Possibly the Worst Vacation Ever
It’s been two weeks since Faro. Summer is finally here, or should I say I’ve been chasing after summer? I’m headed towards Budapest from Bratislava as I write. This lonely traversing life is starting to affect my mental health. Although the cold had left but it will come back as soon as I return to Amsterdam. Summer hasn’t exactly made things better. Summer is making me jealous of people taking road trips with their family. Summer is love birds making out in the parks and frolicking the grass. Summer is going nude on the beach and skinny dipping with your friends and lovers.
I’ve always pride about being able to work and travel at the same time. Because of this trip, I have decided that I will avoid traveling for no reason other than for work. Reason being that my remaining funds will not last me until next summer. Even if I were to scrimp and save, I can only stay until the end of winter. I’d probably have to leave before the DAI Roaming Academy in March. I am not entirely keen about staying in Amsterdam neither do I want to really move back to Singapore but I need a job to pay my debt and that’s the cold hard reality. At the same time, there are so much opportunities for me outside of Singapore and I don’t want to miss them.
I admit I’m a little less excited about the next DAI year already because people left, everything that’s no-questions-awesome about it has changed. But of course, my research has to go on and my thesis needs to be written. I want my works/writings to get picked up. There’s going to be Contour Biennale in Mechelen curated by Natasha Ginwala who was my coach, and part of the DAI is going to Brazil next March after visiting Contour. So I should really be looking forward.
Perhaps I am moving on, since I am making plans. I don’t know what’s what anymore. My heart and mind are dislocated and dispersed continentally and I am allowing as such because it’s okay to not be okay. I am preparing my mind to this countdown because returning to Singapore is a really big confrontation for me after what happened. Furthermore, I do think that I have to face this in order to really move on.
A few wants or aims:
- Present some of my written works
- Get a job (and clear my debt)
- Work and collaborate with artists-researchers and philosophers in East Asia and Southeast Asia
- Learn German
How do I capitalize on my situation? How to turn my weakness into strength? How can I share my passion? And back to that issue from/of traveling, yesterday was a rather comforting day when I met a group of travelers (from Italy and Germany) at the bus stop of Devin Castle that is situated outside of Bratislava. We started really talking on the bus and one of the guy shared his experience about being and living in India for 6 months. He later on started complaining about Europeans and their ‘privileged traveler’ syndrome that I somewhat talked about in my first post — that really surprised me. I saluted him for his ‘sensitivity’ towards the unknown and the foreign. He is at a young age of 23, from Milan and studies engineering management. Of course, let’s not point fingers at the Europeans. I think tourists coming from developed societies tend to have this ugly trait (including myself) and sometimes academics seem to be doing this the most often, assuming they are experts of certain knowledge simply because they have a university degree. I have learnt over time and experience to not cast a perception or judgement, or to exercise a certain superiority just over the state of things just because you have the monetary power to do so.
Today, there is a “crisis of knowing”. The questions I posed before on tourism and education (specifically humanities subjects) is to research on how to change the future conception of knowing and cultivate societal receptiveness to the state of unknown? Can trans-border education across continents work? Currently, such networks already exist but are they doing enough? What are the methodologies employed? What can a geolocation, culture and local politics teach people albeit studying something seemingly different? How can we promote knowledge diversity and to learn beyond the self? Universities need to be decolonized, knowledge production as a process needs to be detached from institutional capitalization and had to be understood as such that knowledge cannot and should not be owned. Which had in turn created generations of ‘experts’ in certain fields/industries who are “most certainly qualify” and granting them authority to speak, write and document about ‘the others’.
I shall end with a quote by Achille Mbembe extracted from Decolonizing Knowledge and the Question of the Archive,
“By pluriversity, many understand a process of knowledge production that is open to epistemic diversity. It is a process that does not necessarily abandon the notion of universal knowledge for humanity, but which embraces it via a ‘horizontal strategy of openness to dialogue among different epistemic traditions.”