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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.
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.”
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.
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:
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)
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.
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
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
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
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?
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.