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i think you might need to talk about what 'this useless tool' means instead of what you just wrote.  | .../080415/

this useless tool is the umbrella title for a larger series of case studies/performances centred around what I began referring to as  'cultivated mythologies' - primarily the myths surrounding top/bottom/dom/sub positioning/dynamic/expectation and a predominant queer aesthetic.

Having recently moved away from a North American racial politic into a Eurocentric one, it became increasingly clear that I should reexamine where I now stand as an Asian, American, and/or Asian-American (and/or) Queer Man. Clarice Lispector once claimed that something "gains its secret previously invisible roundness when seen from a high-flying plane.”  These subjects I once pushed aside in denial, given contextual distance, revealed an urgent desire within me - that it was time to address the personal and the...blah blah blah. Thus, this useless tool also became a query made through personal filters - the Asian body as sidekick, as invisible minority, as fetishised body, as unwanted body, eunuchised in many eyes, greater so within my own.

‘1, this useless tool [this folded flower]’ is the beginning of redefining this liminal space of ‘displacement’ as ‘suspension.’ Plainly stated, this is my desire to inhabit the space I exist in, rather than just suggest or describe it.

Can I reclaim my own physical body from the gaze of others and from my own embedded prejudice? This perceived body serves as a tool as well as a container for the tools we are given to process information: the mind, the genitals, what one is exposed to and what conclusions one comes to, or lack thereof.

This experience of the Asian man sidelined in racial debates, in cultural desire, is admittedly nothing new, and therein lies the issue.   Eng-Beng Lim describes the genre of gay Asian performance’s “critical gambit” as “neither liberatory nor transgressive in terms of a measured ‘outcome’ or identity, but rather functions as an epistemic irritant to self-evident telling, to uncritical desires, and to fixed identities.” 

 

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Shortly after the premiere of 'this useless tool, this folded flower' at Abrons Art Center in New York City (March 28, 2015), I returned to Berlin to pursue my Master's Degree in Solo/Dance Authorship at Hochschulübergreifendes Zentrum Tanz. The process, admittedly, has been a tricky one - a sudden return to academic institution, structured methodology, and mandatory social interaction brought me immediately back to a state of insecurity and questioning. Reminded me of the times as a child when I would have to ask the person at the counter at McDonald's for a cup of water. I would walk up to the counter, stare up at them, dead silence, then run away.  There is something peculiar about starting something new before having any time to decompress and debrief. (By something peculiar, I mean, it really isn't for me.) Regardless, I had to develop something, and I already embarked on this solo series, so might as well jump into the next one, a lot of the groundwork, or so I thought, had already been made. I bought a notebook to write in. Here are several selected entries that would better describe my thought process. There are other scribbles and thoughts that have not been captured in this notebook. Some are collected images. Some are video or sound files. Some are electronic notes made on a gadget while in transit or exercises in possible performance texts and structures. This is a curated view of my work to be laid out as evidentiary artefact. 

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 Captured image for research, Blankenfelde

Captured image for research, Blankenfelde

To find the poetics. Trying. face to face. being. going. plainly speaking. line over and through, a through line finding. like a normal conversation. person having. to do all of the talking, going. a chance to respond robbed. twisted line of communication between. U, a flatline, slack jawed. this slow traverse. towards closing. gap. having. no, really not. somewhere between laid. between. lies. so, perhaps has. no. where from a sudden coming wonder. if from somewhere, next? here to there. but then fuck thinking. the earth sitting. there laid out. like a limp dick roused awake, engorged, enraged, waiting. an extension of something out-reaching, grabbing. to begin with, wouldn’t have come between. But there, sort of, in the wind, swinging, less so. really. well. just flaccid, down, plopped. a hair to the left leaning. usually, in some sorted home or shell encased. from the elements protecting silently on earth beneath legs beneath feet. twitching. there, fucking. business minded. in this immediate situation obvious. stepped simply on. before that all feeling teenager, locked in, repeated rejected love notes. to be opened again. never. coupled, repeated, slammed down emotion. on/over stepped heart. holes filled, cold, keep it together in staples maybe. though even now with tiny pinpricks and more holes, metal. so so. a team no longer being the immediate urge. at cost response correctly avoided. avoid all costs. continue to stand here, staring, waiting, the fuck to do with knowing. no. i don’t. weird fucking, a heart. there. lying. valve, 4 chambers, pumping, stood on an outpouring of blood forming muscles body mind, skin. this earth. a metaphor soiled. to go there, pick it up and continue.
the wood the penis the sword the ploughshares the cannot put it down the uncarved the path the return

what would it be for the turn to be the same amount of time
each measured line.
each line taking the same amount of time to deliver. so that the performance of a text. or a line or a book is the act of being within this carefully timed system? is that the burden? is that the task at hand? what is the fragment?
the movement in time signature, the spacial in time signature, the text in time signature, the song in time signature. what is dictated?

