post-London, mid-Tokyo

The more time I'm spending in Tokyo, the more I realise, about myself, the reasons why I came here, or, rather, they crystallise and become understandable when they suddenly have a backdrop to project themselves against. My interest in Japanese culture is not only a personal preference - although the personal is an initiator and a source of enjoyment - but also a desire to absorb a culture which has reached a similar point of saturation as that of London and my home in Sweden, only by slightly different means, guarded by a slightly different cultural background and seedbed for contemporary, mechanised and digitised life. Tokyo ended up differently than any other city, but it has done so without rejecting other civilisations and modes of thinking, like they tried to do (unsuccessfully) during the great lockdown of the Edo period.

Tokyo has been described as many things. In the office, we often speak of its multiple destructions as prerequisites for rebuilding and expansion. Tokyo had its earthquake, its firebombings, and its economic liberalisations. Quite soon after the introduction of the International Style in Japan, the foremost Japanese architects themselves began to search for a reconciliation of the traditional sense of "ma" in their architectural culture, with the advantages of contemporary theory and practice primarily in Europe and the US. Kisho Kurokawa, the wunderkind of Metabolism, was one of the first, and he never really stopped pondering on the question. Hence, the remarkable theoretical achievement of his latter days - the Philosophy of Symbiosis - emerged, but not alone. Kuma was doing Doric columns. Ito was embracing all kinds of tech and thought brought in by international trade, and Sejima unabashedly celebrated her roots in Mies. Somewhere else, yet precisely here.

The reason I am in Tokyo is not because I want to build Japanese buildings, or learn a Japanese style, and bring it back to Europe, like other young graduates before me have. That's not enough, and I don't think I'm alone. We were part of quite a large generation who left Sweden for our final studies, and in some cases, remained outside - for now, at least. I am one of them, of course, and I share many of their concerns. But, in the end, it has been important for me to pinpoint and formulate what I've been doing, what I want to do, and why and how I am doing it. Perhaps I am the intellectualist, after all. I don't aspire to make myself the theoretical voice of a generation, but I'm not so naive to think that my position does not resonate with others around me, what we learned and rejected, and what we are now on the brink of achieving.

I spoke about Kurokawa before, and of symbiosis. In a way, my own theory is a continuation of that, pushed further. I am starting to become an advocate of synthesis. Intellectual synthesis. Formal synthesis. Political synthesis. Cultural synthesis. Psychological synthesis. Partially this has arisen through my careful reading of Hegel, but I have no necessary need to follow his system of immediates and negations. I don't particularly believe in that. I am still interested in conflict, of course, that was the key aspect of my B.Arch project in Sweden in 2009, and I'm not shy of confrontation, at least not in terms of formulating a concept and a position from it. But conflict does not exist without resolution. Even if we take perpetual conflict as our preferred higher ground, new conflict cannot emerge without a reformulation of an old conflict, in short, a resolution, a synthesis. It's not a matter of stopping history, it's a matter of branching it, grafting it.

Another quote important to me is from an unknown author (unknown because I don't remember him or her, or have the book with me in Tokyo) included by Jacques Barzun in his mammoth achievement "From Dawn to Decadence." It simply stated the preference today for "salad bowl" over "melting pot." This is an unexpected counter-trend to technocratic globalism that has been brewing for a few decades now, culminating in tragedies such as Islamic fundamentalism and Islamophobia (equally deplorable). Architects are not responsible for this, but they're not innocent. They act or do not act in its wake, sadly, most of the time, unaware of the greater course of events. There's a danger of this "salad bowl." It does not breathe difference and idiosyncrasy, as was expected of it, rather it has given rise to polarisation, bigotry, hypocrisy, propaganda, opportunism - embodied, but not limited to, the Republican race for 2016. I do not believe we can fight such tendencies with a policy of unabashed pluralism, the "good side" of the issue. Great societal trends such as these tend to be accessible to all, and appropriated by all camps - "good" or "bad." We need, therefore, to address the root of the problem: the reluctance to go beyond pluralism, even beyond symbiosis.

