inner city blues

Amazing to see all the people so absorbed by their iPhones on the Sobu-line platform. And then, it continues into the carriages as a form of self-contained periscope to all worlds beyond that of the train. I am also contained, however in a different world, the small confines of the office and the penetrating gaze of your boss, the main director of an ardent quintet making music out of renders and diagrams. I don't think I've ever been so initiated in a office's projects in such a short time as here, in Tokyo, in Japan, in a culture which I still know so little of, and whose patterns I write back to as a Persian letter.

The glassed elevators run up and down at Shinanomachi, an intercontinental replica of Heathrow airport, for a generation living the dream on lent money and their spent pockets. This is the one realisation that the world that exists for me is not the world of your average citizen, but the world he *wishes to be a part of.* There is no secret in that architects want fame, mostly from their peers, which explains why the field in theory should be suffocating, when in practice it has never been as popular as now. Architecture is hot.

Peter Cook once called architecture a profession of "sophisticated bullshit." If you're fine with that, then place your bets and play your cards. You might even enjoy part of it, while the bank silently scoops the win at the end. Being overly pretentious, being Eisenmanian, is slowly becoming the trend again. Sophistication might have its revenge over bullshit, once more.

What was Cook's point, however, was that there is nothing certain in architecture. Hell, we even fight over and are defeated by the lack of a proper definition of architecture. It's all the same, and yet not. The guy with the best renders (which is not to say the prettiest) suddenly loses his head over one unexpected question, which was probably equally underbaked in the mind of the critic. Like my grandfather says, everything that matters manifests itself as something insignificant, and like Hegel said, this is also the reason why the world of knowledge is a world of caveats and contradictions.

Tokyo is actually a really weird city. I like that weirdness, but it, to itself, would probably imagine itself as strict as the neckties in the morning rush. Meanwhile, the Japanese who go to London are amazed at the bluntness of our cutlery and the necessity of waste baskets everywhere. Things differ. I differ. Today I loved Tokyo. Tomorrow, I might be somewhere else.


the day I didn't go to Akihabara

My book project continues. It's not like I spend an obsessive amount of time on it, but it continues. Meanwhile, the sun has set but the ambulances see no reason to not continue racing down the streets. I sustain existence on bento, rice and fruits au lait ("furuutsu o re") from the local store. They always ask me if I want it heated, and I always say yes-onegai-shimasu. I don't even know if that's the right way to put it, but they seem to put up with me ...

Tomorrow is back to the office. Work work work. Some things remain the same, but most of them change - and sometimes so quickly that you cannot really fathom how it's already been a week since this photo was taken. My camera is full. I will have to sit down some time sifting through what needs to be kept, and what can be relegated to oblivion.

Tokyo is at its best when it allows me to ignore Tokyo for a whole day - for better causes, for better thoughts. It might seem like chaos on the surface, but the Japanese know that the structure of the city is deeply woven together with the capricious whims of determined city planners - determined to plan a city which does its best to approach that planning process piecemeal. It is therefore it is logical that the Plan for Tokyo could never have been realised here - only posed. Such is the paradox of modernisation: that with every absorption of outer intelligence, follows the fact that it can only exist as a proposition, a fancy, a school project.


like a 90's rave

Katsu-lunch today, with some special knowledge from the Dutch reaching Tokyo through the relay station of Nagasaki. There are small ads for the upcoming Olympics in the carriages, and a drizzle tickling the windows. Read a bit of Koolhaas's S,M,L,XL, interesting since I've never more than skipped through it, even though this, as I have learned, is the correct way of reading it, or, even more so, experiencing it. The detritus of OMA keeps washing up on the shores of degree projects all over the world. Just like Rem didn't want to read Deleuze because he was afraid to be too influenced by it, I skipped even this opportunity to learn more of that which I've never been much interested in, in the first place.

What we term differences are nowadays elucidated in nuances. Even a city halfway across the world can appear as home, a home as good as any but where nothing really is the way we've come to expect it. The smell from the sewers are different. The headgear sported by its dominant youth has a somewhat rougher texture. Hip people are everywhere, what changes is merely the means of attaining hipness.

Just one more day, and I will have finished my first week as a postgraduate professional. I will celebrate it with a Skype date. Then, I will take the train to somewhere, walk to and from some place, and spending some time doing nothing in particular, because, as we know, for every weekend there is a Monday ...

I move from train to train, from station to station, from call to response and back again, and most of the time, I'm thinking: is this what I wished for? And then, I have to respond to myself: if this is what you've wished for, pursue the moment when you have nothing more to wish for, when everything that you ever wanted is here with you. One day will be the end of it all, but until then, let's ask for more, if only one more katsu-lunch.