what are the paramour rights of the antebellum south? Zora Neale Hurston
 Common rehearsal room scene

Common rehearsal room scene

we have this earth
we have this soil
we have this field
we have this moment
we have this burden
we have this beast.
we have this unnerved animal.

perhaps its something about this egg
that’s dropped on the ground. and then what is it used for. do we scoop it up. do we leave it there to sink into this soil.


why am i focused on a heart.
is there any reason to have a heart
why should a heart be anything of value

this should be about a seed.
this should be about farming
this should be about something that is from the earth and not from the body.
this is from the body

there is this painful awareness that I don’t really know what the hell i am actually talking about

perhaps it is about the weather. is that a line from einstein on the beach?

how do i access these metaphors, where do i start. what is the setup?

do i have any relationship to the farm. why should it all be about the farm.
do i want to look at the yoke? is this useful?

——-

collect this body,
body of collection there is this collective body of work a shared labor of something that expands and implodes and i wonder where it is all going and how we are supposed to inflate inflagrate(?) flagellation
my dad’s brother just added me on facebook
oh dear lord
what to do?
put him on a limited profile
what does that mean?
you can add him as a friend but put him on a limited access profile.
don’t do anythign with it yet and i will take care of it on wednesday
„grin“-Emoticon
thanks dad
that’s my job.
i am listening to taiwanese folk music, aboriginal and whatnot to try and get me inspired to write some sort of musical sung prologue before my farm piece
send me a link?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaEejzinXaE
阿美族傳統複音歌謠
屬台東阿美群-送行.節慶.祭典時會唱的複音合唱歌謠 這首歌得來不易-已經很少有老人家會唱這首歌了
youtube.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNs_5Lk8CLc
are you familiar with ainu yukar and sami joik?
ainu. yes
the okinawan. yes?
okinanwan?
no
ainu is hokkaido
oh. oops
hahaha
have a listen
shall i find you some?
sure
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXBRZi1MVz0
thats ainu yukar
why do you mention these two?
great hair action here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI8dbrrPKB4
cos the rhythms of the first clip you sent me reminded me
hhaha
and of course i guess some part of my brain connected three types of aboriginal vocal / rhythmic song
that’s true
i can hear similarities.
here is a sami joik. the music kicks in about 0.55
so, how much do you know about taiwanese aboriginal matters?
not a whole lot
but some
growing up
in taiwan.
so i need to do some research.
and i have a sneaking suspicion that people on my father’s side are aborigine.
臺灣原住民 is the correct term?
ye
very interesting
a friend of mine who is adopted did his DNA test recently
his ma was a filipina showgirl
but he found out that she was virtually fully aboriginal
and that his unknownpa’s DNA was from the UK
mostly welsh
hmm interesting.
i am not that interested in a dna test though
i m interested in how weird the whole DNA test thing is
we talked about that before
„smile“-Emoticon
yes
just thinking about appropriation like the greek myths.
explain more
because i have been singing random notes in my rehearsals. and in the shower, and throughout the day.
and i was thinking about the negro spirituals. and that’s definitely off limits
why is it off limits?
but oddly when i listen to some of this, there is a similarity to what i have been singing
i am not ready to invite a conversation about blackness yet.
my suggestion would be to not edit your inspiration YET
allow it all in
just cos you let it in, doesn’t mean you need to put it on a stage
because that also brings in american slavery and racial issue.
with you underneath it
and i have let it in.
but i am not interested. because part of the race discussion in the united states is the fact that i am not part of it.
its black and white.
and the asian voice is the lack of one
there is another debate alongside it though
that is not the only conversation to be had
i don’t follow.
so, the music you are looking at is all connected to diaspora and displacement
the movement of peoples onto a land
or off one
all the music you are being inspired by is agricultural to some extent (in the widest sense)
and comes from cultures that are deeply tied to their ‘earth’ but have been dispossessed
either by being squeezed out by an incoming population
or by being forced into diaspora
i would suggest the diasporic elements could be a deeply fruitful vein for you to mine
that is perhaps true.
but the negro spiritual is different.
it invites in the element of slavery.
and the element of the bible.
the negro spiritual is diasporic
as is the jewish spiritual it is ‘descended’ from
in some senses, the old testament is purely a diasporic text
the tying to earth / mud / dirt is very strong here
but i am not sure what the ideas of all this is headed though.
i already have too many tangents as it is.
and it’s getting more complicated.
EARTH dau yang
the lament for the soil
it’s getting to teh point where i am giving up
the loss of the connection to the earth you wish to slog through
its not a tangent but rather a looping back
in relationship to my relationship with white men and being seen an objectified piece of ass to be bred like cattle?
diaspora is dispossession
right?
we’ve been working with the metaphor of the earth right?
yeah
it’s turning that way yes
so where does this connection between the earth and your cattle-bred ass come from?
a series of blurred lines.
i am not sure.
yes but why this grand metaphor/
and why are you singing the music of dispossession to yourself?
i have no idea.
hahaha „smile“-Emoticon
ok.
an idea:
the music that you are being inspired by are essentially laments for loss of territory / connection / homeland
loss of identity and self
uprooting
that was badly put
but i know what i mean
loss of place
”the skin of this earth that we both suppose we stand on”
hmm
i wrote that a while ago.
if we are not OF the earth, then what are we?
when the connection to the earth is gone, what is left?
and something else along the lines of you are entering me from behind which makes me a step ahead of you and yet you are still light years ahead of me.
its not a discussion of race
*necessarily* a discussion of race
i think there’s a general ‘you’ or ‘we’ that i haven’t figured out yet.
it can be
yes that would make sense
i think questions to ponder might be;
dispossessed of what?
by whom?
a lot of this stems from the idea that it is also tied into this very specific standard of beauty.
a white man.
and once dispossessed of one thing, delivered into what else?
and the beefcake images, make me think of beef, or cattle, of breeding. of being unrooted.
and yet stuck in these channels that i have ploughed for myself.
and for ‘you’
i have to sleep „smile“-Emoticon
lets continue this chat tomorrow
x
great. now i will spend the next 6 hours awake. and mildly pissed off.
have a wank
sleep like baby
„kiss“-Emoticon
doesnt work that way for me
good night
Damn. Always works for me xxx
Ende der Chat-Unterhaltung
Vom Messenger gesendet
— MESSENGER CONVERSATION with R.A
 an example of the Boustrophedon style of writing as taken from Wikipedia.

