The site, sighted.


In wandering, and working, I’ve contemplated the siting of things. How did that get there — that building, that tree, that object? What thinking, what contemplation, in play? It might be casual, it might be intentioned, it might be the velocity of mind and ingenuity. And I’ve wondered about the sudden sighting of things, in a site. Like prepping for a meeting in Dallas and having a giant cricket jump out of my bag. I thought it was good luck. But my interpretation — of the sighting in that site — was inopportune. I didn’t win the business. But then again, the client stepped on the cricket, so perhaps there was an ill omen, prescient there.

But the notion of the nestling — that object somehow being rightly sited — is an interesting intention. There are extremes, and there are numerous examples to potential. Something low slung on a beach, whether driftwood timber, or homes amid the dunes. The hillock house, rightly positioned — at promontory, or tucked just beneath the winds. The house ringed by trees, forestbound, looking south.

In Tibet, being there, I’d spied constructions of hermit meditation lodges, pitched high in the hills. Unreachable to the foreign traveler — at least me. But I will go here — this one in Bhutan, Taktsang Monastery, the Tiger’s Nest.
I’d thought to travel here, and one day shall, I’m hoping. Northeastern Turkey, Trabzon — Sumela Monastery:


Finally, to scientific indices of observation, I think about this, the beauty there, in an object that’s designed to


another form of contemplation, still heaven bound. But this sighting, sited, is similarly magic to the contemplation and design of form, atop — nestled in nature. Even given the rather tinkered character of its construction, it somehow fits, like a crystalline stalagmite, on top of that edifice.


At an amazing 3.571 metres, the Sphinx observatory at Swiss Alps is the highest-altitude construction in Europe. The Sphinx building and observation terrace stand 117 metres above the Jungfraujoch-Top of Europe, now a World Heritage site, the first in the European alpine region.






I’m sure you can think of others that stir the imagination.

What are they?

tsg | s e a t t l e


 

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The Eagle, the Raven, the story…

The Eagle, the Raven, the story…

harassment.jpg

I suppose in a way that everything I write here is a story.

One story becomes another.

I used to preach to people about the nature of the journal and the journey, that is — everything string of experiences is about a journey, the journal then becomes a kind of receptacle; it’s the reliquary of experience. It’s a collage. But now that I’m writing both to the weblog at Girvin.com, as well as the journal here, it’s harder to work on the paper journal(s). And I used to do journals as thematic explorations, so there was more than one. I’ve been looking at those journals and decided that I need to go back. Yes, to the digital pages, flipping in the etheric

I was working in NYC this past week. Arriving, it was post rainstorm — and in the sweltering heat, that came shortly after, the air filled with that NYC character of fragrance that is part sweet, part rotting; certain sewer entrances bring forth the hellbound scent — that melange is NYC, past rain. And in any fragrance, there is the underlying note that could be the base of rot, dirt or feces, that is overlaid with the progressive melodies that meld that scent into something beautiful. So too, NYC. The scent of it.

I work in NYC for one week; then I work for Seattle another week. And I go back and forth, between them, working. It’s dizzying, because you are in one place, one afternoon, then another, in what seems like a heartbeat — and you are in a wholly new place. That’s precisely what I like about it, the sense of dislocation — and what can be found in the one or the other.

I met with a group this week about an eagle — and how that eagle could be made into something more precious. Better, more beautiful. Something to be newly loved and embraced by millions. But the person that was talking to me about that was wearing a shirt with a raven on it. So were talking about eagles, and looking at ravens.

Hence the picture, shot by my brother Rob. Everyone’s heckling someone else, these days. It’s all about turf — what are you doing here, what are you doing there; what’s your story?
—-
T | NYC

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REFRACTIONS

A meditation.

All light, coming back to me, coming back to you.

I’ve heard that the offering of light to one, becomes the offering of light to another; it reflects, refracts. Light comes to me; I refract that, in the prism of my being, and it becomes another; it’s found by an other.

In doing good things, things of light and beauty, these go one way, come back to others, come back in differing forms to me.

Looking at the Moon, in contemplation, I’m thinking about that. The reflections. And I’m looking at her in the old snag, that’s between the two of us. And she drifts there, reflecting the sunlight, beaming — and sending light; that’s her refraction. It’s a new light.

Still, it’s luminous, the banded rays she sends my way, from another Sun, millions of miles, refracted — quiet now in eveningtime. The gloaming.

That snag, in its curling, branched expressions of her time in living — balance the whitened pearl that Moon is — and there’s a symbolism there. Light refracting, in our time of living, passing balanced in the labyrinth of our experience, wrapped in what has been, cradled in the past, moving on — future bound.

