Friday, 20 September 2019

Transmissions of Unwanted Pasts

Transmissions of Unwanted Pasts
In Prabda Yoon’s short film Transmissions of Unwanted Pasts (วงโคจรของความทรงจำ), the THEOS satellite malfunctions and begins transmitting images that seem inexplicable until Pang, a young engineer, discovers that they represent “many important historical events in Thailand.” The mysterious images are never shown, though Pang lists the dates that they refer to: “2014, 2010, 2008, 1992, 1976, 1973, 1932..."

Of course, those are precisely the years that Thailand’s military would like us all to forget: the 2014 coup, the 2010 redshirt crackdown, the 2008 police violence against yellowshirt protesters, ‘Black May’ 1992, the 6th October 1976 and 14th October 1973 massacres, and the 1932 abolition of absolute monarchy. Pang excitedly suggests that historians could use the satellite data to study these events: “They might discover many new things, things that they were previously unaware of, or things that were never documented.” But her boss has other ideas, and three soldiers destroy all the material she’s gathered.

The science-fiction dystopia of Transmissions of Unwanted Pasts is, like the portmanteau film Ten Years Thailand and Thunska Pansittivorakul’s Supernatural (เหนือธรรมชาติ), also a comment on present-day Thailand. Like the soldiers erasing satellite images of ‘unwanted pasts’, Thailand’s successive military governments have sought to suppress discussion of these events. School history courses emphasise royalist-nationalist legends, while the secret history cited in the film is excluded from the curriculum. A plaque commemorating the 1932 revolution was removed without explanation.

The result of this whitewashing is a cycle of nascent democratic reforms repeatedly reset by military coups, as forgotten history is destined to repeat itself. (The title of Napat Treepalawisetkun’s short film We Will Forget It Again also refers to this collective amnesia.) In Prabda Yoon’s previous film, Someone from Nowhere (มา ณ ที่นี้), this cycle is symbolised by a violent argument about property ownership between an occupant and an interloper. The two figures represent military and civilian governments jostling for power; after they knock each other unconscious, their roles are reversed, and they have no memory of their previous confrontation.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Madame X Tour

Madame X Tour
Madonna’s Madame X Tour began last night. Her previous world tours (Who’s That Girl, Blond Ambition, The Girlie Show, Drowned World, Reinvention, Confessions, Sticky and Sweet, MDNA, and Rebel Heart) were all held in stadiums or arenas, though Madame X is a theatre tour. This makes each concert a far more intimate experience, and Madonna interacted with the audience throughout last night’s show. She has experimented with smaller-scale performances before: she debuted her Tears of a Clown cabaret show in Melbourne and Miami in 2016, and played one night at the Paris Olympia during The MDNA Tour in 2012.

The new tour includes live performances of almost the entire Madame X album (Medellín, Dark Ballet, God Control, Future, Batuka, Killers Who Are Partying, Crave, Crazy, Come Alive, I Don't Search I Find, and Extreme Occident) and a handful of classics (Human Nature, an a cappella Express Yourself, Vogue, Papa Don’t Preach, American Life, La Isla Bonita, Frozen, and Like a Prayer). There are two cover versions (Fado Pechincha and Sodade), and the encore is I Rise.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Tropical Malady: The Book

Tropical Malady: The Book, published this month, is a deluxe facsimile of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Tropical Malady (สัตว์ประหลาด) shooting script. The full-size reproduction includes the film’s dialogue, directions, and storyboards, all annotated by the director. (A different copy of the script was featured in the exhibition The Serenity of Madness.)

Internationally, Tropical Malady is one of Apichatpong’s most acclaimed films, though it had only limited distribution in Thailand. When I interviewed him in 2017, he discussed its disappointing domestic theatrical release: “I think, from Tropical Malady, there’s this issue of releasing the film, and marketing, that I don’t like. And also the studio was not interested in the film, anyway, because there’s no selling point: there’s no tiger, there’s no sex, so it’s very personal.”

Tropical Malady: The Book is an attempt to raise the film’s Thai profile. In addition to the lavishly reproduced screenplay, it also includes an interview with Apichatpong and a booklet of English and Japanese translations. The premium edition also comes with a sticker and tote bag, both featuring the book’s calligram logo. The book is housed in a custom cardboard box with the same design.

