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staring at a wall...

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the shadows on the wall just appeared and then disappeared again. the wall is now more about the cracks and the uneven spots. it is not a screen for thin stripes of shadow and light.

i would like to write something about the architecture of the chinese house. but all that comes to mind are my limitations in understanding. it might also take a bit more time for me to really understand things. it is dangerous to write without understanding?
but perhaps language itself is so imprecise that even the most understanding writer can easily be misunderstood. or misinterpreted.
language is alive. and language is ever evolving. words that sound harmless today, could be potentially deadly tomorrow. words that look friendly today, could potentially be dirty little animals tomorrow... and words that seem harmless to me, could appear without intelligence to those looking for my weaknesses.
and we should probably not fool ourselves that solid objects do not change with us and our intentions and understanding. even objects and houses and cities and countries are in some way connected to the way we want to see them. and the way we see things changes. it should change, i hope, it should probably change all the time?
some of the changes are very subtle. and sometimes the changes are massive.

it will take a really long time for me to understand the chinese house. it will take a long time to understand not the theory of it, but the reality, the true emotional meaning of it. and by the time i will understand it, it will probably be late in my life. i will finally know what it means, but that meaning will probably be a story i will watch disappear?
i do not know, i do not know.

the first time i arrived in china was for just two or three days. and i only saw and smelled the things i knew. everything was drenched in preconceptions. i had expected things i did not really like. and all i found were things i did not really like very much.
and most of the things felt somehow familiar. it was as if i had stepped through a magical door and had arrived at a place that was supposed to be foreign. but it was assembled out of things that i had felt before. and the more i opened myself to them, the more the familiar and the known, replaced the prejudice and the rational barriers.

slowly, visit after visit i was able to unfold my personal understanding of the place. and the wonderful thing was that i knew that it was incredibly important for me to do so. and the more i was able to unfold a china in myself, the more interesting things became.
i now might be at a point where i do not understand anything again. but i know that i need to give it all some time. i need to wait and patiently, wait for the next gate to open. and it will open. and i will probably forget what it was like before it opened itself.

almost like a child that can not stop recognizing words, once it has managed to learn the symbols that are letters. it is almost impossible to remember the world that was filled with unrecognizable objects. suddenly everything speaks. and it speaks not with an external voice. it speaks form the inside.
i guess as a child one does not understand that this is a path of no return (unless some tragedy strikes, of course.) but as an adult, i understand that the more i learn, the more i will forget how little i knew just a few days before. i will discover new layers of ignorance. i will discover new layers of non-knowledge. there will be new gaps. new missing pieces.
and the journey progresses.

i now barely remember what it was like to see the chinese house for the first time. i now barely remember what it was like to see the idea of the hutong. but i obviously know that i have not seen anything yet. i think the only time i have been to a proper court house was on my most recent visit to beijing.
we drank tea. and it was in a house of a perfect size.
it felt perfect to me.
but there are so many reasons why something can feel perfect.

the shadows on the wall are not coming back until tomorrow. near the corner of the room two little dots of light are the indication that the sun is out and moving across the sky.
i know so little. and i know that i know so little. and that's one of the biggest joys of life, i guess? i know that i am just barely beginning to see a surface.
it is a surface that has been scratched and it has been bruised by others.
so much to learn. so much to learn.
what is the name of shadows that are actually bright projections of light?


not writing it down.

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in the backstreets of GuangZhou

"hope you are writing this down. even if just for yourself."

i recently walked down a street in london and the shutter speed of the camera was set to 1/500 of a second. i thought that i could somehow sneak by a few minutes by letting the little machine have a very brief look at the world, all together not even adding up to a single second, and yet sliced in space in a way that could recreate a book blown away by a gust of wind if printed out and thrown back. into thin or thick air. air.

when i sit in a taxi and it speeds under a bridge that carries a train filled with standing people, in that very moment, going from one side of a country to the other. when we meet for that one tiny fraction of a blink. was it worth it? was it worth preparing for this one moment for our entire lives. and what if all these moments were familiar. like the face of a friend in a street somewhere in a place seemingly visited for the first time?

what if there were the anticipation towards that moment of passing. people in objects, moving in very different directions, at different speeds. lucky enough to meet. to overlap almost, if only seen from a distance great enough.