Light comes, light goes. Light reflects, light refracts.

And in every thing, you see some thing new.

Wishing well, in every thing —

TSG | d e c a t u r i s l a n d

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The Eagle, the Raven, the story…

The Eagle, the Raven, the story…

harassment.jpg

I suppose in a way that everything I write here is a story.

One story becomes another.

I used to preach to people about the nature of the journal and the journey, that is — everything string of experiences is about a journey, the journal then becomes a kind of receptacle; it’s the reliquary of experience. It’s a collage. But now that I’m writing both to the weblog at Girvin.com, as well as the journal here, it’s harder to work on the paper journal(s). And I used to do journals as thematic explorations, so there was more than one. I’ve been looking at those journals and decided that I need to go back. Yes, to the digital pages, flipping in the etheric

I was working in NYC this past week. Arriving, it was post rainstorm — and in the sweltering heat, that came shortly after, the air filled with that NYC character of fragrance that is part sweet, part rotting; certain sewer entrances bring forth the hellbound scent — that melange is NYC, past rain. And in any fragrance, there is the underlying note that could be the base of rot, dirt or feces, that is overlaid with the progressive melodies that meld that scent into something beautiful. So too, NYC. The scent of it.

I work in NYC for one week; then I work for Seattle another week. And I go back and forth, between them, working. It’s dizzying, because you are in one place, one afternoon, then another, in what seems like a heartbeat — and you are in a wholly new place. That’s precisely what I like about it, the sense of dislocation — and what can be found in the one or the other.

I met with a group this week about an eagle — and how that eagle could be made into something more precious. Better, more beautiful. Something to be newly loved and embraced by millions. But the person that was talking to me about that was wearing a shirt with a raven on it. So were talking about eagles, and looking at ravens.

Hence the picture, shot by my brother Rob. Everyone’s heckling someone else, these days. It’s all about turf — what are you doing here, what are you doing there; what’s your story?
—-
T | NYC

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Lightning, the wraith, spirit found

1853 C. BRONT Villette xxiii, She stood, not dressed, but draped in pale…

—-
I came back from NYC on Thursday. As usual, the flight was delayed, and I returned to my house sometime in the late evening, 11:15. I worked for a bit, getting myself set up for the next day, an early rising.

I opened up the windows to air out the studio of the old school house on Queen Anne, where I live. And went to bed.

At about 3.00 am, I rose to work again.

A wind moved through the hilltop trees and you could smell the scent of storm, warm and electrical. It was then that she came.

While I was working at the computer, sitting there in the space, orchids weaving, old Javanese wayang in the stands slightly turning, candles flickering, there was another flash — and almost instantly, there was the boom of thunder. Proximity focused my attention to the outside, the breeze reaching to my bare skin.

Then, there was another flash — and just then, I looked out the wide windows of the space, into the black — and she was there, shocking in the blinding light, a floating figure, a woman. Beautiful, reaching out, or teaching, or offering something with an upraised hand, beckoning — the other hand almost resting on the sill, outside — three stories up.

It was like she was in the water, her hair floating around her, and she was sheathed in a gauzy, diaphanous fabric, her body naked in the instant light. Her eyes were light. The shadows of the brilliant illumination were starkly contrasting in the momentary movement — the sensing that she was there. Then, vanished in the dark.

What was the revealing? To the moment, I was so shocked that I was chilled, my skin, gooseflesh and pebbled like a shark; I couldn’t believe what I’d seen. Yet there she was, in my mindseye. A ghost. A wraith. A spirit. Unforgettable.

My mother asked, what was she? I thought, at the moment — Death, in an angel. Then, she was too light for death, too bright, too beautiful. Life, in an angel.

A friend said — draw her. I did. Here are four variations.

Shown in lightning, she’s there, spirit found, reaching. What is the story? What is her story? What is my story?

Pay attention. Tune in. Listen to her, in you.

Who do you think she is?

—-
T

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An experiment in communication…

David, thanks for your considerations, your reach — and, to some of your co-respondents, I’m grateful to be included in your search.

To the challenges that you face, I relate. I’ve seen these, sensed these travails in others. And each has borne the character of the challenge — the chasm — with either a leap, or a stride — a running sprint. And it’s what we have, these moments, so it’s profound to be called to the action of knowing, abruptly, that it ends for all of us.

So get out there and enjoy it while you can. Savor that. And surely you are there, are you not?

This idea of the concept of linking people by story is one of profound gravity for me — it’s been something that I’ve preached for a long time.

