Thursday, 8 August 2013

The Transience of Place

Hey, I’m Adam. I can never think of what to say when introducing myself and so hate it, which makes me all the more thankful for Gus’ kind, but wildly inaccurate, introduction. So without further ado.
Leaving places is always strange. When you’ve been somewhere for a little while, long enough to consider it some kind of home, and the time comes for you to move on it is an odd sensation. In this day and age it’s easier than ever to move about, and if you ever want to it is generally quite easy to return to a place. Odds are that you probably will, to see old friends, family, to reminisce. These are not the old days where you would leave to make a new life in a new land and never see your home shores again. There is not that level of finality in leaving a place, which, perhaps, in some ways makes things harder. But there is an undeniable emotional impact in those symbolic last moments you spend as a resident living in that place. There is a sense of severance. In your day to day life you may walk past places that you feel no attachment to at all. The daily route you take to work or town or school seems meaningless. But day after day you will take that same route and pass those same things and they will become indelibly etched on your mind. And you will walk past them thinking all manner of thoughts and feeling all manner of feelings and so, much as your environment becomes etched into your mind, you will impose those thoughts and feelings on your environment. Your surroundings will become inextricably associated with them so when it comes time to leave and you take one last look around you will realise that your very experiences are physically rooted in that place. A building is just a mixture of stone, steel, wood and glass. But we imbue personalities on these things, narratives and histories, not just of our own personal experiences but also of their past. You may feel hostility for a place, love, nostalgia, but the place itself is not responsible for them, we impose a narrative on it much as, I suppose, we impose narratives on ourselves. Often we do not realise how much we have invested in these physical locations until it is time to leave.
I had occasion to think about on my last day in Newcastle, the city where I’ve spent the last three years as a student. It was that special and very rarely seen time of around five in the morning, just before the workaholics and early bird morning commuters are up but late enough that the majority of the screaming, underdressed drunkards have finally scraped themselves off the streets (although I did still see three or four young ladies in sparkly dresses and heels slumped on street corners). It was quiet, quieter than cities normally ever are, but for the occasional passing car and the distant street-sweepers. But despite the earliness it was bright, the early summer sun lighting up the still sleeping houses. 
Seeing the city like this, devoid of its usual noise, loud students and crowds of people, allowed me to see it in a new way, as a thing standing on its own. I found an attachment I didn’t know was there. To the physical place. To the majestic buildings, old-fashioned and new. To the trees, the pond and the beautiful green grass in the little parklet between the Civic Centre and one of the old churches, where I’d sat many times in the sun. To the World War One war memorial, a tableau of the men going off to war, which I’d passed hundreds of times with barely a glance before one of my lecturers made us go look at it in detail. Even to the quiet roads themselves.

I went and sat on a bench, in one of those carefully maintained “outdoor spaces” (for want of a better name) between two buildings, that a lot of Universities seem to feature these days. I’d never been there before. I’d been down the roads to either side many a time, even looked across the space between them, but I’d never really seen what lay there. I’d never really taken it in. Perhaps this is a particular curse of our day and age, though I think in some form it probably goes all the way back to the beginning. We are so busy rushing from one place to another that we never take in what lies between. We are so fixated on getting from A to B that we don’t realise that any point in between could be someone else’s destination, their A or B, and really has just as much value as any of our destinations. But I digress. This little island of tranquillity gave me a new perspective. I’d had my share of bad and good experiences in Newcastle but sitting there made me think of the transience of it all. In everyday life you normally follow some kind of routine; there is some kind of consistency. From one day to the next little seems to change. But that pause you take, just before you leave, makes you look back and realise just how different you really are, for better or for worse, from when you arrived. And however well you know a place you will never have experienced even a fraction of what it has to offer. Who knows where you would have ended up if you’d just once taken a turn down a side street, gone into a different shop or bar, struck up a conversation with a different person? 
Maybe this is not the case for everyone. I know there are some who never leave their home village and they may very well find other opportunities to consider the same thing, or similar, at different times. But I’ve left a lot of places in my time and this feeling of loss, transience, has ironically come with me everywhere I’ve left. I’ve also somehow become uniformly terrible at hellos and goodbyes. I always remember that the last thing I said to Gus before leaving Norway was “maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.” The next time I saw him must’ve been about a year later. In practical terms going back somewhere is easy. You can find ways even if you are damn near broke. But for all you may return to visit a place, however much you enjoy it, however much you reminisce, you will never be able to catch more than echoes of your past belonging.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Fridge Magnet Poetry Sessions

Earlier this year
It was Summer (March) and we congregated in Kirstin, Josh and Malan's flat at Lar Shei and got well acquainted with some red wine. This turned into an eventful evening, a heated 30 seconds game became the centre of attention in the somewhat over crowded lounge on that fateful Friday evening.

