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Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

Feed me F*cking Fermatas; 6 holds if this is how we date now.

In courtship, Love on June 15, 2015 at 10:05 am

Feed me fermatas

Date for dessert? While it may not look as picture perfect, or present itself as exotically described, the nature of the romantic diet is changing with each new App that serves up human beings at your fingertips. Because this is how we date now, and it’s cacophonous.

We don’t know what romance looks like now, because we’re drowning in a sea of triple-filtered art, adjusted with the perfect aperture, because even amateurs know angles matter. We think romance is glamour and glitter comparable to Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair Coverpage, but note that she didn’t wear her “I woke up like this” shirt, (does she even have one?) Irrelevant. Romance is satin corsets. Romance is perfect hair that arrives on set in a box. Romance is made-up with chemicals that could fill an entire coffin. Yes, romance is dead sexy.

Romance today is romance filtered to amp up sex appeal, the innovative dirty old tricks that food photographers have employed for decades to induce your saliva. As if knowledge is power. What did we learn? Instead of being in the moment, we’re being in our phones as we so generously share with the world, the moments that we’re missing, havingmissing.

Because a lot’s missing.

Missing between the myriad of screens and our lives; between the narratives of our lives; between what we show vs. what we are; between what’s filtered vs. what’s real. In the forging of more and more connections, a disconnect is growing between our public vs. private selves, online vs. offline selves. When we choose quantity over quality, something is sacrificed. At which point, does the scale tip over, as we dilute ourselves across multi-platforms in the world of 2.0? In which dimension do we then exist? In which dimension are we searching for that elusive more? In which dimension are we truly present? In which dimension does the meaning we so yearn for, reside?

I’m not your therapist. I’m a composer.

Yet, I didn’t always understand that sometimes, “less is more.” During my undergrad composition studies, my music had been very “notey”. Too many ideas, too many motifs, too many notes; I wrote with the ego of a piano major. Reduce, hold, and stretch; bin the notes, hold what’s there, extend the phrase by another bar or two. Then, the music started to breathe.

Because space. Ahh….

What a novel idea.

Yet, we fill every space we have, with all the notes we gather, with yesterday’s garbage, and yesteryear’s baggage. Input, input, input, because we derive security from our tangible constructions. But what if I told you, that you could get security elsewhere? Wouldn’t you like to hold onto the tingling moments for longer? At your discretion? What if I told you, that instead of using your tech., that you could use a fermata? Or six?

I. Hold the Gaze

Eye-contact is what’s used to place someone at the crosshairs. How are you planning to get a decent shot if you don’t hold still? It’s basic, almost animalistic. Like my driving instructor told me the first time I sat in the driver’s seat, “look where you’re going”. Hold the gaze, if you’re interested in pursuit.

II. Fermata Face-Time

Because Face-Time is real time – online or not, and there’s a reason why they call “real time” “real”. Facetime gives you no screen to hide behind, no time to come up with a perfectly phrased response, rehearse a perfectly executed move, or manufacture a witty comeback. In fact, the very quality of “witty” is rather time-sensitive. Witty is sexy in person, delivered in real time; witty, a few days later, reads manipulative, and conniving. If you value the person, make room for, and fermata facetime.

III. Hold Conversation

Because looks get old real quick, and if you can’t converse, learn. The longest conversation I’ve had, in one sitting, was 8 hours, with content so rich, nothing was recycled. Yet, there are people with whom I can’t continue a conversation past 8 minutes. I’m interested in things. And you should be into people who are interested in things, too, because raising the common denominator is public service.

IV. Hold silences

Because I’m a walking contradiction. I believe in lines from movies, even though they’re not real. But this one is. Straight from Pulp Fiction, “That’s when you know you’ve found somebody really special. When you can just shut the fuck up for a minute and comfortably share silence.” 

So much happens in silence. So,

fermatasilence

V. Hold moments of nudity

Because it’s good for you. Emotional nudity, too. Imagine charging through the battlefield, without weapons, without kevlar. Would you still make war? With what? You’re without guard, defenseless, vulnerable, the preconditions of being real. Unshackle the social conditioning that form your shell. Fermata on the nudity.