At my final two years at the AA, I was relentlessly occupied with the idea of a movement and of a gathering point for architects, unaware myself of why I wanted to achieve it. At that point, it was a hunch, a feeling of something being out of order, rather than the fruitless search of a counterposition. I am more and more drifting towards the conclusion that movements, and the manifestos that go with them, are becoming a thing of the past. "Return to zero" (such as the philosophy of Pier-Vittorio Aureli, in my interpretation) as well as "forward the revolution" (such as Paul Mason's postcapitalism) may prove me wrong, but I consider them more romantic than operative, in the current climate. I believe the climate of future architecture and society has to be much more subtle than that, retaining the personal while approaching a new form of coherency.

I began my studies in a school heavily influenced by the British scene. My first forays away from its Swedish counterpart was the embrace of narrative and hypothetical systems of social organisation. I don't particularly find them interesting anymore as architectural devices, but I do find them important because, at the time, they allowed me to advance. Traces of them are still visible in most things I do. But now, I find it problematic the way these narratives were constructed, and that is actually something not exclusive to the British, to the heavily biased President's Medals, but just as much embodied by a now well-fermented attention to place, context, and history. I tended to reject context because the way it was employed was itchingly narrow-minded - restricted to the physical environment - and I similarly lambasted the concept for its lack of content, a sort-of intellectual stylism. But what's crucial about how both of these operate, in and out of school, is their preference for the specific. That was an issue I didn't see as an issue until recently, in fact, I was once on its side.

In Sweden, the specific was mobilised in the attention to site and user. Gone was the average man and the average city, architecture was once again tailor-made. I'm being a bit drastic here, but that's a reflection of how you perceive things as a student, and, similarly, how ideas are communicated to you by the more inexperienced teachers, as unclear minds tend to require clear directives. Consequently, I made specific architecture, specific form, specific programs, for specific clients and cities. It's not even a matter of the heroic, because the specific is everywhere - you just have to point it out. This, of course, is its greatest irony. Many architects today make a market ploy out of the necessity to respond to specific issue.

The introduction to more advanced - some would say free, although I would contest this - thinking in third year rather exaggerated this specificity than tried to modify it. This is crucial because now we're approaching the elite schools of architecture, at least in Europe. The most award-winning projects, the most nominated ideas, were, again, built on extremely specific situations, sites, programs, users, forms, and issues. I will not contest that the merit of the best ones were their capability to at least signify an universal importance to the issues attested, but an issue is one thing, a response is another. Specificity was high currency in the design market around 2009, when I graduated with a Bachelor's Degree.

The problem that I now find in this is its polarising capacity and celebration of difference without consideration of how this difference can be carried beyond its positing. Or, to put it simply, cannot architecture do something more than driving the celebration of the ego? By all means, we've seen a shift since the 00s, in fact, the shift began to happen already around 2010. The Venice Biennale is but a small example: Chipperfield's "Common Ground" and Koolhaas "Fundamentals" aim to concentrate rather than differentiate the field today - and this continues in 2016 with the more hands-on exhibition on successful applications of this theoretical tendency. At a school like the AA, we're still slightly split: one camp continues the specific, the other attempts to erase it, at the very least formally. It is telling that one of the nominations for the Medals this year is concerned with "the emptiness of the desert", de-programmed architecture, vast freedom. It was also the student's choice for that year's best project.

Meanwhile, the Bartlett, which I still remain entitled to comment on for my direct involvement with the lecture series, the students and many of the teachers there, both in projects and in conversation, continues to pursue their well-known recipe of "the universal in the specific", hence climate change remains the overall directive, while the projects are absolutely everywhere and precisely somewhere in the world, with equally precise graphic profiles and personal attachments. It will be, at the very least, interesting to see how the jury reasons this year - the AA has been noticeably absent from the awards for some years (although I am fortunately a good friend of our last recipient). Perhaps the shift will occur soon.

There's of course much more to be said of the schools and their agendas around the world - Columbia, Pratt, Mostafavi's Harvard, SCI-Arc, Rice, MIT, Yale (the maverick) in the US, Strelka in Russia, the Berlage in the Netherlands, ETH in Zurich, Tokyo Uni and Tokyo Tech - but I'm not so sure the issues I've discussed here fundamentally differ. The flavour might, but all in all architecture is quite a homogeneous profession, at least in the elite.