As some moved into the kitchen, a little surge of creative energy sparked a fridge magnet revolution. To clear things out, Kirstin had bought a set of frigde magnets, each with its own word on it. Looky here is a picture if you still don't quite get what I mean:

Anyway, so as my friends were crowding around the fridge, arranging and rearranging magnets to form silly yet somewhat profound sentences of poetic genuis, I crouched behind and started to copy down the magic on a crumpled piece of folio paper,  awe-struck by what was appearing on this once inconspicuous tabula rasa before me.

This is what I noted down:

"what if these years are your good colour
above all talk,
know your mind
almost born after the moon
dance and ask for no secret
fragile white bay blowing real and crying out
on to twilight
still with every sigh some soft voice under the sea
why turn and give? go get the times living
being a ripple away from blue."

  - Authors unknown and intoxicated

Anyway, now you know what 'Magnet Poetry' is if it should ever pop up in casual conversation.
Here however, I present to you my all time favourite poem by Bob Dylan called, "Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie" - it's especially poignant when you've got a bad case of the Sunday evening blues (please hide your youtube screen because some asshole made a very bad fan video for this holy poetry reading)

also: today I realised that if I were to become a semi-professional villiam, this would be my theme song:

look: I can totally pull the Russian mobster thing off:

in the get away vehicle

With main boss dawg associate

with vampire associate at a birthday celebration

in Amsterdam preparing a European invasion  
me with my 'Young Blood Money' hit squad, congregating at a birthday party
Shit man, I am so lame. Why do I even bother
Have a good week ya'll

Marijke over and out.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

ADAM the First Man


It is my deep and very honouring privilege to introduce to you all to a dear, dear friend of mine and Marijke’s, who will be joining us in writing for this (as of yet) unimpressive blagh. Believe it or not, he has featured on this blog before, albeit anonymously – in my post about Roskilde. 

OMG THERE HE IS (on the left)

I would say he's larger-than-life, but the phrase is not suited. Adam is better than life. He’s cooler than life, and a deeply loving, trustworthy, and loyal friend.


I start with this picture for its portrayal of our friendship – not only in that it’s undeniably adorable, but because it captures an aspect of our relationship which is rather peculiar; we’re on the way to the train station. In the ca. ten years of our friendship, nine of them have been spent living in a different country from each other. Our meetings always end with one of us escorting the other to the train station or airport before spending another half year or so apart until we are fated to see each other again. It’s hard to characterize a friendship with so little actual interaction, and I will surely fail if attempt to, but I'm going to try to anyway.

It started, strangely enough, around the time that Adam moved to Milan. 

My impression of Milan

We made friends at the age of 11 or so (no photographic evidence remains of this strange and distant time) in my aforementioned oil baron & co. international school in Oslo, before Adam moved to that hot pile of smog that is Milan (forgive my unrelenting bias against that city, it’s all Adam’s fault!). Looking back on the years that followed this development, I went to visit Adam a surprising amount considering our relatively short prior friendship (other friends of mine moved and were forgotten – such is the life of the international school kid). Over the years, our friendship grew into some semblance of a brotherhood, forged between awkward individuals of an age where we realised that people did not function in the ways we might have understood or joined along in – whether this separation from the rest was perceived or real, I do not know, but our shared feelings of social discomfort blanketed us in a paradoxically soothing, and warming way. Out of this I think our friendship grew, always, because even when things were unshakeably ‘off,’ Adam was in Milan, and things were ‘off’ for him too, and if that is so then it is not we that are ‘off,’ but everything else, because we could share it.

Like a litter of puppies we were.