VI. Hold your breath

Because the most magnetizing moments are felt, not filtered. If it’s so easy to order up a human being, then why is it harder and harder to find the real thing? Is it possibly, because we’re spending too much time looking in the wrong places? Is it possible, that the real thing happens, in real time? When we are not seeking for the validation of others, but ourselves? When we are really listening to our hearts, instead of counting the ones clicked by others? Fermata inhale; fermata exhale.

Voilà, 6 holds to up stamina and endurance, the way our ancestors did it. Nothing lasts forever, so savour the transient moments of tingling sensations; sustain the butterflies; prolong the moments of the elusive more. Perhaps it’s all illusion, perhaps it’s all myth, but since we realize what we want is a lie, then just maybe, this is how to get it.

I’m not your therapist, only a composer, but perhaps you’ll have a better sounding love story, with space to breathe, to sing, to discover new beats.

If music be the food of love, Seamless some fermatas.

{X}

Talk to me like a Man; Rudiments of Courtship; A 5-step How-To.

In courtship, XX & XY on February 4, 2015 at 11:11 pm

talktomelikeaman

If you don’t live under a rock, you’ve probably been inundated with all things Valentine’s (pro and against) for as long as you’ve given up on your New Year’s resolutions. While you’re giving up, at least do it in style – “Say it with Crack Pie” à la Momofuku’s Milk Bar. Yeah, do it with fat that’s worth it. Or “Skip Valentine’s Day this year with a hand-picked selection of the best breakup albums ever recorded.” (Thanks, CD Universe)

Anyone that’s selling anything will now assault you in every way possible, to remind you that Valentine’s Day is upon us, the ultimate turning point of Cuffing Season. Capitalize on those sentiments if you wish; it’s good for the economy; good for the person receiving; good for the dentist; good for the dying CD industry, which could actually use some love. So keep on, Capitalism needs you. But more importantly, while your mind is on the matter, let’s bring it back to the basics. Yeah?

In the digital age, someone with whom to hold a decent conversation is as rare as a relic. In the circus we live in, naked photos come easier than decent invitations; Jane Austen would be rolling in her grave, as cringe-worthy behaviour permeates. So, #bethechange.

Voilà, Rudiments of Courtship
(Needless to say, these do not apply within the #FriendZone)

I. Address me in a manner that shows your force of character
Respect that I have a name. Don’t jump the gun on “baby” talk. Premature anything is less-than-desirable. If you go for nicknames, show intellect and imagination.

Please don’t:

  • Hey buddyyyy”  – Does your buddy wear six inch heels and model lingerie?
  • Yoooo” – I’ve yet to encounter a successful man who addresses a lady like this.

Compel a response, or you won’t get one.

II. Tell me what you love
Tell me about your day, your world, your passions, your dreams. Tell me what you love – I’m all for that. Better yet, teach me what I don’t know. If you have me locked in a conversation with you, green lights, I want to know. There’s nothing more sexy than a man in focus. Nothing more attractive than seeing someone light up in their element. “A man’s worth is no greater than his ambitions,” words of gold from Marcus Aurelius. So show me. I remember you for your ambitions and drive, I’m less so affected by physique. Call me jaded; I work with models all the time. But the most beautiful thing? Well, here.
So talk to me. But remember, speaking poorly about your ex’s, your friends, or other important people in your personal/professional lives, will reflect poorly on you. Refrain from that descent. Gossip is for tweenage girls; talk to me like a Man.

III. Ask me for what I like
I don’t do “favourites”, but I have preferences, I know what I like. I’m open to what I don’t know, of which there are lots, but the arrogance to assume you know what’s best for me, doesn’t jive. I like men who take charge, but real men never neglect to ask.
Assume nothing. Ask.

IV. Offer tangible solutions
I lead a complexly interesting life, of which there are frequent radical surprises. (Reads, “I’m a trouble-maker, and tend to be more than a handful.”) A single, pitiful, expression of “That sucksss…” is not something I need to reacquaint with. With first-hand experience,  I know better than you can imagine. Trust me. Real men offer tangible solutions.
i.e. When I got a flat driving on the high-way, support physically came to my rescue (in a suit-and-tie no less, straight from work in another city, meeting me at disaster point!). I learned early on that Roadside Assistance is for girls who didn’t have real men in their lives.

