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12/01 Direct Link
Those days – all night out at a club or party, continuing into the next day: euphoria and intoxication from both that consumed and sleep deprivation. Distorted perception or really the complete clarity of heightened awareness?

The intensity and imagination, revelation through unconventional experiences. I miss that, I really do. But although part of me would love it again, I know it would be different. Never the same as the first time!

Perhaps I now enjoy the illusion of the “real” too much.

What amazes me most is that some of those party people from back then are still at it.

12/02 Direct Link
She’s standing in front of me, and I’m captivated.

Her face – lips, full, eyes, angled in sensual curves, dark, exotic. A face upon which I’d be content to gaze a long time, perhaps a lifetime. And then the fantasy kicks in, and I’m projecting unfolding futures in my mind, all with that face, that face. I notice that whereas years ago the context would have been sexual, nowdays I’m projecting a perfect personality character onto this beautiful vision.

Suddenly she leaves the train, and my life. I’m gutted, but then realize that within minutes another will have taken her place.
12/03 Direct Link
Design Festa – more of the same (this time it seemed much more of the same), but amongst the previously-seen and the completely uninteresting there are always some gems, work which inspires me and triggers new ideas – desire to adapt their style, or master new techniques.

There’s a certain similarity between most of the things I find inspiring there – a graphic/illustrator flatness and a natural feeling or content.

I was truly moved by a man playing ukelele with an octopus on his head, his work seemed so filled with love. I felt so humbled – self-consciously tense and desensitized in comparison.

12/04 Direct Link
I’m accumulating music at a furious rate, far faster than I’m able to take it all in. The available choice (thanks to technology) is wider than ever, but with constant searching/collecting I’m rarely listening to, becoming familiar with, or truly appreciating any of it.

Pre-internet I’d eagerly anticipate a new release weeks or months in advance and after the excitement of the purchase would, over the next couple of weeks, grow to know every note, lyric, drum break and guitar lick like intimate friends.

“Things were so slow, simple and worthwhile back then” I say, sounding like an old man.

12/05 Direct Link
A memory a day. Maybe a photo, maybe a place, maybe an event or action or food or thought. Regardless of form, one significant new memory is a worthwhile target.

Last Wednesday I bought 2 kinds of small fish from a vendor at Okachimachi. On Saturday afternoon I looked at a big yellow tree in Ueno Park. The other night as I walked along the path to put out the rubbish, it was incredibly cold but I wore no coat in order to feel the air fully.

Small but memorable moments. Seemingly pointless, but in fact personal, vivid, unique, precious.

12/06 Direct Link
It’s difficult to work out – in some ways I’m incredibly responsible but in others I avoid responsibility at all costs.

I think high, perhaps highest in my subconscious list of priorities is “keeping options open”. It would clearly explain my love of short-term but resistance to long-term commitments, my versatility, and a tendency to begin new things immediately I feel I’m becoming habitual.

It’s a great priority but with significant costs: little security, the constant effort of starting over, the ongoing self-doubt and sense of alienation.

Occasionally these seem excessive - maybe I could try breaking the habit of keeping options open…

12/07 Direct Link
Beginning new work. Difficult. Such inertia to overcome. Reading Terry’s words reminded me that small steps matter, that doing anything can be worthwhile. I’ve resisted buying paper on which to draw as I’ll be obliged then to act in a time of uncertainty and lack of clear direction! But no more. It’s time to start. Even 15 minutes a day, just to gain some momentum. And just like doing these 100 words, setting some strict limits may actually generate an interesting kind of liberation. Today’s words feel difficult, tomorrow who knows, but over time a fascinating bigger picture inevitably emerges.
12/08 Direct Link
A brief interlude. A huge list of small things to sort out. Money things mostly, and all overseas which always proves a hassle.

So easy when you can just pick up a phone and talk, but with time differences and my working times I have to do things after 11:30pm, which gives me about a 90 minute window of UK time. If the person is out, busy, has left work early, or even simply needs to check something, then I have to wait until the next day.

