They have this great thing here in Tokyo: at a restaurant that is inexplicably named ‘BLDY’ (bloody? baldy? bliady (a lithuanian/russian swear word)?, there is an all-you can drink fruity cocktail bar for about $4.50.  Though I did not imbibe excessively, it was the site of my public breakdown over the recent drug overdose and death of a good friend from MIT, and The Political Scientist was kind enough to pour me a triple strawberrysweetshit and soda to numb the pain.  His loss is a real shock.  It is strange, he was far from someone that i thought of on a daily basis, but to think that he was out there somewhere doing the sorts of things that he did was a source of stability…  grounding in a way.  He was the kind of guy I was proud to tell stories about… one of the mad geniuses of my MIT past that I would dredge up every once and a while to dazzle the so non-technical artist types around me.

He was a brilliant man, and on top of that, the only other person I know who went from science and engineering wholeheartedly into the arts.  The things he made, you could hardly believe them when you saw them. His medium was light and technology, and his was the realm of bright and moving and huge and sublime…and it’s all gone now, he has been put into the ground, and for some reason, I have not been able to write for myself since hearing the news; haven’t written a word for the sake of writing since hearing about his death.  I have, however, started regularly emailing old friends and my family to get back in touch with them all.

Trying to get back to the writing is still a priority for me – I’m trying to continue exploring a method that uses stream-of-consciousness flow from one word to another to build forward momentum.

This is basically an application of a movement theater and choreography techniques to writing, that and the concepts of full stops, extension, and so forth.  I’m realizing that writing and theater and dance and acrobatics is all part of the same thing; different vantage points to look at the same infinite obsidian column extending up out of the salt flats of Utah.  Let’s say.

It’s like a magnificent hip hop/spoken word piece that I just listened to by none other than Blackalicious’ Gift of Gab.  The piece was called ‘Release,’ which starts out talking about being positive or some bullshit like that, but about halfway through it turns into this haunting and impeccably written object poem about life in a most balanced and subtle tone.  Brilliant.

It makes me think of parkour, which the French also call yamakasi (from the Congolese Lingala words ya makasi, or “strong in one’s person”).  All the videos I have seen (given, about two years ago) showed an art in the process of maturing.  I respect this idea of moving through space with a rhythm and a flow and an open mind – a free-form physical jazz reverberating in ‘found’ urban landscapes, but for me personally, I find that the actual technique needs development.

Jazz dance and ballet and even classical martial arts could bring so much to breakdance and parkour.  While the latter two are all about unlimited free expression, and their hardest-core proponents seem to see such suggestions as attempts to curb that freedom.  But there is a liberty in pushing yourself to master technique; as long as your goal is to transcend it.  In writing, acrobatics, dance, and love – life? Bloody, baldy, bliady?

Technique gives us the opportunity to convey a freely-conceived message that much more clearly, that much louder, to bounce off the uneven concrete walls in a flanging reverb of our own artistic impulses.

Clarity.

For me, anyways

 

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