"see you next time" i have abandoned the idea of leaving any memory completely. a shadow of it will eventually find me and turn a gap between words into a trap, or a garden i did not anticipate.

or maybe both. maybe gardens are traps. and traps are made to be teachers or kind friends who allow to pull the world into a bitter, or sweet taste at the top of one's mouth.

the most lovely part of getting lost in the back streets of guangzhou was that my palate was remembering the stones of the houses. breathing in was more enjoyable than i could have anticipated just moments earlier.

like objects enclosed in objects, moving at various speeds into directions that are set by the gravity pulling on other objects. a never ending restless dance of little particles on a ball of spinning dust. there it goes.

i will try to sleep for an hour. the recording of a brass bell will remind me to wake up and walk into my evening that will look like bright day to a place i like to call home.

sleepy. perhaps that's the way to describe the split second that will follow.
my eyes are shaking.
because that's the only way they can see.

Fruit in the streets of GuangZhou


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Pinakothek der Moderne, a wooden necklace

after three weeks away from home, i am spread around the globe like fly on a windshield, except i am alive and will now reassemble myself slowly, before i jump off again.
first there was a week in beijing. and i have learned so much there about myself and life that i will need to think about it for a while, and maybe a while long enough to outlast me.
that is very possible.
the thinking i was pulled into on this trip to china was so fundamental and so deeply set in human existence that it is not something i can just simply put in words or write about as if it were just another occurrence.
not that i would write about any other occurrence here.
then the two following weeks were spent in germany, in some places familiar and in some places much less familiar. and the airline lost my baggage for about 10 days, so there was a very vulnerable quality to most of the time spent in bavaria and swabia.
i felt lost at times, even though i should not have.
and felt cornered, and angry. for no reason visible to the outside world.
so in a way this was also a very transformational experience, but maybe this time one i do not really understand enough to even interpret properly.

it is almost midnight on the first day of the first month of 2011. and i am awake as if it were around noon of the second of january. and my suitcases are still packed. i have not even looked at the pictures again that i took in the last three weeks. there is a hum in my head and my dreams seem to be straight out of inception's abandoned scripts.

it is incredible how i manage to throw myself into this similar state almost every year. it is not that i am placing any resolutions in front of myself. it is that giant shifts somehow happen around now. and it could just me that this might be the only time left for me to actually stop for more than a day or two and to look at my feet and the ground and the ground beneath the ground and to look at the sky beyond that.
maybe. perhaps this is the only time left when i can become a set of ripples in a pond.

and all of this will probably sound ridiculous to anyone outside. and it will probably all sound ridiculous to me in a few days from now.
but it will probably not make it less valid at this current moment in time.

Pinakothek der Moderne, a wooden necklace

like a not very well organized suitcase on a back trip, the collection of thoughts and observations allows for good arrangements, but only for those who take their time to make them.
and every little object is somehow related to another little object. the world is contained in each and all of them together as well.

in the past 12 months or so, i managed to circumvent the world no less than six times, a database told me. and yet i feel as if i were coming from the moon, and still the world appears a distant blue marble against the backdrop of the infinite soup of the universe.

i learn something tiny with every flight. i am getting better at selecting seats that allow me to look out the window during the day, and to sleep relatively undisturbed at night.
i try to select airlines that bring me to certain places in a certain way. and i prefer the ones that treat me in a certain way when i am on board.
the ability to make the choices themselves is probably the main luxury i managed to carve out of the experience of having been in the air so much.

there are always surprises, of course. and sometimes they are good. sometimes not so great. and every next flight is a mystery.
one plane recently was almost empty, probably because not many people like to fly on passover, leaving that to a particular breed of angels. then the flight coming back was so full because of the upcoming easter, that i ended up being pushed forward to one of the most comfortable seats. the ones that earn two chocolate bunnies per flight.

going to beijing next. on tuesday. for two days. and i know already that my internal clock will not arrive on time, and that i will be lost in a debilitating chamber of jet lag. 12 hours of time difference after an almost 14 hour flight. it is going to be bad. perhaps even horrible.
and i will need to be awake during the day. more than awake really.
what i am going to beijing for is certainly not sightseeing.

and in some ways i have been there for the last few nights already. a beijing assembled from little snippets of stories about the city, and even from whatever my brain seems to think about the world at large.
so what will need to happen is for my wrong expectations to trade places with over millennia assembled reality and for my old assumptions to trade place with completely fresh observations.

it happened that way all of the recent journeys. perhaps on all journeys ever taken?
oh yes, i remember it being much more difficult after watching too much television.
but for the innocent mind, the one that wants to see and learn all anew, the quote "Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it" still feels very valid...

and with the proper exploration of any little object really, the meta picture of understanding the world gets better and better. and it is the "better" in the emotional meaning of the word. i will never be able to assume any rational improvements.

and so my feelings about beijing are completely innocent. someone on the last call mentioned "we will feed you things you have never eaten in your life." and i know it is going to happen. and it will take me years and years for my mind to improperly digest them.

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