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.

Psychological Transit Notes, Kuala Lumpur

When I was a child, I would sneak from my room on saturday mornings, and switch on the TV. I would watch CNN World News, not catching much of its content, but savouring a diffuse internationalism that was lacking from my environment. It was of endless fascination to me. My favourite segment was the global weather forecast. It always included Kuala Lumpur, showing a hazy, grainy cityscape as filmed by some rooftop-mounted camera. The city’s name and its dreamy optics resonated with me every time, and I would give in to daydreaming about this place and others, that somehow were supposed to lie on this same earth I was beginning my life on. (03-31-17)

The specific south east asian rain poured down yesterday, observed from our condo on the 27th floor. The rain announced itself by a thick haze settling down in a matter of seconds, descending from the sky, filling the voids between arcologies. The light did not fade, but is dispersed, refractured in a different way. Then, the rain started. A grey veil, blending with KLCC’s monolithic architecture. With it come the lightning strikes and thunderclaps, feeling close, almost as if originating from inside our room. (01-04-17)

(Aus meinen Reisenotizen in Kuala Lumpur)


Neapel ist eine Art zusammengeschmolzener Klumpen der vergangenen zweitausend Jahre am Mittelmeer. Wohnhäuser, Fahrzeuge, Marktstände, Statuen, Pflanzen – alles ist Teil eines gleichen, texturierten Stadtmaterials. Vollkommen unbekannt ist die lineare Folge von Straßen zu Plätzen zu Bauten, wie man sie aus dem irgendwann in die Pläne einer aristokratischen Klasse gezwungenen Inneren großer europäischer Städte kennt.

Vielmehr entspricht Neapel dem unüberblickbaren Gewirke ostasiatischer Großstädte: geeignet, Invasoren zu desorientieren, ohne Unterscheidung zwischen Infrastruktur, Architektur und privat organisiertem Räum. Bauten sind Material, Ruinen sind Material, Märkte und andere temporäre Raumorganisationen sind Material. Via San Antonio Abate ist näher an der Jalan Tun Razak als am Place d‘Aligre. Neapel altert uniform, in einer gleichmäßigen Patina aus Sandsteinschmirgel, Schwärzung und Bruch; die Übergänge sind fließend. Mit jedem Tag schreibt sich das Gefüge der Stadt tiefer in sich selbst ein, Wildnis, Steppe.

Die Straßen Neapels sind der Ort der Performance (und der Ort für alles Andere), wie das häufig der Fall ist in Städten, in denen um vieles gekämpft werden muss. Was Stil angeht, fallen zwei Dinge auf.

Erstens: Die überzeichnete Silhouette der Ramones-Sneaker von Rick Owens hat in Neapel die subtilere des Converse-Originals abgelöst. In einer Art Möbiusschleife kultureller Referenzierung ist die Comic-Version des simplesten Sneakers der Welt hier wieder angekommen und zum Default geworden: Der 25-Euro-Fake eines Luxusprodukts, das vermutlich weder seinen ostasiatischen Herstellern noch seinen Käufern bekannt ist. Jede Altersgruppe trägt die massiven weißen Sohlen und den Zip auf der Innenseite – mutmaßlich ohne den Versuch, Status und Geld zu demonstrieren, sondern aus Lust an der Lautstärke, an Präsenz und Sichtbarkeit.

Zweitens: Pyrex‘s not dead. Das (Fake-) Echo1 von Virgil Abloh‘s Streetwear-Versuch hallt durch die neapolitanischen Straßen, das Momentum der Beflockungsmaschinen war zu groß, sie laufen weiter. Gemüsehändler tragen die Shirts zur Arbeit, ihre Freundinnen die Trainingshosen zu Pumps. PYREX, eine Reihe ziemlich guter Buchstaben, der Name eines Kochtopfherstellers, encodiert von Pushern und Tickern, gesampled, geflockt, gefaked, cargo-kultiviert am südlichen Ende des geistigen Europas. Semiotik kann schwindelerregend sein.

  1. Turns out: Das Label führt ein untotes Leben auf dem italienischen Markt, in größerem Umfang und vermutlich höherer Qualität als das kurzlebige Original.
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