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Open: The Mystery


Words: Jordan Baylon

Photograph: Justin Tan

Close: Limbic Resonance

Because limbic states can leap between minds, feelings are contagious, while notions are not. If one person germinates an ingenious idea, it’s no surprise that those in the vicinity fail to develop the same concept spontaneously. But the limbic activity of those around us draws our emotions into almost immediate congruence. […] It seems a strange irony that we need science to rekindle faith in the ancient ability to read minds. That old skill, so much a part of us, is not much believed in now. Those who spend their days without an opportunity for quiet listening can pass a lifetime and overlook it altogether. The vocation of psychotherapy confers a few unexpected fringe benefits on its practitioners, and the following is one of them. It impels participation in a process that our modern world has all but forgotten: sitting in a room with another person for hours at a time with no purpose in mind but attending. As you do so, another world expands and comes alive to your senses - a word governed by forces that were old before humanity began. 

A General Theory of Love - Amini, Lannon & Lewis

(image: Lithograph by Mark Erickson)

Open: The Visible Darkness

As we came in the door an elderly waitress with shaven eyebrows and blackened teeth was kneeling by a candle behind which stood a large screen. On the far side of the screen, at the edge of the little circle of light, the darkness seemed to fall from the ceiling, lofty, intense, monolithic, the fragile light of the candle unable to pierce its thickness, turned back as from a black wall. I wonder if my readers know the color of that “darkness seen by candlelight.” It was different in quality from darkness on the road at night. It was repletion, a pregnancy of tiny particles like fine ashes, each particle luminous as a rainbow. I blinked in spite of myself, as though to keep it out of my eyes.

- Junichiro Tanizaki (谷崎 潤一郎), In Praise of Shadows (陰翳礼讃) 1933.

Close: The Old Yin Transforming


Between Yes and No
there is how much difference?
Good and evil can be compared.

What others fear
becomes our wilderness of fear.
Oh, it is endless.

People joyfully feast, laughing
as if climbing the springtime tower
to view the terrace.

I alone remain unmoved,
a child not taught to smile,
exhausted, forlorn,
a child without a home.

Everyone has plenty.
I alone am left wanting.
I live in confusion like a fool.

Even ordinary people can be brilliant.
I alone grope in the dark.
The insights of people escape me
as I drift placidly along.

Oh they know ocean depths
and sea winds aimless blowing.
They believe they all have purpose.

The old Taoist alone, the stubborn rustic,
knows Tao itself makes him different.
He’s nourished at the Great Mother’s breast.

-Lao-tzu, Tao Te Ching. Transcribed to my notebook in a moment of great agitation and flux, December 1st, 2013.

Image: Watermark (detail) - Jordan Baylon, 2013.

Open: So begins my love letter to Megan Lawson…

This thing that’s so intense and terrible - we are the sons and daughters of that.

Marie Chouinard, Henri Michaux Artist Talk at Fluid Fest, October 23rd 2013

Having known Megan for some years now, it was only a week ago that I saw her dance in person for the first time. She performed a solo piece as part of 02 Dance Company’s show “Answers”.

I don’t remember the music. My memory cannot even form her body from that day in its exquisite expression. I only bear those vibrations captured by the hot tears streaming down my chin to settle deeply and darkly within me. I must have seen my terrible stillness reflected in her, and my yearning to burst forth lovingly from the black into a world of colour, a yearning made flesh. These words are not enough.

(Megan’s 2013 Reel on Vimeo)

Open/Close: Into the Outside

Hanazawa Kengo (花沢 健吾)

Close: X. I’ll find one someday at a thrift shop.

Sarah Lazarovic, Toronto.

Open: Web

Take out your book of Eddas

     retreat to riddles and then exchange

the straight lines of your life

     for the web of the Norns.

This time you will fool Wryd and then escape

     with the fates and gifts of men

so strangely, and lately, promised to you.

Vivian Hansen, A Bitter Mood of Clouds

Close: 無極 (Wuji)

What an honour it is to have this young artist’s gaze fall upon me. I can’t wait to see what you do next, Michael.

Follow @mikt97 on Instagram for more portraits and sketches. He is also on tumblr.

Open: 太極 (Taiji)

Mariella Villalobos produced this sketch for me at the 2012 Otafest. Already an established and practicing illustrator, Mariella was volunteering her time and talent to draw portraits in exchange for donations to Japan’s tsunami relief. Needless to say I was impressed by what she was able to produce in a short amount of time, and with much patience and sensitivity. 

More examples of her work can be found here.