But before this turns any more soppy than this wine-soaked tirade of ‘for-he’s-a-jolly-good-fellow’-ing and Keroacian ‘brothers against the world,’ I think I’ll keep it simple and introduce you to a few facts about our Adam, with what few photos I could find of him (being part Vampire, he is hard to capture on film).

He’s a massively dependable guy – not only as corner stone of a human pyramid (bottom left), but more importantly as a friend. He is totally trustworthy not to screw you over, in any way, shape, or form, be that by cock-blockage (unless needed), beer-blockage (ever!) or ditchage in the middle of the night while you stumble around the coat room of the bar looking for your scarf which you know is somewhere because you still have the little tag but everything is thrown all over – he will lumber back inside like some great benevolent bear and search as if possessed until you find that fucker. He will also do your dishes and cook you food when staying at your place because he is a ninja and is learnĂ©d in the ways of the food-fu. He also plays a mean electrical guitar.

Lord High as fuck.

Related: he is well-dressed (like the scholar and gentleman that he is), and owns a helmet that says ‘Dick’ on it, which he uses to butt his way through crowds or otherwise defend his head from the unseen enemies that he claims always watch from the shadows.

Don't be one.

He is a huge fan of the Science-Fiction genre and has read all the classic writers like Isaac Asimov, 

Mmyes, robots.

and Iain M. Banks,

Rest in peace sir.

after which my knowledge of sci-fi authors fails, but he knows them all and generally holds a fascination for all things futuristic.


As a result of his love of books (I guess), he studied English Literature at university from which he has recently graduated:

Bringin' da NOISE.

He now spends his days as a post-graduate (or, as he prefers to call it, ‘being unemployed’) waiting for his breakthrough in the literary world, muttering to himself and making odd sounds with his belly.

What's that you say, Adam's Belly?

Oh, and he’s English. Here’s a picture of him with a tree.

Adam assures me that the expression he is wearing is one of joy for the flowers, but I have my doubts.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

You Came In Burned

"Slow-cruising on one of the most notorious dirt roads in all the country, the 113 kilometre stretch on the R355 between Touws Rivier and Calvinia starts to feel like a pilgrimage as the sun turns red; the distant hills stretch out far beyond the horizon and the dust permeates every inch of our surroundings. This is that rubicon moment when one starts to realise that the next couple of days will be spent free from any dependence on creature comforts or normative societal structures as the Karoo landscape steadily eases out any obsessive thoughts or anxieties and prepares the mind in a two-fold outlook of survival mode and child-like exhilaration. Eventually the engine rests and we wait to enter one of the most unorthodox creative communal living experiences we had yet to encounter."

Rereading this paragraph I wrote a while back and finding myself sitting in the pale winter sun on a Saterday afternoon in the suburbs of Stellenbosch, I have decided  it's been a long time coming and here you have it. another blagh post for your reading pleasure.

So for you non-South African readers, I'm going to tell you a bit about a trip (pun intended) a couple of mad one's and I took to a little big gathering called 'AfrikaBurn' in the middle of 'nothing', 'nowhere' and 'even less', i.e. the dreamscape region known as the Tankwa Karoo. (For those of you who are native to this amazing country, this post should inspire you to attend the 2014 Burn - cosh ish laaik amashing)

Tankwa Karoo National Park
Whuddup AB
This six day festival is best described on the official website as follows, "AfrikaBurn is the spectacular result of the creative expression of participants who gather once a year in the Tankwa Karoo to create a temporary city of art, theme camps, costume, music and performance"...and not to mention the mutant vehicle that cruise around TankwaTown. So maybe some of you might know about the annual 'Burning Man Festival' held in the Nevada desert outside Las Vegas? Here is a video to demostrate what it looks like there

Well AfrikaBurn is a regional offshoot of Burning Man and started up in 2007, and has since then, fast become one of South Africa's leading alternative arts and communal living events. Its really not a simple trance party and 'drug fest', like some people (who have evidently never been) come to believe. There is a lot of live music happening, but other than some of the more 'commercial' festivals, AfrikaBurn is a space where social hierarchies don't exist, there is no distinction made between 'spectator' or 'participant'. There are no celebrity DJs or artists who come to perform under a name, there is no branding, no money, nothing profitable and everything is completely self-made in the name of all things temporary. Even most of the artworks and sculptures made for the event get burned on the last couple of days in accordance with the AB slogan, "Leave No Trace"