Ridiculously simple things can take a week or more. Really pisses me off.
12/09 Direct Link
Last night met my fellow high-school classmates from 1983 on a vast plain. Everyone was in fancy dress. African native children played across the river.

After watching dozens of surfers riding a huge wave which had engulfed London and was heading up the mountains to where we played, I followed for a while, and on my return most of the people remaining were sleeping in an old villa with a mazelike network of tatami rooms, devoid of furniture, softly lit, and with sliding screen doors lined with gold leaf.

Conversations, sex, then me the only person left awake, wandering, wondering…
12/10 Direct Link
I’ve still the luxury of freedom from meaning in Japan. Sometimes I don’t ever want to understand kanji – a Kit-Kat wrapper can still look exotic with its soft colours and flourish of Chinese script. I look at images and fall into them uninfluenced by surrounding words’ meaning.

Words have a habit of stopping the eye, almost impossible to ignore. Occasionally here I see English words – they leap out crying “Read me! Read me!”

Images allow a viewer to choose. Words don’t. They’re tiring.

Free from the written language, Japan for me is composed solely of images and therefore incredibly relaxing…
12/11 Direct Link
The thought of an American teacher replacing me sits really uneasily. Aside from the fact that a number of students have specifically stated they want an English English teacher, I feel that without a European the school’s energy will be unbalanced.

A stunning girl is listening to cassettes in the train. Once she raises her head I realize she’s not so beautiful. Amazing how someone can look incredible from one angle yet plain from another. Beauty hides. Discovering it in unexpected places is always a delight. I just need to remember to savour my frequent discoveries a little bit longer.

12/12 Direct Link
Sitting on E’s balcony yesterday, such great conversation, open and tuned in to the complete unreality of everything, ideas and theories bounding in great leaps, profundity and meaninglessness in equal measure…..couldn’t have wished for better. Art and God, tea and city lights, love and food packaging. I see this friendship continuing a long time.

Now once more in trainland, 6 days of work left, already missing people but also itching to dive into self-study and creation again. Winter’s a good time for that. Tea and darkness. A cosy envelope in which to focus. Anticipation is lovely, makes life seem hyperreal.

12/13 Direct Link
What’s that guy good at? Singing? No. Acting? No. Sport? No.
Is he funny? No.
Interesting to listen to? No.
Intelligent? No.
Charismatic? No.
Sexy? No.

Then why for f’s sake is he so popular?? Why is his face splashed across ads, billboards and magazines? To attain celebrity in Japan requires such different criteria than the West. Even though the reasons for celebrities’ fame often seem trivial, I don’t begrudge them popularity if they have a gift, excel in some way – even if it’s just being good at looking good.

But this guy – why??? I just can’t fathom it at all.

12/14 Direct Link
It’s interesting how he can sleep with (what sounds like) hardcore vocal Eurotrance blasting in his earphones. He must be either so familiar with it, or so tired, that it’s ignorable – both quite impressive.

Italian colours adorn the ceiling of the next carriage. Nothing to do with Italy – simply alternate red, white and green-coloured advertisements along the length. Corporeal memories sweep through me - sunshine, coffee, red wine, parks, cobblestone patterns, freedom.

Others here likely have no such associations in this moment. Perhaps I alone am in Firenze and Verona. 16 sleepers around me. I wonder what dream destinations they’re visiting…

12/15 Direct Link
Friday. Hopefully in the next 3 days I’ll finally resolve these sites – these last adjustments have taken weeks. A major factor being communication delays – a designer and client both with variable schedules and in opposing time zones – a recipe for unavailability!

Once this teaching job ends I must either find a working space away from home (or rather the internet) or eliminate my internet addiction. The former has proven elusive so far (2 years searching) and the latter requires complete absorption (and thereby undivided attention) in what I’m doing.

I also need to work smarter – find a focus and become masterful.

12/16 Direct Link
Some people act with no sense of fairness. The owner of the building has decided to increase my ground rent by 800%, yet for other flats in the building it remains unchanged.