I am not yet capable of formulating a complete theory or directive for a philosophy and architectural theory of synthesis, so this small essay is mainly concerned with where we are today, what we're coming out of, and what we need to begin to question. What is clear here is that the board is set. Graduates all over the world are at a point, a very interesting time, indeed, where they must begin to question the way architecture is pracised - perhaps something which is even more important than the buildings themselves.

Patrik Schumacher's observations, disseminated for instance in his recent unapologetic lecture at the Royal Academy, are interesting as a form of embodiment of a time that went by and a time that we're now entering. Many of my generation tend to dismiss him - and Zaha - by making what we think are very clever comparisons between what we see in their architecture, and what comes out of their mouths, but he is very clear about one thing that needs to be said, and that is the recent neo-politication of architectural practice. Other articles, such as one on design criticism on ArchDaily I recently read (still the best aggregate website), point out that present society effectively allows everyone to be a critic - but without the professional responsibilities of being so. The result is not only a politicisation of architecture, it is an opinionisation.

The politic dimensions of architecture are nothing new - they have always been there, just as economics, e.g. how much money the worker is paid, has political dimensions - what's resurfacing is the perception that architecture now has both political influence, downright *power*, and that architects have the right to combine agendas which are decidedly partial - i.e. specific - with an universal phenomenon - the need for communal space. Cruder examples are the Occupy Skyscrapers, the "ISIS training camps", the counter-neoliberal rhetoric, and what cannot be described as anything but a sprinkling of political glitter in order to make a project relevant in this new climate. These are only examples I have had personal access too.

I am a child of my environment. I too absorbed the exciting feeling of being on the verge of a new era, the one where architects became activists again - spatial activists - and humanitarian resources­, not just in the developed countries, but everywhere across the world, proposing projects from peepoo bags to distaster sheltering to wartime protection vehicles, to interventions against slums, inequality, repression, and so on. It's even more interesting to note that projects such as these were equally lambasted by both colleagues and teachers a few years ago. I remember an interesting project at Lund which involved a scheme to deploy emergency resources in Palestine during the war - the critics hated the project and were convinced that it had nothing to do in an architecture school. Architects didn't do this. It was not their responsibility as architects. It is in this light we have to see the fairly recent criticism of Zaha Hadid's echoing of the exact same statement as regards to her views on construction workers' rights in the Middle-East.

Things have turned quickly, but so have I, and I'm sure many around me, as well. I saw this shift last year, and in a debate article I wrote this summer for the Swedish Association of Architects. The best manner to engage architecture politically is by doing so *within* our profession. Hence, I argued for the recognition of equal pay, equal opportunity, equal freedom, but also responsibility in the fields directly associated with our daily activity. My arguments were many, but two can be singled out: the necessity for architects to build a sound profession from within, in order to be entitled the responsibility to do so for others, and the proximity between expertise and reality (we talk about that we know) to counter blatant opinionisation. These remain relevant, I think, but cannot sustain themselves as main themes, any longer.

Like I said, these are the tendencies, and these are the problems. I could be content, as are many critics, with leaving it up to others to contribute to a way forward, but I am not a critic. I am a trained, practising architect, and it is as such I want to engage with the world. The need for a philosophy and application of synthesis has come to the fore very recently, but it is something, as you have begun to understand through this text, I believe will have a great effect on not just my own future, but that of those around me, my generation. I am looking forward to see us evolve.


Tori no Ichi, Hanazono-Jinja

Working hard, but not without time to stop by Shinjuku for a traditional Shinto market with drums and dancing, 20 different odours in 20 metres, rain, beer, little gifts, and of course the ritual hand clapping and shouting once a deal has been struck and good fortune is heading your way. Meanwhile, December is approaching, my last year as a twenty-something, and then: adulthood, responsibility, houses and gardens and projects of all kinds, no-one knowing how they will all pan out.