Chris, Ernst and Rick viewing a 'burn' - Thanks Michael for the image
“An archetype is like an old watercourse along which the water has flowed for centuries … the longer it has flowed in this channel the more likely it is that the water will return to its old bed”   -  Carl Jung

Hiya Carl
The theme of the 2013 Burn was ‘Archetypes’, which references the celebration of ancient myths and legends which have come to shape our way of living, doing, classifying and interacting since the dawn of time. In relation to the actual location of the event, the theme ties in (quite perfectly) with humbling experience of engaging with this most austere and sublime environment. HAH and as one Burner remarked, “It is out and out the best thing to hit the Tankwa since the dinosaurs.” seriously

So, really not to sound like some pretentious bastard (although I am studying continental philosophy) one could really tie the guiding principles of this event to the 20th century Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin's notion of the 'carnivalesque'. He writes about the tradition and rituals of local carnivals held in town squares in Medieval Europe and opens his text titled, "Carnival and Carnivalesque" by noting that the carnival is not a performance, and does not differentiate the spectator from the performer. All people who take part in the carnival "live it" but it is not an extension of the "real world" or "real life" but rather, as Bakhtin puts it, "the world standing on its head", the world upside down. The carnival for Bakhtin is an event in which all rules, inhibitions, restrictions and regulations which determine the course of everyday life are suspended, and especially all form of hierarchy in society.

Privet Mikhail!
 He writes about the performative aspect of Carnival life and how it came to influence the plebs of the time, and I just completely fell for his theories and decided that AfrikaBurn is a modern day version of the 'carnivalesque', a means to escape the mundane routines and normative behavioural codes of social life and to experience an alternative reality, a completely new way of interacting with strangers and friends. And suprisingly enough, I came returned from AfrikaBurn not hating society and wanting to go Alexander Supertramping...

But instead I got a really good, new perspective on how to approach what we see to be the banal habits and conventions of our middle-class existence. Although I must admit, it's a quite a bourgeois luxury to even be able to take the time off, have the money and all the equipment (car, food, tent, sleepbag, etc) to make the trek for a six day 'break' from a life that really isn't even comparable to most of the world's suffering, but it really take a lot to go for this experience. The money, the planning, the packing, the driving, setting's not as breezy as one might think and it always bugs me when people say, "Oh but you're so so lucky to have gone...[on vacation to Mozambique, a student exchange to Amsterdam, AfrikaBurn]" but what some don't get is the fact that it takes more time to do the admin before such an excursion than the time spent on the excursion. And if one really wants to, one can always go...time can always be made and if not, then next year there is something to look forward to. Anyway, I'm going off on a tangent here.

So, each year ‘Burners’ gather in the heart of the beautiful yet vastly arid Tankwa Karoo to create a temporary city, aptly named ‘Tankwa Town’, as means to provide and allow for an alternative approach to social interaction and communal effort. Here are the guiding principles of AfrikaBurn: communal effort, civic responsibilty, immediacy, gifting, leave no trace, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, participation and decommodification. Oh just to contextualise the notions of 'gifting', 'decommodification', 'participation' and 'communal effort', AfrikaBurn is a space which is wholly dependent on the effort and sincere enthusiasm of the artists, performers, theme campers, ‘Burners’, children, eccentric ‘Ooms and Tannies’, nudist flash mobs and every other member who contributes to the alchemy of the event.You as a (temporary) local of TankwaTown are expected to take part, to join in and to provide for those around you.It's quite incredible what people get up to and how groups construct entire 'theme camps' to entertain and include you as a fellow citizen of the community. An all time favourite was aptly named, 'The Seven Deadly Gins’ camp where the procedure went as follows. You were made to queue to enter a 'confessional booth' and once inside, you are required to confess a sin to a 'pseudo-priest' who continues to reward you with a gin drink for the declaration of your personal misdemeanour. Needless to say, by the end of the festival, the Karangas were completely guilt-free and ginned up sundrunk, heh.