Tokyo rail is running on over-capacity. It's not really like London, at all, but, as we know, London is not the biggest city in the world any longer, as it was in the 19th century. But these things may change quickly. No doubt did Tokyo suffer, and no doubt did it face an exodus, both physical and spiritual, in days of war and misery. But it bounced back. It recovered. In that sense, the dwellers in this city - me included - make our daily journeys with the staunch belief in that once more, we will stand on top, not only in quantity, but also in quality. Then again, if you're Deleuze, you would already consider this the richest city in the world, in the fantasies and imaginations of those who call it home.


sudden realisation of being the tallest person in the train

Blast it! The train was 13 seconds late! First World Problems in a Far Eastern society. The salarymen spend their time reading manga, while I sit in the seating-for-the-elderly catching the stations as they update beyond the trapdoors. Many white shirts. Many black trousers. The train rolls on, the iPhones are being swept with relief - you survived another day of office drudgery. But I don't want to complain. I enjoy it - mostly because the challenges are clear, the objective is there, and there is no personal inquiry into the depths of your soul as delivered per a tables presentation. The AA seems a long way ago, but it is also close, in my way of working, in my ways of spending a day and an evening. It is a day continuing into all days, continuing tomorrow, the first one to rise and the first one to call it quits.

I began my big book project this weekend. It will be a series of conversations between me and myself, with Tokyo as the subject. Working title: "Tokyo Dialogues", although "Tokyo Psychosis" has also crossed my mind. Gotta give Rem some cred.

This book, however long it will be in the making, will be my goal. The 800,000 words that danced across the keyboard to the motherchip were just a brief preparation, a training session. Now it is time to prove one's worth. Of course, it wouldn't be me if it wasn't fragmentary, but I'm at least keeping up the focus for a 1000 words at a time. If these numbers don't tell you anything, that's okay, just think of it as sufficient.

It is also interesting because to have begun this project means that another project must continue, that of earning one's bread and understanding one's world: through the daytime and nighttime business of architecture. (As long as we're in the city, we're its architects.) A woman tells us that she had no toys when she grew up; the stars were her toys. So many stories. My own story is that of continuous strife. Against this keyboard and the sideways movements of the carriage. I have lots to do and lots to write. So much, in fact, that I don't have time to eat. Soba is good for the soul, but the grandeur of rice remains to be fed into one's daily routine ...


the logic of song titles

The sun was out, and the clouds were hanging above and below it. I took the train (I always take the train) to Shinjuku, exiting eastwards and facing a payment machine which you feed before you can select your best choice of rice, veggies and ramen. Then, there is the common, unison voice of "Irrashaimase!" once you enter, a good place in the middle of the counter where the camera can fit and the soy sauce never runs out. I spill some on my clothes, but it doesn't matter - down with the food and out again, after an equally cordial "goshisoosama deshita!"

The highrises enclose the streets, always in the same moiré-facades. I went southwards, or at least I thought I headed southwards, when, in essence, I really only wanted to find the gate to Shinjuku Gyoen. When I finally found it, as the path I walked was sort-of the back-side of the park, it was already time for the park to close - and as such it became a project to continue next weekend. Away again, trying to find Yoyogi station, but once again walking in the wrong direction (it's hard when you don't have Internet access yet).

Suddenly Sendagaya reveals itself to my left. Kids from school walk by in their Sunday outfits, and I sneak up on Fumihiko Maki's Metropolitan Gymnasium to delay my train back, although I've never been able to appreciate much its bilateral symmetry. How would I design an arena if I had the chance? After all, it is determined by its central field, a point in the grid, and extends outwards in all directions from it. An asymmetrical arena doesn't make much sense, and even less so fairness.

Back to work. Back to my first Monday in a long time where I know where to go.


saturday in Harajuku

Tokyo is genius to my soul. Wherever I go, I embrace what I see, and what I see embraces me. Catching a short glimpse of Kenzo Tange's stadium on my way back, and the steaks taste like casseroles, the tiramisu is the same, save a short twig of unidentifiable floral origin. I still don't get anywhere in particular with my book project, but perhaps I shouldn't be worried, perhaps books are for reading, focus is for those who want to succeed with something big causing all kinds of side effects like tobacco dependency, perpetual isolation and musings on the impossibility of being published. Perhaps that's not for me.

The sun sets regularly around six, and is replaced by a night in lush cyberpunk colours. Perhaps I could've found a better way to spend this time except in the confines of my room, but Tokyo is dangerous. If you overdose on it, you might succumb to it - and become just like it. The slight resistance I feel can therefore be thought of as something like a drive to self-preservation, where one keeps a bit of habit and routine far from superstimuli. Tokyo is dangerous.

Take reality as we experience it
and build reality as we imagine it.


a great big smile from my new favourite takoyaki man

Second day in the office turned into a first day at the fried octopus magician's closet, and then gradually morphed, like a smooth continuous surface, into an expat party among so many architects that the few lucky ones who weren't architects could feel special. I end my day here with chocolate from Sleven and something funny called fruits au lait, whose last two words are elegantly represented by only two syllables (they're not even cheating - it's katakana). I will sleep well tonight, and tomorrow ... Odaiba? Yoyogi? Weather? Who knows?

