary-eyed, tumble onto my bicycle, start racing towards the deep desert playa underneath a greyish-pink sky

--

at the edge of the universe, there is a small shack. with a few other people, you stand in line for soup, or cider. you freeze, shivering, as it's almost near freezing. someone runs up to you and asks, almost demandingly, if you are cold. and as you nod without thinking and say, well, yes..., they shove a wool blanket into your hands and run off.

suddenly, your friends walk by, even though it's an hour's walk from camp, serendipitously, because this is burning man.

your hugs are extra long and full of extra warmth. together, you watch the sun rise, slowly, jamming hands into pockets and braving the desert chill. the sun is unbelievable, an image, too beautiful to behold, almost, not even worth describing with adjectives, adverbs, or anything other than dead fact:

there is a sun. it rises above a desert. there is nothing else in the desert other than miles of dust. right now, there is a sun in the shape of a half-circle, bisected by the horizon. before it was dark and cold. now, your face, like everyone else's face, is warm and glowing.

an art car in the shape of a giant spaceship nearby amplifies a violin's slow cry onto the landscape. the performer's mother, it turns out, just passed away from cancer. to the violin's mournful aching drone, dozens of people stand, stretching their body to respect the world. suddenly, you look up: ten, twenty skydivers parachute from the sky, fluttering down effortlessly, and coasting onto the playa dust on some sunrise morning so gloriously fresh and newborn that it feels like the new year.

and then: you hold hands and dance with a stranger, eyes locked together, boring into your soul. and then: you meet a friend's friend, share a long hug with her that feels like weeks, in which you listen to each others' breathing, inhale together, exhale in unison. you imagine this place a as a lucid dream. you watch new friends do goodbye backflips to each other. you bike back alone.

--

oh, a. I am too exhausted to be able to write everything down; I am a dry sponge that has soaked up so much of this world that I am now unable to distinguish between experience and self, unable to articulate stories because they all approached me as one spectacular mindbending euphoric encounter. I don't know how to explain what it feels like to high-five strangers and hug for every introduction; for serendipitous magical moments to happen continuously; for people to walk around gifting, over and over; to have the sensation of building something together, of complete and utter awe at projects and art so intricate and carefully crafted...

* * *

(Sep 10)

And now: I am back in NYC. I am well rested, after a shower, and food, and all the delights of civilization. Everything seems strange; people are dressed similarly; there are no naked people walking around, no hugs, no smiles at strangers, nobody jumping in to help you with anything.

Already it seems: did that happen? Did that week in the desert happen? Did I really fly kites in moonlight? Watch an impossibly bright and thick net of stars? Was anything over there real?

I am disoriented a little, happily tugged off kilter, and it also means that this city (and myself) seems so new.

This was 11 years, 6 months, 28 days ago

on a good mood, riding a wave of air. tonight tonight tonight tonight. nothing else but a sense of going forward. I'd love to argue against this guy at this lecture, say that this approach to parametric architecture is as normalizing as ergonomics, pick apart the "we" and the "us" this guy keeps on using, and I raise my hand but don't get to speak but it's okay and I go back to studio and talk to people and I can feel ideas spouting out of my head, like a blowhole, here and there, and I know that I am so preciously in a little petri dish allowed to make experiments and be messy and stupid, and it's this wonderful zone of protected controlled freedom, and I need to remember that always, that I'm here because I want to be free and learn more, and if I ever ever feel stuck at any reason then it's because I've lost sight of the initial motive, which is to have this spirit of flexibility, experimentation, playfulness, or perhaps a rigorously playful drive towards, onwards, and so on.

This was 11 years, 7 months, 1 day ago

ice melting into oil.

this is what came out. I'm not entirely happy, but not unhappy either. it's just that it relies too much on aesthetics, maybe? it's maybe too obvious, or maybe too straightforward?

This was 11 years, 7 months, 1 day ago

when in doubt, start sloppy. just shit it out. I'm constipated, a little.

songs to tide me over:

(so the real question of all of this is sacrifice, maybe. do I let go, give up, close my eyes and smile wryly and let things pass away? maybe what I need is to give up brooklyn and everything that it entails. maybe I need to loosen up and leave part of me behind. isn't that what part of this was about? a loss of the self? icebergs breaking apart in the deep deep night.

or maybe it is best worded as meditation, a clearing of the mind. joseph knecht in the glass bead game. to partition away part of my life as having-been-lost, to let it go, to let it go. ships sinking in the night -> ships entering the suboceanic landscape.)

added later: there are bigger things than this all. time to crash and smile through all of it. remember: you're only doing this because you want to.

okay.

--

step #1: what matters is me, my own comprehension of the visual grammar with which I explain. let's embrace barthes' third meaning and use it as a tool. grasp it and strike out with it. maybe there is something to be said with the obtuse meaning, the punctum, within a diagrammatic context? is there an emotional valence that is precious within a little tiny hermetic infographic system? let's try it out.

rule #2: If i have a fun idea at the last moment, don't be tempted (unless it's especially brilliant, of course). The romanticism attributed to the spark of late-night ingenuity is also another excuse for a lack of commitment and a hesitation to dig deep and to keep on going down, down, down to find subterranean gems down there.

This was 12 years, 6 months, 27 days ago

are things still broken? not sure.