I got this link from L.
I’m just listening and like, ‘What the…’
I wonder what you’ll think.
This is really…
More when I have more.
(Or maybe not. Let me not overthink it.)
This post is for J.
In the old days I would find pics on the internet that felt like they fit the mood for what Kismuth wanted to say and be. Of all the ones I kept, this is my favorite.
To be sure, self-publishing is sometimes seen as a sign that an author believes in his or her work; for instance, photographer-turned-publisher Max Bondi said that “investing in a project shows that you believe in it”.
Nevertheless, part of the reason for the negative stigma is that many self-published books, particularly in past decades, were of dubious quality. For example, in 1995, a retired TV repairman self-published his autobiography in which he described how he had been stepped on by a horse when he was a boy, how he had been almost murdered by his stepfather when he was a young man in Mexico, and how his ex-wife had clawed his face with her fingernails.
The repairman spent $10,000 to have his 150-page masterpiece printed up, and, for promotion purposes, he sent copies to a local library, to the White House, and to everybody with the repairman’s same last name.
These efforts did not lead anywhere; today, the book is largely forgotten. —Wikipedia on ‘Self-Publishing’
The rain came.
The rain stopped, momentarily.
It was one hell of a rain, just now. And I got stuck at a cafe. I got stuck because it was raining so hard I didn’t want to dash even the less-than-four-minute route it would take to get from that spot to this one, where I am, thanks to the spell of a breeze and some sun.
Meantime, while waiting, I chatted someone up and it was incredibly dull. I mean, really dull. I should probably refrain from even saying that because, well, it’s dull and that’s that, right? But as much as I give out about being the way I am (occasional curmudgeon, fully admitted, and antisocial, etc), the truth is, when four plus days pass, having packed everyone off for their own adventures so as to FOCUS and WRITE SOMETHING, and I haven’t spoken to anyone in real life I get a little… wigged out.
Over at DK for the last 38 weeks, I’ve been writing and co-creating a weekly e-mag, S P A C E. It’s kind of been a labor of love, at first, mostly, but with time and continuations and brute-force figuring it out as I go, I’ve discovered a couple of important things.
‘Hug your kids.
‘Don’t work too late.
‘A lot of the things you are likely spending your time on you’ll regret once you no longer have the time.
‘I’m guessing you have 1:1 meetings on the books with a lot of people you work with.
‘Do you have them regularly scheduled with your kids?
‘If there’s any lesson to take away from this, it’s to remind others (and myself) not to miss out on the things that matter.
—J.R. Storment, ‘It’s later than you think,’ on LinkedIn here. ‘Many have been afraid to ask the details surrounding my son’s death. Others who were unaware of it have wondered why I’ve disappeared. Here is the story.’
Found on twitter, via @LeslieFeinzaig
For the last two years, I took a break from Kismuth and my personal projects.
I wanted to see if I could collaborate.
Like, for real. With new people. In foreign lands. Maybe where I didn’t know anyone. Definitely where I didn’t speak what they did.
I guess I had it in mind that it could be a cool, beautiful and interesting way to see what else is ‘out there,’ and co-create with people I had yet to discover, and learn from.
Idealistic. Idyllic. And totally off.
This was a mixed bag.
I can’t stand blogs that go into the whole, ‘I’m so vulnerable’ and silly jazz like that, so I will refrain. But the short awakening was: I can’t work with too many people, and I know that, and I’ve known that for a long time.
Which. Was why. Of course it was why. I had started here. Writing Kismuth.
People would go, ‘Not everyone has the time and luxury to write and travel, like you.’
But yeah. I’m writing more here now. I’ve put together the new issue of Briefly in Sheffield. I loved this story and how people reacted to the zine version of it, which many of us in design like to think of as ‘prototyping’. Although, yeah. Some people think I want to be a ‘zine master.’
I just want to quickly flesh out a story, print it, let people read it, see if they like it. If they do, ask why. If they don’t, ask why.
What else is there?
A new book.
Coming in October. This is This. Pre-Order (USD $15) here.
I’ve written about Latvia, since so many people asked me to talk about it and share all that I had seen. I know it wasn’t a long trip, but for some reason this particular part of the world really held my attention (and I think my community of readers and acquaintances kind of got that, for some reason).