A talk on the personal, the sharing, the journal…
http://www.watershedart.org/news_2004.html

Notes on storytelling and emotional connectedness…
http://blog.girvin.com/?cat=8

For me, it’s about paying attention – attunement to exactly that which is before you. I met a woman a while back at TED, the conference. And she and I’d talked a great deal about that: attention. For her, it was about her work for Microsoft on people’s attention to their devices. Geesh!

Here’s a telling for you, from me. I suppose that if you google my name and ravens, you’ll find it — it’s on tim.girvin.com.

But it’s epiphanic and powerful for me. And true. And unforgettable. There’s a drawing that goes with this story — see if you can find that.

Each of us has meaningful stories to tell; parts of our life passage that have touched us, deeply. In some ways, stories like this captivate our experience in many ways. On the first level, the stories reach out to us to give a basic physical and emotional lesson, then — with time — this import deepens. And the story achieves a message of greater and greater depth. This is the very nature of storytelling. You hear the story and you understand it in one way, on one level. Then, with time, you learn more in gathering the threads of the myth, as the story is told again and again.

Here is one telling, from my experience.

Since I was young, I’ve had a relationship with Corvids — the bird family of crows and ravens (also of jays, camp robbers, and magpies). In our office, images of these birds are everywhere; they are in old Japanese scrolls and screens, sculptures of the Ravens are arranged, there are also European and American prints and drawings.

When I was young, I was first called to them — the Ravens.

My family and I were visiting at an old cabin on a lake in Idaho, a family estate of an older eastern Washington family. There were no roads to this place; it was accessible only by boat. Cabins and other structures were arranged along the water. A great, dark and burgeoning forest of ancient trees gathered behind; they rose high into the hills, up and up, over the lake. I had explored the waterfront but I was called to the elder woods, out back. To enter, I had to climb, as the hills went straight up. Pines arose all around me, blocking out the sun.

As I made my way, off in the further reaches of the forest was a distant calling. It sounded like hammering, a rhythm — the ripping of saws. But it was distant, muffled in the array of the great trees. What was this?

I kept climbing and the sounds would rise, like the work was quickening. The next moment, it would diminish and disappear. It would be clearly there, then gone. I stood alone in the quiet of the forest, listening. The calling would start again, and I would climb higher. Soon, the grand blue arc of the lake was revealed below — set like a sapphire in the verdant hillocks. The trees behind me got older and wiser; the forest, except for this vista out to the lake, blackened. Walking in further the sunlight was held, far back, in the nape of the hills, but strokes of lightshaft found their way through the trees. The branches dusted the air with their pollen. It was cathedral-like, but there was the calling, like some discordant ritual choir that now was building into a crescendo.

I kept climbing, following the cacophony.

Then finally, in the deepest part of the forest, light beamed down to an open circle. There was movement, and curls of dust, like smoke. There were birds there, many birds — and they were calling. As I came closer, I could see that it was like a meeting, a congregation of Ravens. Having never really seen these birds before, this was frightening, because they were big. Black. Loud. They were flying in to rest, lifting off, hopping, moving and, all the while, cawing. It was a call to disorder, a secret forum. The light beat down, despite the noise, through the swirling dust past the deeper sentinels of the forest.

Crawling on my hands and knees, I got closer. The scent of the fallen needles and the old ground is still there, in my memory. The vocation continued. I edged closer, but somehow there was fear. It was a fear of unknowing — of “what is this?”

Abruptly, I got a feeling of the sense of being watched… that subtle tickle at the back of my mind, the light twisting of the hairs on my back, my neck — the arising sentience — reaching out to feel everything, in danger. I was still at the edge of the clearing, the Ravens scumbling in the forest dusting were still shouting.

Following the sense of foreboding, I turned slowly, so as to not distract the other birds. There, high up, tucked far into the darkness of the branches was a big Raven, much larger than the others. Its head turned slightly, its eyes staring down at me like an old master of the woods. It was Merlin, looking down, cloaked in black. Watching me.

He seemed to say, “Now, you have seen. What will you learn from this?” I lay there, watching — looking, listening to the celebration. This communal gathering, with the Old One, overlooking. And then quietly I crept away. The Old Raven, watching me, slowly, silently turning his head to trace my path.

Although I was a child, I knew that there was something symbolic here, in seeing this gathering. But it was really years before I began to interpret what this could mean for me. Each story has its layering; at the beginning, a story is merely a telling, but successively, the tale achieves a deeper understanding that perhaps speaks to the heart of us all.

