Sorry for the lack of postings this week, dear readers. I’m back in Port Dickson after 10 days in KL. My trips to the city always turn me upside down, inside out. The first thing that greeted me when I got home on a rainy Saturday night was the sound of a cricket in the garden.
I don’t hear the crickets in the city. But I’m sure they are there.
Also in the city are weeds and stray cats. And fruiting trees. I noticed one in Taman Tun and made Zedeck jump up to grab a low hanging fruit.
It started bleeding sticky white sap immediately. I wonder what tree it is? Every neighbourhood should have an avenue of edible fruit trees – mango, mangosteen, rambutan, papaya, banana. Maybe not durian because they can be lethal.
This is going to be a totally random, grab-bag of a blog.
I went to Readings and listened to Zedeck tell stories from his book-in-making.
We argue all the time about the advantages and disadvantages of our respective art forms. What I envy about writers and their books is the total portability of their work. The ease of physical access. You can keep it on your bag or pocket. When people ask you what you’ve done, you can take it out and say: here it is. The whole thing, the labour and the craft and the dream.
On the other hand, writing it is a supremely lonely task. You can’t just have someone read a page in progress, not like you can show someone a sketch or painting study.
How do you make art portable? How do you fit the world in your pocket? I’ve thought about this for a long time. I think it’s why I’m making a video game for my Epic Project.
After Readings, we saw a huge mushroom growing by the roadside. It looked like a naan bread. Possibly deadly? It would be wonderful to have a companion guide to all the weeds and fungus growing in the city. I mean, not just for utilitarian purposes (e.g. to eat), but to actually know the city in a different way. Like seeing a friend (or enemy) in another light.
Me and Zedeck went to the bookshop and bought alot of books. Mine are for Epic Project research – anarchism and color theory. I love this part of art making – the learning. It’s like doing a university course in what obsesses you at the moment, only there are no exams, credits, rules or deadlines. The books become your lecture hall. The work is the laboratory.
I’ve dreamed about doing this all my life. I had a very hard time in school. I always did well enough get to through, but I never excelled. Just didn’t know what I liked or didn’t like. Mostly I was driven by fear of failure. But I wasn’t very good at failure either! Stuck somewhere in the middle. Dry.
I used to think about suicide all the time. Maybe everyone does. People like to call it teenage angst. Dismiss it. Maybe that’s why we keep such thoughts to ourselves. Lots of shame and guilt attached to those thoughts. Sometimes I would run my mind in circles, telling myself I was acting out a drama, that these feelings were all about getting attention, so I should snap of it. You know, be normal.
More and more, I think what we share is this element of knowing pain. No matter how privileged or destitute we are. First World or Third World.
It took me a very long time to find out what I wanted to do. I had help, luck, education, privilege, family. And it boggles the mind how much I still stumbled around, lost and dry.
All the way, the things that helped were books, art and being in love with nature. It was like a well that never went dry. It kept on feeding me, and still does. Being able to add to that well with my own work has been my strength and joy.
When I’m done making things and saying things, I’d like to build a library with a garden that people can use for free. Not a grand place with millions of books, but a modest little open house, with windows and open doors, where weeds can grow. It won’t be out of the way, it’ll be close to people, full of people.
Lately, me and Zedeck have been talking about whether we’ll stay here in Port Dickson. The short answer is: we don’t know.
There are many things still to do, for us. In the city and everywhere. Going to KL every couple of weeks fucks up the rhythm of my life, but I never wanted to be a hermit. No, me and hermitry don’t go. Art itself is basically a great way to be with people…
Hah! I like that. Forget about Art for The People, long live Art to Be With People.
This is a good house. It takes care of us and helps us do our work.
When I was in KL, we celebrated my best friend Poop’s birthday.
Here’s another one of us:
Poop is an engineer. You might say we’re diametrically opposed in all things. It’s a strange and beautiful fucking friendship. We were talking about my recent discovery of anarchism and how she felt she was growing more conservative as she got older. I said I’d rather hang out with a thinking conservative than a fanatic anarchist any day.
I didn’t tell her that a thinking conservative (or a thinking anything, really) IS an anarchist.
I also collected some prints of the photographs that were on the 7 year old roll of film I blogged about last week. Zedeck helped me come up with the title: Pickled Stones. Direct translation into Malay would be ‘Batu Jeruk’, which seems to mean live corals in Indonesian. Perfect.
Two of these are going to be in a fund-raising exhibition at House of Matahati next week. The proceeds are going towards MARS (Malaysian Art Archive and Research) – a non-profit research center for Malaysian art. I got a peak at the newly built wall-to-wall book shelves at the Center:
Isn’t it a thing to behold? The only way this room can get any cooler is when the shelves are all filled up.
That was my life for the past week, dear people. Fucking full to the brim. And I didn’t even include the family trouble.
How is yours going? Tell meeeee…