Since my father asked me a billion questions (okay, like four, but that’s a billion these days, isn’t it?), I’m dedicating it to him… RK :)
You don’t have to wait until October to get a sample of what this is going to read like… I’ve already been sharing bits and pieces of the conversations that I had while traveling in Latvia in these four issues of DK’s e-mag S P C, well not really traveling, but rather, looking for the stories in one spot, for six weeks. (I found quite a few, to be honest, but the best-of selections I will share in this new collection, This is This.
The title story in the seven-chapter eBook is based on a really great conversation I had with someone about ‘what art is’ and ‘what it isn’t’, which we both had to iron out for ourselves and then work into some degree of form which then got obliterated, philosophically and aeshetically, on one rather bizarre evening in the still-light night of 9PM.
We thought we had it figured out. Being super esoteric.
But we didn’t know a thing, and found out in a remarkable and weird moment of awakening to… something wildly unusual, unexpected and jarring in its tenacity.
I wrote about it.
That story itself, that’s the highlight of this new collection.
Every month I write a column for Charlotte, NC-based Saathee Magazine called ‘Kismuth & The Way.’ One of the columns featured Riga. You can find it online: read ‘Drifting into Riga’ here >
I’m really excited to share this. It’s been three years since I published a story here at Kismuth, owing, mostly, to the fact that I had committed two years to do the work at Design Kompany called ‘Atelier S P A C E.’ It took me to Singapore, Finland, Malaysia, Thailand, Latvia, and Slovakia. Read more about that here >
Atelier S P A C E wraps up at the end of September. That’s why this new book will come out in October. Atelier S P A C E helped me learn how to write, but more than that, how to listen. To new people. Sharing. Honest sharing… that’s all we ever do around here, at least, that’s what we do in the books. (Real life: harder, erm. Yeah.) Exclusive writing, new photography, black and white graphic art and other things feature in the new eBook.
Atelier S P A C E, though, was a project that I designed in order to get better at listening. Yup. To doing that. And just that. Mostly. That’s what I would do, I said, because that as where I was lacking skills. So I did.
Go and seek the new and different, in faraway places from those that were known and familiar to me.
Go. Talk to people. Uncover real stories about what they care about, wherever they are, and write them as honestly and in a form that’s delightful to read… at least, to do my best with that intention.
Writers always say their most recent work that’s published is their best. And, well… I feel that way about This is This.
Here’s how to pre-order…
‘You should be writing another book, is what.’
‘What you need to do is not think about the other books, but focus on the writings to come. And get them organized and sorted and put together and done.’
‘Yeah, DK. You’re good at finishing things. Why are you not writing another book?’
‘I’m always writing another book. I just… can’t quite… decide on how to organize the chapters and press print and stuff.’
‘Print isn’t the point. Writing is the point.’
‘You’re right, M.’
‘I know I am. Half of this is mostly me telling it to myself.’
‘It’s usually like that, isn’t it, the best advice?’
‘So now what I have to do is just pick one of the stories and flesh it out and make it happen.’
‘Make. It. Happen. Exactly.’
‘Thank you for this useful tight conversation. It wouldn’t have been possible, though, were we not talking already so adamantly about so very many things for the last four years, in real life. I trust your advice now. I trust that you know me well enough to know what it is I must do. Instead of just offering whatever-general-lalala-advice, you’re giving me something I know is customized for me.’
‘So I’m gonna do it.’
‘Do it. You seem to know how to do that, so do it.’
Rarely on these travels do I have the space, really, to stop and think through what I have uncovered. That’s because it’s too in-the-midst-of-it to grapple with all the many pieces of information, and of course an array of feelings and emotions that also play out, often unexpectedly, in these channels of flux and flow. —Read ‘White Noise’, part of DK’s column ‘Kismuth & The Way’, Saathee Magazine
I was writing about this and other things in a few notes, and sharings, here and there in the conversation spaces that I am part of. Some of them are in real life. Some are online. It’s odd, having so many kinds of ways to connect with people but the thing I am learning is that the texture and quality of that kind of space that I most love doesn’t change regardless of the people or place or medium. We are asking questions, together. That’s the main agenda: to query. To quest. I’m cool with this. Not everyone wants to use writing as a way to pursue new insights, discover one’s way towards meaning. Not everyone wants to use writing like that of course not. I mean, some people just want to write so that people will publish them in fat books that go on shelves that end up unread and dusty, especially these days let’s be honest. But they don’t want ot be honest. They want to be ‘published.’ I don’t know about that. For me, it’s just a way of discovering things. People. Mostly people. Who also want to discover. This is really fun. And yeah. I’m working with some of the people I’ve really enjoyed getting to know, over the course of the last few years, especially, because that is the time that I’ve been focusing the most on developing things with a handful of those whose work I respect and whom I know I can count on. Trust. Reliability. These things, for me, are huge. Solid relationships. Are the footing from which you can make remarkable things. I don’t have time for mumbo-jumbo or wishy-washy. I want. To get. To work. And that’s what I’m doing.