Meanwhile, the bohemian lifestyle I'm living in Setagaya continues with something as down-to-earth as taking care of the laundry. After a call to the host, I am confirmed that the washing machine is "on the roof", which I, getting used to the nuanced interpretation of English that the Japanese often have, interpret as "on the top floor." Wrong. It's actually on the roof, together with the air-conditioning units. Why not? If laundry's getting wet, why not in open air?


the shoes of a Suica card topup queue

The hour is late and the meal has been eaten. Time to go. Time to go. Sunday in the office seemed like a return to position normal, to the bus trips to Bedford Square and the slightly daunting task of considering the presentation for another jury, every jury the most important of your life so far. Because what you've done, everything you've done, led up to this point. Everything you've touched, loved, escaped and sought culminates in a twelve minute presentation, or, for that matter, the task of slowing down your head once the hour is too late - time to sleep.

We will always miss the things we've once had, but no longer have.
Like time-warped conquistadors, we remember the touch of home
once we're in the process of building another home.

I am starting to realise that the point of my life, my life up until now, is encapsulated in these blog posts. They're diaries, they're updates, they're mostly for my use, to remember, I was the one who wrote them - nobody else - I was the one who lived the life which was stored on these servers. Quite a bit of an ego trip - not that the past few years have made me more egoistic, just a bit more self-aware, in the best sense of the word.

So many things I'm doing which I thought I were not capable of.
Perhaps the outcome of all my challenge is to believe in the fact
that I'm capable of just about anything - only not
with the requirement of being good at it.


after the crêpes

My book project continues, slowly, mostly around the weekends, the only time of the week when I take some time off for other things than those that pay the rent. Meanwhile, I'm continuing other book projects by browsing through entries in the art term dictionary I bought (and almost forgot) in Kyoto. It's a good way to end the day, with some writing, some crisps, and some motifs in Edo-period landscape painting and square pillars framing the toko-no-ma of any good Sukiya-house. (This is by heart, so apologies if I have mixed things up.)

Tokyo is rainy and dour, and I make my way through the city despite the city advising me to stay where I am. November is coming out in full character, only another kind of November, one closer to Siberia than to Moscow. Europe seems far away. Japan seemed far away, but is now home, and as I slowly mend my life back into shape (and myself with it), the city tends to heal me, in whatever form it offers - sushi, soba, nihonshu ...

I have a poster I hesitate to put up, because I know that I will not stay long in this room which I now call mine. I am temporarily present, awaiting the moment when I have an agreement, a monthly schedule, a solid paycheck, and white walls I am entitled to repaint. Tokyo is fading away from being a wish, and is slowly replaced by fact, by comfort. I learn many things, as I am trained in the harder of schools. But I do it because I want to. The day I no longer want it ... I don't think it'll come for a long time. The blustery 20:s are fading away, and are replaced by something more solid. Cue dinner parties and pregnancies. Nothing to tell yet. I will not tell.


on my own (as I was)

I can speak freely again. Not just write. It's a good feeling, to not feel anything in particular. Or, maybe just calmness. The state of being in control not so much of the world, as of the self acting within that world, departing from the interior and evaporating fear as if it was a drug on withdrawal. You may still call me crazy, yes, even I prefer to call myself that way, but as long as I hear myself, I hope that you enjoy hearing me as well ...

The aircon keeps me temperate to the city around me, to Tokyo of present 6-to-6 sunlight and expensive night buses taking me from Shibuya to Ikejiri in the length of an extended Perfume track. The drastic nearness of Japan - will it ever fade away? Can we, at some point, say that we are as special as we think we are, as the city is, as it interprets the fragments of "culture" we are fed intravenously through our augmented nervous systems?

I'm lacking sleep. Perhaps I don't want sleep.

Bad electro injected into the headphones, the kind which is tasty in small doses, like candy, but always leaves you as empty as the bowl in which the special ramen arrived in after the meal is done and gone and the next 3D-print is launched. Suddenly, everything seems possible again, even the appreciation of these overwashed dubstep drops.

It's not so much that I am schizophrenic
as the fact that I prefer schizophrenia.



