Sunday, September 9, 2007


Here at last! Through lines at airports, cramped seats, 3 times Spiderman 3, and the fog of jet-lag: Kyoto.

The humidity is thick, the cicadae are deafening, and the smells of summer have once again enchanted me... ripe, tangible smells, like musty tatami in a jumbled store-front, sandalwood incense coiling out from a doorway, fried sweet things and fresh fish odor wafting down alleyways. I tuck them all into familiar pockets, riding along on my bike.

It feels as though I never left, and it also feels as though I've returned to a dream. Yes, I'm sure this street leads to that one, and that there's a darling cafe on a side street where we once at lunch... it's all hazy and delightfully real at the same time. I've even surprised myself by remembering a decent amount of Japanese. The sounds come first, their meaning second.

Not a great sketch at all, but an attempt at the marvelous tangle of wires and buildings that is Kyoto, with the Kamogawa in the foreground. On our bikes today, J and I slowed on a bridge across the river to look north toward the layers of blue-gray mountains, growing pale into the distance, as far as the eye can see. How will I capture them?

I met a woman the other day who has synesthesia -- her senses overlap -- she can see music, taste shapes, and letters have colors. (She told me that my name is mostly green, with blue toward the end... how lovely!) I had never heard of this before, but it strikes me now that Kyoto is a particularly lush place to experiene such a phenomenon, as a place where even those of us with linear senses can smell things and practically see their vibrancy. The air lingers on the skin and feels charged with possibility. The moss in the gardens is too extravagant to enjoy with eyes alone.

All of this means good things for art-making, I can tell. The trick is to let it come to me, to meander, to explore and experiment; to be, as Milan Kundera says, Not Afraid of Not Arriving.

(But I have arrived! At last.)


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