As in the novel S., simulations of various documents have been inserted between the pages: a handwritten letter (from Keng, one of the film’s protagonists), a Risograph print of a fantastically lurid comic (สมิงมนต์คนอาคม/‘possessed by a tiger’), a temple booklet (พื้นเสือสมิง/‘tiger spirit tales’), a magazine serial (นารายณ์ทรงปืน/‘Narai with a gun’), and a poster. It’s a superb tribute to one of Thailand’s greatest films, edited by Sonthaya Subyen (Unknown Forces/สัตว์วิกาล) and Wiwat Lertwiwatwongsa.

Monday, 9 September 2019


Roar: Sulak Sivaraksa and the Path of Socially Engaged Buddhism, by Matteo Pistono, is an authorised biography of one of Thailand’s most respected and controversial public intellectuals. The book was published in the US; it’s on sale in Thailand, though it would surely be withdrawn if government censors ever read it. It includes a quote from Sulak’s interview with the Toronto Star newspaper (published on 3rd August 2011), which Pistono accurately describes as “a statement no newspaper in Thailand has ever been willing to print for fear of lèse-majesté.”


Terminal 21
Popularity 2
Popularity 1
Popularity 4
Popularity 3
Paintings depicting the Buddha as Ultraman (พระพุทธรูปอุลตร้าแมน) have been removed from an exhibition in Nakhon Ratchasima. The works, part of a series titled Popularity, were put on display at the Terminal 21 shopping mall on 3rd September, though they were withdrawn following allegations of blasphemy. The exhibition, เต๊อ=เติ๋น (literal translation: ‘too much=terrace’), is scheduled to close on 11th September.

Far from being blasphemous, the paintings present the Buddha as a heroic figure for young Ultraman fans. Nevertheless, the student artist, Suparat Chaijangrid, was required to issue a tearful public apology at a Buddhist temple on 7th September. (This ritual, in which transgressors of social convention must repent and plead for forgiveness, is a regular media spectacle in Thailand.)

The case recalls that of Withit Sembutr’s painting of Buddhist monks from 2007, Doo Phra (ดูพระ), which was withdrawn from a Bangkok mall under similar circumstances. Depictions of the Buddha in Thai art are generally reverential and thus uncontroversial, though an exception was Vasan Sitthiket’s Buddha Returns to Bangkok (พระพุทธเจ้าเสด็จกรุงเทพ 2535), a response to the 1992 ‘Black May’ massacre. Vasan has also painted the Buddha shooting corrupt politicians with a machine gun.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Prism of Photography

Prism of Photography
Prism of Photography: Dispersion of Knowledge and Memories of the 6th October Massacre (ปริซึมของภาพถ่าย: การแตกตัวขององค์ความ รู้และความทรงจำว่าด้วยเหตุการณ์ 6 ตุลา) is a visual archive of the 6th October 1976 massacre at Thammasat University, “one of the bloodiest massacres in the history of modern Thailand.” It includes Thai newspaper front pages, photographs taken by journalists at Thammasat, and autopsy photographs of the massacre victims. The images are primarily sourced from the Documentation of Oct 6 (บันทึก 6 ตุลา) website.

Surprisingly, the most iconic image from 6th October, Neal Ulevich’s picture of a man preparing to beat a hanging corpse with a chair, is not included. Nevertheless, the book is a more comprehensive collection of photographs than any previous publication on the massacre, such as สมุดภาพเดือนตุลา: ประมวลภาพเหตุการณ์ 14 ตุลาคม 2516 และ 6 ตุลาคม 2519 (‘picture book of 14th October 1973 and 6th October 1976’).

Most significantly, it’s (as far as I’m aware, after researching the subject myself for the past few years) the first book to reprint the notorious Dao Siam (ดาวสยาม) front page from 6th October 1976. Dao Siam’s headline and accompanying photo have been much discussed though seldom, if ever, reproduced. For example, the headline appears in พลกแผนด นประวตการเมองไทย 24 มย 2475 ถง 14 ตค 2516 (‘overturning the history of Thai politics from 23rd June 1932 to 14th October 1973’), though the photograph was blacked out.

