This is my very first Medium post, so it has both the privilege and the burden of introducing who I am, and what this blog is about. Let me begin by a candid narrative of a series of relevant anecdotes, after which I will introduce one of my self-portraits, in lieu of a formal self-introduction. Since I began to use a smart phone, I became a heavy user of the memorandum. I wrote down ideas, reflections, research questions, and epiphanies in my phone’s memos everywhere, every now and then. Without realizing, I was doing something that I would keep doing my whole life. It went on as an intuitive and habitual act, and it gave me some sweet convenience that you might not be able to imagine.

What kind of sweet and strange convenience? After I had iPhone memos, writing novels no longer needed to be cryptic. Back in elementary school and middle school, I was a bad teenager who always tried to write “stuff” underneath my open homework booklet, with a novel manuscript always secretively open in the gap between my laps and the thick desk, and a tense heart always suspended at the throat. I was in constant fear of my mother’s occasional surveillance into my room, which in most scenarios, turned out innocuous and peaceful. Mom’s visitations would be innocuous only on the premise of ignorance. She was usually in a good mood, not as alert as I, and would always leave my room in a satisfactory smile if I successfully hid my novel-writing act from her and pretended that I had been deeply obsessed with homework from the very dawn of human civilization all the way to the doomsday of Earth. But 2 to 3 in 10 times, she would discover my cryptic writing, either if she caught me in the act of hastily stuffing the novel under my desk or if she had sharply captured some subtle expressions on my face that she deemed reflective of a different mental state than the homework attention control. Then a nightmare would ensue as mom would blow up her most serious fury. I would be in some serious, long-lasting trouble.

During my pre-memo teenage years, writing was so cryptic that it bordered on being illicit. I habitually hid my manuscripts. At the peak of my cryptic writing activities, I once could enumerate 22 spots in my not-so-big room where I hid manuscripts. Unfortunately, after many years have passed, I lost most of them, a testimony to how mediocre a treasure hunter I would be if I were one. Luckily, thanks to the smart phone memorandum, I bid farewell to cryptic writing and squirrel hoarding. The lock-screen button was something genius. Over years, my once-cryptic interests and obsessions of art, literature, society and culture carried on, and only grew stronger, and as a grad student whose “major duty” is architecture and design, I still depend on my phone memos for a reservoir of thoughts and ideas.

The position of memo is not just a reservoir but a translator. Memory is not fixed after the event happened. Every time you narrate it, the memory becomes reshaped once more. Translated by language, a thought becomes consolidated in memory; memo works not just as a carrier but as a mediator of memory.

I usually produce images as narrative, and text only as their auxiliary. But as an architect, I often find inspirations and motivations from outside architecture — from the society, from people, linguistics, philosophy, and art. Those non-architecture interests are provisions to my mind and my career. And I decided to open a blog as an online platform to share my love for such non-architectural obsessions with virtual audience.

The Two-Way Gaze, self-portrait by author

As hinted in multiple places above, this blog is going to be an architect and artist’s writings at the intersections of non-architecture and non-art topics. But in what forms? The below image, the Two-Way Gaze, is my self-portrait in my favorite posture: daily outward detection and introspection. It is the most succinct diagram that captures the essence of the blog — its contents will be both essays using a architecture as a way to perceive and interpret the society, art, linguistics, philosophy and life, and fictions that will be dream-derived thought experiments.

A mixture of a bit of research, a bit of interpretation, a bit of fiction, and a bit of visual images, a scoop of skepticism, a scoop of sarcasm, and lots of fun — that is the goal. I will keep writing so that in the end even if I don’t get the chance to be a published author, I can sell my manuscripts by pound.

Detection X Reflection | Blog of an architect who would have been a comparative anthropologist in a parallel world