Also, congrats Zaha. I had fun ignoring you and Patrick at the points where our paths crossed, certainly as fun as you had doing the same to me.


communications mayhem

I will start writing daily commuter-train essays from now on, sitting in a half-full half-empty carriage on the Sobu line to Kameido, and from there it's back to the house. First day at work. What do you say? Perhaps that I'm grateful for what my new medicine has done to me. Without it, I wonder if I could ever make it. Now I'm going home, after ten hours of work (fantastic by Japanese measures, although competitions might throw that off-balance), hungry but not tired, happy but not hungry. The train zips through darkness and horizontal light arcs between Yotsuya and Ichigaya, people are chatting and seats are offered. Culture shock seems to be emanating into acceptance.

I can't speak in detail of what I'm doing at the office because of conservative and confidential reasons, contracts written and winks exchanged. But I'm doing good things and many things - film for one. Back to Maya and back to mentalray. The practice pays off, although I might regret my model-lessness when more days are added to the experience account.

The rest of my life has now begun. Or, at least a major share of it. I will continue my journey, wherever it goes, but perhaps these things are no longer so much adventures as they're logical consequences of an urge. I wanted to go to Japan. Now I'm here. Language sips through little by little, barriers are torn down and scary bosses suddenly don't seem very scary - only determined to do the thing they want. It's a philosophy, working in an architectural office, one that must be called, with a hint to what was previously obscured, truly continuous.

First day of work. Last day of work t-minus-many-years. Perhaps it will never end, perhaps I will be an architect until my last breath, and I will be buried as an architect, with a custom 3D-printed tomb stone. Hah. Now I'm becoming morbid. Gothic Tokyo, what are you doing to me?


Tobu Line

I think I'm beginning to suffer a bit from culture shock, or maybe "shock" is too strong of a word, what rather happens is that I'm realising that the city and everything in it, has begun to become familiar, and with it comes the rejection of certain parts. The fiction of Tokyo and the eau de cybernetique that explodes outwards from the Hachiko exit has lost its perfection. From the feeling of being in every aspect a part of the culture, I am slowly coming to the realisation that I will remain a stranger for some time. Days? Weeks? Months? It is too early to tell. What I can tell, however, is that the basic aversion I have in certain parts of Tokyo stems from a discrepancy between what I expected to last forever, and what has emerged in my presence in the other direction.

It is an odd realisation: that to live in Tokyo
I must reject these certain parts that were once
a part of my unconditional love.

Took the commuter train to Shibuya in the morning to gauge the difficulties of the rush-hour - was pleasantly surprised. 50 minutes again. Then I was stuck with breakfast from Lawsons, a hamburger which I thought was a doughnut (and therefore didn't heat), trying to determine what the back alleys of Shibuya could offer. As it turned out, I had forgotten to insert my SD-card in my camera, so the acquaintance made with a concrete Ando-imitation with the all-pervasive fire escape stairs made Sakuragaoka-cho a strict area of amnesia. I will have many more opportunities to befriend it - starting tomorrow.

It is more important to have a room, a street, a neighbourhood, a city, to call one's own, than it is for that city, neighbourhood, street, room, to call you a resident. Cities have this magical aspect of being possible to be eradicated the next day - like the TimeOut building on Tottenham Court Road, which left London the same year as I left it, too. Therefore, "belonging" in Tokyo's sense has to be the possibility of being taken away the physical foundation of that city for the purpose of continuing to live in it. Tokyo continues.


Tokyo is the structure of my thoughts

Tokyo for me has existed as a fiction, and now its reality has been found to adjust to me in the sense that the fiction is slipping away; Tokyo is becoming my home in the moment when I am no longer confronted by its incomprehensibility, or, to put it differently, Tokyo is no longer my other. In that sense, I've lost my role as a tourist in it, and have been put into being part of its inhabitation. Maybe I cannot say that I love Tokyo in the same way I did before - as a newness - but rather it has been replaced by the uncanny valley, once I realise that not everything is perfect, and not everything is interesting, in short: I *understand* it much better now, and for that reason it has become my heimat.

If Tokyo is reality, then, from now on, I have to reject the fiction I nurtured. I cannot reproduce the urbanity which I am a part of, but I can identify it, correlate it to my senses, and write of it from the direction towards what is real. But, on the other hand, this is an impossibility, as all forms of writing has to operate through a simulation, the attention towards fabricating your own understanding of the text which eventually leaves you with one definition of that text (good, bad, "thought-provoking") which summarises the unique extrapolation of your own realm of understanding towards something that can be shared. In that sense, architecture is that shared realm, and we write of the things that we see mainly because others have written about them as well. Here we return again to the notion of the subject: that, as we know, beyond the importance of the subject itself emerges the decision, the position, and the (sometimes political, sometimes social) judgement that defines the city.