Gallery Ma

Coming home, to a tetrapak of lemon tea and a chocolate waffle I bought yesterday, and then ... bed. Bed. Bed. Bed. Maybe to wake up early the next day, maybe just to enjoy my latest book, listening to an album by my latest musical fiancé, and, yes, it would be a wedding if you could marry a song intro, but then, maybe it's for the best that music remains just something of a disappearance, perhaps the most unerring of all arts in its evanescence ... here, for a moment, and then. Gone.

Music helps us to understand what time is:
something always there, but measured in passing.

Tokyo continues to be a mystery that is slowly operating towards its own resolution, reflected in a misquoted conspiracy towards cramming so much intensity of all kinds in one place - electricity, the temperature of tears, that jazz and its posters rolled too hard, like all too confident joints off a shelf in Amsterdam (where I forgot my gloves).

Bought a book in Kyoto, a "Dictionary of Japanese Art Terms." Good deal. It is bilingual, so I am able to learn a bit of Japanese as well, or, at least, to brush up my hiragana and katakana reading speed. Always useful. Now to transfer my dreams to Edo, rather than Tokyo, to the dead, rather than the living - if that may not sound too rash - and to music, where architecture falls back and disappears. Tranströmer knew it when he wrote his analogy on the rocks falling into a glass house, crashing through, but leaving all the panes intact.


notes from a lecture that never happened, in a city that never existed, from an author who already forgot what he wanted to write (Kyoto)

Maybe you don't care so much for dust
but dust is the only thing which is allowed
to touch Buddha.

Definition of a fine arts graduate:
all the technical skills at hand
but still not knowing
how to draw.

Correction of Wolf Prix's speech:
if someone asks you something in Japan
and you don't know the answer
the answer is always "yes."

A encyclopedia of everything is impossible.
What is interesting is what kind of world
that the encyclopedia gives rise to.

Art and continuity.


Kyoto in my heart

White sheets on the bunk bed above Masuyacho in Kyoto, to gather thoughts on the essentials of exhibition-making, strange since it is not what I thought I would do, and even stranger is that I'm enjoying it, seeing as the parameters of happiness only seem to align when I do something I have done before, this time in a slightly different manner, learning everything within these parameters, easy to control, all too easy to exploit.

Excerpts from my Shinkansen log:

Repetition is difference without concept.
Proper nuts.
Glöm motgångar, minns medgångar.
Make the difference.
Find it funny. Laugh at your mistakes, laugh with your success.
Du kommer alltid göra misstag, så det är ingen anledning att sluta göra saker.
Skissa med material.
Krama ut allt du kan ur dagen.
Take in.
Många olika saker.
I don't know who I'm trying to be, because he does not exist. The only thing that exists is me.
Överraska dig själv, och inga "men."


relocating to SETAGAYA

Regardless of what we do, we can always find reasons for us to do them, good things, like keeping abreast the mugi-cha in a katsu restaurant for 1000 yen, and then a bus which takes you home in 15 minutes (as opposed to 55). Life becomes much easier when we find in that life the reasons for sustaining further activity, or, in simple words, losing your mind has the additional benefit of finding another one.

Give me a bed and Internet, and I shall accomplish miracles!

It is holiday in Japan, and on Thursday, I'm going to Kyoto. I have been there before, but only for ... two days, I think. I saw temples. I stayed in a small ryokan. Now something different is happening there, not just a vacation, but an opportunity for chasing that moment when we're in charge, and we can handle it, even if it's just an exhibition. Or, perhaps, not 'if', but 'especially' ...

I can't really describe specifically what it is with this room that makes me feel so at home. Maybe you would think I'm crazy, a rat's nest, a dilapidated shack! Certainly, the entrance does not promise much, but perhaps that is it. It doesn't promise. It doesn't aspire. It is just comfortable with its own disrepair, knowing that it is needed, even as a deteriorated slum. Some contest the student's infatuation with slum aesthetics, but I like it here. The slum is life, and in Japan, the slums are clean (although I still identify with my room because of the smell).

A bus driver runs out of the bus to tell me I'm walking in the wrong direction. Would anyone do it in London? I would guess there are rules to prevent that. There for his protection, of course, but why need it when we can trust each other, when we all behave as we should?