Next: where do you find my article, in a zine form? Because of course you want to see it in a zine. :)
The same story, along with other pieces related to this, are also laid out as a zine, S P A C E | ‘White Noise.’ Find it here, in the online store for S P C. Those stories include graphic art and poetry, plus occasional collaborations with other writer-artist-designer friends. Most of whom I’ve met on the road. Ask me about it, sometime.
IT HAS BEEN A RAINY DAY. I’m writing from Vietnam.
Right: I’m in Vietnam again.
A few people who have lost touch with the things related to the life I am traveling, a wacky vector that gives in to chance encounters and sends itself on new torrents of velocities unimaginable, because of that, kind of like sailing, I think, but yeah, those people who are like, what happened to Kismuth, might be surprised and curious to find that I’m well and happy, albeit a bit damp, here in Hanoi.
The beautiful capital city, of a wondrous country, whose landscapes have grown familiar now to me with more than ten, I think, crossings in and out of the borders.
The life is not the kind of life that you would think you would have, if you were the kind of person who was living in a little apartment at one point, wondering if your mortgage loan thing would come back ‘approved.’ Mine did not, that time, because I have always used cash and not a credit card, and three years abroad before returning to those United States which seem less united than ever, from this distance, well, hell, let’s just say I didn’t get stuck in the lending crisis on account of being insistent on always using the cash in my pocket instead of the thing that is the plastic thing that leads to some arbitrary number in a faraway account. I didn’t like the idea, back then, and I don’t like it now. I’m still a cash only person, mostly. When there’s cash, that is.
The rest of the time I’m, um. Inventive.
Every so often I’ll throw some kind of online workshop or program, and that works out. I’ll be happy to meet new people and discover us talking and then, invite a handful into the forums, on our old blogs, where things got more involved. Guess you could call it discussions. And here we are in August. And I’ just underway with three of them. I’m happy about this. I’m very happy. And the rain is subsiding. And momentarily, I’ll get on another call, this time to talk about things related to the universe, space, time, and mirrors, probably, if last time was any indication. Let’s see.
Here we are again in August. I love how even after all this time, I still think of ‘the end of the summer’ as a chance to reflect, review. And September as a chance to start a new ‘semester.’ Of things related to a themed chunk of things. More about that if you are curious. I’ll be happy to elaborate. Sign up for my new mailing list–it’s not here at Kismuth anymore. I finally decided to get things moving, over at dipikkaohli.com. You can find it at the end of the long series on ‘relational aesthetics.’ If the stuff written there resonates, cool. Add your details and let’s see where the train takes us, next.
A train… to the things to come.
Let’s converse? Let’s play.
THIS YEAR, so far in online projects, things are moving in an interesting direction. A giant overarching theme has been coming into shape. People want to talk together share about really big things related to: love, loss, risk, and chance. I get that. It’s kind of a major attractor for me, this idea of leaping into uncertainty. So we talk together about family. Relationships. Life…. Quality. After testing things for a while, it seems clearer and easier, in some ways, that we can develop really great conversation spaces online. More on the way, for those who are connecting, about the next.
TODAY, I’m writing to share a bit of good news about a book of Kismuth’s. I mentioned about it earlier, in this post, but I’d like to expand a bit now.
I wanted to tell you more about the writing and sharing of Kanishka, the pre-quel to The Elopement.
SERIAL. Kanishka‘s first chapter, ‘Orange Juice’, appeared this month in print in the magazine Preet Lari. That was the magazine that hosted me when I was researching the book, as they have a cool co-living program in a village outside of Amritsar. Preet Lari, I understand, will publish all of Kanishka as a serial, monthly. I understand that this usually 100% Punjabi-language magazine has never published anything in English, yet, but has been dancing around with the idea. For a while. They are generations old.
