Blurring / Seven Page Special

25 January 2010

Cambodia blurring into indistinctness now, its heat fading with the snow rumoured to have been here but in any case gone on our return. Strange how much memory is spatial, or how much impression of place relates to space. Space re-writes the body, consciousness even. You’re turned inside out. Re-folded. Re-mapped. Hard-to-quantify difference of Phnom Penh. It’s partly in the collapsing / non-existence of distinction between public and private space. Product of poverty. The shop that is also a living space (TV, couch, table), the sidewalk that is also extension of ‘house’ – table and chairs to eat on, cooking on stove, kids playing on road, guys working on the sidewalk, road also extension of shop and home. Product of climate also – outside being cooler, in the evenings, with no aircon. Getting home I miss the tangle. Everything behind walls here, behind doors, inside cars, inside something. Whole of UK culture a multiplication of boxes. Nothing breathes. Phnom Penh shops also blurred to start out with – all kinds of things for sale in combinations that a foreigner has no way to read – half the time you don’t know what you’re looking at, the eye takes a long time to read, the brain makes only slow sense (or no sense) of what it is presented with. Takes days sometimes to ‘figure out’ what those stalls are selling, or simply to decipher what that machinery is there, at so many places at the roadside (compressed air for motorbike tires). Barber shops as chairs, mirrors and temporary structures on the sidewalks. Petrol stations as rusted oil drums fitted with some kind of pump or, lower down the economic ladder, petrol stations as a plastic table bearing six 1.5 litre Coke bottles that have been repurposed, filled with petrol. Noise. And making do. A list of things that can be carried on a motorbike (everything). A list of things that can be mended (everything) or improvised (everything). Sudden French colonial streets, organised, with villas and high garden walls. Young monks, shaved heads, dressed in orange and seated on the opposite rooftop at dusk, watching the hotel swimming pool. One of them laughing, miming swimming to his colleague. I wave. No response. Geckos on the ceiling. A hidden bird high up in the trees that makes a sound like some kind of incomprehensibly catastrophic electrical event. Never see the bird. Degrees of heat and humidity in different kinds. Tuk tuks. Scattered street corner playing cards. Fish for sale in the sun. A programme of redevelopment taking place in the background. Steady march of western and Chinese financed hotels I guess and a slow process through which space is more firmly delineated – post-colonial economic re-development meets psychogeography and wins.


Possibly the best interview question to me, ever, from a Greek newspaper:

You have been characterized for your productions as the “Lord of unreasonableness”. What do you think about that?

Too stupified to reply.


Meanwhile a quote from me, here.


Haiti in one sentence:

Where once the Mini-Market stood, now there is nothing. 


Not siding with China for a moment on its human rights and censorship record. But some credit at least for these sentences from the People’s Daily:

We’re afraid that in the eyes of American politicians, only information controlled by America is free information, only news acknowledged by America is free news, only speech approved by America is free speech, and only information flow that suits American interests is free information flow.”


And yes. Welcome to Endland.

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