Psychological Transit Notes, Across Japan

There was one of the perfect silences in the 100-Meter Gallery of Odawara Art Foundation. You know, the considered kind that includes a faint hum of air condition running at its lowest setting. There was no movement of air. This is what can be learned from the Japanese: Silence. The silence of deferring to the dao of all things, while doing what has to be done by playing one’s part, elegantly. The silence of recognizing each thing’s and each being’s part. The silence of doing nothing when all is done.

Watching the slim, immaculate fingers of the JR East clerk fly over a landscape of unlabeled, but color-coded hardware keys, each press producing the kind of satisfying mechanical click keyboard afficionados have been paying substantial sums for, I wonder whether his fingertips have already flipped open to reveal a set of spidery steel rods, inputting data with superhuman speed and precision. The clerk is wearing a short-sleeved grey button down, embroidered with the vaguely brutalist JR logo. His physiogonomy, attention and complete being could not be more focused. Around him, an assortment of laminated scraps of paper, highlighted katakana phrases, flyers and maps is taped into a Monet-esque array of tranquil color. The dynamic silence of faint office sounds surrounds us.

Everything is permanently going down. The only thing left for us to care about is how we and every thing goes down. This is why leaving small stone mounds along the hiking trail matters. This is why making good rice bowls matters. This is why optimizing your CSS grid matters. Matters of grace are actually this: matter. It’s in defiance of the universe that we apply attention and care to small things. It’s a gesture, and gestures are all we have. Put care and love into every move, in defiance of your insignificance. Create matter by claiming it emphatically and carefully. (On mossy rocks halfway between Hongu-Taisha and Yunomine-Onsen)

You look so grim, Craig said.

Psychological Bar Reviews (4)

Everybody and everything at Schuhmann’s Tagesbar appears to make an effort to contribute to a specific script, emulating mid-century day-drinking and one of the later iterations of the Leisure Suit Larry series of computer games at the same time.

Regulars line the bar on stools upholstered in oxblood leather, having crémants and trying to coax nightlife credibility out of the well-informed and strategically tattooed bar staff. The latter communicates like a disciplined sports team – orders are shouted across the room in shorthand language, matching requested drinks with staff members closest to the required appliance or bottle.

There is a short moment of silence, slightly moving air and long gazes. A party of three enters, surveying the establishment, a shaggy dog in tow. A short tour of the sparsely populated interior seems to end inconclusive and unsatisfactory: „There is no place for us here“, one declares as the group exits stage left.

The same moment, two women in sand-colored robes enter, their faces veiled. Nonetheless, they are recognized and treated to the usual: two slices of apple pie and two iced chocolates.

Underneath it all, faint bossa and tropicana muzak is heard and immediately forgotten, evaporating over ruby-colored drinks and a dazzle of miniature canapés, all traces of crust surgically removed from soft toast slices. Time slows in the most pleasant way.

Das Raunen der Stadt am Kanal. No sightlines, all sound, Wärme wie spät übergezogene Baumwolle in der Sommernacht, so ungewohnt auf den Armen. Alles Samt/Wildenbruchstrasse. (May 29-30th, 2017)

Dinner, April 18th 2018

Eine herausragende Mahlzeit im ernst in Berlin, deren Qualität und Bedeutung weniger mit der kunstvollen Zubereitung von Essen und mehr mit den beteiligten Personen, Produkten und Überzeugungen zu tun hat. Die klare Schönheit der Kompromisslosigkeit, noted for later reference.

Architectural volume sets me free. Something about the measured, decisive nature about the act of building seems to leave me in a calm state of mind. Event imagined architecture or music evoking vast spatial configurations affect me in this way. The oppresive void-weight of contained spaces frees my mind, as if its unfelt, but persistently imagined pressure is required to keep my thoughts together, to crystallize my brain and soul into a state of peaceful creativity. I wonder if this is a mere reminder of the only dream I can remember from my childhood: A gargantuan black ball of infinite mass and heaviness rolling or falling, ever coming close to destroy a small potted plant, but – to the best of my knowledge – never actually doing so. I remember the feeling of tremendous weight converging with total weightlessness. Complete stasis, black float.

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