Please don’t:

  • Tell me I need a break; I’m blessed to do what I love, and I run on that.
  • Instead? Plan a break, and take me there. Intrigue me. Command my respect, attention, sweep me off my feet. Otherwise, I’ll think of you as a pest. #sorrynotsorry.

V. Put your money where your mouth is
Self-explanatory.

Granted, this post has been about talk, but genuine sincerity trumps slick lines any day. I’m of the creed that’s immune to sugarcoated sweet-talk.

Oh, and if you tell me, “we have to talk“, don’t wait for me to confront you a year later on the subway platform. Boys walk away; Real men walk the talk.

{x}

Hendrick’s with Hobbes

In Drunken Philosophy, life, Of Power on November 30, 2014 at 2:56 am

#Ferguson #RayRice #JianGhomeshi #whyistayed #whyileft #BigEarsTeddy

Hendrick's With HobbesHashtags violent enough to descend Hobbes to my apartment door, in the “all of everything” that is New York. He didn’t show up uninvited – I don’t appreciate these surprises as they disrupt my creative flow and derail my work cycle. Rather, he’s been on my mind. His theory of the natural condition of mankind has been deeply ingrained in me, even before the POLS250 days. Political theory – a subject dense enough to have induced anxiety attacks of former classmates, is not the average cup of tea, or your usual Saturday night delight. Hendrick’s is served.

Between #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday, the world as it is, glitters with more abundance than ever. Yet, stripped away of material excess, the State of Nature remains a “war of all against all,” in which human beings continue to constantly seek to destroy each other in an increasingly incessant pursuit of power. Life in the State of Nature remains “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” In the increasingly interconnected world, every platform amplifies, every echo resounds, every wall reflects, every Retweet further perpetuates. Noise levels have become assaulting; silence is harder to hear. Impressed, Tom was, of my modern recount of Leviathan. He noticed the tattoo above my left heel; Chapter XIII was my favourite, I told him.

At my piano, I entertained him with some twelve tone ideas I had been engrossed in for a brass quintet reading at Juilliard. Perhaps a wild mistake for a man who didn’t live long enough to even experience Bach, but it was the precise prerequisite to tolerate any tinkering on a gravely out-of-tune piano. He took to the Hendrick’s. Well… given the options, I, too, prefer music of his era. Sorry, Jon, but you know this about me.

Tom served me a top-up, and inquired about the concert-program-turned-coaster beneath my glass. Fragile Freedom, he noted. Yes, now that was music to his ears. Having conceived his masterpiece during the English Civil War, arguing for Social Contract and an absolute Sovereign, he took serious intrigue with the Velvet Revolution and the transformation it had ignited. In times of war, freedom is fought for with blood, tears, and lives on the line; freedom is a dream, elusive and fragile. In times of peace, freedom is a blessing, yet bruised by irony, its existence seems more fragile, because we didn’t fight to secure it. If freedom in our lives cease to exist, it’s because we have failed to own it.

I told Tom about the woman at the street corner (see Worth) only a week ago. As life would have it, I met her only 5 minutes after having left the Fragile Freedom concert. Our acquaintanceship literally formed on concrete, where she was drowning in a sea of feelings – feelings strong enough to have halted my kinetic march home on a very cold night; feelings that I remember to be as destructive as they were debilitating. Feelings, the very essence of what makes us humans; the most primal and deeply rooted are fear and desire.

At the most primitive level, fear is instilled in us to trigger retreat from life-threatening danger. This type of fear saves us; its value and utility lie within self-preservation. However, a continual state of fear paralyzes us, and fear-induced-paralysis feeds the demon. I know this from experience. Abuse is the name of a monster whose initial attack is an assault, where our blood is but an appetizer. What feeds it, and what strengthens it, is the target’s submission, the ultimate relinquish of one’s power. If after the first attack, you didn’t run for your life, then the alchemy of fear clearly didn’t serve you. It didn’t serve S, nor is it serving Janay Rice. With only a glance of the news, Tom was tickled to see that his theories remain relevant to this day, that even in 2014, we still live in a Hobbesian world.

Out of the crucible of fear, are endless narratives of #WhyIStayed. These voices aren’t limited to romantic relationships, domestic partnerships, or any relationship of a sexual nature. The monster’s desires go beyond carnal appetite; their lifeblood runs on power – and thus, it feeds on every type of relationship.