In traveling, from Tibet to Costa Rica, from Mongolia to Japan, from Canada to Mexico, France to Italy… I have found that the Ravens are there, everywhere. They all seem to look at me with the same question — watching me, for an answer.

To this day, the presence of the birds, both in nature and in my surroundings, calls to me to reach deeper — and to grasp the reminder of that day in my childhood: “Are you here? Are you listening? Are you paying attention?”

—-
Tim Girvin
Principal
GIRVIN
http://www.girvin.com

On Jul 7, 2007, at 5:24 PM, David McCanless wrote:

Dear Tim,

I am writing to you because you are someone that I admire and respect. I am doing a project for my final class at Portfolio Center, and was hoping that you would participate. The assignment was part of a Design History class taught by the President of the school, Hank Richardson. I was to compare a theme from Steven Heller’s book, “Swastika, Symbol Beyond Redemption?”, with a seemingly unrelated topic from current media and see where the two intersect. I chose to cross people’s tendency to ignore problems because they are a source of pain or shame, with society’s obsession with celebrities and television.

The intersection of these two ideas got me thinking about communication. The majority of our conversations these days are filled with small talk and gossip. It seems like no one really opens up to anyone anymore. Are any of us making any real connections or are our conversations serving the sole purpose of passing the time?

I hypothesized that if you open up to someone, if you could share just one personal story with each other, then that might be enough to plant the seed from which a personal connection could grow.

The end deliverable has been driven by these ideas and is taking the form of what I am calling an experiment. I would like to share with you my personal story. After reading my story I ask that you jot down a story of your own and send it back to me. Your story can be funny, serious, long, short, whatever you like, as long as I can’t Google it or look it up in a book. The hope is that, if one day I meet you in person or I need your advice, we will have a rudimentary connection. I am no longer a complete stranger, a faceless résumé or a random email address, and you are not just a name and a face in a book.

When this idea was first developed, I sent it to a few people to test the waters. I was not sure what kind of response I would get. To my surprise, I have received wonderfully touching and personal stories from many of the industry’s greats such as David Carson, Paula Scher, Eric Baker, Sean Adams, Craig Frazier, and Michael Bierut.

Thank you for taking the time out of your impossibly busy schedule to read this note and I look forward to hearing your response. (The story follows)

Sincerely,
David McCanless

I was born with a heart that leaked like a sieve. Hundreds of tiny holes sporadically placed throughout, making normal blood flow impossible. It only took me turning blue once for the doctors to know they had to patch things up. My mom calls me her miracle child. She always said that the doctors took that lemon god had given me and made some sweet lemonade.

I visited a pediatric cardiologist once every year from the time I was born until I was eighteen, when I was given a clean bill of health. When I turned twenty-one it was time for me to see an adult cardiologist. At my first appointment, my doctor ran me through every test he could think of, in order to bring my charts up to speed. I was told that I would receive a letter in a about week explaining the results and to come back for a check up in one year.
Two days later my phone rang. The nurse said that they found some abnormalities in the tests and the doctor would need to discuss them with me as soon as possible. The next day he told me I had an unseen problem with my heart that will probably catch up to me before my 40th birthday.

It’s hard to say how I took the news initially. I suppose you could say there were some feelings of angst and confusion. I think those were normal gut reactions to the news. It’s tough to hear that at twenty-one years old you are middle aged. I’ve been living with this news for nine months now and I have a strong optimistic outlook on life. I can’t help but feel that somewhere, within this situation that seems so ugly and scary there is still a great deal of hope. I still have lots of things I need to accomplish in my life and I can’t let this stand in my way.

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Exploring the keris blade…

Garrett, I’ve been thinking of you. And your knowledge, the keris blade collection in Hawaii. I’ve thought about the potential of being down there sometime — connecting with you and your wife, to learn more.

And my explorations of the keris has been slow, as well you put it, and long.

I’ve treated it as a progressive examination — and finding anything, finding one thing that is a new discovery — it’s a wondrous thing.

I believe that there have been a series of encounters, that have been rather magical. For one, being guided by village security on the day of silence, Nyepi — a couple of years back, in Bali — to a keris maker’s home, spending time with him and his family, exploring and learning. And of course, without any word of english.

The guard (with the orange coat) shows that typical village security temple coat (either that, or black with poleng). And, one of the keris blades. I’ve rested some of them on a journal cover from my state side writings.

I’d traveled to Yogyakarta — and met with another keris maker there.

My guide explained this to us, in meeting with him — the explanation of the mystery of his work, how long he’d been making blades, the range of his clientele. We’d worked out the idea of having him make one for us. But had insurmountable challenges in trying to get the money to him, his bank. Finally, even working through our guide in Java, it couldn’t happen, it seemed. Then, the earthquakes in Java, the eruption of Merapi. And finally, this elderly master died, before we could connect with him. His son is shown there, in the imagery, as well — I’d presume he’s continued in the steps of his father.

Since then, I’ve acquired some of these blades in different parts of Java and Bali — some from Donna Lum, your friend. Others, from the Kraton in Yogya. Others, elsewhere. Not so many…Maybe 5 or so.

There is much alchemy in the magic of these blades…

It is, as you rightly intone, a matter of learning how to be patient, letting the knowledge come, as timing and the windows to that world would allow…

Warmest, all ways —

TSG | NYC + SEATTLE

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Keep the spirit on wing

I’m writing about your loss, Dan.

A long time ago, when I was in college, and studying chinese painting, there was a teacher, a mentor — and surely, spiritual advisor: Wing Leong, a student of the master, Chiang Yee.

And he taught about the idea that when you paint, it’s not about the realism, it’s about the spirit of the rendering — it’s finding the ch’i, vital force, that enlivens the rendering. Chiang Yee talked about the ancient principles of painting. From Hsien Ho, a 6th century scholar — who spoke of the rhythm of heaven, in capturing spirit in painting.

I always look for that: resonance, heaven rhythm, mist of the offering > ch’i.

So for a long time, I’ve sent this out to friends, where there has been a passage, from one plane to another. It’s about, in our living, as well as our painting, the idea of keeping the spirit alive, the rendering on wing, aloft –the form, the gesture — empowered.

Vladmir Nabokov speaks of the bird in the context of spirit and memory — that while the bird is the spirit of that which is recalled, it’s the spirit — soaring; we are still bound on earth, looking skyward — the shadows of those sailing forms.

So, to either level of metaphor, the bird is the spirit — the emblem of ch’i, the character of that which has passed.

And we stand by, still earthbound.

Love | all ways —

tg | d e c a t u r i s l a n d

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silent production

There was a day this past week
that was the longest day; and it
was for me. I started in NYC.

(and this is about silence)

And I awakened there, sometime
around two forty five. This was the timing
in Seattle. But I was in NYC.

(and this is about being quiet)

That day, I was to fly home. It
took about an hour and fifteen
minutes to get out of the city.

(and this is about quiescence)

Then it was about forty five
minutes to get to the airport.
And I got there late.

(and this is about watching, in repose)

Rushing to the gate, then
I boarded at about four, the
flight was to leave at four thirty.

(and could this be about watching)

That jet pulled back at
five thirty, then taxied out
and began the wait in line.

(this is about waiting, well)

There was an old Russian woman
who was ill — but she had to get
home; she didn’t, we went back

(and this is about change)

to the gate, and waited as they
hauled her off. She didn’t want
to go, but it was too late for that.

(this is about what happens)

And we waited there for two
hours, then went out, again.
Rain and lightning emerged.

(and this is about what you see)

And after seven hours, close
to midnight, we left, finally;
looking down, there were

(this is about what’s left behind)

dozens of jets, there, lights
blinking, as they set there,
waiting to be free.

(this is about forgetting)

And we got back, Seattle home,
what was twenty four hours,
from arising, before.

(and this is about time passing)

And coincidentally, aligned,
it was the longest day. My
parents had their anniversary;

(and this is about construction)

about fifty six years of
making some thing
constructive, in living

(and this is about silence)

the fruitful and contemplative
life; one of mutual reflection.
This now comes to me.

(and this is about every move)

Being one in silence, being
all right, in the moment,
found there, here. Present.

(and this is about today)

That I leap from one place
to another, finding that
production, in silence.

(and in each, this is about silence)

5.55am | NYC | Seattle | Decatur Island

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The Volute

t h e v o l u t e

Every year, when it comes
time for my birth day, to day —

I think about the numbers,
one to the other, and what

added summation they
might make, to mean.

So now, in 54 turns
around the sun, this forms

9, the volute, that drawing
spinning
outward, a vortex

to what was begun, and
what will be found, and what

will be seen, along the coursing
of that curve, spinning out.

And this time, I contemplate
that looking down to the

water, I see the stars, yet
in them, the sky, found

that great curving above
me the forms the arc

of experience, in being
somewhere new. Yet,

perhaps in the beginning of
the volute, just starting

its arc, making way, to
the new outward reach

of one’s life, an ever moving
curl, the long tale, unfurled.

—-
Tim | 54 | d e c a t u r i s l a n d

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