Prism of Photography, by Thanavi Chotpradit and Kornkrit Jianpinidnan, is available at the Bangkok Art Book Fair 2019, at CityCity Gallery from 5th to 8th September. (Kornkrit also produced a photobook for लिंगम् Project 2018/‘linga project 2018’.) The book is free, though it’s limited to 500 copies.

Sunday, 1 September 2019


The group exhibition Rifts (รอยแยก) features thirteen Thai artists who came to prominence over the last thirty years, in what was arguably the first wave of postmodern Thai art. Each artist is represented by a single work, and one of the highlights is Reading for One Female Corpse, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook’s first piece of video art.

Rifts: Thai Contemporary Artistic Practices in Transition, 1980s-2000s opened at the BACC in Bangkok on 30th August, and will close on 24th November. Feeling the 1990s, part of the permanent collection at MAIIAM in Chiang Mai, features Thai art from the same period.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Elect After Election

Elect After Election
Elect After Election
Elect After Election
Elect After Election
The Elect After Election (เลือกแล้วได้อะไร? ประชาธิปไตยไทยหลังการเลือกตั้ง) installation features 750 seats, one for each of Thailand’s MPs and senators. The 500 appointed senators are represented by monoblok chairs, while the 250 elected politicians are symbolised by lowly stools. On the exhibition poster, the senators are depicted as tongue emojis, recalling Rap Against Dictatorship’s single 250 Bootlickers (250 สอพลอ).

In the centre of the installation is a blow-up figure with Prayut Chan-o-cha’s face, absurdly inflating and deflating in time to audio clips of Prayut’s parliamentary speeches. (Prayut, who led the 2014 coup, was appointed PM by the rubber-stamp National Legislative Assembly, and was reappointed after the 24th March election thanks to the votes of the hand-picked senators.)

Elect After Election was organised by Elect, a new NGO that aims to increase Thai public interest in politics and democracy. The exhibition opened yesterday at BACC in Bangkok, and will close on 1st September.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Eyes Wide Shut

Eyes Wide Shut
Eyes Wide Shut: Stanley Kubrick and the Making of His Final Film examines the production and legacy of Eyes Wide Shut, twenty years after its theatrical release. Authors Robert P. Kolker and Nathan Abrams make effective use of files from the Stanley Kubrick Archive, comparing script drafts and using production reports to create a detailed account of the extended filming process. (Frederic Raphael’s self-serving memoir Eyes Wide Open is also a major source.) Endnotes are included, though they are not numbered in the body text, thus phrases such as “Cruise says” misleadingly imply that Tom Cruise (for example) spoke to the authors personally.

The book’s second half, dealing with Eyes Wide Shut’s post-production and release, is less impressive than the first. There are only two paragraphs devoted to the editing process, and Kubrick’s editing notes are dismissed as “gobbledygook.” The film was censored to comply with MPAA regulations, though the authors were unable to confirm how this was decided: “whether Kubrick intended to do this remains the subject of some controversy.” (The soundtrack was also changed, for the film’s European theatrical release and all video versions, though the book makes no mention of this.)

Kubrick died during post-production, and the book leaves key questions relating to posthumous editorial decisions unresolved. Most remarkably, the film’s state of incompletion at the time of Kubrick’s death is dealt with under the subheading “The Irrelevant Question”. Such matters are dismissed as mere trivialities: “Whether it might have been different in some small way is ultimately irrelevant and certainly counterproductive to our understanding of the film and the pleasure we take from it.” This is a pretty extraordinary statement, given Kubrick’s meticulous attention to detail.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

The Textening

Four American media companies have been fined by the Federal Communications Commission after unauthorised broadcasts of the emergency alert system tone. The tone, which is similar to an SMS notification, can only be broadcast on television or radio in the event of a genuine emergency, and the FCC argued that its use in entertainment shows could lead to “alert fatigue” and public dismissal of genuine emergency alerts, resulting in “a substantial threat to public safety.”

The ABC network received the largest fine, $395,000, as a 3rd October 2018 episode of the late-night comedy show Jimmy Kimmel Live! included a parody of the emergency alert. Its spoof trailer, The Textening, featured nine uses of the alert tone.