Another drink. Tom noted the photo next to the Hendrick’s, and asked me about the beautiful girl in pink. Can you blame him? “She’s engaged to an amazing man,” I said. “But why is she crying right now?” Touché, I forget that the dead can hear beyond our mortal ears, and that even with the sonic assault of my out-of-tune keys, Tom was able to register the sounds of her tears.

“She, too, is battling with a monster.”

“Tell me more…”

“You know the story. The very foundation of the Leviathan, and of your life’s work. Every man for himself. She signed a contract with a monster who clearly cares nothing of her welfare or time; she is not valued for even a fraction of her worth, let-alone well-being, but exploited for results, an experience any high-performer could relate to, as most have attracted and/or experienced some form of such abuse in their trajectory. Abusing the contract, the monster reigns sovereign, which actually, defines him as a tyrant.”

You know how this is going to end.”

“I don’t assume that I do. Although I hope, as I have asked her, to reclaim her self. To own herself. The possibility for an alternate ending, for a counterstrike, exists as long as she hasn’t completely relinquished her power.”

I use the word “target” because “victim” carries with it too much negative connotation. It is not to deny the power dynamic, but “victim” denotes the battle is over, whereas “target” is a status of a fluid nature. I refuse to further strip away one’s dignity by word-painting them into a position of even less power. Words matter. The monster is after power; fearlessness is its kryptonite. Targets can win this battle, but only by fearlessly owning themselves.

“…fear by day and night, fear as deep as the marrow of the bone; … this past, this endless struggle to achieve and reveal and confirm a human identity, human authority, yet contains, for all its horror, something very beautiful. I do not mean to be sentimental about suffering – enough is certainly as good as a feast – but people who cannot suffer can never grow up, can never discover who they are… He achieves his own authority, and that is unshakable.” James Baldwin

Unshakable starts with knowing your worth. He who thinks we live in a time of peace is under grand illusion, for so many of us aren’t even at peace with our selves. The only freedom that’s antifragile, is the one fought for, by exercising supreme authority over your self, owning your self. Owning your difference, your narrative, your time, your choices, your mistakes, and your power.

For Tom, sovereignty is the soul of the Leviathan. I say, sovereignty is the soul of antifragile freedom.

{X}

P.S. Di, the copy of Antifragile, which our photo is propped on, is yours. I remember your traveling style to be with overweight suitcases, nude pumps on feet, and a hard-cover book on hand – all signs of an inexperienced tourist, really, but as facts would have it, you jet through 60+ countries on a regular basis, so I don’t feel too badly about this contribution to the weight you carry.

P.P.S. M, Hendrick’s and rosewater go very well together – better than Hennessy and Guru, the way we had once experimented in our undergrad days. I mixed in the bottle you had brought back from the Middle East. Tom was a fan. 

P.P.P.S. Jon, having said what I said, I am nonetheless grateful for the limitations that push creative growth 🙂 I hope cocktails are being served with the readings, and not after the readings. I’m aware that this may read rather suggestively.

Worth

In life, Restart on November 23, 2014 at 1:06 pm

worthThis isn’t a pity-blog. I write, with sub-zero intention to ask for sympathy, which in my books is the poorest form of begging. I write, because what I’m about to say, is clearly not something we hear enough. The power to be, the freedom to be, are the branches of the same tree, that’s rooted deeply in responsibility.

21h30, Upper East Side, Park Avenue, a night where it was too cold to sit at a concrete street corner. I was walking home, briskly, in my own zone, as usual, because my jungle education has trained me that a prolonged, or even an establishment of eye-contact with a stranger could mean trouble. On the streets, I oscillate between the observer and the oblivious, depending on mood, distractions, immediate environment, company… Most of the time, I’m focused on my audiobook. Most of the time, I don’t give a second glance to street-dwellers; I don’t give to encourage begging. Perhaps that makes me heartless, but I believe any fully able-bodied being can, and therefore should, contribute to their society by taking care of themselves, so to reduce the amount of #firstworldproblems, which by definition and existence, is somewhat of a privileged thing.

