Archive for the ‘book’ Category

The Pamplet—new Substack just launched

Today I’m launching a Substack called The Pamplet. It’ll be a space for letters on art, mind, feels, tech takes, semi-ridiculous self-help, varieties of mystical experience, and whatever else strikes my enthusiasms.

Movable type debuted across Europe from ~1450 on, and in its wake a new form of cheap, mass-scale, short-form publication known loosely as pamphlets spread like wildfire. As we know, these innovations upset the information environment status quo, and it took a few centuries to jostle out a new balance of power. Our time has parallels, though perhaps we’re living it at 10-100x. We have type at the speed of light, with nigh-infinite recomposability—and the party’s just getting started.

Seems like a nice moment to get out on the dance floor. Browse and/or subscribe here. Hot topics for future pamplets:

Pamphlet subjects

Quote dump from Daughter of Fire

Everything I touch turns into a collection of quotes. My fridge, front door, this blog, my actual commonplace book, every journal and computer monitor I’ve ever owned.

Reading is amaze, but the next-level question is how and to what extent we might engage with what we’ve read. The best bits I can’t help but want to inhale into my most micro-alveoli for every molecule of oxygen they give. Been a moment since my last quote dump, so here goes.

In 1961, Irina Tweedie traveled to a remote city in India and became the first woman to be accepted as a disciple in the Naqshbandiyya Sufi tradition. Her teacher, Bhai Sahib (Mahatma Radha Mohan Lal Ji), asked her to keep a journal, and for the next 6 years, she wrote a daily account of his teachings and her experiences, later published as Daughter of Fire. For the past year-ish, this doorstop of a book has been my occasional guide to unlearning. Below are a selection of excerpted quotes, all from Bhai Sahib.

“There are different kinds of hearts. Everyone loves according to one’s capacity. Things will be done through you. At first you will be the postbox; only later you will do things knowingly—you will know what you are doing.

And what pride can there be, for we flow where we are directed.

The saints are like a flowing stream, they flow where they are directed.

Don’t worry if what you say is right or not; it is not you who says it.

All the knowledge you need will come to you automatically, not the least doubt about it.

Speaking of knowledge Bhai Sahib repeated what he said so often: It is not given on the mind level, it is infused.

Knowledge comes through the heart… from the heart to the mind.

Yes, do not run after explanations; some things will be told in words; some have been told already; some are infused; no speech is necessary. They are reflected from heart to heart; your mind knows nothing of it; but it will come up when you need it.

Always remember that some sort of doubt, some sort of imperfection will always remain.

If you want the truth, there is an urge from your side and a swiftness from the side of truth. If you want the truth, truth wants you.

All the doubts, the trouble the mind gives you, do not really interfere with love. Not really. The mind tries, but the love is not really affected.

The human being is love, and Love loves the human being.

If one loves and then loves not, this is not love. Love must be constant, no matter what happens.

Love is without reason.

People want different things; they are after different things. They get it. Never more than what they want.

At the root of every virtue is courage. Live in a way that you are everything and you are nothing.

If you feel the impulse to say, say it. To act on inspiration, without a particular desire, is the thing.”


Studio library

On making art and subtle hearts

A house made of air and distance and echoes

In 2015, I spent some weeks in Northern California to install A house made of air and distance and echoes. Of the people I saw Frank stood out—he couldn’t help but stand out as a giant slab of a man, a cross between a farmer and gargoyle but asymmetrical, perennially lilting starboard. He did handyman work around my dad’s rural home, and lived to rope you into one-sided conversations about his days as a sheriff in Mexico, each story more eye-popping than the prior. The last time I saw him was at a Thanksgiving dinner the following year, when he stood framed in a doorway, carefully combed, beaming, fully prepared to engage the chat functions, and I was overcome by a strange sadness that made no sense. Months later, out of nowhere he was diagnosed with an advanced, inoperable cancer. I’ve never before or since met a man whose heart so overflowed with love for his son as Frank’s did. Wherever his conversations rambled, they invariably set once again on Brandon—who was shy and loved computers—in the most pure and genuine way, so much so that it would be impossible to mention Frank without this gift that’s never faded. The old yogic systems link the heart with the element of air, and it feels as if I’ve been gently led by those whose paths have crossed with mine to consider that all the love we’ll ever breathe is here, every bit as light and easy to overlook as air.

Already fluent in stories, Frank was not a bookish or artish type. One afternoon I described the sculpture I was making—that it would be constructed from plywood and covered with printed vinyl giving it the appearance of shadowy stone, that it would be sited on a 35-acre abandoned airfield, and that I would photograph it like the ghost of a building under conditions of dense fog. Without missing a beat he replied, “Ah, like Christo,” and recalled his memories of Running Fence by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, an environmental sculpture that skirted the hills of Sonoma and Marin like a ghostly wave for 24 continuous miles before dipping into the Pacific Ocean. Though over four years in the making, the monumental work persisted for just short two weeks in 1976 and vanished from sight. In fact, almost always when I spoke about my sculpture with anyone in Northern California above the age of fifty, they mentioned the Running Fence, so vividly had that artwork woven itself into the landscape of time and memory.

The title of the sculpture A house made of air and distance and echoes comes from a line in Cesar Aira’s slim novel Ghosts, in which a crew of construction workers live inside the very apartment building they’ve been tasked with constructing, squatting with their families and a slew of ghosts who lounge in the nude. I love Aira’s digressions, which are really the entirety of his work, here probing a dream and there crafting a delicate, provisional architecture of dusk, like some conjurer of consciousness itself. With each brownian turn yet more of these delicious reverbs and echoes drift forward, such that his pages tickle open the book of my own life and more than a few of its meandering, harmonic threads, as a favorite does. And it gets me thinking about the many ways we’ve always grasped at metaphors for the virtual, insubstantial, and subtle with which we coexist.

Books by Mark Dion spotted at Tanya Bonakdar

Mark Dion books at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery