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Ding Ren

here is always somewhere else
have you ever seen the far side of a mountain, swallow the sky  
Posted 5/6/13

The last time I wrote while on a train, I was on a too familiar ride going a sliver of the way up the East coast of the US from Washington, DC to Philadelphia.  Today, I am on an unfamiliar train on the island of Java, going from Jakarta to Yogyakarta.  There is no justifiable way to compare that familiar American train with this Indonesian one.  All I can do is keep my eyes open, to observe and describe.  Today I am leaving behind the hectic buzz of the city of Jakarta.  It is a city that has... [more]

you can't hear it but you can tell  
Posted 5/7/13

Today I am sitting on the 11th floor of the National Library of Singapore.  For the next few weeks, this perch of verticality will most likely become a welcome workspace.   On one side, there is a view towards tall buildings, hazy in the distance from the afternoon humidity.  On the other side, a wall of apartment buildings with balconies painted turquoise blue, laundry hanging out to dry, gently swaying in the breeze.  A week ago, I flew twelve hours across the world, traded in winter for endless... [more]

when a line becomes a mountain  
Posted 3/8/13

I used to draw straight lines.  I searched for them in green fields and followed their traces.  I projected them onto walls and looked for them in library book titles.  Living in the Netherlands, I no longer draw straight lines.  The topography is flat.  The search is unnecessary because the line is already there.  It is in the horizon that is visible all around.  It extends beyond the green farmland and into the sea.  It keeps going.  I was born in China but moved to the United States at a y... [more]

and all my dreams lost at sea  
Posted 3/7/13

So we beat on, boats against the current.Borne back, ceaselessly into the past.* // so we beat on On a train from here to there, on a plane from there to here, on a ferry in the Ij, in between here and there.  Going somewhere, but also nowhere fast.  2 Fridays ago, I packed up 4 suitcases all weighing give-or-take 23kg, got on a plane, and left Amsterdam.  Possibly for good.  Actually, more than possibly for good.  It was a tumultuous 2 years in Amsterdam, cumulated into a lovely makes... [more]

i waited for you on a hill  
Posted 3/7/13

i waited for you on a hill, on a saturday. (The feeling of having a hill to stand on.  The feeling of having someone standing on a hill waiting for you.  Singing these words.  Just dreaming.  But not here, it doesn’t exist here.) // I am half asleep, dozing in and out of dreaming.  I hear a fuzzy loud speaker coming from outside and a lot of movement from vehicles.  The squatters next door are being evicted this morning at 7am.  It is dark with only the barest minimal hints of daylight creepin... [more]

you come down from the mountain, they lose your scent in the fountain  
Posted 3/7/13

May 2011 “This city is so flat it makes me want to puke.” - François “This city is like a giant beige pillow.” - Fraser In 1971, Bas Jan Ader climbed a tree in the Amsterdam Bos.  He hung from a branch.  He let go.  He fell into the canal below.  He repeated the fall.  Sitting in a rocking chair on the roof of his house, flinging himself off the side.  He repeated the fall again, biking into the canal at the corner of Kerkstraat and Reguliersgracht.  Ader created these fall pieces after his visi... [more]

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