By this I want to say that in order to live in Tokyo, one has to liven with Tokyo, to state your claim as much as reject that which does not matter to you, and to reject it with a voice. In that sense, we cannot keep quiet, but it is in language itself that we are concerned with the possibility of the celebration of existence, which, in architecture, shows the purpose of the city to enforce the beliefs of those who work there - only that we, in our limitations, are nonetheless forced to accept that which is the belief of another but the strict rejection on our own part.


Ramen in Shibuya

First real day in the neighbourhood, and the street signs twinkle in the mirror of my room, probably/roughly of the same size as my last room in London - cheaper though. No tatami mats here, I'm living the modern life, and the city is a facsimile of what it was when I left. Went to Shibuya, to Hachiko to say hello, and to spot the location of the office which I will call mine from now on, an estimated 50 minutes away. I know, I could've found a better location, but Omurai is not bad. Everything is here, the big city noises (the fire truck passed by some time ago), the drug stores, the supermarkets - no parks though, but on my Suica card is the ability to go to Yoyogi for free everyday, as part on my commuter's route.

In some ways, I've always been in love with Tokyo as a fiction, the way it becomes a character on its own in all the novels and mangas and animes and live-actions I've soaked up since this land entered my imagination. But it is when you step out on the street in Shibuya, and the wall of people juggernaughts forward to be swallowed by this odd mix of Western high-street fashion, SMAP advertisements and two-storey FamilyMarts - it is then that your identity is being woven into the fabric of the city. I am now a Tokyoite.

A work of architecture is a fiction until it is built, but the transition of the building process resembles the reproduction, or, even better, imitation of a work that so far has only existed on paper. And then we adapt to this imitation, call it the truth, archive the drawings, and bring the discrepancies into our next simulation.


From Vasastan to Sumida

As I return to Tokyo after an intermezzo of more than 5 years, and with the company of Perec, many conflicting notions appear to come together not in a concept, but in a correlation. Two figures, the aforementioned Perec and then the stuffy Hegel, are not opposed to each other, no, what they do, is to act in the same tradition, that of indiscriminate attention to integrity - of the text, of the metamorphosis of an ontology, and the minute descriptions of surrounding tropes, hints towards a special kind of living, not to say every way of living there is. In that manner, rigour has not disappeared from the profession, but when nothing really matters, we are in the 1880s, and where everything is told to matter equally much, we are in the 1980s. Today, we're still occupying a kind of morass of thought and detritus of being which, in its description, requires the material world.

In 2010, I found the truth of all human thinking and action, and linked it to the purpose of the pattern. This definition, despite the enormous deluge of playboy philosophy that I've left behind the past three years, hasn't really changed. The question was, how is the pattern employed? One could say that it is incompatible in its nature with the immersion, which is internal, while the pattern is external - it requires other people, while the immersion is a personal affair, and remains as such. In Hegelian terminology, I am torn between an immediate and its negation. These are not the days to be lazy. The crux of language is that it occupies the architect-as-neologist, rather than as a collector of affinities.

I have previously touched on our age of cultural awareness, both in architecture and other liberal arts. One is required to know of the discussion that one is concerned with; of course, this is easy if the engagement is genuine. But I am also nurturing a revolutionary nerve and therefore I require, in the vein of Philippe de Vitry, the pursuit of the new, of the difference that will, in itself, be superseded by others born after me. Perhaps the only thing I can do in that respect is to continue my own development until I know what I want to know and, ergo, there's nothing more for me to know.

But then we have to remember, that Koolhaas came after Perec, and the OMAian heritage smothers the depths of all that I want to achieve, and all I have pursued in my exploration of the internal depths of the schizo-mind I've referred to earlier. When Madelon Vriesendorp has already filled an atelier with all kinds of souvenirs and postcards, there was no questioning the impossibility of continuing that tradition (the continuum in this year's prospectus), and the need to assume another position. But that cannot be one of poverty (minimalism) and politics (vague Leftism). I still need to be rich, and therefore, what I propose from hereon is not an amassing of particles, a cluster, but an interlinkage. And this brings me back to Tokyo.

The question is no longer exclusively "what?" or "how much?" but: "How does it work? How can it work? Why does it not fall apart?" Kazuo Shinohara, my grey mentor, defined the nature of the Japanese megalopolis as chaos (another pet of mine). But chaos, as in Greek mythology, is the source of order: the world arose from it. In that sense, the architect arises out of Tokyo. To request Hegel again: the negation of the negation arises from the *necessity* of solving Tokyo. Reasons must be uncovered, and by doing so, Reason arises as a consequence. Tokyo is a challenge, not something to be opposed or resigned to - it has to be understood. If I can understand Tokyo, I can respond in binary decisions which, as they are, are scientific explanations which precede their practical application. Tokyo is first; our architecture, our response, is second.


preparing to fly / late afternoon sea

I can say with some certainty that the effect of the new medicine I started about two weeks ago is coming into action. Some things I care more for than before, some things I care less for. Writing, for instance, has taken the back seat. I haven't got much left to prove in that respect, but I wouldn't say that I've lost my motivation, only that I choose to write about more crucial things. Perhaps also some warranted respect for previous sources can be traced; I prefer now to write down the quote as I find it, rather than rewriting or paraphrasing it in a poem. Poems matter, of course, but maybe the weight of sheer production matters less. Some thought may be more needed.

