I would like to become a cloud.
I want to be something in between man and machine: something distributed amidst everything. Something invisible. Something in sync. Something so connected that living feels as purposeful as it does feel terrible. To make the going away and coming feel like it’s all a part of making me whole.
There are even templates to make cloud/water cycles. Just fill it in, jesus.
I like looking at Noah Veltman’s “What shape is the internet?” collection: I like diagrammatic and schematic things, clouds, and the internet. I like human error the most.
The internet does have a shape. I can barely comprehend it though; and a shape might as well not be a shape if it’s just a distant symbolic ideal instead of something to be visualized and re-rerendered. I would like a way of seeing the vast infrastructure that supports the web at once, or even the simple
Last year, I met a boy who told me to try naming everything. So I went and started doing this. We stood under a tree somewhere a long walk from campus and he held his Notes app out, looking at me eagerly for some names. I could’ve just said something like Thomas. I said nothing. He must have been so disappointed because I seemed like a very creative person and he only fucks very creative people because he wants to be creative himself, and then I offered him nothing when I couldn’t name that tree. When the wind blows in my face I cry. I must have kept tearing up during that walk. Now I name many things: birds perched at the fences of the park next to Book Trader, the rocks stuck in the soles of my sandals, the broken soft pastel bits, drinks, markers of time (37 minutes is a bittenty), locations that previously were just coordinates, novel things, boring things. I often take walks down to that hill he brought me to and stare at the tree—everything around it has something to call itself by. Everything but this tree.
In my last graphic design class at Yale the professor likes to handle crits by drawing and ripping on people’s paper and we don’t really get to say anything about each other’s work. One time I gave a comment instead of a question and he tore apart the comment about colors and then asked the person I was criticizing if they knew what a color wheel was. Then for the next person he asked them if they knew what an em dash was. He’s surprisingly good with computers. I spoke with him after class and even on the way down the elevator to ask him about the things he collected, and he seemed to like it when I told him that I like to collect cassettes and the bits of scrap paper & love notes from used books. He didn’t like it as much when I revealed that I rip the movies off the used MiniDV tapes I get to glitch them on my CRT. A few weeks later he almost makes me cry because my design wasn’t scaled up enough in print and because I only showed him a rough prototype of this printing assignment since the transparency paper I wanted to use for it was $2.99 a piece at Hull’s and I just didn’t think that it was necessary to print everything in the prototype at that cost but he did and the TA felt so bad for me she stepped in and then sent me a heart in an email after the class. He doesn’t have a computer at home. I guess you can be good at things without having them. When I get old I want to care about things beyond design.
Lately I’ve been reaching out to people to tell them that I think their work is nice and that they have changed my life but I’m never sure how to communicate the latter part. I wrote a love letter to the owner of the Cave of Dragonflies because I used to study their life more closely than mine, living in it when I had nothing else. It wasn’t particularly exciting but I liked to think of Iceland as a great, big, beautiful thing and thought that I could once sit side-by-side with them and decipher the English spoken on the television—though I’d have a bit of an easier time since I learned it earlier. It’s mildly parasocial. I love the idea of loving something so deeply and leaving all the resources you tend for it there, on the decades to come. I love the casual conversation that Butterfree leaves.
graft: splice a living part onto another living part; implanted, transplanted, propagated;
I love somebody and we don’t speak each others’ first languages
so we go invent our own. This word means
bird, this one fire, this one cutter,
this one coffee, this one transitory. So
much of our conversation can feel
like correction. I teach him how to
pronounce Adidas, Glossier (any other
girl can do this), and he teaches me
how to say my name. This one means
brief, this one means slower, this one
means kiss, this one means now we can
commit, this one means certainty. I love
somebody and we both love song: I listen
to lyric, he finds the samples and me;
this is yet another untranslatable thing.
When he shows me the jokes in his tongue
even if I wouldn’t get it; and I slip lang for
only that he takes as language—I know it.