Hustlin' and bustlin' through the city, certain conditions are unfurled from Tokyo, last-nite revelations of the kind only I can get (I seem to be getting far too many of them).

It could've been Riken Yamamoto, though I'm not sure, who said that the roof is the most important part of the building. I tend to agree. The roof is not specifically interior, and in terms of exterior, it is hardly available for full grasp. It does not occupy the eyes with much interest, as these seem bent on being fixed on the horizon that will take them someplace (only in dreams do we look upwards). The roof defines a place, the roof shelters. But we cannot stay in the shelter forever, we must cut up the roof blankly like surgeons, to grab a bit of the sky to keep behind glass and steel.

A hole in the roof ... is there anything more damaging to architecture? Is it not what we make fun out of Corb for, his roofs leaking, his and F.L.W.'s, H&dM's, Calatrava's? There seems to be a basic need for a roof which performs ultimately precisely for the cause which the average man has inserted into architecture - his architecture. And yet the roof is weak. It is the first thing to collapse, the most ethereal part of the building yet that which defines how much we can challenge nature, gravity, and convention. The wall stands on its own - it is boring. The roof unites where the floor must stop.

Simultaneously, as I walk through Tokyo and approach and am approached by the buildings that have become legends and icons of the new economy (the one that should've happened), I am able to reconnect what I know about traditional Japanese architecture versus that which emerges from Western impulses. Mostly I find them in the facade. Japanese architecture has always nurtured an unresolved tension between the building-as-sculpture and the building-as-image. Hence, one can think of Omotesando Hills by Ando and Mikimoto 2 by Ito, as two representatives of this contradiction. It is a contradiction because architecture is, by necessity, always both. The key lies in how the building *defines* itself, what it wants to look like. Muscular. Weak. Deep. Thin. And so on.

There's nothing particularly Japanese about conflict and contradiction, as we all know. What's Japanese is the things that offer conflicts when they ought to need resolution. The building, being both, has to harmonise between both. And this is what Tokyo is not doing. Tokyo refuses harmony, and that is the beauty of it.


tinnitus and tin ants

Writers today are incredibly lucky, or perhaps not so lucky after all, considering how things change, for difference, for automatisation and absence of anything cumbersome, traded for another cumbersome thing: the laptop. Saw Jony Ive showcase the iPad Pro, hook it up to a keyboard and feed it with a newly charged battery and you should be fine. You are a writer, 101 with the caffe latte and with nothing but your own voice and your own tasks at hand. It's weekend.

Plugged into sounds: Secede's debut album. Overhearing the milk skimming machine and the post-work collaborations of generic narratives, next to a woman in blue with a similar laptop (smaller, of course; everything is smaller). And I'm struck again by all my questions, not even able to narrow it down to one specific instance. Because the answers are more fluid than the questions? I seem to prove myself wrong in every moment I write, wrong in my world, not wrong *in the world*, when the two overlap, we have something called a life.

I like being alone. I can handle it better now. Moods switch as much as a bird's flight during the day, so that one day would be the sumptuous summary of a life, a life with the music jungle, the bass, the incomprehensible fifth floor yellow sign set dinner (who knows?) poetry from uniform lighting. People like to stay where there is space to stay, and wherever their needs can be pushed aside to be satisfied another time, another place, with another coin.

We seem to define ourselves these days solely by what we leave out of the equation. In a society where we can have everything, the pursuit to have everything suddenly seems superfluous, a feat known to everyone, the prospect of being not the first and not the last at a place, just the first time in your life, and the last - who knows? We were not even the ones who made it. Creation is like that, a chimera and a ghost, impossible to entice, and if it shows itself, it is a lie, plagiarism, rejection of identification with the product at hand (we've invested too much pride in it, and so move on to become something different - the self-hater is always on the move for what he could be, always moving away from what he is).

"Hotto" or "aisu"? Choices, choices, choices. Erabemasen! (You can't tell that to the clerk.) Do the Japanese find their words in romaji to be as strange as our own names in katakana? Infected with another culture, moving through other barriers, we are again faced with the unknown, with the traditional Other. The only thing that is lacking is the gaze, right?