The flight to Tokyo departs on Saturday. I have been in preparation for a couple of days now, and by that I also mean psychologically. Rising early, thinking a lot, trying to bend my mind away from the schizophrenia which I am lucky to have only been scratched by. I wouldn't say that I am not concerned, but perhaps I've become slightly colder, that it is necessary to keep some distance to the world of emotions in order to make sound judgements. Buildings are to be experienced from all directions, from detachment to immersion, from object to subject, and now it feels not a little bit more comfortable to look at the exterior of things, of the self, and of one's situation.

This will be the last photo from Sweden for a while. For six weeks to be precise.
My reports will continue from the other side of the world.



I have been concerned with some sort of grounding. That ground needs, in many matters, not be so much dogmatic as it needs to remain resolutely itself after a sublation. Such a thing is the brief. The more I think of it, the more I consider the ground of architecture to be the brief, and it has to be accepted unconditionally, it has to be the yardstick from which we extract something greater than it, it has to be the measurable entity, and related to it: something immeasurable arising. The only bad briefs there are are those which do not specify why it needs architecture.

To continue, the brief is a matter ultimately of respect between the architects and the non-architects with an interest in the built environment (which are more than we suspect). This respect is founded on the principle of the beginning, that the architect cannot start with nothing and then expect something to emerge naturally from it - something other than emptiness, that is. The principles of the environment, which are both biological, physical, cultural and psychological, are not to be left unchallenged, far from it, but they need to be *addressed*, in one way or another. The work, as are all responses, mediated as they are, is the predicate to the subject stated by the brief.

Architecture is not freedom. On the contrary, if architecture has historically done one thing ahead of others, it is the act of dividing space by the means of immutable matter, i.e. walls. The wall is first, then the door, then the window. Therefore, being grounded in limitation, architecture is a practical art. As such, it answers not to a priori concepts of spaciousness, democracy, or equal opportunities, to name a few; all these are constructed, and this is the strength of the brief: that it does not hide behind the eternal. It knows itself as constructed, and proceeds in that same manner of requiring construction *from* it.

The limitations of the brief may cancel each other out, or they may synthesise; either is the purpose of the project. Therefore, we have emerged on the other side of the beginning: the end. The logic behind the end hinges on its relation to the beginning, as they are joined by causality. One may say that a projection on the wall is a project, and that's fine by me. But its success is not grounded in itself; it is not internal, no things are, not without being corrupted by their own incestuous sustenance. At least this is a demand we may now place on a post-iconic landscape of architectural invention; that things are not related to themselves as much as to that which inseminated them. We are the children of our mothers.

In the end, if there is only a morphological demand, then it does not demand a certain image of a perfect work; rather, the form is immanent within the project, which then goes on to do *more* than this. It is there, but it is not all. It is much like walking. We do not always know where we are heading, but we know where we have been.


I need to go there

Tokyo has a home in many more people's hearts than those of the 35 million living there - including me. It is also the reason why I feel like I am ready to continue my career somewhere outside the school, not without a sting of sadness in the sense that what is at the schools is invaluable, unrefined but unfettered. But in the world of offices, there is not just architecture as knowledge, but as a process as well, a process that does not end with the dissection of an idea and subsequent judgement, but the entire struggle and the rewarding experience one finds in achieving a certain mark of physical influence.

My ticket is booked.
My room is waiting.

If I'm not ready now, I will not be ready for the rest of my life. But more crucially, I feel like I'm not going there without a reason. The largest city in the world meets a young man from Sweden - not exceptionally young, perhaps, but young - and what their combined forces will lead to, remains for us to see. I will be here. I will report. I have the luck of great naivety, or perhaps the curse. If we don't have ambition when we're young, we will not have it for the rest of our lives.



The science of good thought wages a war against the instincts of bad thought.


I'm more in love with things because they cannot reject me

Sometimes I get the feeling of not belonging anywhere. It's a feeling I'm trying to brush away quickly, because I know it will lead me back to 2011, the year I have no memories from. At the same time, I can sometimes be fascinated with sadness in itself, manifested in the need one feels to poke in it, to turn it over, examine the rotten ground beneath it, etc. The strange clause to sadness is that it strikes us with an inverted stimuli. Situations where we are *meant* to feel happy suddenly saddens us, and the realisation that we once felt undivided joy here only deepens the sadness, envelopes us like an involuntary cocoon. Everything becomes heavy. 重い。

(It is no coincidence that the word for "think" (and, by extension, that of "memory") in Japanese is spelled the same way as "heavy.")