Our contract gives him the right, but the very definition of ground rent makes obvious that he can’t possibly justify it. Ethically speaking, it has to be everybody or nobody.

The neighbours say he’s a crook, that he’s ripping me off. Ethically unacceptable but legally permissible - an intensely frustrating situation.

Yes, society operates by law, but there could be so much more harmony if people acted fairly.

12/17 Direct Link
I found some old postcards of Japan. Many were far older than those I bought – black and white shots of Yokohama after an earthquake, temples maybe long since gone, unidentified country scenes. But unfortunately, although potentially of great historical interest, the terrible quality of the images left me uninspired.

No, I ended up buying the 1950’s supersaturated colour shots, looking somewhere in between handpainted photographs and realistic illustrations. Images of a vivid and bright retro-modern world, postcard views but populated with human figures, vehicles, or lights at night – all in a wonderful almost-fake colour palette. A safe, happy, fictional world.

12/18 Direct Link
I started early so I could have a productive day. Before I knew it, it was 2pm and hardly any work had been done. A period of focus and suddenly it was 6. A coffee, quick check of email, etc. and it was 8!

Bloody hell. I’m sure that “etc” has some mysterious way of sucking time into a vortex.

Almost 11 hours at the computer and all I have to show is a redesigned but still not working navigation page. All the other things I could have done!

Life slips away, unnoticed, even when I’m focused on being productive.

12/19 Direct Link
Looking forward to Japanese end-of-year: Christmas is a normal day and new year is welcomed in with a peaceful evening visiting shrines, standing by bonfires and enveloped by the deep resonant tolling of enormous temple bells. Calm, community spirit, space to contemplate the transition.

A far cry from Western new year celebrations - the drunken carnage of more unmemorable parties, or a quiet night in with the nagging feeling that one should be out, as if staying home is proof of being either a sad bastard with no friends or a grumpy killjoy who refuses to join in the spirit of celebration.

12/20 Direct Link
Having delayed purchase for six months now, I’m finding it difficult to choose a new digital camera. I well recognize the marketing strategy of the manufacturers - how every model lacks at least one crucial feature, and how despite an endless cycle of upgrades, always something is lacking. I realize one has to jump in at some point, but by wishing to make that leap without reservation one seems destined to remain an observer forever.

In a similar way to life in general, I suppose one must prioritise certain features at the expense of others. Trouble is, my priorities change daily!

12/21 Direct Link
What limit to the compromises we willingly make in love’s name? To stay together may require permanently giving up something to which one is strongly attached but the other is not.

I don’t mean ethical conflicts but conflicts of desire. Who gives up their position…unconditionally?

Love is giving, love is putting the other first.
But giving up one’s dreams? One wants children, the other doesn’t. Not a temporary or reversible choice.

To suffer great pain now in order to avoid potentially greater future pain – would this be wise or stupid? Would such a choice be based on love or fear?

12/22 Direct Link
New ideas are gestating. They’re still very undeveloped, but I’m very much aware of the blurry things swimming around in the deeper reaches of my being. More feelings than ghost images of what to make. Patience…they’re definitely friendly creatures and will surely come to the surface when they’re ready.

On the way home after the last working day of the year, feeling slightly melancholy, there’s a guy next to me reading manga featuring a small dog pissing on the floor and a surprised owner. The next story is of huge guns and mutilated bodies, then a girl with big tits…

12/23 Direct Link
If the painting was stolen, it would have to then be well-hidden. Once in a home it would be quite safe but moving, especially internationally, would be tricky. Any customs checks would invite high risk of discovery, whether it was carried or posted. It could be concealed in the same frame as another painting and then shipped with a number of others - could be much safer.

The eventual return of the painting is problematic too. Posting it locally would be extremely risky – the ability of authorities to trace the sender, especially with London’s CCTV, could result in easy detection.

12/24 Direct Link
Kamakura was beautiful. From temples in the early morning light to a beach walk after nightfall. And the small hand has only just reached 6. The guy opposite wears brown ankle-boots, and the reflection of light combined with the wrinkles in the leather has painted an image of the sky seen through towering trees. I guess that means I’m seeing heaven inside his foot.