I had a look at my father-father's photo today while thrawling through my photo bank. He smiled. He was repairing the fishing nets in his blue summer shirt, buttoned up in the early summer winds, and with his hair flying in all directions. I cannot be him. I wish I was him. Meanwhile, others wish they were me. Always wishing somewhere else, except back to the places we've been before. If we want to be younger, it is only for the purpose of becoming a different kind of youth, climbing different chairs, dating different women, having different children, different lives. And then, we shake it off us like a nightmare upon awakening. We've done enough. We are pretty much pleased with things as they are, and we are left with that being for some time. I wonder who wished they were me. Difference all around.

Some make a living with coffee.
I could make a living with anything
yet I choose the paved path.


the wall between me and the Other

Tokyo at kuji-juugofun, dark, dark, with fixed gear bikes to the immediate proximate, that between urbs and suburbs, the time it takes to recover a lost mobile phone, and now the smell is of cotton candy, not cigarettes.

In my room: Deleuze. Think it's only the third book by him that I have begun. The first one (Anti-Oedipus) ended in nothing - I wasn't ready yet. The second one I finished, though all I remember was the pursuit of the philosophical plane, no tucks or folds yet. This book is from the 60s, titled "Difference and Repetition" (or was it "Repetition and Difference"? My mind is clouded in the train), and should take me some time to finish, considering that what I do for most of the time is just work. Served without sides.

I listen to old songs that I've made. Perhaps my mistake was in listening to them while I was composing them, really listening, because it made the difference of me making music that one would want to listen to when one is doing nothing but listening. Now I have more things to do, and my songs slip away as quickly as they begin - without anything jarring, without Deleuzian repetition, without a fuss. The bass is heavy, though. Believe in bass.

I'm getting stuck in English before I can comprehend anything Japanese. Will I one day experience the opposite? Will I call this home, or is home just something you realise in retrospect that you've experienced, when you're "far from home?" I rarely considered London home, but it gave me a lot on the run. Borrowed time. Borrowed tools. Certain financial assistance. And now the AA spins onwards, while I find myself in other schools. I want to work in offices where I will never cease to learn, where I'm always a beginner, if only for the pleasure of becoming a non-beginner, and to say: yes, I now know more than I knew before.

Difference. Repetition.
The French invented techno
before Detroit and Derrick May.

Success in music lies in making a track
that walks with you, rather than forcing you
to walk with it. Hence, all our walks
are nothing but our limitations.


the polyphonic udon house

I'm preparing to move, from one ku to another, from the rundown East to the fancy West, trading one student room for another, this time an "artist's loft", with curious hopes for something strange enough to let me know what it means to live as an artist in Tokyo. Smokers outside Shibuya station, bringing the smoke with them when the city faces its nightly exodus - the return of the loyal worker to his bed, and, perhaps, to his wife and children, for them to return to him when he's old and retired, sitting in his comfy chair with good knowledge of what has been rendered obsolete by the generation he raised. Strange to think that to teach a child also brings with it the reality of un-teaching yourself what you know ...

We seem to all want to get out of that we know, only to return to it when we find that the world is not so dangerous - and hence so irresistible - as mommy told us. And this happens even when we know that we've not seen enough of home, we know it because we want to see it again, but then, we tend to want ourselves away from it after just two or three days. Nomads. Jumping from one satisfaction to another, but not without the hard work that is required from it. I don't know how hard I work. I should say I work hard enough considering the origins of my past five years, the five years since I danced with Tokyo previously.

Waters reflecting the lights.
Scattered shoes on clean floors.
A service man reloads the automatic soda machine
to fire a coffee shot into a Suidobashi nightworker.

I'm far from London, but not far enough.
Some people die in order to make the transition.
Others die alive by trying to make it while theys still walk.
Walk whereto? Hopefully a place beyond the rules of the game.