I never remember my dreams when I wake up. That is, fortunately, for the better. It would be even better if I lost the ability to remember those things that were not dreams, those that were real memories. You don't always become stronger because you've overcome things in the past, for the razor that cuts between success and failure tends to cut our minds undivided in its attention to the latter. I don't even know if I can succeed, but I suppose it is irrelevant thinking. I will fail many more times in the future. It's not like I can stop being the person I am, no matter how much I try, consciously or not, in reality or in my dreams.

Some of us stop working only when the boss leaves.
Sometimes the boss never leaves.


I think I am a traditionalist when it comes to photography

Nothing quite photographs as well as the sea. Now autumn is almost here, the family is gathering, for the last time for a while now (forever in this incarnation? We'll see) to quench thirst with white wine (milk), and to go for coffee to places where we couldn't be satisfied with just one cup. I listen to Japanese language courses and hard acid techno, in-between remixes of Backstreet Boys and negro spirituals - and I will book my flight now.

The world has waited for me, and my ambition is spiralling out of control. A hero! (At least for myself.) A legend! (That we decide for ourselves.) I am not without fear, of course, but I refuse to give in to it. Fear is there merely to remind you that something crucial is coming your way. It is a measure of dedication. Or, as Kierkegaard might've thought of it, it is the intoxication of potential. (Is the original better?)

I will go there, and I will do my best. The best is always enough, and the one who knows when you've done your best is yourself, and you know it truthfully, not what you see in others and what they're capable of - for you don't know what they've sacrificed.

I've met many people in my days, but I've yet to meet myself.
Who is he? A shady character, to be sure.


to attempt

Grandfather (turning 90) arriving from the flat fields of Närke, and I'm finally receiving a confirmation of my first job. Indirectly, sure, but maybe that is the way the Japanese prefer. So. Now I'm on my way. Sometimes, I'm genuinely worried, most of the time, even, but mostly because I'm afraid of breaking something I love, a city I love, a profession I love. Of course, I don't want to be broken, so I have to trust my intuition and not do what I do not want to do - even though life mostly is comprised of the latter - even though we do not want it that way.

Now time to hit airbnb, I suppose. Tokyo, do you want to swing around for a while? But when you're set to go in one direction, you often tend to value that which you already have. A home to return to. A glass of apple juice and a Budapest cake. The memories of what we were, what we did there, and how nothing really changes until it is too late. But I take my daily walks (most of the times, at least), and I reform my ambitions. Maybe Stockholm is not so bad. Maybe Copenhagen is not so bad. London ... not my taste, as you know.

I wish I could help someone, and I wish I could let people help me. There's something of a pride in trying to do everything yourself. And you have people behind you, people to return to, if one adventure is not what we wanted, if what we saw wasn't better than what we expected it to be. I would like to live in Tama. Commute to work in the morning. Come home in early evening. Play with my kids. Go to Atami on vacation. My life as a distillation of a Studio Gi-bu-ri film. The book I'm reading now denounces the suburbs and factories of Tokyo as "ugly" and "colourless" (even though I chose those words), but I like them. I don't particularly need the Skytree or 2020 Olympic Stadium. Regular buildings, the city to the 99th percent, are more necessary to me.


1111 (the best thing that happened to you)

The sea always makes me happy. It reminds me of a home I had there, when I went down with the bus to canoe between the capes and takes photos of my trainers, watch anime series on my computer, and create things that were not in a hurry to be created. Not that the AA ever was a hurry, it just seemed that way from poor time management.

What is wrong with an action if it makes you feel good?
(Perhaps our inner psychopaths here need to be addressed.)

I think I am better at forcing myself to do the things that I ought to do - because they're historically right - than what I am at embracing the times I live in, for they seem so insignificant. But then I am forgetting something. I am forgetting that things to change emerge from things we enjoy. I don't enjoy film, for example, but I do enjoy music videos. So I made a music video for my project. At least in hindsight, it seemed like a proper decision.

When I graduated third year, I drew on walls. That was probably one of the happiest moments I had at school - little hurry, time with others around me, and me focused on something I enjoyed. It was hard for the body but good for the soul, as are many intoxicating things. I would like a new wall to draw on, not because it is the hip thing to do, but because I enjoy it. And what's wrong with that? I think life would be much more fun if we filled it with the things we actually want to do, not the things we see ourselves as most fit to do, or most meant to do. We may admire our products, but don't we do it as comparisons of the work of others? Perhaps a bit of shame is needed in every work, one of those guilty pleasures, for it to be relevant.