This one means time, this one means
patience, this one means (and we don’t
even need to speak it) let’s wake up
beside each other. We find words for
objects, location, animals, feelings,
(these ones are the hardest) time.
There is so much we are constantly
inventing. Soon, I think, there will be
too much that we can’t name. So much
of looking at him feels like looking at a
greater version of myself. All good things
tend to feel unreal, I tell myself. So I go
to him and ask: what’s the word
- does anyone else make music from the ether?
- debussy and eric satie
- lily’s ether is influenced by no one
- when the air splits in two, sound swells in my head, and the light leaks through.
I’ve lived so little of a life… I want to make things that make me occupy space. I want to stretch my existence into something meaningful and beautiful. It doesn’t have to last. I want something to feel the endurance that I had to feel. I want to be able to better communicate what this has all meant to me; why I continue doing it. Why beyond all rational thought I do the things that hurt myself. Why one action has led to another and why one step brings one to another and impose new ways of thinking about ‘rationality’, ‘meaning’—to live painful enough, but for the pain to have meant something. This is what all great stories of martyrdom and sacrifice lead to, right?
One time when I was younger and coming out of a robotics competition I was eating in a Sbarro with my mom and sister and gunshots came into the mall and I saw people running down the up escalator and flooding the entrances. We had to run out into the parking tower and down into the outside until we were in a sidewalk fenced off from this highway. Two groups of people came clashing in from both ends and a stampede was ensuing. I propped my sister over and then myself (another man put his hand on me to help me get out), and my mom was there on the other end telling us to go on without her. I felt this was a symptom of martyrdom and lack of will. It was the most pathetic sight I’ve ever seen. I told her to take off her shoes and hop the fence. We ran more and into a bus and then got dropped off at a gas station. I went to several more robotics competitions over the next years and whenever I made myself bleed I would clean it with betadine and tell no one.
I am so much of a mirror of my mother: when she would praise and gush and fawn and pose in front of the entire school and then yell in private. I like to do the goodness and the praise for others in quiet and be violent and abrasive in public, because this is how I believe that these things come to be most sincere. Not questioning my mother’s sincerity though; the parts about being repulsed by me were made pretty clear. I mirror the language of love.
A part of me does miss the public performance that we’d do. I was never good at acting but enjoyed the activity in some sense. I loved it so much that I often forgot that it was all fake. Now I don’t really know what it means to be out loud with your love. Now I look back and think of her as nothing more than a child, not so different from myself.
The more ‘objective’ something attempts to be, the more of a human activity it is.
Growing up feels a lot like just experiencing the things that make aphorisms what they are. I needed to feel something before I could start believing in god. Not that I believe in god—this is the closest example I have. Hence lower-case ‘g’ god, right? It could also mean learning what the word ‘aphorism’ means.
When I complain about never having lived a life, it mostly boils down to that. I need to take more from people who can feel wonder and wholeness from something objectively ‘simple’, because ‘gratification’ is of course something we choose ourselves. I think of naming an album after flowers, like anyone does. I think about a body of work so whole to me that nobody will ever understand. I think about myself dead before I turn 22. Many things can signal having lived a life.
I’m hoarding a lot more. Tapes, CDs. I’m preparing for the time when I need to take bits of everything in my life and assemble it into something new; an act I’ve been doing over and over for the past four years. I’m thinking about my childhood bedroom and how they used to throw out gifts and things I liked and how life became easier when I became best friends with girls who never gave each other gifts or gave each other attention when we really needed it. Now I can deteriorate in peace and have nothing to remember them by. Yaya used to play this CD of the Carpenter’s Greatest Hits, and I fell in love with the Carpenters and perhaps with life by it. Sound is my site of memory and is the only thing I haven’t completely lost. If I listen closely enough during the bloodletting, I can hear the gunshot and the rush again. When my room is so silent and I suddenly remember that I don’t know where I’m living in the next few months or who I’ll have, I think about the neverending stream of tricycles and vendor chatter on the streets of Tondo, plus the taste of merengue in my mouth and the memory of freezing Hershey’s Kisses on the sill of our air conditioner until the white cracks would form on the milk chocolate. When the Simpsons movie came out and played ‘Close To You’ I lost my shit and decided that the Simpsons Carpenters’ song would also be played at my wedding. Or at my funeral. Whatever comes first. Except one order allows for two occurrences to happen.