I know from firsthand conversations with my dear friend and editor PS that this was a huge, huge step. And it’s Kanishka. Mesmerizing, to me, because I am floored to think that people in that region of the world who, for thirty years, have also been wondering what happened, will be able to connect with my story, I hope. In some way. From another angle. I wonder if this will circle back, in some way, again, there is only some of most that we can touch, and tap, right? And we can discover something new, together. All this. Connexion. Writing for it. Intrigued by the way the publishing world has changed, such that we can communicate n:n, across time, space and distance.
ABOUT KANISHKA. Hard to write, but important. Why? It’s… deftly coaxed out of me by NPR’s Frank Stasio in a radio interview, which is achived at this page.
Project website: The Art of Not Knowing
TEN YEARS AGO, I used to draw with markers. Just line. Keeping it simple. Trace the edges. This picture (http://dipikakohli.com/pagetwo/) was from a show in Seattle. What is it?, no one dared to ask though I suspected they were thinking that. If they had spoken to me about it, about ‘Wavular,’ this piece, I might’ve said: ‘Groundless, scaleless, boundless. I think.’ I’m still designing spaces for others to experience the ‘wait… what?’ To enjoy, I hope, the not-knowing before you show up. *!
Now, I want to go to places, meet random people, listen to their stories, and write them up into a book, the Art of Not Knowing. The stories would be part of a larger set. A collection that so far has essays, photographical sketches, artworks, zines, and more.
Already woven in are notes from: an unconference in Palo Alto; six sets of Rooftop Philosophy in Phnom Penh; a lunch interview with a particle physicist (‘What is dark matter?’); a cafe conversation with a jazz prodigy (‘But how do you *start* a composition?’) In other words, notable outcomes of experimenting personally with uncertainty 2014-now, so far, are part of it.
BUT THE PAST THINGS feel, even though I love them, too comfortable. To edge out, I want to go to a part of the world where I’ve never explored. Melbourne. I’m in Phnom Penh, where I’ve been for three years (mostly writing the eBook ‘Breakfast in Cambodia’ (Kismuth Books // 2016)). It’s very possible to go and see. I’ve heard good things. Plus, I’m curious. Who might I meet if I go there? What will I discover?
As in Bangkok, when I met a life coach who told me to call my father, chance can radically alter your life. (I called.) As can whim: I randomly emailed an established decades-in-practice musician to ask, ‘How do you keep it real?’ His astonishingly simple and clear answer came back, and I got on a plane to compose ‘On Noteworthiness.’ Art of Not Knowing also has voice recordings, like ‘The Good Stuff.’ Photography pieces. A few collages. Mostly words.
The big idea is to take a plunge, without any clear agenda or formality, and see whom I might meet, and what I might discover. It would be really cool to include people in Melbourne. So far, it’s getting some interesting response.
But all concept art starts with the Idea, and in this instance, it’s embracing the uncertain, unknown, and different. The Art of Not Knowing. More: dipikakohli.com.
EVERY TIME I want to write a book, people tell me I should kickstart it. I don’t do that. They tell me I should write a proposal and shop it around. I don’t do that, either. The reason is because I want to write what I want to write, and discovering what that is necessarily starts with going and seeing what’s there. Not overdesigning it, nor ‘pitching’ it. I can’t. Not for the kinds of projects I’m into. Lately, conceptual pieces, like improvised theater.
The Art of Not Knowing.
A new book.
For those who are here, and who support this work of writing for connection, I invite you to pre-order at this page.
Many thanks! I’ll send it on 1 June.
THE FIRST FEW TIMES I WAS THINKING, ‘I want to write,’ I guess I was still a kid. I had this notion that you could do it, you could do anything, if you just wanted to enough. Not knowing that there would be a whole lot of people trying to tell you, no, no no, that’s not what you do with your life. When you write, it’s your hobby. When you work, you know, you make money. That’s how it is. Writing is a dream for some people who are idle and rich. Focus. On the tasks at hand. Which are practical, which have everything to do with making it happen, for the things that make sense, because they have to, otherwise… well. Otherwise there would have been no point in existing the way I have chosen to exist… I imagine I hear these things—and I’ll come back to that—I’d imagine, and in this imagining, I’d verbalize it.