Archigram made comic books.
My comic books will be different.


still oblivious

Did a good thing today: I reread all my old portfolios, from year 1 (2006-07) in Sweden, all up until the final drawing of AA Year 5. There's a pattern to discern, one of confidence, misguided perhaps, but a realisation, that it doesn't really matter what kind of idea you have, as how you cook it. And by this I don't mean making neat drawings, on the contrary, I mean the informed positions you take from all the knowledge you amass, and all the excursions into the unknown that the project demands. For if there's one thing I know of the present, is that it will be a laughable past once we reach a certain level of distinction.

So I will keep on learning. I will keep on reading, and, most of all, I will not go into my first job thinking that I know the answers - I'm just sufficiently good to be allowed to continue my lifelong studies, now from the interior of an office, the office I have already designed. I will not pretend that what I say is enough to change the world, because for every truth that we spit out undigested, the whole world will be spoiled.

So, with those words, it's back to the book, back to reading, and back to Hegel, of course. Very little of what we actually learn remains in us, or maybe it's even less in my case, my memory still being slightly hazy from the ECT. But learning is at its best when it is also fun, when something new emerges and we feel the pain of not knowing what to do, and in those cases, relying on those who do know, what we can do with it, to demand clarity from ourselves but perhaps not excellence.

I've always wanted to be the person who knew everything, but I suppose the first step towards becoming that person, is to admit that everything is not enough.


I agree with you

Invited for coffee in Tokyo, appreciations of a portfolio, admiration but no money. Went from one project to another, from the project of architecture to the project of a city - artfully vague, I admit, as to say that architecture is concerned with the city and all its challenges amounts to as much as saying that the role of rain is to fall to the ground. But we go on. We go to places. A quick call to the embassy to confirm my possibilities, and now I'm just waiting for the final email, the hopefully final email.

We will forget what happened today, just as we forgot where our brother lived, a tradeoff for the many ups and downs (mostly downs) I had in 2011, the year I'm always returning to, but returning in the form of a distance. Four years, and I can barely say that I've changed. There comes a time not when we cannot afford to change, but when our minds seem satisfied, when change slows down, when interests shift not over evenings, but over seasons, if even that.

Still haven't lost my fascination for Japan though. It's something I need, something I do not cry for and will not cry for until it is over. Every new day takes me closer to departure, but I don't want to think of it as that. It's just as much an arrival, a beginning, a growing-up.

And that coffee in Shinjuku I will not forsake.


tokyo I'm coming back to you

Slightly thrown off-balance now by my second job offer, and this time it's big. It's good. It's what I wanted. It's in Tokyo. It's been more than five years since last time I was there, but I will never forget it, the rolling hills and the old railway lines on the Narita Express to Tokyo-Eki. One could consider my time at the AA as a "grand detour", a necessity for getting to where I am today. Even bad choices seem good in the light of what they've led to. Of course, I don't know if this is another bad decision, but at least it is one I will make, because I cannot afford not to. Too much potential happiness is at stake.

Why should you not do what you want to do? It's not that I don't listen, it's because I want to fly before I decide not to. 28 years, graduated, and now to prove my worth. They say life is long, but you never know how long. I just know that I go to bed every night, asking for just one more day. One more day is fine, isn't it? It's easy to be happy for a day when you finally receive it.

I want a piano in my house.


closer than you think, farther than I hope

I try not to think too much. If we think, the only thing we confirm is the necessity to keep thinking. But this thinking, this subject of interest, defines itself by action, and hence a man who sets himself up to thinking as his purpose will *generate* the doubts, the hesitations, all the detrimental sides to thinking, by proxy, and he will be forced to accept them. Hence, I am trying to practice a form of enough-thinking, accepting, no, demanding of purpose to expose itself through the lucidity of the "enough." Life is not enough, but the actions we perform within life are.

Francesca Hughes left me with a good phrase at the end, a sweet reward after a long book, but one I cannot spoil you with, for you have to do what I did: refusing to cheat, refusing to look, until you've read it. Suspension is valuable for us to give ourselves the delight of having put the end to a matter on your own. The book is done. Exit.

I think I could've done a much better project at the AA, and I will not say that the school destroyed it - my doubts did. But what I am certain of now will pursue me in a good future. I just have to find someone to help me along the way, to be a protege, of someone. Doubt may infect the building like a brain-eating worm, so we must reject it, not because we have to choose *against* something, but because we're in the power of suggesting something *for* it, something positive, something we know the nature of and can therefore pursue in-and-back-to-itself.



eastwards, westwards, nowards

Finished a long-overdue drawing, that - despite its puny size - has been in the making for nearly 3 weeks now. Too many hiatuses. Too little pressure. When you're in school, at least you know that you're supposed to do something, as opposed to idling around until INSPIRATION finally strikes you, and remains with you for less than is necessary, anyway. Sun shines. Strawberries bought. So many distractions, but everything has its own time. This time that I have now is one which I create for myself, perhaps the last, great time I can have - before retirement. It's not quite time for a walk yet, but, then again, it was not quite time for a chocolate biscuit, either.

