I’ve been consulting (as dxSaigon) for a project called Gamelab. It’s a medical research themed game jam where we’ve paired Vietnamese research scientists from OUCRU (Oxford University Clinical Research Unity) with Vietnamese game developers into seven teams which are competing, at this very moment, in a 48 hour game jam. The production crew primarily behind the project has been producing a lot of videos. Here are some of me talking about the project, game design, and game jams.
I’m back in Saigon after a three week trip that I’d rather describe as a pilgrimage than as a vacation. It was pretty transformative. I am feeling really confident about 2015 — and I’m really excited to build dxSaigon‘s new products, and just excited to be alive really. It’s been a while…
Some of the highlights included:
Getting to see my son (and of course the rest of my family but seeing my son is especially important to me)
Having some conversations with my 94 year old grandmother
Skiing for the first time in 4 or 5 years — I’ve still got it and I might even be better than ever before! I just had some really nice confidence; I was able to point my skis straight down double black diamonds, launch off rocks, do jumps in the middle of mogul fields, and generally just carve gracefully. This is all stuff I could do as a kid but it was qualitatively different now; all with a sense of calm and ease. The revelation I had was one of trust — just trusting that I’d be able to react to the unexpected and stay relatively in control despite unforeseen conditions. Once you feel this trust, or accept the situation, you can let go of worry and be free to experience the innate rhythm of the circumstances.
Getting inspired by my friends who are up to really cool stuff and getting words of encouragement from them. They are all fighting so hard to make their dreams come true and I’m really lucky to have their respect and friendship. They were able to see good things about me and my situation that I had lost sight of, and they reminded me of ways of doing business that I had long forgotten.
All that being said, it’s great to be back. Saigon feels like home again for the first time in a long time.
Let’s do this! Ganbatte! Co Len! All the best to everyone!
Sketched while riding on a bus back to Saigon from Dalat. Is the primary genre Electro or IDM? The “44” in the name is because the original time signature that I wrote it in was something really weird like 6/6 but I later reformatted it to 4/4.
I was asked by a friend to host an episode of Living Vietnam in a Day, a show where they take a foreigner and have them experience a job that will probably be unusual for them. For me it meant working as a porter at BÌNH ĐIỀN MARKET in District 8.
In celebration of May 4th (may the “fourth/force” be with you) I present you with a documentary that I made 15 years ago with one of my closest friends while a student in film school.
On the surface it is a story about fans who are prepared to wait in line for four days to score tickets to the Chicago premier of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. But underlying this context are precious childhood memories of the original Star Wars film and family.
I’m proud to announce that I’ve launched an online magazine about design. It has a strong focus on design in Saigon, Vietnam as that’s where I have been living for the past three years, but it also has articles from around the world.
It is an extension of the Design Exchange series of events that I’ve produced. The high concept is cross training, to learn more about the craft of design by exploring other disciplines and industries. It’s also about exchanging ideas between Saigon and the rest of the world.
I’m have a personal goal to publish an article per week on dxMag so I expect that my personal blog (you are here) will not be updated very frequently.
One of the zen stories most often cited by my Zen Master was “Vastness, Not Holiness”. He would often speak of his experiences back country skiing as an activity that drives this story home. It was standing in the midst of the vast mountains that he experienced kensho.
In the story, Bodhidharma (the barbarian monk from the West who brought Zen to China) met with Emperor Wu. Their exchange went something like this:
Wu: I’ve built hundreds of Buddhist temples and made Buddhism the official religion. What merit have I accumulated?
Bodhidharma: No merit.
Wu: What then is the holy buddhist teaching?
Bodhidharma: Vastness, not holiness.
Wu: Who are you to be saying such things?
Bodhidharma: I don’t know.
And with that Bodhidharma left the capital and went to Shaolin temple to sit in a cave for nine years.
This story encapsulates the difference between Buddhism as a religion versus Buddhism as a practice. There are a lot of people who go to the temple to pray, they make donations, and live according to lay or monk precepts — and they have no realization, no liberation. They are running around in hopes of accumulating merits, in hopes of burning off bad karma. They think that enlightenment is somehow a real thing that can be grabbed in their hands instead of the hands themselves.
“If a Zen student is sufficiently alive, he can practice the Way in the simplest activities of daily life.”
– A First Zen Reader