Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Monday, January 22, 2007
“But which is the stone that supports the bridge?” Kublai Khan asks.
“The bridge is not supported by one stone or another,” Marco answers, “but by the line of the arch that they form.”
Kublai Khan remains silent, reflecting. Then he adds: “Why do you speak of the stones? It is only the arch that matters to me.”
Polo answers: “Without stones there is no arch.”
(From: Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities.)
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Monday, January 15, 2007
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Friday, January 12, 2007
The documentary Dutch Delight (Hollands Licht, 2003) by Pieter-Rim de Kroon and Maarten de Kroon tries to unveil the myth of Dutch light. Dutch light, immortalized by many great poets, painters and photographers. They tried to unravel the mystery of Dutch light. The result is beautiful cinematography. We still try the impossible: to make visible what is invisible. Light is invisible. We know it is there, out there, because we can see those things touched by it. But is Dutch light so different from Indonesian light? In Bali one can experience similar sceneries: blue skies and ever changing formations of cumulus clouds. But here in Jakarta the light is indeed very different. Perhaps due to air-pollution. And the air seems untouched, often greyish. The untouchable delight cannot be unraveled, it can only be shown.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Tuesday, January 9, 2007
“What’s this? I beg you pardon! Huh? Just some human figures you say. No! Can’t be! It is… Yes, it is vulgar. It is porn! So indecent, so immoral. It should be removed. Or at least it should be covered up.” (This actually happened at the tourist attraction Borobudur, nearby
The maker of the sculpture is unknown to us, so are his intentions. This sculpture is part of the Candi Sukuh temple complex, which is on the slopes of the Gunung Lawu mountain, close to the Central Java kraton city of
The maker of the drawing is known: R.E. Hartanto, who is better known as Tanto (1973 born in
So what is this? To call it pornography and therefore immoral is to jump into conclusions. What we instead should try to do is to describe the sculpture and drawing. Pornography is used as a qualification, as a subgroup of immorality. But this skips the step of merely describing in a more matter of fact way before drawing up a conclusion. To use pornography as a description is as if one is blind, one does not really see.
This is common in authoritarian regimes; one is trained to use certain categories instead of having the freedom to use one’s own mind to think and try to decipher and define one’s surrounding. And to see the world shaped through only those categories means one cannot see the world different-wise. One cannot shape one’s world by oneself when the world comes as a fixed package.
A moral judgment says something about our perspective towards the world, it says on the other hand nothing about the world itself. The world as-it-is is amoral. It is nonsense to picture morality as a series of laws of nature.