Big boys play with big toys, and I am surveying the time it takes for me to grow up (hint: it's longer than it takes to forget oneself out of age). I battle with myself the necessity to keep searching for a job, although it is demoralising to wake up to a new morning to find an empty inbox. Love is much easier than work. With love, all you've got to do is free of charge. Work, on the other hand, takes your time and leaves you with - fittingly - no time to decide whether you've made the right decision, in the first place. So if I have to run with something, I'll run with love, in love. (Cheesy, I know.)

It's more fun to stick around with blue skies, but the sky is always there. Perhaps it is out of fear of one day losing the sky that I keep taking photos of it. A copy on your hard-drive, that electric lighthouse of our generation, means a lot when the dark is so dark it does not even allow you to see the stars.


a tractor stuck in a ditch, a crumbled Volvo

I am turning to emptiness, but that emptiness contains something. Something is born from emptiness. Someone lost his attention too late, too soon, and the result: something I will remember the day from. And as I sit there trying to think of what to say, for the courtesy of speaking, I find myself becoming emptiness, myself, silence, but only in the attention towards my own voice, as a form of inverted logomania. The purpose is always the same, to reach the guts of what I want to say, even if that only means the guts of that which attempts to reach these guts. Hegel would have called it self-sublation.

The sun is setting. I turn on my lamp. A light that suggests that men can bring something of the sky down to their artificial skies in the windows, framed tropospheres, and with them, the promise of rain, the promise of another day just the same as this day. The wind had abated when we reached the sea. The essence - the essence - of things is always the same: the motive of our actions, in a bid to (again) invert Aldous Huxley's fanatic. But in every window is also the outer reflection of the sky that dwells in it. We can therefore say that buildings are as much houses to the body as it is to emptiness itself. The distinction disappears. They're not needed.


sober evaluation of the facts

Light is something necessary
for one cannot live on shadows
"live in shadows" perhaps, but on it?

I have my schedule, I plan things and I execute them, not always in the right order, but as a good thing preparing us for the times that will come when a good schedule is a virtue, and completing it is a cause for celebration. Went to the sea, today, again, to write some, to read some, to eat brownies and sip on blackcurrant soda while old women walk by and young children play in the sand. Not much of a change from wherever, whenever, whatever, but the change in that no-one evaluates your decision - except you.

It is midnight. It is time.
To go to bed? To dream? To fly?
Loyalty to the workaholic results
in everyone breaking themselves
for money that will not feed them.

Imperfections are like ornament to the perfect life
not really necessary, and there to cover up a mistake
but oh-so-delightful to behold.


first job offer received, first job offer declined - a mistake perhaps?

I am no stranger to working hard, but there are limits even to my abilities. 15 hour workdays are such a limit, even if it's not every day of the week. Japan is difficult. Oh, I love you, of course, but you're bringing me down. Wild parties on the beach. Strange junkie shots in the morning. What is there we need in architecture to survive?

I spend my days doing pretty much the same that I did when I did not spend my days doing anything - anything fun, others would say. But I still think it's fun. The quick sketches. The elaborate drawings. The writings. The piano concertos. The Japanese rehearsals. The walks around the city perimeter. The lectures in my headphones. And, of course, more job applications.

So now I sit here on a Tuesday evening thinking through what I can do when everything is done, when the goals of a normal workday are replaced by the frightening bliss of never having a day like the other, which makes it, of course, harder to count but quicker to spend. And suddenly we're there, 90 years old (if we're lucky), with too many memories of who we were when we were 28.

What is a good day? Variation, I'd say.
Variable repetition. What else is a day?


a strange interlude

Listening to Moby (the old and the new) while being essentially too tired to care what kind of music I have in my headphones. My first hints of success in the labour market are starting to show, but still too early to determine whereto, whereabouts, and - seemingly most crucially - why - "seemingly" only because that oxymoron that is stuck in my mind, of wanting intensive tranquility, may decide for itself when it wants to show itself.

My eyes begin to hurt again. It's unavoidable. So is my obsession with it. It lets me go most of the time, and it's not to say that it consumes me the way it did before. Now the suffering is a form of curiosity, of measuring just how much one can take before it is time to flip the switch and retreat from the light. Halfway through the Science of Logic now, with not-so-very-high hopes of finishing it before the end of summer. Francesca Hughes interrupted me.

Hunger is good for the soul. Hunger at the right times. And at midnight, the trumpet sounds. We go to bed hungry for another morning, asking with piety that one important question: can you give me another day? Flush to the skin is tiredness, and I don't think I'll ever be able to write as well as I can read - at least not in Japanese. But the days carry on, and with them, the bliss of seeing progress into infinity, on a project which can only be infinity itself, in its spurious (or, at least, crude) sense of being numerically endless.

If you once did it before, you can do it again, with no requirements, with no tricks.