an example of the Boustrophedon style of writing as taken from Wikipedia.

 mental note, june 18th, 2015 (School Notebook)

mental note, june 18th, 2015 (School Notebook)

 image drawn thinking of the yoke of the shoulders, the head, the fields, and an unending line as in the Boustrophedon. (School Notebook)

image drawn thinking of the yoke of the shoulders, the head, the fields, and an unending line as in the Boustrophedon. (School Notebook)

 Image recurred in later Rhodia notebook entry.

Image recurred in later Rhodia notebook entry.

trying to shake something loose. june 1, 2015

Where does agency lie in mythology? Is the vortex the vortex of your escape, your creation – or, is it the vortex of the world within which you practice your cultivation?


There is this constant return to the idea of ‘agency’ in so much as people are equipped with the capacity to act (in a philosophical sense) and in particular to the question at hand, where the agency lies in mythology. ‘Mythology” in this case, is something that i admittedly have taken as an expanded view. I do not refer to ‘mythology’ as a utilization of classic myths, European or otherwise, but more so as this level of cultivated mythologies that are consistently and constantly created/being created - particularly the issues of male masculinity, of racial power structures, of desires, carnal or otherwise, dictated by societal or cultural values (or desire.) And that goes back to the same thing. What is the agency that lies within this slightly expanded, bastardized definition of mythology? (I understand that the word will always connote a struggle between gods and men, etc and, of course, that is also under consideration.) However, first and foremost, if I can even feel secure in saying that, is that the agency lies in the understanding that these constructs, these myths, are part fallacy and part reality. Through the acceptance of the nature of the myth, we then have the agency to manipulate, access, refute, or even participate in it at will. We, meaning, me, you don’t have to come along. If I put it into an example - I am simultaneously attracted to and suspicious of white men. Is it my/our? inherent mythology that has created this godlike archetype in the shape of a white man? If I know that this is something on one side, bred within me, and yet also potentially genuine, where should I draw the line? The push and pull of desire, the idea of wanting something that is bad for you, these are all things I come in conflict with. I want the thing that is so bad but it feels so good. Sometimes you want to be objectified even though you are not an object. (Or are you?) Within this vortex (vortext...hahaha) the capacity to act is always there, the question is when and how the actor wants to act upon it.