Again I walk up to the highway and stand in the middle of the street and let my hands go so cold that they start clamming and my teeth chatter involuntarily.
When I put my desk up and a project that is essentially my life and don’t know how to explain it I feel intense wishes to make myself more palatable——but I suppose the entire bit about making my life incredibly difficult was to go beyond what is easy/expected and to do things that may only be digestible for a few. And things that are only digestible for a few are necessary. And this isn’t the right audience etc etc but if my entire shtick is about, say, creating spaces for other people to convene in / making it possible for other people to create and then I do all this talk about self-alienation and feeling terrible about myself then it’s quite a bit more understandable that I’m disappointed in the work’s illegibility than a random intensive chemistry major wishing their friend understood their lab work. (I did attend a talk like this and then I stole a bottle of wine from the table.) It does fucking suck though when you’re in an undergraduate thesis show.
Maybe I should sit down and talk to my friends about what I care about. Maybe I should do a solo show. Maybe I should stop calling myself an artist. I’m going to go delete all mentions of ‘artist’ from my page now.
I am so much of my older self but somehow it feels all new. I made a one hour presentation about myself (or rather, my greatest passion, which is just ‘making’ loosely—’making making’ specifically, which sounds more like bullshit). It took me eight hours to make. I had a panic attack when I started it and I had to get high and lay in someone else’s bed to stop the second panic attack and finish it. They kept asking me how old I was when I made X thing, and like many people who bear witness to me, thought I was insane but impressive. Many times I think about how strange it would be if I weren’t impressive—supposing that would just mean that I’m insane. After making the presentation I did step back and think that damn, I guess I really was/am neurodivergent and my parents are really good at hiding anything medically from me and making me feel like I’m shit and that all of that is in my control. Most of it has been in my control. This re-contextualizes many irrational things I do. I wish I was a bit more normal… or perhaps was just not read as a broken thing. Thankfully, leaning this way makes you read as a genius/brilliant in the right company, because that’s what being fucked in the head means anyway.
Maps are already innately very human. This relates to the point earlier about objectivity. Even the way you delineate boundaries and borders—the way you choose to crop the map itself, the place you choose to show and how it is named.
Yes, I regret going to Yale. I regret going to Yale and not making the most out of it even more.
I’m sure this opinion can change later on. I’m busy in the process of making new regrets already… more to come!
A few weeks ago I spoke to an artist strewing magnetic tape over a withering tree next to the lesser-overpriced coffee shop here in Downtown New Haven. I never speak to people. I say this whenever I am speaking to people or not. We had a conversation for about an hour and I turned on my field recorder for the latter 40 minutes. He explained things about pirates, artistry, and the Philippines to me. He told me that nothing ever really touches and that everything we do is just manufacturing closeness; then he paced around me but I didn’t tell him that I could feel us getting closer. I like to see myself bleed to check the color: the incision tells me how deep in my skin I’m getting. He texts me poetry.
Here I ripped off a used MiniDV (the act my professor doesn’t like me doing) that opens with the Crying Nazi. It couldn’t have been that long ago.
Then this family records themselves. The clothes they wear feel like early 2000s Disney; but I also live on a college campus and have no idea of normalcy.
I should go to an outlet mall or a state park to feel the culture again. I should take a long walk until I find something pretty. I should go out tonight and name the things that have yet to be given names. How long have you lived before you really felt the name that was given to you?
Next week I turn 22.