Chiang Mai: I’m in this 3rd floor apartment, lying on the sofa and the balcony door is open. The sound of a plane coming in to land (this building is near the airport and in the flight path), I’ll resist the impulse this time to try to take a photo of it – lean backwards over the balcony… scary. So I lay down flat on the sofa, ready for the immense noise, and the aircraft flies over. The sound is absolutely devastating. The glass of windows, masonry walls, ceiling and floor vibrate… and just at that moment I see the upside-down reflection of the plane in the highly polished floor tiles. It’s there for an instant, flying away across the floor, out to the balcony, and leaves my vision at the same time as the huge sound ends.

An upside down passenger jet flying across my room; such an extraordinary event, I think I need to write that down – where’s my pen? Something to write on? Look in my wallet, and a piece of paper falls out. It’s an old, creased, folded, coffee-shop receipt and on the back of it is written the word ‘extrinsic’. Hmm… so what is this? I made a note of that word for a reason, but what was it? Can’t remember, and now here it is again: extrinsic: adjective: not essential or inherent; not a basic part or quality; extraneous’ (extrinsic at

What is it connected with? There’s no context and it doesn’t seem to belong anywhere, yet there’s a familiarity… I feel I should know what it is – the essence of the object seen from outside of it? Something that would answer the question: What is its ‘whatness’? How is its ‘howness’? Somewhere in the realm of seemingly incidental meanings that arise of their own accord as if they’d been consciously created, contained in words, and language itself is the metaphor.

This word ‘extrinsic’ appears to be outside of the moment I’m in, and as soon as I think that, everything shifts to include it. Interesting, maybe, simply because I’m now outside the aircraft and usually I’m inside the aircraft, going between India and Thailand. It’s as if ‘extrinsic’ is a location in the construct, the object seen from the outside, looking in. And ‘intrinsic’ is another location, the subjective sense of the object. The ‘all-aroundness’ and the ‘all-it-isness’ is the totality of the ‘world’.

Everything is interrupted by the sound of another passenger jet approaching. I drop everything and lie back on the sofa to get the full impact of the sound… upside down plane flies across the floor.

“All life is a single event: one moment flowing into the next, naturally. Nothing causing everything. Everything causing everything.” [Wu Hsin]


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