As I continue to process the information at hand, the vortex, in theory, is both parts creation and escape. I have been a guilty party in the creating, sustaining and, empowering of these myths. The goal is not to eradicate it, to extract myself but as you say, where the practice is located. I assume that through doing or acting (and not simply having the ability to) is a means for passing through the debris that is swirling around outside/inside of you. I do not believe there is a solution, but I do feel it is crucial. If I can find the eye of the vortex, then I can simply see what is spinning and not get hit across the head with it - to find a moment of rest within an exponentially growing storm. And now time is up.
— 30 minute writing exercise for Constanze Schellow. May 2015

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The last entry of the abandoned notebook, hopefully to be picked up again after October 12, 2015 is as follows, paragraphs denote the flipping of the page:

12.8.15

I have not picked up pencil in a long time. I have considered much. I performed on Fire Island with Jen Rosenblit, met other queer performers, bodies. Fire Island is considered a “gay utopia.” I cried on one of my last days. It saddened me - bearing witness to a gaggle of young gays trashtalk an affluent elderly couple who took them in, fed them, sheltered them, entertained them. There was a sudden rush of feeling humiliated for them, for my perceived participation, and I wept. And yet I knew this was their (the couple’s)

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regular engagement in the summers, weekly, yearly. I can say with certainty that they know what happens behind closed doors. I will not share this more than I have, for fear of humiliating anyone further. In this journaled absence, I’ve hemmed and hawed, looking for solace in thinking outside of words in capitals and quotes: “Theory” “Practice” “Academia” but it becomes a struggle towards and away from it - this body of words.

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Leading up these moments is reflection, my own imposed misery and confusion. Sounds entirely melodramatic but I have the flair for that as well. There is no understanding of the immediate truth. There is only the potentiality of it, which one can say is enough. Which one can call hope, or faith, or belief. So what is this now? I have been looking to this ‘cultivated mythology’ of masculinity, of aesthetic, of words that speak to the beast of burden or the burden of the beast, carried squarely on shoulders. But as I turn the

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soil and the plough, looking for seeds, kernels, roots, combing the fields in one continuous thin line, I think I might have overstepped. and much like a knit jumper, I feel compelled to unravel these half formed stitches and reform the holes that I left in my hasty attempt to find fullness. This is a sticky moment - so many convoluted metaphors aside, to attempt to re-right (rewrite?) the plough in the middle of a task, in a vast field. Perhaps, though, this is the crucial point to hone in on. How does one find the earth without considering

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My current reading list

Humiliation - Wayne Koestenbaum

The Master’s Tools - Audre Lorde

Extravagant Abjection - Daerick Scott

View from the Bottom - Eng-Beng Lim

Cruising Utopia - Jose Munoz

What happens to a dream deferred -  [                                ]

I-Ching - Alan Watts

and within this constellation --->

                                                              Agamben, Bloch, Glenn Ligon, as a start

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the motivations? Why fill the fields, find footing before I can really locate why? The swirling becomes a vortex. as I have stated before, and before I can find the ground to stand on, where this calm center is located, to give myself witness to the debris flying around me, I need to see the debris. I am angry. I want to feel good, but I can’t. I want to feel like I am good, but I can’t. A tool that can’t be used. the potential of it squashed. Why am I humiliated by this?

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and thus began, or reanimated, "2, this useless tool, these warring states" 

a speed list to keep me going: Taoism, the Great Commentary, warring states period, Wei, spring autumn period, broken sleeve split peach leftover peach, feigning, feinting, fainting, asian folk dance forms, humiliation, Masaki Koh, Gengoroh Tagame, Bukkake orgy, faith, belief, ecstasy, higher up, song, prayer, idolatry, consumption, presence, conflict, nations, appropriation or non appropriation, perceived appropriation, empty vessel, channel. channeling. four corners, cardinal directions, which way is up, what is the horizontal and the vertical, playing to the audience in the round, what can be seen, what should be seen, what you would like to see, cum on my face, a constellation of stars false starts, empty seed, shooting blanks, abject emissions,  an unnerved animal. caught in contention. think think think blah blah blah more to come cum laughter and frivolity and joy and wanting to be but not left for wanting more on that later.