Some may say that the things we do matter because we do them even when we don't have to, but that's a lie. They do not matter. Freedom is the freedom from matters. I know from my past years that you can be sad, you can be happy, you can be ecstatic, you can be suicidal, and time still moves at the same pace. It doesn't matter. Is this a resignation? Not so. It is an emancipation. You can suddenly do what you once feared of failure to do, the things that mattered so much it hurt. And so, by a clever autoreverse of priorities, the ambitious one is shellshocked by the pure raw force of the careless doer.


how little architecture can you do?

Had a look at Skälsö Arkitekter's bunker in Gotland this evening, and it got me thinking:

How much of what we term architecture today is a found object? How much intervention and invention is needed to uncover from this object an aura of difference? Are we reaching for a point of saturation where the whole urge for newness is satisfied only by there being no other option but to operate within that which is already existing - as a sort-of creative preservation, of thought, of space, and of culture? The bunker survives butchered, its skin of stone intact, its protective capabilities no longer considered necessary for a situation of emergency (Tarkovsky's "The Sacrifice", set on the same island, springs to mind), but merely vexing the landscape itself and the history which it has claimed - out of necessity - to be the foundation of its being.

As a ruin, the bunker has met its most terrifying foe, that of peace, as resulting in its redundancy. Peace alone turns war into domesticity. That gesture does not really need a new building, hence it is logical that the act of re-building brings together a form of spirit, one that isn't so much 'new' as it is, again, 'different.'

Architecture in Tokyo is temporary, as temporary as a working visa, an American Billy-the-Kid steak house, a house in Takadanobaba, a lightbulb, wind, rain. One can almost feel how Tokyo breathes when one is walking through its cramped shopping alleys, on or way to or from a Starbucks or a Lawson. What seems to have made the difference is not a major catastrophe, but the gradual wear-and-tear over months of thinking what architecture can be, literally, how much architecture we need. In Tokyo, it never seems to be enough.



I think, that what I got on my first visit to Japan in 2010, was Japan as a hallucination, a culture so visually vicious I felt at times like I needed to put on my space-suit. Now, with more than a month (still babysteps!) since I relocated to this wasp's nest, I am getting more and more what other tourists crave in the first place: authenticity.

I do not believe I am authentic Tokyo just yet, but I do know that what I'm seeing, and, more crucially, re-seeing, is the face of a city whose identity is enough to itself, that does not need me, in fact, it does not even need itself as it currently is, as most things in Tokyo circle around what can be torn down just as much as that which can be built up.

A forced trip to Kasai Station turned into an Engrish nightmare when none of the policemen in the koban could speak any language but their own. But with some strange luck, things sorted out themselves. I might write of this some time, just as I've avoided to write about it now by hinting that I will write of it in the future (but don't count on it).

People drop into the carriages, it's late, but not very late. There's always another train to catch, and should there not be, there are capsule hotels, karaoke bars and arcade halls.

(If I wrote of every man I've talked to, have I not already made poetry by talking to these men, in the first place? Poetry is a tricky discourse. Some of us may only be in it for the grit, just as for some it suffices to say that nothing special can be created out of that which is not special in the first place.)

Now we can have manga in our cellphones, in our striped shirt, next to a construction worker in colour Tokyo-green. Japan has the classiest working class.

Everywhere the new replaces the old, to turn into old anew.
Everyday an excuse to doubt whether that is something good
or something terrible. I don't know.


a new kind of soap

My activities fit me for the affective reaction I get from them.
When nothing needs to be said, I am content with not writing.
When there is no light, we crank up the exposure.

People make all their gestures with their hands, and all I see is the light inside my head, to the tones of a David August remix I hadn't heard nor heard of yet (the set is good, but the first song is just ... damn ... smooth ...).

At some times, we read, because we are that kind of people, people who read when it is time to read. Many problems in the world would be alleviated if one was able to balance out what one's sensory organs respond to, and what is the positive reaction of the thinking mind. For me, the grand philosophy-poetry era is over; now I just continue this blog (which almost ended a few months ago, for that matter). Meanwhile, the city continues to feed me with what I need from the city, including sirens and crossing lights.

I was thinking of drawing, but I have no pens.
It is odd that we turn into the situations we approach
but perhaps it is even more odd that we fear them, beforehand.
Perhaps it is because we don't know what will emerge from them.