I walked past such a street-dweller last night. Caught my eye because she was too beautiful; she didn’t belong. If this had been a scene in a movie, the casting director must have been high. But it’s real life. Whether she belonged or not, she was there. In real life, as we do in movies, we all look for that one thing we identify with – the parallel; the relevance; the relate-able elements. As I walked past her, my shadows merged with her existence. My bones felt a familiar chill. The echos of my footsteps became increasingly uncomfortable for the next block, until I turned around, and there I was, at her end of the street corner.

How life imitates art.

What unfolded was almost a modern rendition of Bernard-Marie Koltès’ “The Night Just Before the Forests.” A long monologue I had studied tirelessly, rehearsed endlessly, and performed in no less than a dozen ways. The ways of being had long been adapted to heart; my acting coach hit this one on the bullseye. Every character I play stays with me, in some form or fragment. She said I was strong enough to play the part written for a man. She saw more in me than I cared to believe.

I reached out to her, the beautiful, crying, woman partially out of instinct, and partially conditioned by training. As I do with most tasks in life, being an artist, after all. It’s unbelievable how much you feel safe to reveal to a stranger, who are never so unforgiving as those who claim to love you. I listened to her as she shared her stories, told her that at least she had the spine and dignity to remain sitting up, while sunk below my lowest points, I was completely horizontal on concrete…only about a year ago. She had just run away from an abusive husband. Her second marriage.

S: “I don’t know if I just attract abusive men, or if all men are the same.”

X: “I would say it’s both.”

I shared a lot of my past that I don’t care to relive. I don’t have the answers to all the questions she posed me. But I know with concrete certainty, that under no circumstance, should we bleed our own worth in the name of someone else’s pain. Not even in hell, would our worth be traded below battered spirits and marked bodies.

S: “It’s happened before… we just had dinner, and we both made a list – a list to work on…but when we got home…”

X: “Have you reported it to anyone?”

S: “No. Everybody loves him. No one believes me.”

Why did I even ask? Have I reported to anyone? I did, that first time, when I was 9. No one believed me. I stayed at home, pretending to be sick for the whole week… 16 years and 28 countries later, the matrix of danger have only grown richer. Rich enough to see patterns; rich enough to see that life, is a battlefield; rich enough to know that my acting coach was right, that to survive, you have to be no less than a warrior.

I gave her a number of support lines, resources, therapy-related things I had gathered during my darker times. I told her that help is there… counseling is there… but perhaps the most direct way of help, is simply sheltering her for the night.

We stayed at that corner until she ran out of the crumbled (but clean) Starbucks napkins I had (out of slight embarrassment) offered her; until I could no longer feel my legs.

S: “I don’t know what to do. I want to just run away, to leave, from everything. Or should I go back and deal with it?

X: “You have to deal with it… Nothing resolves itself. But you don’t have to deal with it right away, or right now. Do it when you’re ready…”

There are different ways to go about healing. For a while, I spent 5 hours of my Tuesday evenings deep in BK, with a group I didn’t feel the slightest sense of belonging. I choose to spend my life differently now. But I remember the scars as I do with the burns. I use it to fuel my art now. I use it to light up inside.

Worth begins with self-care. Love and light are the two essentials, without which life would be a path of decay. Those who dare diminish your worth is criminal. If you allow it, you are the accomplice. Never too late to walk away. Never too late to start a new journey. Never too late to start loving yourself.

{x}

Spring Cleaning; Live with less, but live only with the best.

In life on April 22, 2011 at 2:25 am
In pursuit of Quality

I’ve never strived to be a minimalist, but by virtue of my nomadic life, I’ve had to become one. I may have a lot of things, but I don’t have the same type twice. My bare essentials fit into two suitcases, and 2 carry-ons, which isn’t bad at all, considering that I travel with my “studio” (midi-keyboard, electric violin, multiple laptops, recording devices, etc.), my dance gear (jazz, ballet, modern, lyrical, oriental, hiphop), my yoga things, and my performance wear… When they’re specialty items, the cost of replacing them far exceeds the burden of carrying them, so I keep them with me.

As I live and accumulate (I don’t shop much at all – my highest expenses fall under travel and restaurants, thanks American Express!), the amount that I am able to keep and carry (while in nomadic mode) does not change. As such, this kind of lifestyle has forced me to become highly selective, yet, I still find Spring cleaning to be necessary. As the “new” come in, instead of hoarding everything like a pack-rat, it’s better to re-evaluate your assets, and let go of the sub-standard. You owe it to yourself to live with only the best.