I’d state it, like was a fact.
To anyone who’d listen, I’d say, ‘You can hear these things in people’s heads,’ you insist, covering up for yourself on the why question, the why you’re not writing for real, the stuff you want, and you are working at a newspaper because it feels… like the right thing to do, instead. You intellectualize and come up with reasons not to put words together the way you want, the way that some of the most intriguing people, in foreign lands and closeby, will say really inspire them.
Then you will know, but only then that it doesn’t matter about practicals. Until then you are insisting. Saying you have to write for the papers, the magazines, put the freelance-y bits together so… you can… get more work like that. ‘You really, really can hear everyone telling you how it should go. They are there in the everywhere… ‘ Except the day you stop and see. That they are not at all in the everywhere. On that particular eve or morn, you see, at once and forever from that point forward, that they are ringing about, all right, but only in your head.
Accepting the new directions. They are making their own case to exist. —KM
THE FALL OF 2015. Sweden. A small boat harbor. A little bit of time and space. Me, my writing stuff. A couple of black pens and an empty grid notebook. The big idea was to go and discover about ‘uncertainty’. I mean, it was pretty open-ended. Sure it was. That was the point of it. I didn’t know this at the time, but I was going to run into a bunch of people who might, just might, change my outlook on how things are. How things go. What things mean, don’t mean, and what they might look like if you just shift the angle, change the lens. Another universe, for me.
Cool and Novemberish, the autumn. Such a discrete opposite to the same time of year in Cambodia, my home-away-from-home-away-from-home. A long story, this drifting into new territories.
You could say it’s inspired by Situationism, but I think it’s more about my situation. Getting lost on purpose starts with some degree of, let’s just be direct… necessity. Nobody who is comfortable where she is would really opt to get out there and get lost… would she?
To sort of figure out what the heck was going on with my life, I did something I very infrequently do. I wrote poetry. Poetry! Of all things. Yet it fit. The more the little boat rocked, oh yes, just a little gale, but also quiet sometimes, but then super cold and even -7 one day, that’s CELSIUS, I got faster and shorter with my notes. I didn’t write the novel. Not quite. I am in the middle of it now, though.
It’s two years later, for sure, and I’ve been to a bunch of other places in the meantime. But the story from there, the interviews and the conversations that shaped the new thinking (which inspired the title, a title I can’t share yet because you know how it is when you talk too much about something and then you sort of lose interest in your own idea? Well, yeah, that). I need to share the gleanings, the learnings. The Denmark and Sweden of my six weeks in Scandinavia. If you scroll down on this page, under ‘links to essays,’ you’ll find ‘Six weeks in Scandinavia.’ Oh! One of the people I met was playing an incredible song and I drew it, and now it’s on their CD. That’s what the pic is about. Chance. Uncertainty. Serendipity. The road.
If you’re curious about the new book that’s coming out, check it out.
Here we go.
It’s starting. The new writing.
I love this part.
AN UNLIKELY CONNECTION, but a powerful one. I have a lot to share about the conversations that began in virtual space and grew, and bloomed, into a remarkable collaboration. Here’s a hint.
A Punjabi-language magazine. A place for people to come and learn and write and make space to discover, and co-discover.
(Was I reading into it? I wasn’t sure. This is what my impression was, taking away from the internet gleanings on Wikipedia about Gurbaksh Singh, who edited Preetlarhi magazine.)
Took the risk in late 2013, from a hotel in Gangtok.
Could I ask about the writing residency there, I wrote into a form on their website. Could I know more about it, perhaps, since I’ve, um, I’ve got this story I want to write, and that would mean having to come to Amritsar?
I was typing on a digital tablet, which like me, was on the brink. Fumbling our way around India, with no plan or agenda or expectations. Or money. Could we make it to Punjab? If we got invited, we would find a way. And we did. A lot of bus transfers, via Kathmandu and this dusty border town at Nepal-India. Chandigarh. Et cetera. But that was just the road journey, to Preetnagar.
What happened next? So much. But the story continued, as we kept in touch ambiently through the next four years. Here we are in April 2017. And this month, Preetlarhi published in English the first chapter of Kanishka. All kinds of things to say about this, but for the moment, it’s just, ‘Wow.’