AMC was fined $104,000, as it featured the alert in an episode of the horror series The Walking Dead (Omega, broadcast on 17th February). Meruelo Radio received a $67,000 fine, as a spoof alert tone appeared in trailers on its California radio station KDAY on 8th September 2017. Animal Planet was fined $68,000, as an episode of its reality TV series Lone Star Law (Thousand Year Flood, shown on 21st January 2018) also featured the alert tone. In that case, the alert was a genuine emergency message about Hurricane Harvey, though the show was broadcast several months after the storm.

Monday, 12 August 2019

100 Must-See Films

100 Must-See Films
On 7th July, the Sunday People newspaper (a UK tabloid) published 100 Must-See Films, an eight-page supplement listing “the top 100 films of all time.” The list, compiled by Karen Rockett, does not include any silent or foreign-language entries.



By the River
Soil Without Land
When the Lido cinema closed in 2018, after fifty years, you could have been forgiven for thinking that it would become yet another shopping mall. After all, that’s precisely what happened to the iconic Siam cinema on the same street. However, Lido reopened this month, not as a mall but as a revamped arts venue, Lido Connect.

The old Lido cinema was known for showing independent films, and fortunately this tradition will continue, as one of Lido’s screening rooms has been retained. (In fact, aside from a snazzy new facade, the building is structurally unchanged.) Doc Club Theater will now screen films at Lido Connect in addition to their existing venue at Warehouse 30. One of their first screenings will be Underdocs, a day-long retrospective of documentaries by Nontawat Numbenchapol, on 17th August. Nontawat will introduce each film, and will also take part in post-screenings discussions.

Underdocs begins with Nontawat’s Boundary (ฟ้าต่ำแผ่นดินสูง), which documents the conflict between Thailand and Cambodia when the disputed Preah Vihear Temple was exploited for nationalist political gain. The issue was so sensitive that the director couldn’t even reveal his identity while filming at the temple. As he told me in an interview: “I could not tell anyone in Cambodia that I’m Thai, because it would be hard to shoot. I had to tell everybody I’m Chinese-American... My name was Thomas in Cambodia.” (Boundary will also be shown at Warehouse 30, on 31st August and 6th, 12th, and 18th September.)

Nontawat’s second documentary, By the River (สายน้ำติดเชื้อ), is the second of three films showing as part of Underdocs. The film highlights the effects of lead pollution in the water of Lower Klity Creek in Kanchanaburi; when fishermen complained about poisoned fish, the local government simply told them to “find something else to eat.” The film’s subject is no less controversial than that of Boundary, as mining companies filed defamation lawsuits in 2016 and 2017 after similar investigations into water pollution. (The first case was dismissed, and the second was settled out of court.)

The final film in the Underdocs trilogy is Nontawat’s latest work, Soil Without Land (ดินไร้แดน). Boundary explored the Thai-Cambodia border dispute through the experience of a newly conscripted soldier (identified only by his nickname, Aod), and Soil Without Land takes a similar approach, documenting Jai Sang Lod’s conscription into the Shan State army. The Shan are persecuted in Myanmar, and are denied refugee status in neighboring Thailand.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

12 Classics

12 Classics
Pulp Fiction
Tokyo Story
House Rama, Bangkok’s first arthouse cinema, is moving at the end of this month. When House opened twelve years ago at RCA, the area was one of Bangkok’s most popular nightlife destinations, though it has become increasingly neglected following the gentrification of numerous other districts in the city. In that time, there has also been a significant expansion of indie cinemas in Bangkok, including Cinema Oasis, Bangkok Screening Room, and the Friese-Greene Club.

House will open at its new location, Samyan Mitrtown, in September. To celebrate its relocation, it will be screening a classic film each month for the next year. The 12 Classics season includes Woody Allen’s Manhattan, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, and Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story (東京物語). The season starts with Pulp Fiction, from 26th to 29th September; it will also be shown at Bangkok Screening Room, on 14th September.

Cut and Paste

Cut and Paste
The Cut and Paste: 400 Years of Collage exhibition is currently showing at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. The scholarly exhibition catalogue describes the show as “the first historical survey exhibition of collage ever held” and the catalogue itself as “the first publication to look at the broad history of collage.” (For good measure, the back cover calls the catalogue “the first historical survey book ever published on the subject.”) In fact, neither the exhibition nor the catalogue represent the first surveys of collage in art history, though they are both more wide-ranging than previous histories of the technique.

