to move freely

Approaching a return to Melbourne, back to airports on Saturday and to … see if I can make sense of what this new piece is. I’ve had a wonderful couple of weeks in Adelaide, certainly for now my home, days with Gala and Daniel and Alison that I suppose to say make apparent it is friendship that makes life. Yesterday then, a day with Gala walking up Waterfall Gully.

On the way up I discovered how unfit I am, and felt like the Witch of the Waste in Howl’s Moving Castle, all red-nosed and quivering jowls and gerontic feebleness. Gala who seems to feel hills not at all hauled me up the last bump. So much for trekking along the Nü River later this year, I thought, and you can also relieve yourself of fantasies of climbing mountains.

On the return, an easy skip down an easy path we talked, and … somewhere I was thinking of a passage from Chuang Tze, and … well it was another passage altogether, but I was also thinking about this one, which is one of Sam Crane at The Useless Tree’s favourite passages, and he even mentioned it in regard to Wittgenstein’s final proposition in the Tractatus, that was also floating around during all the people …

I also like it quite a bit, and feel an affinity for this passage for the mention of Hsi Shih or Xi Shi, 西施, one of the four beauties of classical China. Shortly after I arrived in Guangzhou, I asked my translator to give me a Chinese name. After a couple of days she returned with 方希石, a phonetic play on Frances, but also with multiple meanings, people would say, it’s not a name a Chinese person would have, but it’s a very good name, 希有, rare or uncommon, 希望, to wish for or desire, and the play on tones 希石, my name is a first and second tone, 西施, Xi Shi is two first tones.

I suppose this is all to say … what?

I came to Adelaide because I had friends here who mean so much to me, and being here found new friends who have given me much inspiration and happiness and this is something I can’t live without. Also to say I had a rare and very special day yesterday I will remember until I am old and feeble.

Sufficient because sufficient. Insufficient because insufficient. Traveling the Way makes it Tao. Naming things makes them real. Why real? Real because real. Why nonreal? Nonreal because nonreal. So the real is originally there in things, and the sufficient is originally there in things. There’s nothing that is not real, and nothing that is not sufficient.

Hence, the blade of grass and the pillar, the leper and the ravishing [beauty] Hsi Shih, the noble, the sniveling, the disingenuous, the strange – in Tao they all move as one and the same. In difference is the whole, in wholeness is the broken. Once they are neither whole nor broken, all things move freely as one and the same again.

Only one who has seen through things understands moving freely as one and the same. In this way, rather than relying on you own distinctions, you dwell in the ordinary. To be ordinary is to be self-reliant; to be self-reliant is to move freely; and to move freely is to arrive. That’s almost it, because to arrive is to be complete. But to be complete without understanding how – that is called Tao. (23-24)

— chuang tzu – david hinton trans.


happy birthday

Or week as it mostly became, an impromptu holiday from dance, much shopping, a haircut and dye from the amazing James at Gang, so now I am a redhead, new makeup to match said hair, a Friday night celebrating Daniel’s birthday where I had to leave early because everyone else was far, far more drunk than myself, and Saturday…

A present for myself buying Harry Potter on my birthday for the – I think – third time. The previous one on the train from Zürich to Vevey for a holiday after SiWiC when I’d just realised I’d be spending the rest of the year in Suisse. Peanut butter and banana sandwiches, a lazy afternoon here in Adelaide before another beautiful couple of hours with someone I like … I suppose it’s a date – again, a phonecall from Vienna, then on for an evening at La Boheme. I was thinking how in three quick months here I’ve found a really special group of friends who make this feel like home.


we were thinking about each other

I returned to Judith Butler last week, beginning a rereading of Gender Trouble and placing Undoing Gender on order at the Experimental Art Foundation. If my works tend to have single books that define them then what will emerge sometime in October I suppose will come from her. I seem to struggle to find theorists or philosophers whose works are less than a decade old who manage to ensnare me, perhaps because the contemporary in whatever they write needs to become history and forgotten first.

Judith Butler, Deleuze and Guattari, especially these writers though also so many others who stormed through me were introduced by – I’d like to remember this as – one person in a whirl of a year that ended with me moving to Melbourne. Sometimes the past is further away than it seems.

At EAF for the mediocre James Dodd exhibition opening following a bowl of noodles, nostalgia and sentimentalism Taiwanese beef noodle soup at Dumpling King with Banksia and Gloria, and I stumble into someone I haven’t seen in maybe eight years. Yes, there is a connection to these books and writers and the person with the books. Was it that I thought of them all and maybe even told some story about them responsible for this reappearance?

Sunday to Yingchow. Not as good as Dumpling King and more expensive. But another reunion, from Berlin and many emails to Adelaide, Paea here and me too. Then to the Grace Emily for an evening of drinking and talking before the last night of Alison’s 42a. Sitting on beer carpet with Xuan remembering Taipei and Taiwan. Later in the front bar with Paea, bits of ourselves. I thought last night how close I am to being home. So elusive.

yes, i know …

I do feel remiss at not blogging. Really. Every day I think, “Oh get it together!”. But after three years of almost daily attention, it has been nice not to think about what I shall write today. My writing and intimacy with language has slumped though. From next week I think I will be slightly more settled, and so … a resumption. Perhaps.

Things happening, dancing and falling over, new friends and old ones, birthdays aplenty, possible adventures here or in China … daily missing home though (that is to say Europe). Things worth blogging about. It is after-all in no small measure a journal, an “I was here” … somewhere.

arrive lah!

Rong Yi in Guangzhou said to me on the first day I arrived, during weeks of monsoonal deluge that it was very auspicious to arrive somewhere when it was raining. Four days of constant precipitation I suppose, while bereft of flooding, lightning strikes and black storm warnings, is also … auspicious.