What’s more important in life though, are the people we meet and keep. In the age of hyper consumerism and hyper connectivity, we are all of a sudden, exposed to that many more people, thanks to multi-platform networking. I’m a huge fan/advocate of social media, but studies have shown that regardless of how many thousands of people we may be connected to, fundamentally, our capacity to maintain genuine and meaningful friendships is at around 150 connections. (i.e. Dunbar’s number as a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships). 

If one is limited by one’s capacity to carry things – the rational solution would be to reduce the load. Paralleling this logic, as the number of people we meet increases, we should also let go of a similar proportion of people, so that we don’t max our cognitive threshold. The key formula in maintaining a healthy balance is to keep the people who enrich your life, and let go of those who are bloodsuckers in disguise. To blow a relationship – any relationship, over a disagreement is plain silly and unfortunate, but it happens all the time. Yet, so many relationships that have clearly passed their best-before dates are still being held on, for reasons that confound me, and at the cost of happiness.

Trendy numbers don’t stay in my closet for more than a season; classic, timeless pieces are in my permanent collection. I will continue to carry them, to the 26th, 27th, and eventually 192nd country I travel to, and that’s the same attitude I have with the people I’ve had the privilege to encounter in my life. I’ve been lucky in life to have met so many incredible and inspiring people I now call my friends. I’ve also had to part ways with a number of them, but that’s how life runs, and it’s worth it, knowing that I live and learn only with the best.

So when time comes around for Spring cleaning, don’t just get rid of boxes of stuff – look at the people, too. Life doesn’t come with a “refresh” button, so you just gotta do the dirty work yourself. As a child, I used to cry when friendships fall-out. At 15, the end of my first relationship broke my heart. At 22? I couldn’t be happier at the sight of some people walking out of my life – they’ve just made room for my life to become better.

I love detox.

{X}

Weeding “the Field”

In XX & XY on February 20, 2011 at 5:31 am

XX vs. Type Bruno

My high school best friend just got married to her high school sweetheart of seven years last night, on her 23rd birthday – it was a beautiful union. I, on the other hand, have not yet experienced a relationship that surpassed 7 months (or half that, actually)… so… I’m not at all qualified to talk about (serious, romantic) relationships or the sort, but I write about what I know, and I know the market.

You’d be mistaken to think that I’m a commitmophobe/commitaphobe, because my art owns my heart. Instead of boys, I chase my dreams, wherever they lead me, and it’s difficult to find a partner who’s as daring, driven, or unattached. 8 years and counting, you can say that I’ve tread through my share of fields. By virtue of my travels, I can even talk about it on a global level… In fact, a close friend suggested that I should start an anonymous blog for the sole purpose of recording my (colourful/aka terrible, around-the-world) dating experiences – something along the lines of “the secret diaries of a modern nomad”, or “the globe-trotting serial-dater”… He thinks it’ll be a huge hit – coming from someone in the news/media industry, I was flattered. But that’s not the point.

Jane Austen may have given me unrealistic expectations of love, but “field-training” certainly killed my naivety. I can snatch out the cheaters, the liars, and the unfaithful quicker and more accurate than most of my friends, certainly, most of those in-relationships. I can drop this tip with regret, that when there is a discrepancy between the “truths” offered by your honey vs. your friend, and you dismiss your friend…chances are, you’re being played. Nonetheless, it varies by case.

The market is complicated nowadays. What does it mean to be “together” or “dating”? Can you “see” someone else when you are already “seeing someone”? Is “dealing” an exclusive thing? So many loose definitions, a dictionary would come in handy here. Generally speaking, ladies hate the gray-zone, but gray-zone seems to be green-zone for a good amount of men out there. No commitments, no strings attached, no obligations … at least that’s the way they’ve got it worked out in their heads – on both ends.

Speaking of green, I’m anti-recycling on the field. Find a new patch – it ain’t hard. Moving on is good for you – and those around you. “See” a girl, then take the virginity of her close friend? Messaging the two of them on the same night years later because you’re that needy? Bruno, you’re a model of a cheap pathetic douche. I should have un-friended you 4 years ago when I caught you lying the first time. Just GTFO of my life – you’re polluting the field.

{X}