The standard accounts of collage trace its origins to 1912, and the newspaper cuttings appliquéd to Cubist paintings by Picasso and Braque. Cut and Paste, however, antedates the technique by 400 years, and Patrick Elliott's fascinating catalogue essay demonstrates the extent and variety of pre-Cubist collage. Nineteenth and early twentieth century collages are also discussed in the first chapter of Herta Wescher’s Collage which, with its tipped-in colour plates, remains the definitive work on the subject. A more recent history, Brandon Taylor’s Collage, covers the twentieth century and - like the Cut and Paste catalogue - includes an extensive bibliography.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Temporal Topography

Temporal Topography
Hocus Pocus
MAIIAM, Thailand’s most prestigious contemporary art venue, has expanded the space dedicated to its permanent collection. In addition to Feeling the 1990s, its more recent acquisitions are now also on show. These works, all dating from the last decade, are being exhibited under the collective title Temporal Topography: MAIIAM’s New Acquisitions; from 2010 to Present (แดนชั่วขณะ: ศิลปะสะสมใหม่เอี่ยมจาก พ.ศ. ๒๕๕๓ จนถึงปัจจุบัน). The exhibition opened on 30th March in Chiang Mai, and will run for exactly one year.

Highlights include Chulayarnnon Siriphol’s video Planking, in which a man lies down incongruously in public spaces while everyone around him stands for the national anthem. Chulayarnnon’s short, silent film is a characteristically satirical commentary on nationalist ideology and social conformity. It also addresses specific instances of state violence, as one of the filming locations, Thammasat University’s football pitch, is associated with the 6th October 1976 massacre. Students were forced to lie down on the pitch on 6th October, and Planking recreates this with an identical pose on the same spot.

Ruangsak Anuwatwimon’s Hocus Pocus (เผาเล่น ที่จริง) also commemorates an act of political violence. The installation includes a cracked pane of glass from CentralWorld, a shopping mall situated near the main redshirt protest in 2010. There are bullet holes in the glass, physical reminders of the military massacre that took place. (Similarly, Ruangsak’s sculpture No Country Like Home also utilises a bullet-ridden artefact, namely a tablet from Krue Se Mosque, to memorialise another military massacre.)

Patani Semasa

Patani Semasa
Remember at Tak-Bai
No Country Like Home
The Patani Semasa exhibition, first held at MAIIAM in Chiang Mai in 2017, was shown in Malaysia last year. It was considered too sensitive to publish a catalogue during the Thai exhibition, as several works address state violence in Thailand’s southernmost provinces, and the catalogue was therefore published in Malaysia. It includes an essay by lead curator Gridthiya Gaweewong and full-page reproductions of each artwork, with extended captions. The fold-out cover features a timeline of the region’s political and cultural history.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Photophobia, Jakkhai Siributr’s 78, and Jehabdulloh Jehsorhoh’s Remember at Tak-Bai all address the 2004 Tak Bai massacre, a tragedy also commemorated by Zakariya Amataya’s Report from a Partitioned Village (รายงานจากหมู่บ้านที่ถูกปิดล้อม) at Khonkaen Manifesto (ขอนแก่น แมนิเฟสโต้). Ruangsak Anuwatwimon’s No Country Like Home is a reminder of another 2004 massacre, at Krue Se Mosque; like his Hocus Pocus (เผาเล่น ที่จริง) installation, which dealt with the 2010 political violence in Bangkok, it incorporates an artefact bearing the physical scars of the attack.

Sunday, 7 July 2019


Past Box
The Dictator of Thailand
This afternoon, street artist Headache Stencil organised an exhibition and concert at the Jam Factory in Bangkok. (It was originally due to take place at Warehouse 30.) The event, Uncensored, was a demonstration of freedom of expression, and an artistic response to the military government. Prime Minister and coup leader Prayut Chan-o-cha was the main target, shown riddled with bullet holes (Peace) and condemned as The Dictator of Thailand.

Some works from Headache Stencil’s Thailand Casino exhibition were included, notably “Y” Card, along with a new installation (Past Box) filled with more stencils of Prayut. The anonymous artist himself made a rare public appearance, and even left his face uncovered whenever he wasn’t in front of a camera.