I’ve had a wild couple of days seeing friends (who all look as beautiful as ever and I am so happy to be near again), eatingeatingeating, going to showings, a party in a mansion (in East Terrace, with at least three staircases, a similar number of fridges in the kitchen, an elevator, a white marble pillared bathroom with jacuzzi and bidet, an indoor swimming pool – more pillars, gourmet pizza frenzy, and more friends I haven’t seen for a long time), cooking, occasional bits of dance (ballet, and so now sore calfs), and now a lazy Saturday. My wardrobe though is decidedly not a winter one, and I think I’ll just have to go to Zürich to rectify that. But first more of the same.

adelaide again again

The last week or so I’ve been a bit distracted by what was an unexpected and very timely offer to jump on a plane and return to Adelaide, this time to teach yoga. That it’s only one class a week and I said yes without a second thought (mouth moves before brain) I think is a clear indication of my frustration with Melbourne, my need for … I guess to say, newness or something to stimulate me in ways I don’t get here.

The impending stratospheric jump of desperation has had me stumble through a couple of nightmares loaded with ominous symbolism and metaphors of catastrophe and doom. Lucky then I have mostly contempt for surrealist allusions, though much chocolate has been eaten.

Since returning from China last year, and thanks to Amanda having my entrée to South Australia, subsequently causing me to fly back and forth quite a few times, each time the return to Melbourne has been a disappointment. I’ve been here too long.

Really, I only came here to study, and haven’t spent much time in the city since graduating, though there has been a … I guess desire to make something happen and here – because of my already history of making performance – seemed like a good place. But … same same same. Realistically it’s not going to happen here. I’m not going to have my own tanztheater company with a small ensemble spending much of each year making more of the same. I’m not going to get employed as a dancer; that I think, would have happened here by now if it was to happen at all. I’m not going to get any more challenged or experience the sublime transcendence of working with someone who gives me a feeling of being home or do class with someone who just makes me giddy with joy in moving simply because with the occasional exception of visiting artists, I’ve been around the scene here since I was a student.

I’ve been sarcastically joking I’m in a mid-career slump, having passed the five-year cut-off for ’emerging artists’, but it’s more like stagnation. Talking to friends in Europe who are about the same point in their art as me and the amazing things they are doing, the act of desperation I described is, while practically so in that I am terrifyingly poor, also one of … saving myself.

I don’t want to do anything else but dance and make performance and the older I get the more this feeling gains strength, and to stay here in Melbourne … I can see myself not too distant being a bitter middle-aged artist, failed in having achieved what I desired, and I make art – however doom-ful, satanic, pornographic and otherwise affronting – because I need to, and like eating, it provides immense satisfaction. To be bitter, resentful, unhappy and unfulfilled in making art is I think to endure damnation.

It’s possible one or two of the innumerable applications I put in earlier this year will see me return temporarily to Melbourne some time after June, but it’s as likely (perhaps even more) I’ll do some stuff in Adelaide then grace several of my favourite airports on my return to Europe. I’d like to be back for summer in Zürich or …

I’m also rather excited. New things. New people. Art. Stuff. (Airports). (Food). Like the current pull the gravity of Berlin is exerting upon me, so has Adelaide and my friends there been slowly pulling me into orbit. It’s a temporary stop before going home to … somewhere in Europe, preferably German speaking, but one I’m looking forward to very much, both for making art and for the other bits of my life. Yes, I am really looking forward to seeing you again in Adelaide tonight, tomorrow, this weekend.


another adelaide arrival/departure

As when I arrived in Adelaide, so too was it grey and occasionally seeped in a fine mist for Bonnie, who flew in yesterday to spend a week at Leigh Warren. Today was my turn to visit the surgery of airport, feasting on leftovers from last night’s late supper of the previously mentioned Turfan Yangrou – Xinjiang makes of lamb a delicacy so lascivious I’m drooling now to even think of it – before sliding into the taxi, the sky a porcelain dome of powder blue.

Two weeks stretched to almost a month of days in Adelaide, and during the past few months, I’ve spent more than half of my time here. There. Now it’s there. I’m in Melbourne again.

I do suspect a conspiracy of Adelaide dancers, enticing me to return return with my suitcase again, in a more, shall we say, permanent arrangement. I’ve been really frustrated since returning from Guangzhou last year, finding myself without the means to continue my love affair with the mountains of Europe, and finding Melbourne a place where I just can’t wait to leave. Melbourne has been convenient for me to get back to dancing with daily classes but for anything else, it’s just felt oppressive.

All this is not new though, what’s new, or has been creeping up on me for the last while is this feeling that moving there before I return to Europe is a good idea. I woke up some time early this morning with this thought, or rather, feeling. My thoughts are being quite rigorously analytical in dismembering this ‘good idea’, and have provided me with an extensive list of “why it is not a good idea”.

Contra this, the part of me that disagrees with Little Ms Practical, has an equally impressive list of “why, in fact it is a good idea”, or at least not a bad one. plenty of jabbering then of internal voices, and this overwhelming certitude that I’d better not fuck this one up, and the right choice would be to move to Adelaide. Nonetheless, I have a gargantuan amount of work to do in the next few days, that should, as a convenient side-effect, make it quite unambiguous what I should be doing.

In the meantime, here’s some more photos of airports. And yes, I already desperately miss you all at Alfred Street.

adelaide stuff

I’m sorry!!! I know we were only just talking in the kitchen a few hours ago and you really, really, want to come here and see NEWNESS! but I have let you all down again. I blame it on Adelaide. And contemporary dance. And the 吐鲁番羊肉 – that’s Turfan Yangrou, as in تۇرپان in Xinjiang, that was originally how I got on the whole China thing. I blame it on the lamb. I know I’m disappointing you, but I promise to improve (even if my dyslexia doesn’t).