A strange character with head in the shape of a water drop, filled with pink liquid on whose surface floats a yellow duck. I wonder who conceived of him. It’s cute but slightly disconcerting. His brain?

12/25 Direct Link
Someone said “How crazy is that!” when I mentioned December 25th is just a normal business day here. In fact for most people in the world that’s the case. But for people in a few Christian countries it has certain meaning and truth – December 25th IS different.

The beauty of travelling and living in different countries, I realized years ago, is that the notion of “truth” becomes revealed for what it is – just a concept, a (usually consensual) local belief. There’s no actual truth in “truth”.

I now find it quite easy to believe in nothing – or anything. Equanimity rules.

12/26 Direct Link
The guy is cracking his knuckles in front of me. I remember reading long ago that the noise is a release of gas bubbles in the joints but doesn’t do any damage despite the grisly sound. I have to confirm – it could be a simplified description, or a myth.

Other things I’ve checked recently after passing thoughts occurred: How cheese is made in different flavours and textures. How popcorn works. Digital projector technology. The world’s biggest waterfalls. How tornadoes form. All fascinating in the moment but often forgotten afterwards.

I remember that I once knew, but not what I once knew.

12/27 Direct Link
An afternoon with a friend discussing current plans and projects but also the nature of our relationships – how we’re frustrated by not being productive enough and would get so much more done if we were single, and how we choose to be in relationships nevertheless. Sometimes longing for the complete freedom of singledom despite our partners giving us as much space/freedom as we want! Could we just be lazy bastards? I find it easy myself to blame it on the internet, but of course that’s just a handy excuse for not having the self-discipline to focus on what’s really important.

12/28 Direct Link
A fork in the road. 2 interesting looking paths. As moods change, each in turn holds more appeal. In both the short and long term each path holds promise and worth in different ways. They also seem mutually exclusive.

“You can have anything you want” said Peter, “but you can’t have everything you want.” Wise words I never forget.

Stuck in procrastination, unwilling to relinquish my attachment to either. I wish one path had a stronger pull. Not wanting to choose a direction on a whim, but through reason or inspiration. Neither comes, or rather both do in equal measure.

12/29 Direct Link
A dream of procrastination, trust and doubt. Selected with 4 others for a major group art exhibition/interview, a few days to prepare, others decisively and immediately began work.

But I wandered, talked to people, wondered what work to make and in what medium. Advice from others, night conversations, major concern about lost time and failure, but in other moments trust that I’d conceive something worthwhile just in time. Or maybe I’d improvise a performance piece.

Vague ideas but mostly my mind filled with conceptual models of the situation itself. Seeing the bigger picture, wanting to express it artistically, not knowing how.

12/30 Direct Link
Today the appalling news that Saddam Hussein was executed. Pure revenge. When will people grow up?

Even if he was a murderer, murdering him just creates yet another murderer. Nothing becomes “better”. The message seems: as long as you’re on the side of the “good guys”, murder is ok. Fucking disgraceful.

What a terrible year it has been for peace worldwide. So much unjustified aggression and killing, sickeningly condoned by our elected “leaders”.

Such atrocities carried out against public opinion, these leaders following their own warped agendas.

Democracy? What democracy is there when the other parties’ leaders would do the same?

12/31 Direct Link
Dusk.
I stand silently and watch the sky fade behind and above the buildings.
I watch a bird flying to the southeast, I watch slowly flashing red lights on far-distant buildings seen through gaps between other rooftops. I watch a group of insects hover-dancing in silhouette against a darkening green-indigo sky.

I wonder who’s in those distant places.
Another bird flies by, flapping, wings, shadow.

Lights are glowing as 2006 races away, away.

A still, silent, beautiful evening. Colours alive, rich, deep, soft.

Changing bluish glow in a distant window. A television. Someone’s missing the profound beauty I’m witnessing.