#11 Exile Is A Silent Shadhow

| r |

Dear Nana, dear Internet,
As promised I transcribed Ben’s notebook to shed some light on my situation. I found it in a kitchen drawer, locked in a box with some letters. Well, turns out there isn’t too much I can transcribe because a few pages in he started to use some kind of code or cypher of something, so I’ll post some scans instead. But here is what I have so far. You probably think it is wrong of me to post his private diary, but imagine the situation I am in. My only solace is that he will stay anonymous, as will I.

If you are not the writer of this text, then you shouldn’t be its’ reader.

Lately I’ve been having a hard time. I feel like I’ve complained so much to fellow artists and friends. And it‘s always about the same things – it‘s beginning to wear those relationships thin.


I don’t particularly like myself, never have. But I especially don’t like what I am becoming right now. So I’ve decided to go inward. To just write about the things that bother me, instead of letting them bother my environment. Once it clears my head – as I hope a process like this might – I will have the satisfaction of destroying these papers of pathos and self-pity so no one will have to be subjected to my yammering. Or so I hope.


If you are not the writer of this text, then you shouldn’t be its’ reader. I can’t hinder you from continuing your exploration, but it will be your waste of time.


2017 has been a harsh year. My father passed and the sickness made us all complicit in wishing for a quick death. We never had a great connection, he and I. This was partly because of cultural differences, I guess. He was fleeing from a regime his whole life, fighting a battle against years of indoctrination. This sounds a lot colder than intended; it’s just – he never really talked about it. Just as North Korea shut itself off from the rest of the world, he shut North Korea off from me even though it is…was… a part of him.

I sometimes forget – he is gone. There are no more questions I can ask, no more answers he can avoid. But that wasn’t the only reason we weren’t close. He never really got me. I was the artistic son, and what good would that do me in the future? I don’t think he wanted to have kids, not really. I don’t think my mom pressured him into it, either. It was just his belief, part of this conservative, safe paradigm dictating one should have a family – or make one.

So my last exhibition has convinced me that art has now been fully infiltrated by the market, by the invisible fist of capitalism. I’m not a socialist; I don’t like to consider myself an anything-ist, I just noticed a shift of premises inside the construct of – let’s call it the art world. It certainly has always been there and maybe I am just the last to notice. In any case, it is annoying me to such an extent right now that I don’t even feel like creating anymore. Well, that’s not completely true. I just don’t think I want to create art right now. I’ve felt my interests shift back to an older passion. The days of studying physics started to take on the golden hue of nostalgia.

The certainty of formulas and the interconnecting logic between all things that ‘are’ seems more comforting than displaying my drawings and sculptures to a jaded Berlin brood of pseudointellectual ex pats. I’ve gotten back in touch with someone from my years of studying physics and the conversations have been uplifting and inspiring so far. We might even work on a project together.

At the time I felt angry at the meteors, ignoring our worries and needs. Now I can appreciate their ambivalent honesty. They just are, as everything is.

In the last few weeks leading to my father’s death, mother and I drank a lot of wine. It was a coping mechanism. We would unwind after dark; look at the stars, trying not to think about the rising morphine doses, the mountain of different colored pills, the baby monitor next to us. It was a beautiful August night; we counted the Perseids. None of them granting wishes; they were cold, small, ephemeral, and so beautiful.

My mother never had the privilege of a higher education, but nevertheless always maintained a thirst for knowledge. I would start ranting about the Doppler effect and the red shift phenomenon and she would give me the pleasure of listening to her nerdy son. Maybe this is another reason I feel the need to withdraw from the arts and return to science. At the time I felt angry at the meteors, ignoring our worries and needs. Now I can appreciate their ambivalent honesty. They just are, as everything is. As shall I be – flying through space at 220km per second.

I just scrolled through my phone contacts. This device mocks me and tells me there are over 300 people whose numbers I’ve collected over the years. The curse of networking is twice as bad when paired with a bad memory. I can’t connect a face to most of these names and if I can, it’s no one I would have a reason to ever call again. The remaining ones are mostly acquaintances, the majority of whom I don’t even like. In a city of 3.5 million that’s growing by the day, I feel more alone than ever.
It’s time for a data purge, laying these contact cadavers to rest. I am so frustrated with everything that is me.


This sensation isn’t new, but I can pinpoint the day when things started to fall apart. March 17th. That’s when we got the diagnosis. Ever since then, I dropped out of focus. My own and, I think, also the focus of my friends. I can’t even talk to Arjin – my lovely, smart, Arjin – whom I’ve been with for over 2 years now. My throat closes up whenever I have to think of what to say. They say mourning is a process, that it is different for everyone. Maybe my mourning needs to be this dry ice reality right now. I hope it won’t last.

One thought on “#11 Exile Is A Silent Shadhow

  1. Dear Rielle,

    thanks for sharing your great grandfathers touching and moving thoughts. I do think that anonymity is a great cloak for sharing his views — especially in times where we do not tend to talk that much about our feelings and where showing emotions is often regarded as something dysfunctional.

    There is so much more that I would like to learn, will be back…

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