Oh ja, before I forget...Karanga. I guess I need to clear that one up. So 'Karanga' was the name of our group, each member being a 'Karanga', plural (all of us in unison) - 'Karangas', but the title was also used as a kind of a war cry or mating call depending on the circumstances and series of events which would come to follow. This cry came in handy at most during our flash mob night time endeavours, but I won't go into any details there (aha)

the Karangas of Mangolia
Despite the carnivalesque atmosphere, one gains a sense of enormous well-being as this event offers an opportunity to occupy and function in a space of infinite possibility, free from judgements, restrictions or transcendental reason, where Kerouac’s words sound a prophecy as we acceded to, “Burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” 

So wherever you may be, try find the nearest regional Burning Man event and make the effort to attend. You will not regret this experience, I can almost guarantee...Even if you do get an eye-infection and have to walk around with severe vertigo (due to the fact that you have to now wear a pirate patch 24/7) for the duration of the festival...its really so worth it. and the medical facilities are the bomb-diggidy. believe me, I would know (I feel you Malcolm)

Just remember to take all the meds you can and go Karanga-ing into the sunset! Alioop

Here are some images I took with my little canon point and shoot - enjoy

'Mangolia' our home base

Chris double-time suiping some Argentinian mate

In the dome tent we felt (and sometimes even looked) ethereal

The Victoria curve

Sister Brumhilda and Sister X gathering some much needed dirt for our gourmet cooking endeavours

dossing like pro's at Mangolia

and the next night, this entire sculpture was reduced to ash and dust

To end off (finally huh), a video to demostrate the 2013 Burn

Monday, 11 February 2013


The Big Come-Down

Listlessly seated, awaiting the midsummers witching hour, while the crickets chants and my refrigerator  drones on into the dead of night. Melancholic insomnia. The final unwinding of nearly a 3 month summer vacation has been set in motion and the mere thought of this precious liberated time concluding has made my body endure the hottest and longest of days and nights in a hurried angst to develop every second of potential that this time has to offer. Yet in actual fact, it is not as if summer itself is coming to an upbrupt end, no, February in the Western Cape generates fatal heat strokes on those over exposed deadbeat days. This mini-existential crisis of mine is nothing new or anything to write home (or a blogpost for that matter) about and I was really hoping this is simply some juvenile fear of limitation that haunted my childhood. But my yellow isn’t so mellow. I still have that slight gut reaction as I did when I saw my mother ironing my school shirt the night before a new term or year commences. It’s not a fear of academics or working, the studying itself isn’t that ill natured, but the consequences of being tied down by work or by people are brutal on those perfectly wind still, smothering days when the thought of a calm blue ocean seems none other than cruel. Forced to frequent the library when every inch of the outside world is illuminated and all you want is your ice cream cold and a light nap on the lawn. But as a true advocate of all things blue, I must admit to my firm belief in the power of slight anxiety and very slight woe in order to really get your mental and emotional states prepared for a colossal intake of orders, information and an output of production. At my happiest I’ve found myself to have the least amount of concern for creation as well as consumption, whether it be reading, writing, drawing, or engaging with any other means of production. But then again, who wants to be deliriously happy all the time, don’t you find those people to be horribly annoying? I reckon it’s also good to give your brain a good solid gold rest in order to have a clean motor running. One should just gingerly settle on the idea of working out how to structure your work efforts in order to have a satisfactory time off. 

I sound like counsellor. FML. 

Now this is what happens when you come home early to sleep off your heavy headedness and the cool wave of insomnia strikes you right in the centre of your thoughts. Stupid heat, stupid mosquitoes, stupid late night buzzing noises. Ai ja well, at least I’m not being shipped off to the other side of the world this time round. I think what all of this boils down to, is that if we actually have nothing to complain about, then we’ll find something, no matter how insignificant and ridiculous and moan about that. Life’s actually pretty rad, but I just can’t shake that feeling of the discerning zen before the storm.


 And finally, it’s the first proper Monday of this academic year, it’s raining outside and I’m pretending to be in Holland. Hey, this is how we cope. This is a pretty boring post, so here are a gazillion pictures for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy. 

Sure thing Leo

Love for Aoki

adolescent dream team

dreamy mcdream frusciante

Moss Minus Make-up

Winter chic

I hate Europe for their lame and seemingly boring summer festivals. WHATEVER GLASTONBURY

Coping with heat like a bossdawg. Hey BROTHER!

Hepburn hou van swem

Stone Fox

Hey Quaaludes