Hometime

Nam Jun Paik - TV Buddha (2005)

Notes from my home to yours! Consider this a song sung from my balcony. There is only one thing to write about, and we all know what that is. So I am adding my voice to the chorus.

Hope you are all doing as well as can be expected in this week. It’s a new world, changing so quickly we can barely keep up with it. Each day. Forcing quiet, forcing us to stay inside, bringing us face to face with habits and social patterns we were unaware of.

We all know why we stay at home: not really for ourselves and personal safety (but it is an influence) - we stay home for everyone. Social distancing. Like the monks of yore, we hold ourselves inside for the sake of all others. Bodhisattvas all, staying in as much as we can, for the sake of everyone and the world. Now we join the work of the forest monks, desert fathers, cave yogis, and hermits, going into seclusion. As Martin Shaw said today, “vigil” not “isolation”.

So far life is going along mostly as normal. Today. I thought I’d read books or work on writing but until I get used to the changes, my focus is wiped, so mostly I just watch the screens. Peering into tiny screens I observe others and their worlds. I’m glued to the newsfeeds and somehow find it soothing, feeling more secure doing that. Why does “information” (even if it is not good info) bring a sense of comfort?

Here we are passing the time, reading, watching Criterion channel, talking on the phone. It’s comforting to bring back the good old phone calls that used to keep us all in touch. Soon, I hope, we will have a flood of stories about how everyone managed in these times. Events are happening so quickly we don’t have the vocabulary to describe our adjustment. Eyes forward, but we can’t really see what is ahead. As if it was back in wartime, we check the news, but the birds are still singing, crocuses are bursting out, sun, blossoms coming soon. Casting my mind to the future I can’t tell what I’m looking at. Can you?

James is just talking on the phone right now, and said, “The whole world is shutting down.”

Waiting for the news - Justin Trudeau, as we all know, is self-isolated with his family after Sophie tested positive. The newsfeed came on early, so no one was outside yet. I heard the birds in the background, the wind in the trees and saw the flag gently waving. It was some time before someone put the podium in place before the closed door of their home. All weirdly quiet. Empty.

There’s an empty quiet to everything right now.

I’m so glad I started this newsletter back in August, it’s really pulling me through the last few weeks. Notes sounded in a past issue now have echoes. The floral-scented soap I described, from Costco, I’m glad it’s on hand. The same post mentioned Palo Santo. For the past few days our hall has been filled with the overwhelming scent of sage and Palo Santo, powerfully seeping right into our place, from the downstairs neighbour’s smudging. Read that old post HERE.

It is heartbreaking that all our activities are shuddering to a halt with a big reset. This morning I woke to a big rumbling sound that I told myself wasn’t ominous, just a truck passing. Now that traffic has calmed, any sounds are larger somehow.

Yesterday at the dog park people were outside in the wind, bundled up, standing in clusters but not too close. Everyone, whether walking alone or in groups, looked iconic to me, each representing all of us in some way. A living painting of these times we find ourselves living in.

I’m understanding less and less as the entire system morphs and wobbles and reconfigures. Wow, things happen fast when they change! I was up one night last week, wrote a piece for this newsletter but now it’s a little inappropriate and out of date. Everything is out of date. This is a new moment, another world that is happening in the shell of the old world.

Hope you are feeling okay, and that all will be well.


Top Image Credit: Nam June Paik – Golden Buddha, 2005, closed-circuit video (color) with television and wood Buddha with permanent oil marker additions, 118.1 × 269.2 × 80.6 cm (46 1/2 × 106 × 31 3/4 in.), photo: Erich Koyama

Link to see more of Nam June Paik’s TV Buddha series

(Thanks to James K-M for this perfect image!)


Thanks so much for subscribing and reading. It means a lot to me.

Please click the heart for internet love!

I also put out the weekly Shamcher Bulletin, with selections from the Archives of Shamcher Beorse. If you’re curious, check it out HERE.

If you want to subscribe to Personal Papers, just sign up below.