Wee Viraporn’s sculpture Watch!, from the Internet Universality Beyond Words exhibition, was also on show, though the highlight was a concert by bands including Rap Against Dictatorship and Liberate the People. The concert, which ran for an hour longer than scheduled, ended with a fantastic live performance of Which Is My Country (ประเทศกูมี).


Wednesday, 3 July 2019

History of Information Graphics

History of Information Graphics
Sandra Rendgen’s Information Graphics began with a fascinating 100-page section on the history of infographics, and her follow-up book Understanding the World reproduced several historical infographics. Her latest book - like the previous volumes, published by Taschen in folio format and edited by Julius Wiedemann - is a survey of 1,000 years of information graphics.

History of Information Graphics includes more than 400 infographics, “from the Middle Age manuscript culture in Europe through the Renaissance and modern era to the European and North American mass media of the 20th century.” The reproductions (including six fold-outs) are treated not as mere illustrations, but as functional data sources, printed with such clarity that their maps and charts remain legible.

The book’s many highlights include a plate from Andreas Cellarius’ Harmonia Macrocosmica, volvelles from Peter Apian’s Astronomicum Caesareum (also reproduced in Cosmigraphics), and Joseph Minard’s flow map of Napoleon’s Russian campaign. (Rendgen is an expert on Minard, whose map was described by Edward R. Tufte in The Visual Display Of Quantitative Information as “the best statistical graphic ever drawn”.)

Unfortunately, the elegantly simple yet revolutionary diagram of a heliocentric solar system by Nicolaus Copernicus (reproduced in 100 Diagrams That Changed the World) is not included. John Snow’s influential map of London cholera infections is an even more surprising omission, though it was featured in Rendgen’s first book, Information Graphics.

History of Information Graphics is the first comprehensive history of the entire field of infographics, though there have been previous books on specific infographic formats, such as the timeline (Cartographies of Time), the cutaway (Look Inside), the tree diagram (The Book of Trees), and the educational chart (The Art of Instruction). Also, Visual Journalism and Harold Evans’ Pictures on a Page discuss the development of news graphics.

Friday, 28 June 2019

The Nation

The Nation
Today marks the final print edition of The Nation, with a commemorative “FAREWELL EDITION” printed on heavy white paper rather than regular newsprint. The newspaper was launched in 1971 as a rival to the Bangkok Post, Thailand’s other English-language daily, though it will now exist only online. The Nation had already folded its Sunday edition almost exactly a year ago, on 1st July 2018.

Although it had defied the military government after ‘Black May’ in 1992, The Nation became an apologist for the 2006 and 2014 junta administrations. Ironically, in the months before its closure, it regained some of its credibility with a series of liberal editorials. On 29th May, for example, it published a surprisingly bold obituary of Prem Tinsulanonda: “Prem’s legacy will be to inspire military top brass to maintain their strong influence in politics, to the diminishment of democracy in Thailand.”

The transition from print to digital-first has led to declining revenue at many news organisations, as readers and classified advertisers migrate to free online alternatives. Online advertising, dominated by a Google and Facebook duopoly, generates a fraction of the income from print ads, and print circulations are falling. In the UK, The Independent and its Sunday sister paper ended their print editions in 2016.


Manifeste Dimensioniste
Charles Sirató’s Manifeste Dimensioniste (‘Dimensionist manifesto’), first published in France in 1936, applied Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity to the visual arts: “We must accept - contrary to the classical conception - that Space and Time are no longer separate categories, but rather that they are related dimensions... and thus all the old limits and boundaries of the arts disappear.”

Dimensionism: Modern Art in the Age of Einstein, edited by Vanja V. Malloy, is the catalogue to an exhibition of Dimensionist art held last year, though it also serves as “the first publication devoted to critical writing on Dimensioism.” It includes an English translation of the Dimensionist manifesto, which first appeared in the anthology Manifesto: A Century of Isms.

The book also features the first English translation of Sirató’s essay The History of the Dimensionist Manifesto. For good measure, that essay also incorporates a manifesto for another movement, a form of concrete poetry he called Glogoism: “I started out from the verb glogao = speak and called my new “ism” Glogoism. It sounded eccentric enough. Nobody really knew what it meant.”